Friday, April 19, 2019

Yeshua the Omer


We are fast approaching the start of the biblical Counting of the Omer, a very significant day in YHVH’s timetable.

Leviticus 23:10: “Speak to the sons of Israel, and say them, ‘When you come into the land which I am giving to you, and have reaped its harvest, and have brought in the sheaf, the beginning [resheet] of your harvest to the priest then he shall waved the sheaf before YHVH for your acceptance; on the day after the Shabbat the priest shall wave it’” (emphases added, YLT translation).  The “first” (resheet) of the Omer refers to the first ripe barley sheaves that were to be waved before YHVH for our acceptance, on the day after the weekly Shabbat.

Thus, when Yeshua came up out of the grave on the first of the week, He was the first of the Omer, Who was waved, again, for our “acceptance.”

We read in John 20:1 “Now on the first of the week Miriam of Migdal went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb…” (emphasis added).  And a little further on, in John 20:16-17: “Yeshua said to her, ‘Miriam!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).  Yeshua said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me (or touch Me), for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My Elohim and your Elohim' ".

In that year this tremendous event took place on the 18th of Nisan (or Aviv), In Hebrew, the figure 18 (as used in date counting) is made up of the letters Yod and Chet, which form the word for “chai” - “living” or “alive.”

Quite often, in non-Hebrew speaking circles, the first day of the Omer is called “firstfruits.”  This inaccuracy stems possibly from the following scripture: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, afterward those who are Messiah's at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23, see also v. 20). However, in the Aramaic version (the Peshitta Aramaic Text) it is “resheeta”, and in the Hebrew translation of the Greek it is resheet – that is, “beginning” (stemming from rosh – head).  This word is identical to the one employed in Leviticus 23:10, quoted above. In other words Yeshua is the “cause or beginning” (the Head) that brings about the firstfruit “bikkurim”.

Back to 1 Corinthians 15:22-23: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Messiah the Omer wave offering [the “beginning”] afterward those who are Messiah's at His coming “firstfruit”.

 “Coming” is parousia in Greek and means “hidden presence.”  Thus, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost), on the 50th day of the counting, Yeshua’s presence came into them (‘hid’ in them), making them the firstfruits or bikkurim of Shavuot (symbolized by two loaves which were baked with leaven).  Bikkurim is the Hebrew word used in Leviticus 23:17 for the firstfruits of Shavuot – Feast of Weeks.  Yeshua, being the head and the beginning, could not bring in the firstfruits before He Himself ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Only then could the Father send the Spirit of His Son, as it says in John 7:39  “… for the Spirit of Holiness was not yet given, because Yeshua  was not yet glorified.” Thus, He obviously had to be glorified in order to make true His promise of the Spirit. “And because you are sons, Elohim has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!’" Galatians 4:6).  “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Messiah Yeshua… so now also Messiah (the Spirit of the Son) will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:19-20).

Interestingly, an Omer (which is a certain quantity) of barley was used as an offering in the event of a husband who was overcome by a spirit of jealousy. Numbers 5:14-15 says: “If the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself --  then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. He shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, because it is a grain offering of jealousy, an offering for remembering, for bringing iniquity to remembrance” (emphasis added). One tenth of an ephah equals one omer (see Ex. 16:35).  The priest was to make the woman drink bitter water in order to determine whether she was innocent or not (ref. 5:17,18, 22-24, 27), with the effect of the drink on her body being such that it would disclose her true state. Yeshua, when He was on the stake, was given wine mixed with bitter gall, which he did taste (although He did not continue drinking it, see Matt. 27:34).

Again, we see Yeshua, not only being the Beginning of the barley harvest, but also the Husband (Deut. 6:12-16) whose wife “Israel” has gone astray (see Jer. 3:6, as one example of many). He has become the very offering of the barely Omer, the Priest who offers it, and then the One who takes upon Himself the very transgression of the faithless wife, partaking of the bitter gall in her place.

Yeshua, of course, spent the first 40 days of the Counting of the Omer teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of Elohim, after which He ascended, but not before telling those disciples to tarry in Jerusalem “until you receive power from on high.” Yeshua’s departure date would have occurred on the 28th of Iyyar, in Hebrew Kaf, Chet, spelling “ko’ach” – power or strength. That date also happens to be the day in which Jerusalem (that is the Old City) was liberated in the Six Day war in 1967.  Since 1968, the 28th of Iyyar has been declared the official Jerusalem Day.

Yeshua’s multi-facetted role never ceases to amaze us, in that He was and is, what Hebrews 1:2-3 declares: “… His [Elohim’s] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness 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 at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

CONCERNING ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS


                   
Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.  Awaken your might; come and save us.   Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. O YHVH God Almighty, how long will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? (Psa. 80:1-4) O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.  "Come," they say,  "let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more." With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you… (Psa 83:1-5). We are objects of reproach to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us. How long, O YHVH? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?  Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on         the kingdoms that do not call on your name; for they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his homeland” (Psa 79:4-7).

“Look down from heaven and see from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.  Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us. But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, nor Israel acknowledge us; you, O YHVH, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. Why, O YHVH, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down our sanctuary. We are yours from of old; but you have not ruled over them, they have not been called by your name“ (Isa 63:15-19).

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and         forgive our sins for your name's sake.  Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants…. Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise” (Psa 79:9-10, 13).

“YHVH listened to Israel's plea” (Num 21:3a). “God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob (Ex 2:24) “This is what the Sovereign YHVH says: The enemy said of you,  "Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession." 'Therefore prophesy and say, `This is what the Sovereign YHVH says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people's malicious talk and slander, 4 therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign YHVH: This is what the Sovereign YHVH says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you…this is what the  Sovereign YHVH  says: In my  burning zeal I have spoken against  the rest  of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee  and with  malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so  that they  might plunder its pastureland.'(Ez 36:2-5). "I have heard the insults of Moab and the taunts of the Ammonites, who insulted my people and made threats against their land. Therefore, as surely as I live," declares YHVH Almighty, the God of Israel,  "surely Moab will become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah-- a place of weeds and salt pits, a wasteland forever. The remnant of my people will plunder them; the survivors of my nation will inherit their land"( Zeph 2:8-9).

“The hand of YHVH will rest on mount Zion; but Moab will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure. They will spread out their hands in it, as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim.  God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands” (Isa 25:10-11).
"Edom will become an object of horror; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds” (Jer 49:17). “Therefore, as surely as I live," declares YHVH the Almighty, the God of Israel, "surely Moab will become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah-- a place of weeds and salt pits, a wasteland forever. The remnant of my people will plunder them; the survivors of my nation will inherit their land"(Zeph 2:9).  “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance” (Obad 17)   “This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of YHVH Almighty. YHVH will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the land.  The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land” (Zeph 2:10-11).  "The day of the YHVH is near for all nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head” (Obad 15).

 `In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land…Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.  Let the weakling say,  `I am strong!` Come  quickly,  all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O YHVH! ‘Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.  Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.  Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-- so great is their wickedness!` Multitudes, multitudes  in   the  valley   of decision! For the day of YHVH is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:1-2, 9-14). 

YHVH Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; YHVH alone will be exalted in that day” (Isa 2:12-17).

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day YHVH will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. Ephraim's jealousy will vanish, and Judah's enemies will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east.  They will lay hands on Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them”(Isa 11:10-14).  People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau, and people from the foothills will possess the land of the Philistines.  They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead.  This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev. Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau.  And the kingdom will be YHVH's (Obad 19-21).

Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, `The people of Jerusalem are strong, because YHVH Almighty is their God.' 6 "On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place” (Zech 12:5-6).  In that day the Egyptians will be like women.  They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that YHVH the Almighty raises against them.  And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what YHVH the Almighty is planning against them” (Isa 19:16-17).   YHVH will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River.  He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. (Isa 11:15).  “In that day five cities in Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to YHVH the Almighty.  One of them will be called the City of Destruction. In that day there will be an altar to the YHVH in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to YHVH at its border. It will be a sign and witness to YHVH the Almighty in the land of Egypt.  When they cry out to YHVH because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. So YHVH will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will knowledge the   YHVH.   They will   worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to YHVH and keep them.  YHVH will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to YHVH, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them” (Isa 19:18-22).

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria.  The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together.  In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth.  YHVH Almighty will bless them, saying,  "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance" (Isa 19:23-25). "`No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns.  Then they will know that I am the Sovereign YHVH. "`This is what YHVH the Sovereign says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations.  Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them.  Then they will know that I am YHVH their God'" (Eze 28:24-26). 

"Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: `This is what YHVH the Sovereign says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army.  You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land.  In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. "`This is what the Sovereign YHVH says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them” (Eze 38:14-17).

“Then YHVH will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people. YHVH will reply to them: `I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. `I will drive the northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea.  And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.` Surely he has done great things” (Joel 2:18-20).

 “But be assured today that YHVH your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire.  He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you.  And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as YHVH has promised you. After YHVH your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself,  "YHVH has brought me here to take   possession   of   this   land   because of my righteousness." No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that YHVH is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going  in  to  take  possession of  their land; but  on account of the  wickedness of these nations,  YHVH your God will drive them out before you,  to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  6 Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that YHVH your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Deut 9:3-6). "Therefore say to the house of Israel,  `This is what YHVH the Sovereign says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name         which you have profaned wherever you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am YHVH, declares YHVH the Sovereign when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Eze 36:22-23).

Thursday, October 4, 2018

"Adam" - Elohim's Secret Weapon



In the previous episode of the creation account that we are retracing, we saw how the stage was set for a faceoff between the forces of Darkness and the Light.  The waters of Light have been divided by a firmament - “heaven” - with a realm of Light being above the firmament, and a domain of Light below it.  However, things are now going to change, especially in the lower waters, as Elohim will be calling for the gathering of these (spiritual) waters: Then Elohim said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry [in Hebrew “yabbashah”] appear’; and it was so.  And Elohim called the dry ‘Earth’, and the gathering together of the waters He called ‘Seas’ and Elohim saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:9-10).  This is now the first appearance of a physical earth with its seas, but it is held together by the force of Elohim’s “Word and Light”.   In spite of science and physics’ studies and research on the effects of the force fields of nature, they cannot find the evidence of the spiritual might/power of YHVH as He acts perpetually upon His creation, even though Scripture says that   “… since the creation of the world His invisibleness is clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power and divinity, so that they are without excuse…”  (Romans 1:20 emphasis added).  Paul backs up this statement in another letter, saying: “…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Let us continue.  The evil forces of Darkness, being opposite in nature to the Kingdom of Light, as we have already observed, were facing the te’home (the bottomless pit, abyss), but have not yet been cast into it.  The question (that we raised in the last article, Elohim’s Hidden Strategy), still remains: How did they get access to the creation if Elohim separated the Light from the Darkness?  Obviously Elohim, the first cause of all, must have provided a way.  But first He created, in His own image and likeness, Man as a spiritual being that was given dominion and a physical body to govern all other created living entities.  Elohim placed this male-female creation in a beautiful garden, with two special trees – a Tree of Life with its fruit, and a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

There is much talk about “roots” today, so let us ponder the roots of these two trees. Their very description or titles imply that they were not merely natural plants. Therefore when examining them and their purpose, taking into consideration their roots would be of utmost importance. Where did their roots originate and what ground were they drawing nourishment from? The roots of the Tree of Life most likely drew their sustenance from the waters of Light and Life, whereas the Tree of Knowledge would have drawn poisonous sustenance from the realm of darkness.  If this picture is accurate, then in His wisdom YHVH allowed the dark entities access to the creation through the roots of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

In the Garden-description there is only mention of the fruit of the two trees, but not of their roots. However, the topic of “roots” is not neglected by the Word of Elohim. Additionally, we also learn from nature that there are many trees that will continue to perpetuate themselves if their roots are not demolished.  Thus if the Tree of Knowledge, with its roots into the spirit realm of darkness, is not cut off it will remain a tree of temptation in the creation.  Yeshua said: "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10).  Obviously the Tree of Knowledge could not bear good fruit as its roots consisted of wormwood.  How can we make such a categorical statement? That tree was the very seat of the serpent, its “word” and fruit were the bait with which he tempted the woman (and man) to doubt YHVH and hence rebel against Him. When Moses issued a warning to Israel, before the nation entered the land, he told them what would happen if they were to rebel against YHVH, and went on to describe the heart and nature of the rebel:  "…so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from YHVH our Elohim, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood (Deuteronomy 29:18 emphasis added). More on the same is found in Hebrews 12:15:  “…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of Elohim; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”  Roots, by their very nature, are not seen. It is the fruit that they produce which shows forth the nature of these unseen conduits. A seed first sprouts its root and then the stem begins to shoot upward, eventually to be seen for what it is. The spirit realm of darkness was cast away, out of Elohim’s presence to a dry place where it had no way of expressing its fallen nature (sprout and grow).  But through the forbidden tree that realm of darkness with its entities gained access into the waters of the creation. A case in point: The serpent, a resident of the tree, was first and foremost in a state of bitterness as he failed to fulfill his desire to exalt himself and be “like the Most High” (ref. Is. 14:14) and “above the knowledge of Elohim” (ref. 2nd Cor. 10:5), but now he was hoping to pass on this passion to his victims. In order to achieve his ends, he used the following tactic.

The serpent (Satan) promised to our fore-parents that they would be like Elohim if they would only partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  In what way can the knowledge of good and evil make a human (hypotheticallylike Elohim?  When using the knowledge of what is deemed to be right or righteous and then judging others according to that standard, mankind sets itself up in the role of a king and in the position of a judge.  This has become the backbone of humanism today.  We want to do what is right in our own eyes and then convince others to follow our right pathway, which will always lead to partaking of the fruit of strife and contention, pricking pride that will produce anger, all resulting in death to relationships.  It will also have devastating effects on the body and the soul, producing dis-ease. This self-induced (Satan inspired) condition with its gall of bitterness ultimately brings about death. Hence the very seed of the fruit of the tree will turn into a root of hostility within us, while also defiling many others.

Interestingly, the Isaiah 14 description of fallen Lucifer makes use of a number of terms that are associated with plant life. The literal translation of verse 12b is: “How you are felled down to the ground!”  Verse 19 uses the loaded term for “branch” - netzer - while in verse 20 we encounter the “seed of evildoers”.

When Adam and Eve, the spiritual caretakers of the Garden, partook of the forbidden fruit they allowed its seed to be planted in their adama (ground).  It did not take long for that seed to ‘take root’ and express its nature, contaminating Man’s entire being.  Moreover, Man became a slave to the dark spiritual kingdom, being deceived by what looked good and felt tasty, but what in actuality turned in wormwood in his/their heart.  As sad as this looks, it was YHVH’s plan.   

The dark spiritual principalities and powers were ‘in the dark’ as to this plot, which was actually a trap set by YHVH for their ultimate demise.  Elohim’s created son “Adam” would first be the bait and the victim. But by Elohim’s firstborn Son, the Second Adam, Man would be the recipient of redemption and restoration that would turn him into a soldier with the authority and sword to execute judgement upon the realm of darkness and all its works, casting its entities out of the waters of creation and into the “te’home” - abyss - to be burned.

Thus the fruit of the Tree of Life is no longer verboten. Man can now partake of the life-giving fruit of this tree, and himself be the conduit of the “fruit of the Spirit”. This fruit (of the spirit) can only build relationships, strengthen us and others, spirit soul and body, ultimately causing us to become trees of righteousness, the planting of YHVH bearing good fruit, with the leaves being for the healing of the nations and the creation.  “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal… and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). 


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Elohim’s Hidden Strategy




Light and Darkness Facing Off
In the previous article of this series, “Kedem”, I posed a question in regards to creation’s travail and its expectancy for the sons of Elohim to come forth and set it free from the tyranny and slavery to sin and death (see Romans 8:21-22).  This dark kingdom entered the waters of creation because of the disobedience of its (the creation’s) overseers. But were Adam and Eve to blame for this dreadful problem, or conversely was this state of affairs in fact according to the will of the Creator?   “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope” (Romans 8:20), so that His sons would deliver it and bring His glory back into these contaminated ‘lower (spiritual) waters’. The ‘waters’ at this initial stage is actually a way of describing a spiritual condition, a condition that was in flux and fluid, if you will. It was part of the “without form and void” or chaotic state, which in Hebrew is “to’hu va’vohu” – literally a state of “wonderment and perplexity”.
So what do I mean by ‘lower waters’? When Elohim divided the waters (mentioned in Genesis 1:6) He placed a firmament in between the two realms.  Thus Elohim made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so” (Genesis 1:7 emphases added). Was this what Yeshua was referring to when He said to his disciples: "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23)? Prior to this separation there was only one body of spiritual waters. But, interestingly, before Elohim divided these waters He spoke Light into them. This Light also had to be spiritual in nature since the natural sun had not been created yet, nor the firmament in which the sun, moon, and stars were going to be placed. 
 “Then Elohim said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).  Notice that it does not say that Elohim created this Light, as it was actually the glory of His living “Word” that was manifesting in the spiritual waters. In other words, His presence entered the waters via the “Word” as Light and Life.  In order “to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery [the relationship between the Word and Elohim], which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in Elohim who created all things through Yeshua the Messiah” (Ephesians 3:9). “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). 
Without this “Light” there would not have been “Life” and therefore no creation.  I capitalized the L because His Word (Light and Life) is the expression of Elohim Himself.  (Yeshua proclaimed: “I am the light of the World  “and it was said of Him: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 8:12; 1:4).  Thus as soon as Elohim spoke Light into the existent body of waters, He immediately separated this realm of Light from the Darkness (ref Genesis 1:4).  This separation was essential, as otherwise the Darkness would have dissipated. The mere fact that Elohim permitted the habitation of darkness to continue to exist, is in itself an indication of His sovereignty over what was to happen in the course of the creation process, and beyond. 
 As we saw above regarding the “waters” and the “Light”, unseen spiritual realities can only be described in physical terms: “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Such spiritual realities are revealed in Genesis 1:2, with the depiction of the darkness [that was] on the face of the deep – te’home.  I believe that Yeshua made reference to this spiritual domain when He cast out evil spirits: "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'” (Luke 11:24 emphasis added). As a side note: notice the audacity of the spirit calling the person “my house”.  Why does the spirit desire to go back there? It must be because the dry place has no spiritual water (life), and thus the spirit is not able to express its unclean nature. This tells us that sin can only be alive - animated and expressing itself - if it can swim (so to speak) in the spiritual waters of the creation.  Otherwise, as Yeshua pointed out, the spirits wander around in a “dry place” – the tehome.
In some scriptural references the “deep” - te’home - is compared to a wilderness.  “He rebuked the Reed Sea also, and it dried up; so He led them through the depths (te’home), as through the wilderness” (Psalm 106:9).    Who led them through the deep (te’home), as a horse in the wilderness, that they might not stumble?" (Isaiah 63:13). A wilderness is devoid of water, and thus we propose that in the beginning the te’home was that “dry place” that the entities of darkness faced.  The Hebrew translation of the Greek Brit Chadasha uses “te’home” for this habitation of darkness as seen in Luke 8:31, where the “abyss” is mentioned, and in several references in Revelation, for example, in 9:2 where the English rendering is “bottomless pit”. 
That realm of darkness with all of its fallen entities is said to be only on the surface of the abyss, while at the same time the Ruach of Elohim was “hovering” on the surface, facing or looking down at the waters.  The root of the Hebrew word translated “hover” is rachaph - resh, chet, pey - which means to “shake or tremble”.  When a bird of prey hovers over its target its wings are fluttering, or trembling.  This quivering action on the part of the Spirit can be compared to what He did to make the waters of the Reed Sea divide before the people of Israel: “The waters saw You, O Elohim; The waters saw You, they were writhing  [like a woman in child-birth]; The depths (te’home) also trembled” (Psalm 77:16).  And so, the second verse of Genesis 1 calls to mind a scene of two armies facing off, being poised to take over a certain area, an area that would thus become a battle field or a spiritual war zone.
 But in the meantime, when Elohim caused the Light to enter the waters, He approved of it and “saw the light that it was good” and thus named this condition (of Light) - “Day”. But, as already mentioned, He divided, segregated, or made a distinction between the Light and the Darkness, which He labeled “Night”.  Notice Paul’s statement in 1 Thessalonians 5:5: “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness”. This separation between the Day and Night ended the “first day”.  But the question still arises, as to how and why the Creator willfully allowed the Darkness to enter into creation, thus causing it to experience death rather than life. (To be continued).

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Kedem*

Kedem*
In investigating biblical history and our place in it, how far back can we go?   We had already glimpsed at the family of Noah and the tent of Shem, but that still does not bring us to the ‘end’ of the backward track, that is to the beginning which in a manner of speaking is also the end (Revelation 22:13). The idea of looking at the past in order to go forward is very intriguing.  Since we have been tracing the human race and the Word of YHVH back to Noah, let’s also take a closer look at Adam and Eve, keeping in mind that this journey is founded on the scriptural basis that, “the Kingdom of Elohim has been in every generation” (ref. Psalm 145:13), albeit in seed form (according to Yeshua’s parables of the Kingdom. See Mark 4:31).  Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden also reminds us what we have lost and what is being redeemed.  If Tish’a Be’av is a time of mourning the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem, should we not also mourn the loss of Eden? But if the answer is “no”, than we should ask ourselves why is it that we do not mourn the loss of Eden? Is it because it is being restored to us in some way?  Eden and YHVH’s Kingdom are undoubtedly connected, with the difference being that Eden is the garden where the ‘trees of righteousness’ are growing,  while the government/Kingdom  is the expression of the fruit of those trees (see Romans 14: 17; Galatians 5: 22).
Obviously Elohim is sovereign over all His works, and even though His Kingdom is a spiritual one, He desires it to be made manifest “on earth as it is in heaven” (see Matthew 6:10) - through His created Man (male/female).  Elohim assigned or delegated to Man to have dominion and rule over all living things (see Genesis 1:26, 28).
In Genesis 1:27 we read:  “And Elohim created man in His own image, in the image of Elohim He created him; male and female He created them.”  Created - bara - is used three times in this verse.  In Hebrew “boreh” (creates) is used exclusively for Elohim. Boreh cannot be applied to man. Man can only discover and form things, or re-arrange them.  In order to understand what is meant by man being created “in Elohim’s image and likeness”, we have to ask: What is Elohim’s image and likeness?   Moses reminded Israel that when they were at Mount Horev: "YHVH spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form-- only a voice” (Deuteronomy 4:12 emphasis added).  Yeshua further elaborates: "Elohim is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).  According to Psalms 36:9 Elohim is Light and Life.  Thus, if Man was created in the image and likeness of his Creator, we would have to conclude that he was created a spiritual entity, with the potential to develop into a full expression of a son of Elohim.  He would also have had all the qualities and attributes of his Heavenly Creator/Father.
Scripture likens Adam to a natural seed (see 1 Corinthians 15: 38; 43) with a spiritual DNA, if you will, but first, as with all seeds, it has to have an outer shell to protect it until it is time for it to be sown, falling to the ground, and begin its growth process. 
Elohim had already prepared the place (the earth) into which this special seed would be ‘sown’.  As mentioned, this spiritual Man needed an outer casing for his protection. Additionally, this tangible external form was needed so that he would be able to relate to the physical world and all the other living entities that he was to name and have dominion over. YHVH Elohim, therefore, formed (yatzar) from the soil (aphar) of the earth an animal-like body into which He “blew,” or planted, man’s spiritual life (the ‘seed’s embryo’).   Thus, the physical body became the outer shell in which this precious spiritual being was encased, destined to multiply until it would fill up the whole earth.  To reiterate, the breath of life that was breathed into the formed body was this spiritual entity - Adam himself - entering the earthly substance and becoming a living being (nephesh chaya).   Man (male and female) was/were now able to express in the created (tangible) world his/their spiritual essence through this body, as long as they walked in obedience to YHVH.  
Along with the spirit that now entered a flesh body was also Elohim’s determining anointed word to humanity’s progenitors to “have dominion and rule over all living things”.   In other words, they were to establish Elohim’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, bringing life and light to their domain as they were walking with Elohim, their Creator.  Wow, what a wonderful world to be living in! And to make it even better, Elohim placed the pair in a special location, a garden which they were to tend, but to also enjoy and partake of its delightful plants and trees.  Indeed, everything was pronounced by Elohim as “very good”!   Yet in the midst of the lovely garden YHVH Elohim planted a tree that was not only “good” but also “evil”, and charged the man not to eat of its fruit. 
The question we might ask at this point is: What happened to make this idyll environment collapse in one moment, after ‘only’ one act of disobedience - partaking of the fruit of the banned tree? Notwithstanding, the Creator did warn Man (before the woman was taken out from his side) that, such an act of disobedience will bring about death (ref. Gen. 2:17). 
And so, at some point the woman (again, who ‘came into being’ after the warning had been issued to the man), had an encounter with a serpent. That creature questioned Elohim’s words regarding what He had said about eating the fruit of the trees in the garden, and especially the one “in the midst of the garden”. He not only voided the death warning connected to the latter, but also continued to falsify Elohim’s intention regarding this tree and its fruit (ref. Gen. 3:1b, 4): “it will make you wise, intelligent and you will be like Elohim, knowing good and evil.” That is, now you will be in a position of a king and a judge having the ability to know and especially determine what is good and what is evil (in your own eyes). The tested woman looked at the forbidden fruit of that tree, and it was indeed “pleasing to the sight and good for food”. But this of course did not end there, she partook and “also gave to her husband who was with her(v. 6 emphasis added). 
After eating the fruit man and woman’s eyes were opened (to see that they were naked). But did they really gain the ability to discern good and evil? Or was it that at this point they merely became aware of the ‘concept’, and hence acquired a propensity for judging? What’s more, seeing that their relationship with the Creator was now severed, they also lost the genuine Godly wisdom without which there can be no true judgment and discernment.  This act not only spelled death to their relationship with Elohim, but became a killer of relationships ever since. 
YHVH who is great in mercy, loving kindness and quick to forgive, gave Adam and Eve only one chance. This act of violation and its consequences, therefore, was not about Elohim’s characteristic of long suffering (or a seeming lack thereof).  There is something more to this episode than meets the eye.  I believe that Paul was privy to a mystery hidden in the Gospel of the Kingdom that he taught from the Torah of Moses and the Prophets (ref. Acts 28:23).  In his letter to the believers in Rome and Corinth, the Apostle makes statements that allude to a plan of YHVH that this formed, earthy man would fall to temptation and disobedience (see Corinthians 15:42-44), subjecting the entire creation to futility and decay: For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of Elohim. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of Elohim”  (Romans 8:19-21 emphasis added). 
(To be continued). 
*This idea is well illustrated by the biblical Hebrew word that denotes east – kedem. Kedem also means past, antiquity and that which was, AND that which is ahead of us.  Another similar word is “achor” or “achar”, with some of its derivatives being “acharey”, “achoranit” or “achrit”, which like “kedem” means both back or backwards but also the “future end”, such as “acharit ha’yamin” – the latter days, or days to come  (e.g. Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30;  Isaiah 46:10 to cite but a few). In Job 23:8 both terms are used together: "Look, I go forward (kedem) but He is not there, and backward (achor), but I cannot perceive Him.” Interestingly, the garden of Eden is also mentioned in relationship to “kedem”, as it says in Genesis 2:8 “YHVH Elohim planted a garden eastward (mi-kedem) in Eden…” and in 3:24, after expelling Adam and Eve from the garden: “He placed the cherubim at the east (mi-kedem) of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword…”.  Therefore on our path backward to the future we may call out with Jeremiah “Turn us back (hashiveynu) to You, O YHVH, and we will be restored (ve’nashuva); Renew our days as of old –  ke’kedem” (Lamentations 5:21). Notice that “turn” and “restored” are both rooted in “shuv” that is, making “teshuva”.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Walking Backwards


Those of you who have read last week’s posting “Whose Tent?” may be wondering where all this is going. Why do we have to be talking about history all the way back to Noah or even to Adam? Why are we not looking forward to the wonderful things in store for us in the future? If life were linear that would be the direction to go, but in this creation everything is cyclical, and hence has to return to its original source. This is why in Scripture there are many “re” words that are used to describe this process: repent, return, renew, restore, regenerate etc. Other terms that may be added to the above are: restitution, recovery, rectification and redressing. Restoration, inherently, requires a ‘going back’, a ‘return’. As we had previously mentioned, at the Bney Yosef National Congress we heard a teaching on the boomerang.  Just recently we have come across a statement that describes the boomerang idea in a more theological way - “redemptive reversal”. Is it a return to the place where all went well, and where we would like to be again, or is it a return to the place where everything went wrong, a place and a condition that demands ‘repair’? If we examine Scripture, it seems that the latter is more often the case.

Thus, in order for the ‘repair’ to take place we are required to revisit certain pivotal junctions - in returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isaiah 30:15).  “Tikkun” means to repair. In spiritual terms it means “restoration”. Restoration, for its part, involves repentance. That, as we all know, is “teshuva”, which means “return” (and in Modern Hebrew “answer”).

Jeremiah 31:21 clearly announces: "Set up signposts*, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities.” Along this road, “the way in which (we) went”, we are required, as life carriers of our ancestors, to set landmarks of remembrance and repentance so that we may repair the past. Scripture is not short of examples that illustrate this principle, both theoretical and literal. In some of those cases one has to also follow the language closely (as sometimes the message of the ‘return’ is seen only in the Hebrew). Let us examine a few examples.

In the days of the Judges there was a famine in Beit Lehem (judgment in the house of bread). The family of Elimelech moved to Moav, where the sons Mahlon (sickness) and Chilion (annihilation) violated Torah by marrying Moabite wives. Shortly thereafter they (as well as their father) died.

When Naomi, the widowed and bereft wife and mother, heard that “YHVH visited His people to give them bread” she went back to the House of Bread, with the daughter in law who vouched fidelity to the Elohim of Israel. In the House of Bread they both were sustained and rewarded plentifully from the fields of Boaz (“strength”, “might”). Shortly after that the property of Elimelech (Naomi’s husband) was recovered and redeemed by Boaz (the kinsman redeemer), while Ruth married Boaz according to the levirate law. The fruit of that union, a child by the name of Obed (Oved), was pronounced a “child of Naomi”, in place of the sons that she lost (especially the firstborn). What’s more, Ruth’s passage ‘in the footsteps of Abraham’ (leaving father and mother, following the Elohim of Israel, and going to an unknown land) changed her status from “nochria” (foreigner) to a “mukeret” (acknowledged, recognized) – both words stem from the same root (n.k.r). By her heart attitude and action Ruth, the Moabitess, may have also reversed the edict against her people (Deut. 23:4), as in Jeremiah 48:47 YHVH says: “I will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days”. Here we have a picture of redemptive reversal.

In the Book of Esther, likewise, we see how Esther and Mordechai the Benjaminites were able to rectify their ancestor’s Saul’s disobedience when commanded to “utterly destroy Amalek”.  Instead Israel’s first monarch spared the life of the Amalekite king, Agag.  Esther and Mordechai, on the other hand, were put in position to see to it that Haman the Agagite would meet a different end than his forebear. As Benjaminites, Mordechai and Esther also ‘returned the favor’ to Judah (the Jews), by being instrumental in rescinding the edict of the annihilation.  Judah, the man, many years before came to the rescue of his brother Benjamin when the life of the latter seemed to be on the line (in the feigned incident of the stolen cup).  When Judah stepped in he was willing to forfeit his own life for his brother’s.

These are but a few corrective responses in the pathway of Tikkun. When the “virgin daughter of Israel” whose sin is wiped away (having been cleansed by the blood of the Redeemer) is asked to go back the way by which she went, she is given an opportunity to "clear the way for YHVH in the wilderness; (to) make smooth in the desert a highway for our Elohim” (Isaiah 40:3).  But as we know (and have mentioned more than once), the highway for our Elohim goes way back, past our progenitor Abraham, all the way to Adam. There, along the way, we ‘run’ into our ancient forefather Shem.  We have to be mindful of the need to make a stop at that junction too, take notice of it and put up a landmark (which was the reason for our recent article “Whose Tent?”).

In the past we have written about the significance of the waters of the Jordan rolling back to a place called Adam when the nation of Israel crossed over to the land of Israel. So let us reiterate: Could it be that the present restoration of the whole House of Israel and the return to the land signifies a ‘reversal movement’, like the backward walk of Shem and Japheth in order to avoid looking at, and covering their father’s shame/nakedness? Moreover, are we to face squarely the cause of the shame-covering that involved our forebears Adam and Eve? If that is so, it gives rise to the question: Are we to continue ‘backwards’ to the point where the spirit realm of darkness - “sin” - entered creation’s waters through the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Are we in this generation the ones chosen from the foundations of the earth to do the works that were prepared for us at that same time?
Ephesians 1:4: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua (Spirit of the Son) for good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Man - “male and female” were given dominion over all living things and were to be channels of living water (waters from above) to all creation. Their relationship with the Creator made it possible that from them would issue life giving fountains or springs. But when they took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge they became a conduit for the spirit of darkness – sin - to enter into the creation, thus polluting its pure waters. From then on the creation has been suffering and groaning, crying out to be redeemed by YHVH’s sons.  “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of Elohim. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of Elohim” (Romans 8:19-21).
So, as those who have eternity in their hearts (Ecc. 3:11), rather than go back to the future, let us go forward to the…. past in cooperation with the One who “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:10).

*Signposts are “tziunim” – plural, and “tziyun” - singular. Very close to “Tziyon” – Zion. Could these signposts relate to the “paths that go through the heart” (Ps. 84:5, literal translation), and that lead to Zion (see v. 7)?  As the returning “virgin daughter of Israel” makes her ‘backward’ track is she to place the “mark of Zion” everywhere she goes for the purpose of making known the Name of the Elohim of Zion?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Whose Tent?


Whose Tent?

"Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:7-8 emphasis added); “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate… “All Your works shall give thanks to You, O YHVH, and Your godly ones shall bless You.  They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power; To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts, and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145:4-5, 10-13).

Almost two months ago now we found ourselves once again on the Greek islands, that is back in Crete after having been there only seven and a half months ago, and also in the island of Santorini. Some of you may remember that what took us to Crete in the first place was a deep interest in the ancient Minoan culture and civilization which flourished there during the Bronze Age (estimated 3000 to 1700) and on a more personal note, a visit to the island’s only operating synagogue in the town of Chania. The synagogue was brought back to life, so to speak, by a man who died a year ago, shortly before our first visit, and who had been Rimona’s lecturer on the subject of Early Christian Art at Tel Aviv University many years hence.  All those years she knew nothing of his involvements in renewal projects in the Greek Jewish world, which she discovered by a ‘divine coincidence’ while pondering, last year, the possibility of a trip to Crete and primarily to Chania.

From that first trip we gleaned some historical and biblical ramifications that had opened up to us as a result. We shared this in a report that we wrote back in September 2017.

So why go again? The one year anniversary of the passing of Nikos Stavrolakis was just about to occur, and we wanted to honor his memory and be present at the Etz Chayim Synagogue for the event. This time we went with another couple, dear friends, who have not been there before so we took the opportunity to show them the primary Minoan site at Knossos and the great museum devoted to the finds, which is located in the capital Heraklion.

The main reason for visiting the nearby island of Santorini was to continue examining the lives of those ancients, since some very impressive ruins are also found there. The Minoans’ contemporaries were the Cycladic people who were equally advanced, but whose social structure and government were simpler since they were not ruled by a monarchy, but instead had a certain type of civilian administration. Theirs, as well as the Minoans’ impressive and prosperous culture was brought to an abrupt end by the huge eruption of a volcano on Santorini. In fact this volcano is still active and we got to climb on it, as it forms its own (small) island. The eruption occurred around the year 1600 B.C.E and the vast and widespread changes in its wake are still evident to this day. Many of the island’s homes, for example, are built right into the solidified ash, turned to rock.

It was there, in Santorini, that we began to further seek Abba as to His reasons for leading and guiding us to the places, the people and chiefly to their history, and why the need to be physically present there.  The answer did not come immediately, and when it did it was only partial: pray, pray, pray. As “Shemites” we were to lift up Japheth and his seed, especially Javan (Yavan - Greece in Hebrew), son of Noah. It so ‘happened’ that our lodging place was faced by Mount Elias (Elijah), being the highest point on the island. So obediently we proceeded to make our way there and to call forth Abba’s children out of the influences of Japheth and his progeny Javan-Yavan, and to pray for them and their destiny as those who are to live in the tent of Shem.

Upon our return home we continued to ponder the trip and the theme of “return by the way in which you went…” (Jer. 31:21), together with other scriptures that point to the retracing of the steps “all the way back to Adam” (see Joshua 3:16), for the purpose of full restoration. To this was added, as a backdrop, the teaching on the boomerang and its operation, which was brought up in the recent Bney Yosef National Congress in Ariel. Just before making its way back, and in order to be able to do so, the boomerang spins in an ever increasing vortex.  Additionally, the events that have taken place in Israel just recently in conjunction with several anniversaries (especially Jerusalem’s), have caused some to comment that we are now at a tipping point from where things will not continue to be as they were.  What’s more, the Hebrew word for repentance and having a change of heart is of course “return” – tshuva. Thus, when trying to put together all of this with the various aspects of the trip, from the personal and microcosmic to the enormous expanses of history and civilizations, we were still left with our question: What is this all about and are all these components connected somehow? Is there one full picture that emerges from all those collage pieces?

Since 1982 we have been involved in what we have called ‘spiritual archeology’, but to put it more appropriately: “declaring YHVH’s works of old and in past generations” concerning the Abrahamic family.  However, YHVH’s kingdom goes further, all the way back to Noah (and of course to Adam).  And so with what we learned during the trip, but more so afterwards, Abba started to impart insights and stage by stage ‘connected the dots’. This report, therefore, will not be about our physical-geographical trip, as much as about the journey we took into the Word and into certain historical accounts, accompanied by some thoughts and conclusions.

In our book Firstborn Factor in the Plan of Redemption we pointed out that after the Deluge, in the days of Noah, YHVH mandated a divine order in the Noahic family.   With Noah’s understanding of YHVH’s ways, he spoke out these words to his firstborn son, Shem: "Blessed be YHVH, the Elohim of Shem…”. And as alluded to above, he then continued to bless his other son, Japheth: “Elohim enlarge (literally “beautify”) Japheth, and he will dwell as a servant in the tents of Shem…” (Genesis 9:26-27 emphasis added).  Curiously nothing is said about Ham. It is only Canaan, Ham’s youngest son, who is emphatically mentioned twice, as someone who would be a servant to both Shem and Japheth. But as such he too will be living in Shem’s tent.  These pronouncements followed an episode in which Noah, in a drunken stupor, uncovered himself, and whereas Shem and Japheth took measures to respect their father, Ham did not. This act signified blatant unrighteousness, the consequence of which fell on Ham’s youngest son (ref. Genesis 9:22-24). And as if that were not enough, his oldest, Cush, named his firstborn “Nimrod”, meaning “we will rebel”.

Cush thus became the channel through which Ham attempted to defy the pronouncement of his grandfather, Noah, and he did so by introducing another kingdom, with the idea of drawing Shem (or his progeny) into his tent (ref. Genesis 10:8-10).  In a manner of speaking, Ham’s rebellion was the first sign of anti-Semitism and replacement theology.  Envy and jealousy over birthrights were not new to the family of Adam, and now would continue to play out also in Noah’s posterity, to this very day. 

YHVH’s sovereign works of multiplying the seed of each of those fathers, and supplying them with provisions continued (ref. Genesis 9:2-3) in spite of the nature of sin that was working in the hearts.  According to the genealogy of Shem, the life span of the first seven to eight generations was two to three hundred years.  If that were so in Shem’s side of the family, it must have also been true of Japheth and Ham’s. 

YHVH scattered and split the nations in the days of Peleg (Genesis 10:25, 11:8; Deuteronomy 32:8) who was born 100 years after the Flood and lived 239 years. Adding this up we arrive at 339 years of non-stop prolific generational reproduction.  It is easy to understand, therefore, how very quickly families and tribes grew into nations during this time period. By the time Abram shows up there must have already been hundreds of thousands of Shemites, Hamites, and Japhethites living in the lands that YHVH had assigned to them (ref. Genesis 10:5, 20, 31-32). This is also verified by historians and archeologists, in spite of the fact that they do not seem to be able to agree on a common chronology (a fact which is also true of many of the bible scholars). But please note, this is not an attempt on our part to come up with an alternative chronology, but to give a perspective on Elohim’s sovereignty and on-going plan for mankind. Biblical scholars estimate the Flood anywhere from 3246 to 2348 B.C.E. The approximate dates that the historians ascribe to the Shemite/Semitic Akkadian empire (see Genesis 10:10) is 2279-2198 B.C.E; the Hamite Mitzraim (Egypt’s) old kingdom (see Genesis 10:6) is 2686-2181 B.C.E; the Hamite Amorites 2112-2004 (See Genesis 10:16); the Japhetite Minoans and Cyclades 3000-1700. This extended period of 3000 – 2200 B.C.E is known as the Early Bronze Age.  (Once again, there is no general consensus as to dating.)

As mentioned, YHVH provided Noah’s family their sustenance in order for them to multiply and grow into families, tribes and nations. Indeed, they developed a very sophisticated (not unlike today’s) system of commerce, trade and economic cooperation. No doubt what enabled them to bounce back from the natural disaster that they had emerged from was the knowledge and skills that they had already acquired before the Flood (and transmitted by Noah’s family).  This was now being implemented in the areas of science, mathematics, medicine, agriculture etc.   During this era (of the early Bronze Age) humanity was enjoying relative peace and prosperity, so much so that the historians have labeled it the Golden Age. 

As we noted above, at some point during the first two hundred years after the Flood, Ham, Cush and Nimrod together with the Shemites Ashur, Akkad, Erech (possibly Elam) and others, decided to bring about a ‘one world order’ and to set up another kingdom in order “to make a name for themselves” (Genesis 11:4). The Valley of Shinar was chosen as the headquarters for this movement and its building projects, with the capital being Babel. It is interesting to watch the cooperation of the Shemites with the Hamites, contrary to the word given by Noah.  For Cush and Nimrod it meant that Shem’s sons were coming under their dominion and ‘tent’ (see Genesis 10:10-11). A careful reading of chapter 10 reveals that the genealogies of Ham are not only much longer than Shem and Japheth’s, they are also more detailed, even covering landmasses, and in addition to enumerating individual names they also cite clans and groups. In other words, the Hamites were much more prolific and organized in comparison to their counterparts, having what appears to be an elaborate expansionist agenda (see vs. 13, 14, 16-19).

At this stage Japheth and his descendants seem to not be involved in the power games, and in fact Genesis 10:2-5 records for us that, “the sons of Japheth were[mentioning their names, and] from these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations” (emphasis added). Thus, the Japhethites were ‘minding their own business’ and moving out according to the designated plan for them.

Ham’s rebellion against YHVH’s kingdom order resulted in Elohim scattering these nations and confusing their language (ref. Genesis 10:25b; 11:7-8). Here again we see His work and method of keeping the families on track to their final destination. During the next phase YHVH brings forth a firstborn from the line of Shem - Abram - whose birth occurred right around the time of Peleg’s death (2,000 B.C.E). The particular line of Shem which was selected for YHVH’s kingdom purposes was of Arpachshad, Shem’s third born son. It says that he was born two years after the Flood (Genesis 11:2), which makes his older siblings very close in age, and most likely twins. As we already know, Ashur (number two) cooperated with Nimrod (ref. Genesis 10:11), a fact that would have disqualified him in the eyes of YHVH, while the firstborn, Elam, may have done the same.  In fact, in Genesis 14 Elam’s descendants appear as representing an aggressive kingdom, which is also attested to by the historians. 

When Abram came up to the ‘playing field’ of this world, Shem was still alive. The patriarch must have been greatly relieved by this offspring of his, after witnessing the Hamites hijacking the position that his father, Noah, had declared for the family.

Let us pause here briefly to observe a scene of prophetic significance, described in Genesis 14 (vs. 1-12). A battle had taken place between a four-king Hamite-Shemite coalition, and a group of five kings who wanted to throw off the yoke of the former. The latter were heads of local kingdoms in the southern part of Canaan, and they ended up being defeated by the four kings. Abram had a vested interest in this situation, although he did not take sides in the conflict. His role was to come into the “mix” of Ham and Shem, stay above the situation, redeem and retrieve. But with his trained servants he not only rescued his nephew Lot (resident of Sodom) who was captured, but also others who were taken prisoners, as well as their goods. Abram’s calling, and by implication that of his seed, is clearly seen here. Next, Abram is standing in the King’s Valley, also called the “Valley of Equality or Worth” (Shaveh), situated most likely at the gate of Shalem (Salem, later to become Jerusalem). It is here that he is welcomed by One greater than himself (Malchizedek King of Salem), who confers a blessing upon him, sealing it with covenantal bread and wine while Abram gives him a tithe of all the possessions that he had procured (ref. Genesis 14:18-20). Thus the spiritual foundation stone was laid according to Divine protocol for the setting up, by covenant, of the tent of Shem to be headed by Abraham’s seed - Israel - in that very location (The above-mentioned gate can still be seen today in the archaeological site at the City of David.)

And so, as the historical record continues to march in time, with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their sons, the emergence of Israel from the House of Slaves in Egypt (again, dwelling in the tent of Ham), all the way to the Davidic and the Solomonic kingdoms, we see YHVH’s hand at play. One of the archaeologists of the ancient Minoan civilization and its contemporaries commented that those Israelite kingdoms would not have come into being had not the Hamite (like the Hittites and Mitzraim/Egypt) and Japhetite powers collapsed (or had been substantially weakened) in the Middle Bronze Age, with the super-volcano that erupted in Santorini, its ensuing tsunami, earthquakes, famines and invasions of the Sea People. All of this made for a two to three hundred year ‘dark age’, which would have been more or less concurrent with the Exodus and times of the Judges in Israel. 

As we saw when examining the chronology of the pre-Israelite period, and if we peer into Israel’s historic developments all the way up to the deportation of the Northern Kingdom, we find that Japheth is absent from the power struggle scene. However, at the time when Israel’s northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians (a Shemite people), Japhtaite names suddenly show up.  At least some of the exiles of the Northern Kingdom (Reuben, Gad and half of Menasseh) were destined to come into Japheth’s tent, as they are said to have been deported in 722 B.C.E to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan and to the cities of the Medes (see 1 Chronicles 5:26). According to Genesis 10:2, Madai (the Hebrew word for the Medes) was Japheth’s son. The exiles of Judah, on the other hand, were taken in 576 B.C.E to Babylon, a place that has had a long history of changing rulers and populations (true to its name, a “mixture”), and thus the Jews found themselves under a Shemite-Hamite dominion. Japheth, of course, became very prominent with Alexander the Great in the middle of the 4th century B.C.E and from then on the Jews and Judea in particular came under his dominion through Alexander’s successors and later the Romans. (Obviously both houses of Israel, in their millennia-long dispersions have been living in the “tents” of all three of Noah’s sons’ descendants.)

But why go so far back, to the very beginning of humanity’s expansion, in an attempt to revive those words of Noah regarding his sons’ destiny so long ago? As we have seen, throughout history there have been constant attempts to bring Shem’s seed into another tent, under someone else’s dominion. Whereas initially Ham had been a very dominant force for an extended time period, Japheth has taken over for much of the past two thousand years and more, along with a rival from Shem – Ishmael.  It is interesting to note that when it comes to end time prophecies regarding the descendants of the three brothers, Ezekiel 38 mentions a Japhethite-Hamite coalition (vs. 2, 3) that is poised to attack Israel. Likewise Japheth, via Javan (Yavan – Greece) is denounced in prophetic scripture by Zechariah (9:13) and Joel (3:6). This is in addition to several of the Shemite nations that are also implicated and judged (see, for example, Psalm 83 and Obadiah).

On the other hand, according to Isaiah 19:24 the two who are to form a triune coalition with Israel at a later date are Ashur (Assyria) and Mitzraim (Egypt), not before the latter suffers much tribulation. Although at the moment who this “Ashur” is, is not known. We can assume that it is still of a Shemite origin as we saw in Genesis. Contemporary Mitzraim, however, seems to no longer be of the seed of Ham, but rather of Ishmael, that is from Shem. Surprisingly, there are three other Shemite groups that are promised some form of restoration, and they are Elam, Moav and Ammon. “I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from there the king and the princes,' says YHVH.  'But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,' says YHVH" (Jeremiah 49:38-39). Perhaps having been the firstborn of Shem has something to do with the special grace accorded to Elam (and again, who they may be now is known only to YHVH). As to Moav and Ammon (again, whomever they may currently be), Jeremiah declares that in the latter days “the captivity of Moav” will be brought back, as well as “the captives of the people of Ammon” (48:47; 49:6). (This, however, has to be placed against Deuteronomy 23:3-4 and Nehemiah 13:1-2, where it states that these two will not “come into the assembly of Elohim”. Thus their status upon the “return of their captivity” is not compatible with Israel’s and the latter’s position in the tent of Shem.)

If Abraham and his seed are to inherit the world (Romans 4:13), it must certainly be referring to that “tent of Shem” of long ago. But, the world and those who dwell in it will not allow for a vacuum – there will always be usurpers. So, even though Judah and Ephraim are still only feeling (or inching) their way toward each other, Abba is nudging His children and pointing them to an even farther destination: “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). Along with this, there is another tent to consider: “… Jerusalem… a tent [literal translation] that will not wander/roam [literal translation - will not go to Zoan, that is to Egypt]” (Isaiah 33:20).

The One who “declares the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), has this to say about the “beginning days” (the days of Peleg – the division). So let us read once again: "Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.  For YHVH’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:7-9 emphases added).

And now to come full circle, let us recall that little synagogue in Chania Crete – the Etz Chayim (tree of life); Right in the midst of the Japhetite territory in Yavan (Greece) stands the restored and humble ‘tent of Shem’, drawing for no apparent reason different ones from all nations who choose to come for a little while under its roof.

It is time for us to recognize what the Almighty has constantly been in the process of establishing, as well as the challenges that have been put up by those who have attempted to step into the vacuum. Are we in the season when it is not only the House of Israel that is being built up, but also the tent of Shem whom YHVH has mandated to His Israel - “His allotment” and “His inheritance”? Are we to seek Him for our orders in terms of taking some form of responsibility in this ongoing process of redemption “all the way back to Adam”? It is no coincidence that just before Israel entered the Land, after the forty year desert journey, the waters of the Jordan are said to have rolled back “all the way to a place called Adam”.

Our restored identity as Israel (tent of Shem) does not come without certain requirements and obligations.

Finally, a word of encouragement: Recently we have witnessed amazing progress on the part of some (a few) in Judah who are taking up their responsibilities in some of the mandated areas required of Judah in Abba’s redemptive plan.