Unless we understand the origin of the Shavuot festival (approx. 1300 BCE), we will never properly understand the beginning of its fullness in the first century CE (Acts 2). Remember that the Goal of Shavuot, like the Goal of the Torah is Yeshua. And Yeshua’s Goal is to do the Father’s will reconciling the repentant to HaShem (God).
Yeshua is the Lamb, the Sheep Gate, and the Shepherd...
The text that follows is a continuation of the dialogue begun in the previous chapter. The nearest subjects are the Pharisees and crowd gathered following the healing of the man born blind. Therefore, the dialogue of verses 1-21 of chapter 10 occurs in Jerusalem and given the subject matter is a conversation that was probably held near to the sheep gate on the north side of the Temple complex on Mt Moriah (The Temple Mount).
Verse 21 brings to conclusion the events surrounding the healing of the man born blind and there is a significant gap in time between verse 21 and verse 22 which records a unique set of events that take place several months later during winter, at the time of Chanukah (Dedication).
In the interest of continuity, we should begin this chapter by repeating the last few verses of the previous chapter:
“39 And Yeshua said, “For a decree, judgment (krima[G]) I came into this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), so that those who do not see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may see with their eyes (blepo[G]), and that those who see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may become blind (tuphlos[H]).” 40 Those of the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind (tuphlos[H]) too, are we?” 41 Yeshua said to them, “If you were blind (tuphlos[H]), you would have no sin (hamartia[G]); but since you say, ‘We see with our eyes (blepo[G]),’ your sin (hamartia[G]) remains (meno[G]).” (John 9:39-41)
1 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you (all) (lechem[H]), the one [it] (ekeinos[G]) who does not enter (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) through (dia[G]) the (ho[G]) way (derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H], tara[A]) into the uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G], latyara[A]) of the sheep (probaton[G]), but ascends, climbs up (anabaino[G]) from another place (allachothen[G]), that one [it] (ekeinos[G]) is a thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and a robber, plunderer, brigand [by nature] (lestes[G]). 2 But he who enters (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) by the way (b’derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H], tara[A]) is a shepherd (poimen[G], roeih[H]) of the sheep (probaton[G], hatzon[H]).
It seems likely, given the details concerning the events of the previous chapter and the subject matter of the dialogue that continues on from that chapter, that the present teaching is taking place somewhere in the vicinity of the sheep gate at the north entrance to the first century Temple complex in Jerusalem.
Yeshua continues to make a clear distinction between Himself and the accuser Satan. He is further illuminating the ideas of lineage, legitimacy, occupation, service, and authority. Some of those listening had already heard Him accuse the religious leaders of being children of the Devil. Here, Yeshua adds to the distinction between the children of God and the children of the fallen nature by using the shepherd and sheep analogy. The sheep are the children of Israel and from verse 16 onward by extension the believing children of humanity as a whole. The Good Shepherd is God, manifest as God with us the King Messiah Yeshua, Who has entered humanity and the people of Israel legitimately. The thief and robber is the “original murderer… the father of lies”, Satan, the Devil, Accuser of the people of Israel and of all humanity. The Shepherd seeks to save His sheep, whereas the robber seeks only to steel and destroy. Therefore, Satan is not the Shepherd of the sheep, but he is a false shepherd, like the many false shepherds he has influenced throughout the history of humanity and of Israel.
Yeshua has entered both the sin affected world and the tribe of Judah from God and through Miriyam (Mary), a daughter of Eve and of Israel. He has also been obedient to the Torah and its requirements in every way and has entered the courts of the Temple according to the appropriate protocol, speaking, working wonders and teaching in public where all can access his message and make a reasoned assessment of His authenticity. Therefore, Yeshua, born of a woman, has entered humanity and the Jewish people legitimately, through the appropriate gate as Shepherd (and Lamb for slaughter).
Satan, on the other hand, “a murderer from the beginning… the father of lies” and “a thief and robber”, seeks to deceive the sheep, God’s people Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). Satan works in darkness, spreads lies, works lesser signs to seek his own glory rather than God’s. Satan does not keep Torah, nor does he follow religious protocol. Ultimately, Satan cannot be born of a woman because he has no creative authority, nor can the angelic mate with humanity (Matt.23:30, which also puts to death the foolish notion that the Nephilim are the progeny of angels and humans). The best he can hope for is to manipulate one born of a woman. Therefore, Satan has not entered through the door/gate of the human womb and has no legitimate right to exert authority as one who has entered through that gate.
It is interesting to note that the Greek kleptes which is used here to describe Satan, is the root for the modern English word kleptomania. Kleptes-mainesthai meaning “mad thief”. This word denotes a nature of theft that is beyond the thief’s ability to perceive the error of it. In other words, Satan is incapable of doing anything other than to steel, murder, lie and destroy, because it has become his nature. In addition, the Devil is here called a “thief… robber”, rather than one who has committed a theft or robbery. The former denotes nature, the latter an act of sin. Therefore, those who refuse Yeshua are children of the Devil by nature, whereas those who receive Yeshua become righteous in His nature and whilst we occasionally commit sin acts, it is no longer our nature to do so. This is why the Scripture says, “Through one sacrifice Messiah has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb.10:14)
1 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain,” The doubling of this firm agreement is a Hebraism that denotes a matter firmly established.
“…the one [it] (ekeinos[G]) who does not enter (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) through (dia[G]) the (ho[G]) way (derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H])” The one who doesn’t enter legitimately is the enemy of God and the accuser of humanity, the Devil. The gate is both literal and metaphorical.
These words are likely spoken near to the sheep gate, the gate through which the sacrificial animals were brought into the Temple complex. Yeshua, Who the Gospel writer calls “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world” has probably entered through this gate many times in observance of the sacrificial rite and is perhaps even entering as He speaks these words, or has just entered and has begun to speak these words. Thus, “the Lamb” of God literally enters the sheep gate as a figure for what is to come, that is, His being led as a lamb to slaughter, sacrificed (crucified) for the sins of Israel and all humanity.
In the Hebrew text we read “the way of the gate”, making the way an intrinsic part of both the entering and the gate itself. In short, how one enters is as significant as the gate through which one enters. This is to do not only with action but also with the nature that fuels that action.
“…into the uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G]), of the sheep (probaton[G])” The Greek text here is fascinating. Note that the word used to refer to the sheep fold relates specifically to a walled area surrounding a house. Yeshua has probably just entered through the literal sheep gate, that gate being one of the entrances to the outer walled area that surrounds the House of God (the Temple). In fact, one of the Hebrew names for the Temple mount is “Har Beit” literally “Mountain House”.
The Aramaic text is also interesting “Men tara latyara” is a word play combing the like sounds of the Aramaic tara (gate) and tyara (sheepfold), literally “in a gate to the sheepfold”.
The false shepherds and teachers of Israel, like their father (Satan) were not willing to sacrifice themselves for the people. They preferred to enter through the more prestigious gates where they might be afforded honour and acclamation. Yeshua on the other hand was entering as a humble Galilean lamb through the gate that would lead to His slaughter, knowing that He would be despised and rejected.
“…but ascends, climbs up (anabaino[G]) from another place (allachothen[G]),” Notice that the evil one “ascends from another place”. Meaning that he [it] has not descended from above but has ascended from below. The thief and plunderer invades the city by scaling the walls.
“…that one [it] (ekeinos[G]) is a thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and a robber, plunderer, brigand [by nature] (lestes[G]).” This describes not only the actions of theft and plunder but also the nature of these things which denotes that they are attributes of the individual. The Devil, a murderer and a liar from the beginning, the father of lies, the language of lying being his native tongue. The thief is also a figure for false teachers.
According to our rabbis the difference between a thief and a robber was that the former stole a person’s property in secret while the latter stole a person’s property publicly (Maimon. Hilchot Genuba, c. 1. sect. 3.)
Therefore, in a world where secret theft is no longer frowned upon, public theft slowly becomes acceptable. We are seeing this very thing unfold in our time.
“…But he who enters (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) by the way (b’derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H]) is a shepherd (poimen[G], roeih[H]) of the sheep (probaton[G], hatzon[H]).” What beautiful redemptive irony. The Lamb Who enters the gate legitimately as a willing sacrifice is also the Shepherd Who seeks to protect and save His flock.
For further study regarding Yeshua as the Good Shepherd: John 21:15-17; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; Exodus 3:1; 2 Sam. 5:2; Ezekiel 34:23, 37:24, Also compare Psalm 23, where God the Father (YHVH) is seen as the Shepherd. In addition compare the false shepherds of Israel Ezekiel 34:1-22; Acts 5:36-37.
3 To this one (touto[G]) the doorkeeper, gatekeeper (thuroros[G]) opens, and the sheep (probaton[G]) hear (tishmanah[H]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]), and he calls His own sheep (probaton[G]) by name (onoma[G]) and leads them out (exago[G]). 4 When He sends out (ekballo[G]) all his own (individually), He goes ahead, leading (poreuomai[G]) them, and the sheep (probaton[G]) follow, join themselves to (akoloutheo[G]) Him because they see, perceive (eido[G]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]).
“To this one (touto[G]) the doorkeeper, gatekeeper (thuroros[G]) opens” The ultimate Gatekeeper HaShem opens the gate to allow the true Shepherd Yeshua entry. Also, the watchmen assigned by HaShem upon the walls and at the gates of the city of Jerusalem, give entry to the legitimate Shepherd.
In particular the watchman assigned to the spiritual sheep gate, that being Yochanan (John) the immerser (Baptist), who, being born of the priestly line through his father Zechariah, may well have also come from the lineage of priests who were gatekeepers of the sheep gate, opens the gate to Yeshua and proclaims “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!”
“and the sheep (probaton[G]) hear (tishmanah[H]) his voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H])” The sheep are Israel, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen and from verse 16 onward by extension, all who might receive Yeshua the Lamb and Shepherd. Note that “hearing” in Hebrew tishmanah, denotes receipt of sound, voice. It is an act rather than a passive ability to hear. Therefore, to hear means to receive and perceive the voice of the Shepherd (Yeshua). The sheep in question are those who God knows will receive their Shepherd.
“and he calls His own sheep (probaton[G]) by name (onoma[G])” To “call His own sheep by name” has great significance in Hebrew thought. The Biblical narrative observes the Hebrew naming practice in relationship to the birthing process. A Hebrew child is often named based on the circumstances of his or her gestation, birth or early childhood, as this process reveals figuratively the prophetic implications for the child’s life. Thus, Moses is named for his being “drawn out” of the deadly waters of the Nile river, and Yaakov is named for the gripping of his brother’s heel as he came forth from the birth canal, and so on. Therefore, calling His own sheep by name denotes a birth and prophetic calling on the lives of every one of those sheep. God, Who sees the end from the beginning has chosen the names of each sheep in the flock for the purposes of His glory, thus each sheep is “born from above”(John 3:3, 7).
“and leads them out (exago[G]). When He sends out (ekballo[G]) all his own (individually), He goes ahead, leading (poreuomai[G]) them,” The Shepherd does not send the sheep out vulnerable to the conditions outside the safety of the sheepfold, rather He leads them out. He is first to go out through the gate. He does not ask the sheep to do what He has been unwilling to do.
“and the sheep (probaton[G]) follow, join themselves to (akoloutheo[G]) Him because they see, perceive (eido[G]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]).” Note that the sheep join themselves to the Shepherd, they don’t simply follow, they follow closely. The sheep “see”, that is they “perceive” the Shepherds voice, sound. This is outside of the reach of mere human intellect, it is a transcendent perception born of God because eyes can’t see sound, ears hear it. In first century Judaism “sight” relates to what is seen with the eyes both practically and spiritually and hearing to what is heard with the ears and spiritually speaking, that which is heard in the spirit. Therefore, when the writer of John’s gospel chooses the Greek eido to convey the idea of seeing the Shepherd’s voice, He is intentionally showing the sight in question to be a transcendent ability gifted of God and not achievable through human effort or natural ability.
5 Therefore, one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]) they will not follow, not in the lest, but will flee (pheugo[G]) separating (apo[G]) themselves from that one [it] (autos[G]), because they do not see, perceive (eido[G]) the voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]) of one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]).” 6 This parable, figure of speech (paroimia[G], mashal[H]) Yeshua spoke to them, but they did not understand, comprehend, learn [intellectually] (ginosko[G]) who it was that He had been speaking of.
“Therefore, one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]) they will not follow not in the lest, but will flee (pheugo[G]) separating (apo[G]) themselves from that one [it] (autos[G])” Here the false one who climbs over the wall illegitimately seeking entry is said to belong to another, meaning that the intruder is not a Shepherd of God but of Satan. This speaks of a secondary figure, one who might seek to fool the sheep, a man (anti-Messiah: 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The sheep perceive the voice of the true Shepherd and are therefore unable to receive the false voice of the intruder. Stranger means not only a non-Jew but also one who holds to strange teaching, a Hebrew idiom denoting idolatry. We note the “strange fire” brought by the sons of Aaron and the punishment they received (Lev.10:1-2).It is important to note that at the time of this teaching there were certain illegitimate priests who had come from the Hasmonean dynasty and were not descendants of Zadok. In other words, there were priests at the time that were not descendants of Levi and therefore quit literally “belonged to another”, strangers from another tribe, some even being of mixed bloodlines.
“This parable, figure of speech (paroimia[G], mashal[H]) Yeshua spoke to them, but they did not understand, comprehend, learn [intellectually] (ginosko[G]) who it was that He had been speaking of.” Yeshua was using a familiar rabbinical method of teaching by using an everyday vocation as a mashal (teaching story) to illuminate a spiritual principal. The fact that some of those listening did not comprehend it intellectually shows that they were not seeking to perceive His words spiritually. It seems that they had already decided to assign Yeshua’s words to the domain of rambling nonsense. Therefore, they were unable to learn and could not perceive that the parable concerned Yeshua as Shepherd.
7 So Yeshua said to them again, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, I am (ena[A]) the door, opening, passage (ho thura[G], petach[H]) of the sheep, flock (probaton[G], ana[A]).
Seeing that many listening were not comprehending, perceiving, Yeshua returns to the Hebraic modus operandi of repetition and affirmation.
“I am the door” in the Greek is “I am the opening” in Hebrew. Yeshua has now identified Himself as the Lamb entering through the sheep gate as a willing unblemished sacrifice, the Shepherd entering the sheepfold with Divine authority by legitimate means, and now as the door/gate/opening itself, the means of entry into that walled space that surrounds the house (Temple) and protects the sheep. That same door/opening is also the means by which the sheep go out. Therefore, through Yeshua the Lamb and Shepherd, the chosen sheep come in and go out. They come in through Him and under His protection and they go out through Him and under His protection. He is speaking of His vicarious sacrifice which makes it possible for the sheep of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) to enter God’s everlasting Kingdom.
In the Aramaic text there is a word play using ena (I) and ana (flock) to denote Yeshua’s intrinsic connection to the flock for whom He is the gate (means of entry to God’s Kingdom).
8 All (individually) who came before Me are thieves, embezzlers [fig. false teachers] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and robbers, plunderers, brigands [by nature] (lestes[G]), but the sheep (probaton[G]) did not hear, receive, accept (lo shamu[H]) them.
“All” means all who have come before Him claiming to be the Messiah. They were clearly not the Messiah but were false messiah’s manipulated by the evil one for the purpose of leading Israel astray. There were numerous would be messiah’s in the first century who lead failed revolts against the Roman occupation.
The text of Zechariah 11 alludes in part to the treatment of Yeshua the Shepherd at the hands of false shepherds:
“So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter.” -Zechariah 11:7-13 ESV
9 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G]) the door, opening (ho thura[G], ha-patach[H]); if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved (sozo[G]), and will go in and out and find pasture.
“I AM” is yet another statement of divinity. Yeshua is God with us.
Entering the sheepfold of God’s everlasting kingdom is only possible through the opening made through Yeshua’s blood. Thus the sheep who enter through Yeshua will never again be threatened by the wolf of sin or the lion of death.
The coming in and going out expresses the freedom afforded to every believer in God’s kingdom and speaks prophetically of that time yet future when the heavens and the earth will be renewed and God and the Lamb will dwell with humanity. At that time there will be no need for the sheep to remain behind walls of protection because they will never be threatened again.
At this point Yeshua is speaking specifically to the sheep of the sheepfold of ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel, the Jewish people. It is only later that He will widen His message to include the sheep that are not of the sheepfold of Israel (the Gentiles)[v.16].
10 The thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]), and have it abundantly (perissos[G]).
Here, Yeshua shows the stark contrast between Himself and the enemy of Israel Satan. The Devil, a murderer and liar from the beginning, comes only to steal, kill and destroy. To steal what is good by tempting us to defile it, to kill what is living through the fruit of sin, and to destroy and put an end to our hope through deception. On the other hand, Yeshua has come to give perpetual living in place of temporal death, a life devoid of the fruit of sin, overflowing with abundant and transcendent joy.
11 “I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the good, commendable, surpassing, excellent (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]); the good (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]) lays down His life breath, soul (psuche[G], et-nafsho[H]) for the sheep (probaton[G], ha-tzon[H]).
Once again Yeshua premises His words with a statement of His all existing nature. In Hebrew ha-tov (the good) expresses a state of unmitigated purity, wholesomeness, surpassing excellence, unparalleled goodness, perfection. This is why Yeshua says elsewhere, “Why do you call me tov, there is none tov but Elohiym (God).” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). When Yeshua says that He is the good Shepherd, He is in fact once again claiming to be God with us, because only God qualifies as the Good Shepherd. Therefore, where Yeshua says elsewhere, “Why do you call me tov, there is none good but God” He means to say, “Ask yourself why you called me good and you will see that none is good but God”.
The Good Shepherd is no ordinary Shepherd, He is the ultimate Shepherd, unmatched in purity, faithfulness, dedication and love for His sheep. Although He is already the rightful owner of the sheep, He none the less gives His life (Hebrew nafsho – soul existence) as the price for their protection from death (fig. eternal death).
Genesis speaks of Joseph as a figure for the future King Messiah, Yeshua the Shepherd of Israel:
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),” -Genesis 49:22-24
12 The hired hand, who is not a shepherd (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]), and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]) and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The wolf, like the thief, seeks only to steel, kill and destroy. A hired person has nothing to loose by saving his own skin when the wolf comes, whereas the owner has a vested interest in saving the sheep. In the case of this mashal (parable), the Owner lays down His life for the sheep, allowing the wolf to take His life so that the sheep can go free.
“The hired hand” is a figurative allusion to the false shepherds and misguided religious and political leaders of Israel.
“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to [a]those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord [b]God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been [c]feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds [d]feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without [e]feeding the flock. 4 Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the [f]diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. 5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’” 7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My [g]sheep [h]from them and make them cease from feeding [i]sheep. So the shepherds will not [j]feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’” -Ezekiel 34:1-10 NASB
Jewish commentary speaks of Satan, as, הוא הזאב, "he is the wolf" and by extension he is said to influence all false prophets, and teachers, who are ravenous wolves (sometimes in sheep's clothing). So too are tyrants, oppressors, and persecutors of Israel.
“a shepherd that feeds his flock, and leaves it, and goes to the city, and a wolf comes and ravines, and the lion comes and tears in pieces, he is free; but if he leaves by it his staff and his scrip, he is guilty.'' - Talmud. Bavliy. Bava Metzia, fol. 41. 1. & 93. 2. & 106. 1.
“a shepherd who can deliver that which is torn, and that which is carried captive, with other shepherds, and with staves, and does not call the other shepherds, nor bring the staves to deliver them, he is guilty: one that keeps freely, and one that keeps for hire; he that keeps freely, calls the shepherds, and brings the staves freely; and if he does not find them, he is not guilty; but he that keeps for hire, is obliged to hire shepherds and staves, in order to deliver them.'' -Maimonides, Hilchot Shechirut c. 3. sect. 6.
13 He (hired person) flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]). 14 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the good, commendable, surpassing, excellent (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]), and I know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) My own and My own know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) Me, 15 even as the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) knows (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) Me and I know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]); and I lay down My life breath, soul (psuche[G], et-nafsho[H]) for the sheep (probaton[G], ha-tzon[H]).
“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and His arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before him. He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” -Isaiah 40:10-11 ESV
""He shall feed his flock like a shepherd"; not as he that feeds the flock of others, for the hire they give him, but as a shepherd that feeds his own flock; who has compassion more abundantly on it, because it is his own flock; and therefore he says, "behold his reward is with him", for he does not seek a reward from another; "and his work is before him"; for he feeds what is his own, and therefore his eyes and his heart are there.'' -Abarbinel, Mashmia Yeshua, fol. 20. 4.
Therefore, “His reward is with Him” in the form of that which He brings as a reward to the faithful sheep and in terms of the sheep themselves who are His reward, inheritance, joy. HaShem is the perfect Father, Yeshua, the perfect Son.
When Yeshua says He “knows” His sheep and that they “know” Him, He is not speaking of the intellectual knowledge of humanity but of the transcendent knowledge of God. This is made clear by the affirmation in the Father, “Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.” In Hebrew the word yada (know), infers an intimate soul tie. This is why it is used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse. In other words, the knowledge Yeshua speaks of denotes an inseparable relational connection.
16 I have other (allos[G]) sheep (probaton[G], tzon[H]), which are not of this uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G], latyara[A]); I must bring them also, and they will hear (tishmanah[H]) My voice, sound (phone[G], koliy[H]); and they will become one, a complex, unified (heis[G], echad[H]) flock (poimne[G]) with one, complex, unified (heis[G], echad[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], roeh[H]).
Up to this point the sheep Yeshua has been referring to are the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel (the Jewish people), and the sheepfold of God’s Kingdom as it is outworked through Israel upon the throne of David in the greater Son of David the King Messiah Yeshua. Now He alludes to sheep who are not from the tribes (sheepfold) of Israel.
The Tanakh (OT) alludes to the salvation of Gentiles on numerous occasions (Gen.12:3, 18:14, 22:18, 26:4; Isaiah 11:10, 19:6, 54:1-3, 60:1-3; Hosea 1:10; Amos 9:11; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 72, 87.
The “Aleinu” prayed daily by observant Jews acknowledges God’s rule over all the earth and the future unity of His rule and Kingdom and Name according to the prophet Zechariah:
“And HaShem will be King over all the earth; on that day HaShem will be one and His Name one.” (Zechariah 14:9).
It is important to note that the one flock will be housed in the sheepfold of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen). With reference to the Gentile sheep not of the sheepfold Yeshua says He will “bring them”, that is, they will be afforded a concession to come into the commonwealth of Israel. Note carefully that Ezekiel the prophet speaks God’s word identifying ethnic Israel as His chosen sheep and the greater Son of David (the King Messiah Yeshua) as the Shepherd:
“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” -Ezekiel 34:22-24 ESV
“They will become one” Note that they are not yet one but will become one. The present manifestation of the body of believers is truly a complex unity in that it continues to await the fullness of these words of Yeshua. Those Jews who are presently Messiah followers remain Jews, while those of the nations who are presently Messiah followers are not Jews but are one with their Jewish brothers and sisters. The body of believers awaits the inclusion of all of the remaining Jewish people through Yeshua (Romans 11:25-36). There is a convergent aspect to the present state of the body of believers (Ecclesia) where Jewish believers meet the circle of the wider body, which includes Gentiles. This does not mean that the Church is a continuation of the Jewish people, rather, it means (according to Romans) that the body of believers is yet to see its fullness. That fullness being revealed at the end of the age when the entire remnant of the ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen people of Israel (the Jewish people) will be saved through Yeshua and we will truly be one, complex and unified people in God. Complex because we will not be robbed of our uniqueness, and unified because in Messiah we will delight in the diversity of the body.
The Ecclesia (Body of believers, Church) is made up of Jews (Sheepfold of God) and Gentiles (Not of the sheepfold of God but brought in through Yeshua), while the chosen people of God, ethnic, religious, empirical Israel (the Jewish people) continue in their unique role as a sign pointing toward the fullness of God’s redemptive plan for humanity, that being the salvation of all ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel (the Jewish people) at the end of the age after all who will come in from the nations (Gentiles) have come. Thus, those not of the sheepfold of Israel are afforded through Yeshua the opportunity to become part of the commonwealth of Israel in the similar way to that of people of other tribes and nations becoming part of the commonwealth of Great Britain, or some other such collective. Therefore, no tribe or nation loses their unique identity, rather in Messiah all are made a complex unity of diverse expression, just as the body has many parts but functions as one entity reliant on all its parts, guided by the head and powered by the heart and lungs.
Therefore, the Church is not a continuation of Israel, nor is it the continuation of the faith of Abraham. Rather, it is the living organism that having been born of the Jews in Yeshua seeks its fullness in the redemption of ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel through Yeshua at the end of the age and into the Olam Haba, world to come.
The primary flaw in misunderstanding this truth is born of the pride of the Gentile Church, which has come to see itself as the rightful heir. To the contrary, the Gentiles are afforded an opportunity to come into the sheepfold of Israel as a concession and not as a right.
The redemptive plan of God comes through and from the Jews and draws others inward, it does not progress outward with the intention of making the Jews obsolete. This is made abundantly clear by Yeshua when He says “I must bring them (Gentiles) also…” Therefore, the Gentiles are brought in but the place of the chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious) does not change. After all, it is the sheepfold of Israel that the believing Gentiles are being welcomed into.
Rav Shaul writes using the wall that separates Gentiles from the courts of the woman and of Israel saying:
“For He (Yeshua) is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” -Ephesians 2:14
We note that the breaking down of this wall is intended to bring the Gentiles in to the worship practices of Israel and is not taken down in order to have the Gentiles leave behind the Jewish roots of their faith. And yet, that is exactly what the Gentile Church has done. For centuries it has turned its back on the people and worship practice from which it was born and in doing so has directly opposed the words of both Rav Shaul and Yeshua.
17 For this reason the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) loves (oheiv[H]) Me, because I lay down My life, breath, soul existence (et-nafshiy[H]) so that I may take it up again. 18 No one, nothing (oudeis[G]) has taken it away from Me or separated (apo[G]) Me from it, but I lay it down on My own initiative, in My Own power, by My Own choice (exousia[G]). I have authority, power, choice (exousia[G]) to lay it down, and to take it up again. This commandment (entole[G]) I received from My Father (Pater mou[G], Aviy[H]).”
The Messiah was prophesied to lay down His life for the people of Israel (Isaiah 53:1-12; Psalm 16:8-11).
Note that Yeshua lays down His life of His own fruition and power. Neither the thief, nor the wolf, nor any other power is able to take the life of the Messiah except that He allows it. The giving of His life is entirely His decision.
Notice the relational language and convergence of authority, freewill and command. Yeshua has been given full authority from the Father and in turn submits His will by His own choosing to the Father in obedience to the Father’s instruction. After all, God cannot refuse to act according to His Own character and nature.
19 A tear, division (schisma[G]) occurred again among the Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]]) because of these words, essences, substances (logos[G], d’variym[H]). 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) and is meshuggah[H] out of his mind, insane. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) can’t open the eyes of the blind, can it?”
Again Yeshua is accused by some of being insane. The use of the word “demon” as it is understood by the modern reader is misleading in many respects. In modern terms they were accusing Yeshua of being schizophrenic, bipolar, severally mentally ill, and yes, at times these conditions may be exacerbated by demonic forces, but the point here is to discredit Yeshua as a mentally ill fool who talks nonsense.
Jewish tradition speaks of a spirit which called Tazazit, which is an evil spirit that takes away the understanding of human beings (R. David Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad.).
Also note that once more the religious leaders are divided in their opinions of Yeshua. The word schisma suggests an even division, meaning that at least half the leaders were in favour of Yeshua after hearing His words. It is utter nonsense to make “Pharisee” or “Jew” synonymous with “disbeliever”. This kind of antisemitism has been far too prevalent in the common theological language of the Gentile Christian Church for too long.
“A demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) can’t open the eyes of the blind, can it?” In fact, in the latter days those manipulated by demonic forces will produce miracles like the giving of sight to the blind in order to fool people into following a false god. The One Who is of God is proved by His pointing people to God. Therefore, as I’ve said previously, miraculous signs in and of themselves are not evidence of a true prophet.
“[a]If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has [b]counseled [c]rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of [d]slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.” -Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NASB
“For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will [n]show great [o]signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the [p]elect.” -Matthew 24:24 NASB
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Ha-Sefer shel Yochanan John 9: Here’s Mud in Your Eye (Recently Healed Beggar Schools a Group of Religious Leaders)
It’s important to note that Yeshua utilized miraculous signs, He did not venerate them. Every miracle He performed was done to point people to salvation through Him. Any miracle that does not point people to Yeshua and reconciliation to God is not of God.
This miracle (sign), found only in John’s gospel, is unique in many ways: the young man has been blind from birth, Yeshua uses inanimate matter (earth) in the healing process, and the healing generates a wide range of responses from observers and an argument over halakhah (application of Torah principles) that involves the parents of the recipient and the religious leaders--P’rushiym (Pharisees). John is concerned with revealing the Davar[H], logos[G] (Word, essence, substance) of Adonai made flesh, and also uses terms like light, dark, day and night, to show the stark contrast of the Messiah’s light against the dark night of this world (figurative of blindness and hidden deeds of evil). Thus, conveying the deeper meaning in the metaphor of light and its relationship to sight and revelation (lifting of a veil) throughout his gospel. John is clearly intending to make the Deity of Messiah plain for all to see. He wants us to understand what it truly means to behold Immanuel (God with us), literally “Imanu (He is with us) El (God)”. All this happens following Yeshua’s last words in John 8: “Before Avraham was born, I AM!”
There are also aspects of this miraculous sign that affirm the cultural and spiritual miss beliefs of some of the first century Jewish people and their leaders. However, before we become too critical we should remind ourselves that we continue to hold many of the same miss beliefs in the modern Christian Ecclesia (Church) to this day. In our text the disciples suggest by inference that personal or parental sin is the cause of the young man’s blindness, some of the Pharisees again accuse Yeshua of working on the Sabbath (the added action of mud making helps to fuel their zeal), excommunication (possibly cherem, indefinite cutting off from the community) is threatened against the young man’s parents and so the list goes on.
Yochanan (John, the writer of this gospel) tackles a wide range of issues in this concise but diverse account. If we are to understand it well, we will need to ask both the obvious questions regarding the healing itself and the deeper questions of religious culture and colloquial presumption. My hope is, that having studied this passage, we will be able to avoid the conclusion, “It’s clear as mud.” Though on second thought, perhaps in this case at least, the idiom denotes significant clarity.
1 As He (Yeshua) passed by, He saw (eido[G], va’yare[H]) a man blind, sightless (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]) from the day of (miyom[H]) his birth (genete[G], hivaldo[H]). 2 And His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) asked Him, “Rabbi[H] (My Great One, Pastor, Teacher), who is the sinner (hamartano[G], ha’chote[H], missed the mark set by God), this man or his parents, in order (hina[G]) that he would be fathered (gennao[G]) blind, sightless (tuphlos[G], iveir[H])?”
“He (Yeshua) saw…” Note that this account begins by stating that Yeshua “sees, perceives”. This in contrast to the one born blind, sightless. The figurative meaning is that Yeshua, Whose origin is from above, sees and imparts sight, whereas the man (human being) is born of the earth, into a sin affected creation and is therefore blind, sightless from birth (Psalm 51:5). The opening verse essentially conveys the core premise for the Gospel’s purpose, to give sight to the spiritually blind and set them free from bondage to the deeds of darkness.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua:
25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believe in Yeshua.” -Romans 3:23-26
“Blind from birth.” This statement is significant, as testified to by the healed man himself in verse 32 of this same chapter. This is intended to set up the many Messianic overtones of the healing. For years prior Israel had been awaiting a Messiah for Whom one of the significant signs of His validity would be the giving of sight to the blind (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 29:18, 35:5, 42:7).
“On that day the deaf will hear d’variy My word, essence, substance, a sepher scroll, book, and out of their gloom and choshek darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” -Isaiah 29:18 (Author’s translation)
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” -Isaiah 35:5 NASB
Notice that Isaiah uses the Hebrew word “Davar”, the same word Yochanan uses to describe Yeshua (John 1).
“To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” -Isaiah 42:7 NASB
“Who sinned?” This question is not without foundation. There are clear examples both in Scripture and in life, of personal sin that results in illness. In the case of humanity’s fall, sin entered the world and death with it, therefore sin can be linked to all sickness to some degree. However, this does not always mean that personal sin has caused illness. Therefore, the disciples’ question can be seen as presumptuous, given that not all cases of illness are the direct result of personal sin.
There is substantial evidence indicating that the commonly held perception at that time, regarding illness, was that those who were severely ill had committed some great sin or had parents who had sinned and therefore were reaping the curse of the four generations as outlined in the Torah. To this the rabbis added arguments such as those regarding the ante-natal behaviour of Esau and Jacob (these rabbinical conversations are found in extra-Biblical texts which record the oral traditions and debates of the first century CE, e.g. Bereishit Rabbah 63:6 on Gen 25:22), some suggesting Esau’s sin in the womb as being the reason for his later loss of birth-rite. Needless to say, the question of the disciples was not unwarranted, given the social and religious connotations associated with severe sickness as understood by the Judaism of the first century CE.
“…fathered (gennao[G]) blind” This phrase infers something different from simply having been born (genete[G]) blind. To be “fathered blind” denotes blindness passed on by the father. In short, the disciples were inferring that the father (parents) were responsible.
Therefore, in this context “fathered blind” denotes that the “sins of the father” have been “visited on the son” (Exodus 20:4-6). The Torah text that explains this idea is associated to idolatry and therefore, infers that the one suffering under generational sin is reaping the fruit of an idolatrous forebear.
However, the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18), speaking the Word (Davar) of the Lord (YHVH) explains that each person is judged according to their own actions. This is consistent with the Torah because the Torah explains (Exodus 20:6) that the one who loves God and obeys His Instruction will see perpetual (everlasting) blessing (the number 1000 is a figurative Hebraism meaning “everlasting”). Therefore, at any point in the generations of the wicked a son might turn to God in repentance and reap blessing, thus cancelling out the curse of the four generations and redeeming the family line. Ezekiel’s words do not oppose the words of Exodus, rather they illuminate them. Yeshua has come to illuminate them further, and to add the need for discernment in all such situations so as to leave room for the redemptive works of God.
3 Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves: Iesous[G], Joshua, Jesus) answered, “Neither this man sinned (hamartano[G], chata[H], missed the mark set by God), nor his parents; this has occurred (but) in order to manifest, display, make visible (phaneroo[G]) in him the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of the God (ho Theos[G], El[H]). 4 We must labour in (ergazomai[G]) the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of Him who sent Me (pempo[G]) as long as it is day (hemera[G], yom[H]); night (nux[G], halaylah[H]) is coming when no one can labour (ergazomai[G]). 5 While I am in the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), I am the uncreated Light (phos[G], Or[H]) of the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]).”
Yeshua illuminates the small view of His disciples and shows them the big picture, the meta-narrative of redemption. He is explaining that individual sin is a symptom of the sin affected creation, and that God has made a way for all, parents and children to be delivered from their inherent blindness. “The works of God” which Yeshua is displaying are intended to point all to the King Messiah and redemption through His vicarious sacrifice.
Yeshua never performed a miracle (sign) simply for the sake of healing a person or as a display of His prowess. After all, what good is temporal healing if that same person fails to receive Yeshua and thus ends up in perpetual torment for all eternity? Yeshua is no magician, He’s not a doctor, nor any other kind of crass performer of temporal cures. He is God with us. He need not gain an audience.
“Neither… but this happened so that the works/signs of God might be displayed in him.” Yeshua is not saying that it’s impossible for personal sin to result in severe sickness. He is simply saying that it’s not the only option, that there are times when people get sick for other reasons. In this case the reason is that the purpose of God be made manifest. That is, a sign, work, action, that reveals the true identity of the Messiah as one who causes the blind to see—in fulfilment of the afore mentioned Messianic passages of Isaiah.
“As long as it is day…” It is here that John begins to juxtapose concepts of light and darkness, right action and sin, day and night. These themes become a metaphor for the stark contrast between blindness and sight. The conclusion will be that spiritual blindness is the greater danger. Only Messiah can act in this world to bring sight to that kind of blindness, and only those who are willing to accept that they are blind are able to receive sight. While Yeshua is with them, He is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5).
“The occupation of God..” mirrors the language in Yeshua’s accusation against the religious leaders regarding the fact that they claimed to be children of Avraham and yet did not walk in the occupation, business of Avraham (John 8:39).
6 When He (Yeshua) had said this, He spat on the ground (chamai[G], ha-aretz[H]), and made clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]) of the spittle, and applied, spread (epichrio[G]) the clay on his eyes (ophthalmos[G]), 7 and said to him, “Go, wash, ritually purify yourself, bathe (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H]) in the pool of Shiloach[H] (Siloam[G])” [which is translated, Sent]. So he went away and washed (nipto[G], ashiyg[A]), and came back seeing.
“He spit on the ground and made mud and put it on the blind man’s eyes.” If, as is clear from Scripture (Mark 10:51-52; Luke 18:41-43; John 4:50 etc), Messiah Yeshua did not need to use anything other than the word of His mouth or the intention of His will to heal, why did He make mud? Was He emulating an occult practice as some foolishly claim? Certainly not, He’s the Author of the Torah, which forbids such practice. Was He using a microbial herbal healing technique, perhaps knowing that the mud and saliva somehow combined to become a natural healing balm? Extremely unlikely. It is noteworthy that Yeshayahu/Isaiah—the prophet Yeshua quotes most—healed Hezekiah with a fig poultice, however there is no real correlation here, except to validate the authenticity of Yeshua as a prophet of God. Why then, did Yeshua act out this show of ritual in full view of those observing the miraculous sign? The most obvious answer is that it was intended as a living parable, like those performed by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:9-12).
So, what exactly is Yeshua saying through this action? Firstly, we should ask, “What is the gospel writer’s agenda in writing?” John is concerned essentially with the theme of God’s coming down and dwelling among us. John uses the terms, Word and Light to describe Immanuel (God with us), the King Messiah Yeshua. He begins his gospel with the words, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” He goes on to emphasise that, “The Word (God’s very essence/intention/breathe/saliva) became flesh (Adam) and dwelt among us.” Yeshua (God with us) is the person who embodies the very intention/essence/saliva of God, He is a physical symbol of the issued mouth essence of God (Ruach—breath), combining this essence with the soil (adamah—earth, ha’aretz—ground, land) is a recreation (a figure) reflecting the creation of the first Adam (human-being), and pointing to the last Adam (Yeshua). After sinning and allowing sin to enter into the world, the first Adam was unable to heal in this way but Yeshua is not the first Adam. We are told by Rabbi Shaul (Paul the Apostle) that Yeshua is the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). This physical parable then is most likely meant as a sign/work of Divine creative power and a figure alluding to the Messiah, a representation of His physical being and His status as God with us. He is the Shiloach (Sent One) Who Yeshayahu/Isaiah prophesied would open the eyes of the blind. He has come down as the essence (Saliva) of God and has been joined to the adamah (earth/soil) and has become the last Adam (Fully God and fully man), God with us, Immanuel. Only He is capable of a miracle of such significance.
“‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (Shiloach),’ (this word means “Sent”). So, the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” In order to fully understand this statement of Yeshua we must first gain an understanding of the Hebrew word Shiloach, which John chooses to transliterate into Greek as Siloam, explaining that it means sent. This is the same pool from which the water was drawn for the ritual libation offering of Sukkot (see my previous article on John 7:25-53).
This pool gains its name from the Hebrew Shalach (go or send) and is closely related to the Hebrew Shiloh meaning sent one. Hebrew readers will recognize this word from the title to the Torah portion B’shalach (In going forth). We should begin with the term Shiloh because it was known in ancient Judaism to represent the Mashiyach (Messiah). We find the first reference to this term (which is a Proper Noun/name) in Bereishit/Genesis 49:10:
“The sceptre shall not depart from Y’hudah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet (that is from his issue, children’s children) until Shiloh (the sent one) comes: and the people will be obedient to Him. (Shiloh)”
Without knowledge of the proper noun/name Shiloh, this account (John 9) is difficult to understand.
The meaning then is grounded in the fact that Shiloh, the One Genesis 49:10 speaks of is the Sent One, the Mashiyach/Messiah, Yeshua. Once we understand this we move to the next key text, this text mentions the derivative term shiloach (Siloam), Yeshayahu/Isaiah 8:9
“This people have refused the softly flowing waters of Shiloach (the sent one) and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son. (Meaning the false ruler and his false deities)”
Israel are seen here as both presently and prophetically rejecting the cleansing (waters) of the Sent One (Shiloach) Who is the Messiah Yeshua (God with us).
With this understanding as our foundation we now look at the present text and the rich meaning displayed in Yeshua’s command for the blind man to wash in the waters of Siloam (Shiloach). Yeshua is effectively saying:
“Go, wash in the gently flowing waters of the Sent One.” Yeshua is Shiloh, He is Shiloach and He is sending the blind man to the waters of the Sent One so that he might gain his sight (A sure sign of the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah [see previous Isaiah passages]). Thus, the blind man, in obedience, does the opposite of the people of Yeshayahu/Isaiah 8:6 and so, he receives sight, both physical and, spiritual. The blind man himself is sent by the Sent One to be a tributary, a little sent one. Why? Because “while it is day we must do the works of Him who sent us. Night is coming when no one can work”, unless, the Light of the World lives in us, so that we might become light in the night.
The once blind man now returns home as a sent one who will shine his light in the darkness. This is God’s desire for each of us, we have all been blind and need the Sent One (Yeshua) and His cleansing, so that we might receive true spiritual sight, thus avoiding the deeds of darkness and disbelief. Some see tevilah (baptism) or mikveh in the washing of the blind man, but it is more likely that he simply washed his eyes clean of the mud. Needless to say, rabbinical teaching would have seen the very act of washing as a defilement of the Sabbath (this of course is not a Torah understanding, it is simply a law of men).
It’s important to note that Yeshua utilized miraculous signs, He did not venerate them. Every miracle He performed was done to point people to salvation through Him. Any miracle that does not point people to Yeshua and reconciliation to God is not of God. Many blind guides in the body of believers today place great emphasis on the miraculous. They decontextualize Scripture saying “We’re able to do greater things than Yeshua…” as a basis for their witchcraft, manipulations, invocations and celebrated manifestations. They lack the discernment required to distinguish between manifestation of the Spirit and the manifestation of the demonic and thus place the body of believers in grave danger. The Scripture they often refer to in defence of their idolatry (John 14:12), when read in context, teaches that by the Spirit of the Father and the Son (“because I am going to the Father”), those who believe in Yeshua will enact something greater than the miracles Yeshua performed during His earthly ministry, in that the greater purpose of those miracles was always to point people to salvation through Him. Therefore, our doing “greater than these” (What is greater than raising a person from the dead?) is us working to spread the gospel throughout the known world, something that Yeshua did not physically carry out during His earthly ministry because He had come “only for the lost sheep of Israel”(Matt. 10:6; 15:24). In conclusion, to pursue miracles is idolatry, whereas to focus on the Miracle Maker (Yeshua) is righteousness.
Interestingly, the extra-Biblical teaching of the Mishnah (Oral Law) lists making mud or clay as one of the thirty nine kinds of work that is unlawful (according to the rabbis) on the Shabbat (Mishnah Shabbat 7:2;).
8 Consequently the neighbours (of the man born blind), and those who previously observed (theoreo[G]) him as a beggar, were saying, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He (the once blind man) kept saying, “I am the one (who was born blind).” 10 So they were saying to him (who was born blind), “How then were your eyes opened?”
In religious Jewish thought giving tzedakah “Charity” should produce and opportunity for self-worth. A sitting beggar of the first century would probably have been considered an unworthy recipient because of the appearance that he was not willing to further himself. In addition, if his blindness were considered the result of sin he would have earned very little from begging. This shows the depth of desperation of this man prior to his healing.
When the blind man came home seeing, he was met with a divided response from those who knew him. Some were so confused by this miraculous event that they doubted he was the same man who had been born blind. Others were certain it was the ex-blind beggar they had known for so long. The man himself was adamant, “I am the man!” The people respond, “How were you healed then?” If this was that blind guy, something pretty amazing was happening and they genuinely wanted to know what that was.
11 He answered, “The man who is called Yeshua made clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]), and applied, spread (epichrio[G]) it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Shiloach[H] (Siloam[G]: sent) and wash, ritually purify yourself, bathe (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H])’; so I went away and washed, ritually purified myself, bathed (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H]), and I looked up (anablepo[G]), received sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He (Yeshua)?” He said, “I don’t know.” 13 They brought to the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) the man who was formerly blind.
“The man they call Yeshua made some mud and put it on my eyes and sent me to wash in the pool of Shiloach, as soon as I had done this I could see.” This is the first in a progression of chronological statements that show the man’s journey to salvation (John, the writer of this gospel, is rightly called the Evangelist by early Church fathers).
Here, the man has not yet seen Yeshua, he barely even knows Who He (Yeshua) is, so he says, “the man they call Yeshua.” This statement shows the relational distance between the man and Yeshua directly after his healing. He is referring to Yeshua, not as an acquaintance but rather as someone that others talk about. This is step one in the man’s journey to identifying and understanding who Yeshua is.
“Where is this man?” The now seeing beggar responds, “I don’t know.” Yeshua has obviously left the location of the healing (the place where the clay was applied). The man upon receiving his sight, is so excited that he goes straight home to show everybody what a wonderful miracle has happened to him. He has not yet seen Yeshua.
“They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees.” There is no need to see this as an act of malice. The people were socially and religiously accustomed to seeking the advice and opinions of the P’rushiym (Pharisees), who were entrusted as leaders of their synagogues and as spiritual shepherds of Israel.
14 Now it was a Shabbat[H] (Sabbath) on the day when Yeshua made the clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]) and opened his eyes. 15 Then the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]) to my eyes, and I washed, ritually purified myself, bathed (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H]) and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees: chased ones) were saying, “This man is not from God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), because He does not keep the Shabbat[H] (Sabbath).” But others were saying, “How can a man who is devoted to sin (hamartolos[G]) perform such signs (otot[H])?” And there was a rent, tear, division (schisma[G]) among them.
“The day on which Yeshua made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.” This Sabbath is either the eighth day celebration Shmini Atzeret which follows the Sukkot week, or it is the weekly Sabbath following Sukkot.
This is obviously important to the discussion that follows. Throughout His ministry Yeshua is criticized by the Pharisees for His actions on the Sabbath (Yeshua keeps the Torah but He does not bow to the wider added traditions of the rabbis’ concerning the Sabbath). The making of the mud in addition to the actual healing was of particular concern to them in light of rabbinic oral tradition (Mishnah Shabbat 7:2).
"it is forbidden to put fasting spittle even on the eyelid on a sabbath day.''
-T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 14. 4. & Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. & T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 108. 2. & Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 25.
The Pharisees asked how the man had been healed and upon finding out, they were divided in their opinions of Yeshua and the event itself. Some of them felt that He had broken the Sabbath laws (of course He had only broken their man-made laws), others were convinced that because Yeshua had worked such a great miracle that they should not be so hasty to condemn Him. Neither argument was valid, the Torah warns that false prophets may work great miracles, so the fact that this healing was miraculous was not proof of Yeshua’s standing as a prophet of God.
The working of miraculous signs does not qualify a prophet of God. Rather, miraculous signs that point to salvation (the spiritually blind being given sight) are the fruit of a godly prophet.
“21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” -Mattitiyahu (Matthew) 7:21-23 TLV
It’s worth noting that what follows is a spontaneous and unlawful trial, conducted against both the once blind man and Yeshua.
Our rabbis explicitly forbid courts (trials) to be in session on the Sabbath (y. Sanh. 4:6).
17 So they said to the blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]) man again, “What is your opinion of Him (Yeshua), since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet (prophetes[G], navi[H]).”
As is the proper thing to do they turn to the man who had been healed and ask him, “What do you have to say about Him?” To which the man replies, “He is a prophet.” This is the second stage in the development of the man’s relationship to Yeshua. Here he has progressed from speaking of Yeshua as one Whom others speak of, to naming him a prophet. The full impact of what has happened to him is beginning to sink in and he is starting to see glimpses of who Yeshua really is.
18 The religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym) then did not believe, trust, were not persuaded (pisteuo[G]) of him, that he had been blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]) and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and they questioned his parents, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H])? Then how is it that he now sees?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born, fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]); 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not see, perceive (eido[G]). Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaio[G]s, Yehudiym[H]); for the religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Messiah, he was to be cast (ekballo[G]) out of the synagogue (meeting place). 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
Finding it too hard to accept that the man was ever blind, the Pharisees send for his parents to get confirmation.
“Is this your son, who you say was fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H])? This is a tacit accusation inferring that the father of this man is an idolater.
The parents acknowledge that their son has been blind from birth but they are as confused as everybody else as to how he can now see. They are not willing to enter the debate, sighting his being of age (that is older than thirteen and showing the signs of puberty [Maimon. Hilchot Eduth, c. 9. sect. 7.]) as reason for questioning him and allowing his testimony to stand for itself. His parents were scared of being kicked out of the synagogue. In the first century it was more common to refer to being cast out of the “Congregation of Israel” when referring to full excommunication from the people and religion of Judaism. The rabbinical equivalent exercised against the messianic Jewish community of the early body of believers was called “cherem” (lit. devote to destruction) The threat of the present text does not necessarily refer to cherem, a form of complete excommunication from the congregation of Israel, meaning they would shunned by the community but not refused entry to the Temple precinct (there was no Great Synagogue at the time because the Temple was the central place of Jewish Worship until 70 CE). However, regardless of the specific intent, it was a significant threat, given that the local synagogue acted as a type of community centre, as well as a subsidiary place of worship and Torah study, and that those who were “cherem” (if this was the implied threat) were only to enter through the mourners (and the excommunicated) gate of the Temple and move to the left contrary to the practice of others, proclaiming the state of their excommunication.
"all that go into the temple, go in, in the right hand way, and go round, and come out in the left, except such an one to whom anything has befallen him, and he goes about to the left; (and when asked) why dost thou go to the left? (he answers) because I am a mourner; (to whom it is replied) he that dwells in this house comfort thee: (or) שאני מנודה, "because I am excommunicated"; (to whom they say) he that dwells in this house put it into thy heart (that thou mayest hearken to the words of thy friends, as it is afterwards explained) and they may receive thee.'' -Mishnah. Middot, c. 2. sect. 2.
24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]), and said to him, “Give (didomi[G], tein[H]) glory, judgement (doxa[G], kavod[H]) to the God (ho Theos[G], leiElohiym[H]) ; we know that this man is devoted to sin (hamartolos[G], chotei[H], has missed the mark set by God) .” 25 He then answered, “Whether He is devoted to sin (hamartolos[G], chotei[H], has missed the mark set by God), I do not see, perceive (eido[G]); one thing I do see, perceive (eido[G]), that though I was blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]), now I see with my own eyes (blepo[G]).” 26 So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open (anoigo[G]) your eyes (ophthalmos[G], eiyneycha[H])?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already and you didn’t listen, hear, recieve (sh’matem[H]); why do you want to hear (lishmoa[H]) again? You do not want to become His disciples (talmiydayv[H]) too, do you?” 28 They heaped abuse (loidoreo[G]) on him and said, “You are His disciple (mathetes[G], talmid[H]), but we are disciples (talmidiym[H]) of Moshe[H] (Moses: drawn out).
“Give (didomi[G], tein[H]) glory, judgement (doxa[G], kavod[H]) to the God (ho Theos[G], leiElohiym[H]) ; we know that this man is devoted to sin…” There is an interesting juxtaposition here. The “cherem” excommunication possibly referred to in the previous verses literally means “devoted to destruction”. Here, the religious leaders accuse the improperly tried Yeshua of being “devoted to sin”.
The Pharisees, beside themselves with frustration, send for the man a second time (at this point they were conducting what was effectively an illegal trial of both Yeshua and the healed man).
The use of the idiom, “Give glory to HaShem!”—which means tell the truth or in modern terms “swear on the Bible”), literally translates as “Give a judgement of God”. Today we say something similar in Hebrew upon hearing of the death of a Jewish person, “Baruch dayan ha-emet” Blessed is the judge of the truth. It’s a reference to the fact that God is the ultimate judge. Some of the Pharisees are essentially saying, “Stop lying and admit you weren’t blind in the first place and that this Yeshua is a fraud,” or “Admit that this Yeshua is a false prophet!” They (that is the group among them that didn’t accept the miracle) had already decided that Yeshua was a Sabbath breaking sinner despite the lack of real evidence.
It’s here that the once blind man begins to truly find his vision and shine the light he has been given by Yeshua, and not without a good dose of Jewish chutzpah to boot.
“One thing I do know, I was blind and now I see.” In other words, “When you guys are able to exhibit the kind of power and authority that Yeshua does, I might pay more attention to you!” The Pharisees are looking for ammunition so (having just called him a liar to his face) they ask again how it all took place. The once blind man responds, “I told you already, weren’t you listening? Why do you want to know more? Do you want to become his Talmidiym (disciples)?” It’s safe to say that this enraged them. They react by saying, “You are this man’s disciple, we are Moses disciples.” I don’t think the man would have been at all offended by being called a disciple of Yeshua at this stage (though he was not, not quite). What is unusual is the claim by the Pharisees that they were Moses’ disciples. This designation was not common at the time and denotes a desperate scratching at straws on their part. It’s one of those, “No! you are!” type arguments usually used by people who have no idea what to say next.
“Whether He is devoted to sin, I do not see, perceive; one thing I do see, perceive, that though I was blind, now I see with my own eyes.” The use of Greek here is important. Those English translations that translate “eido” as “know” do so without considering the writer’s obvious allusion to perception based on sight. In fact, the more accurate translation of “eido” is “see, perceive”. The context better supports my translation.
“How did He open your eyes?” The Hebrew “Ayin” meaning “eye” is also used to refer to the opening in the earth where a spring of water comes forth. This is interesting given Yeshua’s offer of living water (during the water drawing ceremony of Sukkot) in chapter 7 and the use of water in the healing process of the once blind man. Siloam is feed by the Gihon (Great Bursting Forth) spring.
29 We see, perceive (eido[G]) that the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) has spoken to Moses (Moshe[H]), but as for this man, we do not see, perceive (eido[G]) where He is from.”
“We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where He comes from.” What they mean by this is that the Messiah is prophesied to come from Bethlehem and as far as they knew Yeshua was from Nazareth. Of course the truth is that they knew where He came from (the Galilee) they had very little respect for the am ha-aretz (common people of the land, that is, uneducated farmers and fishermen). As I’ve stated previously they probably considered Yeshua to be somewhat of a hillbilly.
30 The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing, wonderful, marvellous (thaumastos[G]) thing, that you do not see, perceive (eido[G]) where He is from, and yet He opened (anoigo[G]) my eyes (ophthalmos[G], eiynayi[H]). 31 We perceive (eido[G]) that the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) does not hear those devoted to sin (hamartolos[G]); but if anyone is a worshipper (theosebes[G]) of God and does His will (thelema[G]), He hears him. 32 Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened (anoigo[G]) the eyes (ophthalmos[G], eiyneiy[H]) of a person fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G]) . 33 If this man were not from God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), He could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were fathered (gennao[G]) entirely in sins (hamartia[G]), and do you presume to teach us?” So they cast (ekballo[G]) him out.
The sardonic rebuke of the man is a delight to read, perhaps being born blind and suffering all his life had birthed in him an immunity to the fears and obligations of Israel concerning her hypocritical religious leaders. On the other hand, maybe he was just a sarcastic guy? If so, he probably had some kiwi (New Zealand) blood in him from the diaspora.
The healed man draws their attention to the catalyst for understanding the Messianic significance of this miracle, he says, “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of one born blind. If this man were not from HaShem He could do nothing.” This is a pointed observation that reveals the sign of God regarding the opening of the eyes of the blind, something that would alert Israel to the Messiah’s presence (as prophesied by Yeshayahu/Isaiah: see verse 1 and note). This is also the third step in the man’s journey into relationship with Yeshua. Here, he says Yeshua is, “from God.”
The disbelieving group among the Pharisees, who are not used to being disagreed with by commoners, are more than insulted by the man and resort to name calling, “You were born from sin and are soaked in it, how dare you lecture us!” Actually the man had been following proper halakhic protocol with his well-argued rebuttal, they were just sore because his argument was more convincing than theirs. Had this been recorded in the Talmud, the man’s argument would have been sighted by future rabbis as the dominant view. Seeing that they were not going to win this argument the Pharisees cast him out (probably out of the synagogue, the threat under which all religious Jews of the first century lived in order for the false shepherds to keep people in line). I’m not sure that this would have worried him too much, he had been spending a lot of time on the streets begging for food up till now and may not have found much solace in the synagogue at any rate.
35 Yeshua heard that they had cast (ekballo[G]) him (the once blind man) out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe, trust, are you persuaded, confident (pisteuo[G], hata’amiyn[H]) in the Son of Man (B’ven-haAdam[H])?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Adoniy[H] (Lord: kurios[G]), that I may believe, trust, be persuaded, confident (pisteuo[G], ve’a’amiyn[H]) in Him?”
After hearing that the man had been thrown out Yeshua found him (this means Yeshua had sought him out, an intimate and thoughtful gesture). The man’s father and mother had forsaken him and he had been kicked out of the local synagogue, this is a pivotal occasion in his journey into God’s light. Yeshua asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man (a Messianic title).” The man responds, “Who is he Lord, tell me so that I may believe in him.” This is the fourth stage in the journey of relationship, the man calls Yeshua (Whom he is seeing for the first time) Adoniy, My Lord, Master, a term of respect and ownership. The Greek Kyrios is used and can be translated lord or L-RD, there is no Greek equivalent for YHVH—L-RD, so the same Greek word is sometimes used to denote the Holy Name. Here however, “Adoniy, Lord, Master” is the correct translation, given the context.
37 Yeshua said to him, “You have both seen (horao[G]) Him with your own eyes, and He is the One Who is speaking with you.” 38 And he (the once blind man) said, “Adoniy[H] (Lord: kurios[G]), I believe, trust, am persuaded, confident (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyn[H]).” And he worshiped, prostrated himself before (proskuneo[G]) Him (Yeshua).
“Yeshua said, ‘You have now seen Him, in fact, He is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘L-RD I believe.’ And he worshipped Him.” Remember, the man is seeing Yeshua for the first time, both physically and spiritually. This is the final stage of the man’s journey into saving relationship. He has been blind, he has been washed in the life-giving water of the Sent One, he has known of Yeshua, he has identified Him as a prophet, he has realized that Yeshua was sent from God, he has respectfully called Him Lord and now he sees Him for who He really is, “L-RD”. The Greek word kyrios is used here by John (a Jew) to represent YHVH. We must not put more weight on the Greek language than we do upon the cultural religious psyche of the writers of the gospels. The fact that the Greek language is unable to convey the nuances of the Hebrew designations for God does not mean the deeper meaning was not intended by the writer (inspired by God). A beautiful picture of what has just occurred between Yeshua and the healed man appears in the words of the Psalmist:
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the L-RD will receive me.” Tehillim/Psalm 28:10
39 And Yeshua said, “For a decree, judgment (krima[G]) I came into this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), so that those who do not see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may see with their eyes (blepo[G]), and that those who see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may become blind (tuphlos[H]).”
Yeshua sums up this living parable of healing by clarifying for those present that He has come to fulfil the words of Yeshayahu/Isaiah (Isaiah 6:10, 42:19). This is an opportunity for those studied in the Tanakh (Old Testament) to recognize His claim to Messianic authority and repent, but He knows that they will remain blind, while those who realize their blindness will receive their sight through Messiah just as God had prophesied through the prophet.
40 Those of the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind (tuphlos[H]) too, are we?” 41 Yeshua said to them, “If you were blind (tuphlos[H]), you would have no sin (hamartia[G]); but since you say, ‘We see with our eyes (blepo[G]),’ your sin (hamartia[G]) remains (meno[G]).
It continues to be made clear by the gospel of John that some Pharisees were following Yeshua (not necessarily the same ones that interrogated the healed man). They realized He was warning them of spiritual blindness and in pride wanted to show themselves spiritually insightful, so they asked, “Are we blind to?” Yeshua’s response is a harsh rebuke, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin; but because you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” Yeshua is saying that only those who admit their blindness/sin can be freed from it and given spiritual sight. Those, who in pride, claim that they can see are in fact still blind and are unable to receive sight from Yeshua. Without humility no one can come to God.
We live in a world that Messiah Himself has called night. While He was here physically He was the light, now He is here metaphysically by the power of Gods Holy Spirit, living in every believer. The Sent One has filled those of us who believe, in order that we might be sent ones who shine His light in this dark world. If we claim we have not been blind, then we, like the Pharisees are unable to see. However, when we admit our blindness the Sent One will restore our sight by coming to us and then sending us out to be the softly flowing waters of Shiloach to a parched and hopeless world. May He bare light in us, that we might be light to others, shining our light in order to reveal the path that leads to Him.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Either Yeshua is both God with us and the promised King Messiah of Israel, or He is a liar and a heretic. You choose. The truth will not be changed by your decision, but you could be.
John 8:31-59 is thematically similar to Galatians 4, where Rav Shaul illuminates and differentiates between Isaac the son of promise born of faith and Ishmael the illegitimate son born of disbelief. Note that both sons are sons of Avraham. Yeshua is not asserting that Jews are illegitimate sons but that human beings who choose to reject God’s redemptive plan are sons and daughters of Satan until such a time as they repent and receive the King Messiah and His vicarious sacrifice and resurrected life.
Keep in mind that many of those listening were Jewish believers in Yeshua (v.30) and that those who later violently oppose Him are specifically qualified as a group who “want to kill” Yeshua, by definition, a subset of the whole. Note that they do not succeed in stoning Yeshua because He was able to slip away in the crowd. Meaning that a large portion of the crowd of Jewish worshippers gathered in the court of the women were in favor of Yeshua and helped Him elude capture.
31 Therefore, Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua, Jesus) said (yomer[H], lego[G]) to those Judeans, Jews, (Ha-Yehudiym[H]) who had believed, were persuaded by, put their trust (hama’amiyniym[H], pisteuo[G]) in Him, “If you continue, remain, abide (meno[G]) in the word, essence, substance (vid’variy[H], ho logos[G]) of Me, truly, in truth (be’emet[H], alethos[G]) you are disciples (mathetes[G]) of Mine (talmiydiym atem liy[H]); 32 and you will know intimately (viyda’tem[H], ginosko[G]) the truth (et ha-emet[H], ho aletheia[G]), and the truth (ha-emet[H], ho aletheia[G]) will make, engrave, imprint you with freedom, [alt. let you go, set you free] (totziyachem l’cheirut[H], eleutheroo[G]).”
“Therefore” refers to the woman caught in adultery, the proclamation of Yeshua concerning His being the light of the world, and the belief of those mentioned in verse 30.
“Those Jews who believed” were made up of Jews from every tribe and every religious sect of first century Jewry, who had come up to Jerusalem for the festival of Sukkot. Therefore, what Yeshua says next is spoken to thousands of observant Jews, including believing Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Priests, and common Israelis.
We note that Yeshua was not content with their belief. He had come to set them free from slavery to sin and to give them the tools of discipleship, that is, the means to live an ongoing life of freedom in Him. Seeing their belief and approval of Him and His words, Yeshua did not push His advantage by blowing smoke up their skirts, rather He sought their advantage by challenging the depth of their belief and offering them the means by which they might continue to believe and be truly and eternally set free from sin.
"The truth will set you free" is perhaps the most decontextualized, misapplied, and philosophically misappropriated part verse of the entire New Testament. Those who use this phrase today as a type of all in one "Truth Coach" are in fact proliferating a lie. In order for this phrase to have any true meaning one must first define the truth it’s speaking of. Most modern speakers understand the truth as a collection of facts, or the subjective centre of some religion or philosophy, truth being defined by the individual rather than having its origin outside of the sphere of human intellect and spirituality. In fact the verses in question (John 8:31-32) identify truth as a person, that is, as an attribute of a person, and not just any person, but the King Messiah Yeshua, God with us (Imanu El).
Therefore, in order to understand what is meant by “The Truth” we must read the phrase in context:
“If you continue to remain in My word, essence, substance in truth you are My disciples, followers, students; and you will intimately know the truth, and the truth will imprint you with freedom, set you free.”
Note that there is a prerequisite for the freedom that truth makes possible: “If you continue to remain in My word, essence, substance”. In short, unless one remains in the message and person of Yeshua (the Speaker), one cannot know the truth or the freedom that knowing the truth affords a person.
Note that the second requirement for being set free is to “Intimately know the truth”. In fact, as I’ve said, the Truth is not an it but a Person, and that Person defines truth. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “Aniy Ha-Derekh, v’Ha-Emet, v’Ha-Chayiym, I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Living, no one can come to the Father (God) except through, Me.”(John 14:6). Therefore, truth, like direction (way), and living, is an attribute of the Messiah, Who is God with us (Imanu El) [prophesied by Isaiah (7:10-16) 700 years before the birth of Yeshua].
Do you want to intimately know the Truth and be truly set free from all that keeps you in bondage? Then remain in the Word and Substance of Yeshua (Jesus), becoming His devout follower, and you will come to know the Truth Himself, and He will set you free.
Notice that this second half of chapter 8 begins with the theme of freedom from bondage. A theme that is ingrained in the Jewish soul from Egypt and up to the Roman occupation and beyond. Yeshua speaks of a freedom that transcends temporal life, to a people who are at the time tacitly enslaved by the Roman Empire.
Yeshua’s challenge to those listening, both believers and unbelievers, is intended to thresh the wheat and sift out the chaff. By the end of this dialogue the belief of some will be strengthened, while the belief of others will grow cold. Yeshua came to make disciples, not converts. We should be careful to emulate Him.
33 They answered Him, “We are Avraham’s (Father of many tribes) descendants and no one has enslaved us (douleuo[G]) at any time (popote[G]); how is it that You say, ‘You will become freeborn (eleutheros[G])’?”
“They answered Him” The nearest subjects are the thousands of observant Jews, including believing Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Priests, and common Israelis, who were in the court of woman in the Temple complex. A mixed crowd of those who now believed in Him and those who did not.
בני חורין, (noblemen), that are fallen from their substance, because they are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;'' -Mishnah. Bava Kama, c. 8. sect. 6. & Talmud Bavliy Bava Kama, fol. 86. 1. & 91. 1.
“We are Avraham’s descendants (Gen.12; Deut.14:1) and no one has enslaved us at any time…” They did not mean that the Jewish people had never been physically enslaved. After all, freedom from slavery in Egypt is part of our journey as a people, not to mention our time in Babylon and subsequent freedom. What they meant was that those Jewish people who were true worshippers of God had never been made spiritual slaves to other gods (Jer.2:10-14), nor were they, the generation to whom Yeshua spoke, slaves to the Romans.
The Jews of the land of Israel in the first century were under occupation but were not living lives of slavery as they had done in Egypt. The Roman Empire had a history of gleaning slaves from its conquests, thus the reality of one being born into slavery was a concern to all of those living in the Empire. However, those debating with Yeshua were freeborn people, meaning that they were not born into households already bound to indentured servitude or slavery. This is why they are incredulous and ask Yeshua, “How is it that You say, ‘You will become freeborn?”
“Freeborn” (eleutheros[G]) Is an important distinction. Ultimately Yeshua is saying that even the freeborn (eleutheros[G]) of the Roman Empire need to be set free (eleutheroo[G]), and become spiritually freeborn (eleutheros[G]).
34 Yeshua[H] answered them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, everyone who commits sin (misses the mark set by God) is the slave (doulos[G]) of sin (hamartia[G]).
“Everyone who commits sin (misses the mark set by God) is the slave of sin.” Yeshua makes it clear that He is talking about spiritual bondage, slavery to sin.
Rav Shaul the Shaliach (Paul the Apostle), writes an exposition on this idea:
“14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that to whatever you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to what you obey—whether to sin resulting in death, or to obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching under which you were placed; 18 and after you were set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you yielded your body parts as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness, so now yield your body parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. 21 So then, what outcome did you have that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, having been set free from sin and having become enslaved to God, you have your fruit resulting in holiness. And the outcome is eternal life. 23 For sin’s payment[a] is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 6:14-23 TLV
35 Moreover, the slave, bondservant (doulos[G]) does not remain in the house (babayit[H], ho oikia[G]) forever; the son (ha-bein[H], uihos[G]) does remain forever.
This phrasing is qualified by the proceeding verse. Those listening were born into the slavery of sin affected humanity and therefore, in their present state, cannot remain in the house of life. Whereas, the Last Adam (Yeshua) [1 Cor. 15:22-45], the Son of God and therefore Son of the house of creation, being the perfect sinless example of humanity (God with us), is able to set free those who have been enslaved and offer them life everlasting as heirs with Him, sons and daughters of the renewed house of creation ordered by the Creator (YHVH).
With regard to Torah the exception to this idea applies to the slave who willing chooses to become a member of the family and an indentured servant for life (Exodus 21:6). This does not however negate the right of the son of the household to set that slave free. Although, in this case the slave is usually treated as a member of the family.
Our rabbis agree that irrespective of the “forever” clause in Exodus 21:6, that freedom is eventually mandatory according to the Torah law of Jubilee (Lev.25:10).
"one that is bored (through the ear) is obtained by boring (through the ear), and he possesses himself (becomes free) by the year of jubilee, and by the death of his master.''- Yarchi, Iben Ezra, & ben Gershom in Exod. xxi. 6.
"he that has served six years, and will not go out, lo, this is bored, and he serves until the year of jubilee, or until his master dies; and although he leaves a son, he that is bored does not serve the son; which may be learned from the letter of the words, "he shall serve him", not his son, "for ever", until the jubilee: from whence it appears, that he that is bored does not possess himself (or is free) but by the jubilee, and by the death of his master.'' – Maimonides Hilchot Abadim, c. 3. sect. 6, 7.
36 Therefore, if the Son (ha-bein[H], ho uihos[G]) makes you free (eleutheroo[G]), you will in reality, as a point of fact, be truly (be’emet[H], ontos[G]) freeborn (eleutheros[G]).
The Son of God, Yeshua, sets those enslaved to sin free (eleutheroo[G]) by causing them to be born from above (John 3:3-7). Thus, through Him they are freeborn (eleutheros[G]). Not freeborn in the Roman Empire, or at any point in human history within the sin affected world, but transcendently freeborn of God and children of God’s Kingdom, no longer subject to the temporal kingdoms of the sin affected world.
The use of Greek language as it pertains to the idea of freedom is exceptional. The writer of this Gospel shows in the language used that Yeshua is placing the concept of being freeborn (eleutheros) as superior to simply being freed from indentured servitude (doulos). If one is freed (eleuthero) by Yeshua, that one will be truly freeborn (eleutheros).
37 I know (yadatiy[H]) that you are Avraham’s (Father of many tribes) descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word, essence, substance (devariy[H], logos[G]) has not been given space, room, place, occupation, yield (choreo[G]) in you (each individually).
NB: From here on to the end of the chapter Yeshua is specifically speaking to those who “seek to kill” Him, and not to those who have believed (v.30).
Keep in mind that Yeshua is also a descendant of Avraham and the substance of the Creator Who placed faith within Avraham. Therefore, as is the case with His saying “Your Torah”(John 8:17), He is not distancing Himself from Avraham, rather He is exposing the misuse of Avraham’s identity by those who claim connection to Avraham through pride of bloodline rather than through adherence to true faith. This does not discount the value of ethnic bloodline, which remains, given Yeshua’s zeal for the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel (Matt. 15:24). Rather, Yeshua is seeking to cleanse and sanctify the people, so that both their bloodline and spirituality might be unified in the freedom of Messiah.
“Yet you seek to kill Me” Cannot refer to those who have believed in Him (v.30), nor to the crowd in general, many of whom were undecided on the Person of Yeshua. Therefore, it is clear that He is now speaking directly to a subgroup of those who do not believe in Him and are seeking a way to put Him to death.
“because My word, essence, substance has not been given space, room, place, occupation, yield in you…” There are those in the crowd who have not believed and therefore have not allowed room within themselves for the Word essence of Yeshua to reside in them. In short, they seek to kill Him because they have refused to listen to Him. It is in our nature as human beings to ignore the contrary opinions of others while devising a rebuttal to their words. Our opponent may be speaking but we are not listening. Thus, we fail to hear another person in the throes of debate making us unable to properly entertain their point of view and measure it to determine its value.
Notice that one of the meanings of the Greek choreo is “yield”. Belief that is born of true faith will yield fruit but disbelief or false belief, even surface approval, does not allow sufficient depth of spiritual soil for the fruit of practical faith to be produced. Another meaning of the Greek choreo is “occupation”. Meaning in this context, “You have not allowed belief to perpetually occupy your life”. Therefore, belief of this sort alone is not sufficient for salvation.
“You believe that God is One. Excellent! Even the false deities, demons, evil spirits believe that—and are terrified.” -Yaakov (James) 2:19 Author’s translation
38 I speak the things which I have seen (horao[G]) from, beside, with, near (para[G]) The (My) Father (Aviy[H], ho Pater[G]); and you also do the things which you heard (akouo[G]) from, beside, with, near (para[G]) the father (ho Pater[G]) you acquired (poieo[G]) [Alt. Heb. Aviychem your (plural) father].”
NB: It’s important to remember that this is not being spoken to all present but specifically to those who are seeking to kill Him (v.37).
Yeshua explains that both He and His opponents are directed by their respective father’s. Yeshua “speaks” of what He has “seen” from being in, with and near the Father God. Whereas His opponents “do” the things which they have “heard” from the father they have acquired. That is to say, they have chosen a father other than God. In this context “speak” refers to the truth of God’s word made manifest based on literal “sight”, an actual true experience of the Person of God, and “do” is a reference to human effort based on hearsay “hearing” from a second-hand source (Satan).
39 They answered and said to Him, “Avraham is our father.” Yeshua[H] replied to them, “If you are Avraham’s children, accomplish the occupation (ho ergon Abraam poieo[G]) of Avraham. [Alt. in the business of Abraham work, make, fashion etc.]
“They” Those who are seeking to kill Yeshua (v.37) while claiming a connection to Avraham as their qualification, are in fact contradicting the faith practice of Avraham. Thus, Yeshua calls them on it. If you’re going to claim the tzadik (righteous) one Avraham as your father, then act righteously as he did. Believe God (accept His Messiah), and it will be credited to you as righteousness.
The rabbis of the Talmud agree with Yeshua’s assertion:
“whoever is merciful to the creature (man), it is evident that he is of the seed of Abraham, our father; but whoever has not mercy on the creature, it is a clear case that he is not of the seed of Abraham our father.'' - Talmud Bavliy Betza, fol. 82. 2.
40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the objective truth of the matter (ha-emet[H], aletheia[G]), which I heard from the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]); a thing Avraham could not do.
Yeshua heard the truth in the unveiled presence of God the Father as one with the Father and has imparted that same truth to His hearers, fellow descendants of Avraham. Though Avraham heard from God, he was not one with God, nor did he see and hear from God in the fullness of God’s glory. Therefore, Avraham could not reveal the fullness of God’s redemptive plan to his descendants in the way that Yeshua has. Avraham has relationship with God through Yeshua, as one who has had the truth revealed to him, whereas Yeshua being one with the Father, reveals the truth.
“which I heard from the God” Yeshua’s hearing, unlike that of His opponents, is unaffected by disbelief.
41 You are doing, fashioning, accomplishing (poieo[G]) the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of your father (av[H], pater[G]).” They said to Him, “We were not born of illicit sexual intercourse (fig. we are not idolaters); we have one Father (Av[H], Pater[G]): the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]).”
Yeshua’s opponents (not all present but those who are specifically seeking to kill Him), understand that by making a distinction between God as father, Avraham as a father and yet another father, the father they are obeying, Yeshua is inferring that their claim on Avraham and his faith is a false one and that they are acting on the faith of a false father. Therefore, as one might expect, they take offense and proclaim, “We are not the children of whores (idolaters), we have one Father, Elohiym!” In short, “You’re no better than us, we are sons and daughters of God!” Some may even have been inferring that Yeshua was of illegitimate origin, while they were not.
42 Yeshua[H] said to them, “If the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) were your Father (Av[H], Pater[G]), you would love (ahavtem[H], agapao[G]) Me dearly, for I come out of the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) and go forth, not for the purpose of separating (apo[G]) Myself, but that of He Who sent Me (shelachaniy[H], apostello[G]).
Yeshua’s message is simple, “If you were truly sons and daughters of God you would recognise the present manifestation of God standing in front of you and would love Him.”
Note the progression. First they claim Avraham, and Yeshua refutes their claim. Then they claim God, and Yeshua exposes their inadequacy.
“I come out of the God and go forth, not for the purpose of separating Myself, but that of He Who sent Me.” Note the familiar use of the counter separation phrasing. Yeshua is very clear in saying “Neither I nor my purpose is in any way separate from God Who sent Me.” This becomes the pre-emptive counterpoint to the separation of the accuser Satan, who is separated from the beginning (v.44).
43 Why do you not understand (ginosko[G]) what I am saying? Because you are unable (dunamai[G]) to hear, perceive, comprehend (lishmo[H]) My word, essence, substance (et devariy[H], logos[G]).
They neither properly hear nor do they understand because they have wilfully resisted Yeshua and His message and are therefore incapable of comprehending His word, substance, essence. Again, “they” are specifically those who were “seeking to kill Him” (v.37, 40), and not all present (v.30)
44 You are of your father (aviychem[H], ho pater[G]) the Devil (ha-Satan[H], ho Diabolos[G]), and you have in mind (ethelo[G]) to do the lusts (epithumia[G]) of your father (aviychem[H], pater[G]). He was a murderer, human slayer (anthropoktonos[G]) separated (apo[G]) from the beginning (arche[G]), and in the absolute truth (emet[H], aletheia[G]) he does not stand because there is no truth (emet[G]) in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father (ha-av[H], ho pater[G]) of lies.
Note that while Yeshua speaks often of the fact that He has not come as one separate from the will of the Father, here, Satan is described as one who has been separate from the truth of God from the beginning of creation. Therefore, the battle between truth and lie is one of great imbalance. The Creator from Whom Truth comes, created a being that decided to reject the love of God, and His absolute Truth and seek to poison creation. Therefore, the liar is subject to the Truth, in fact his very existence relies on the truth.
We note that lying and murder are intrinsically linked. The enemy of our souls is by nature a liar and a murderer, the father of lies.
The Genesis account explains that Satan deceived Adam and Eve with a lie (Gen. 3:4; 2:17) and that as a result sin and death entered the world. Subsequently the first murder followed when Abel was murdered by Cain. Therefore, the father of lies is also the father of sin, and those that are bound by sin serve him.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” -Genesis 3:15 (ESV)
Thus, Yeshua’s opponents prove themselves children of Satan by their accusations aimed at Yeshua and their denial of the Truth in Him. A liar will always call the truth a lie.
45 But because I speak (dab’riy[H]) absolute truth (ha-emet[H], aletheia[G]), you do not believe, trust (ta’amiynu[H], pisteuo[G]) Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak with absolute truth (emet[H], aletheia[G]), why do you not believe, trust (pisteuo[G]) Me?
Yeshua’s opponents had been trying and failing to trap Him in a sin from the moment they first began to hate Him. The phrase “why do you not believe Me…” further emphasises the fact that He is speaking specifically to that subgroup who have not believed, and want to kill Him.
47 He who is of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) hears that which is spoken of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]); for this reason you do not hear, because you are not of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]).”
Here, He is clearly speaking to those who do not believe, and not to all present, many of whom have already believed.
48 The Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]]) answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Shomroniy[H] (Samaritan) and have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G])?” 49 Yeshua answered, “I do not have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G]); but I honour, esteem, revere (kabeid[H], timao[G]) My Father (Aviy[H]), and you dishonour, insult (atimazo[G]) Me.
I have translated Ioudaios as Judean Religious leaders here because the context shows clearly that only those who opposed Yeshua are speaking.
“Do we not say rightly that You are a Shomroniy[H] (Samaritan) and have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity?” This accusation explicitly vocalizes the tacit accusation of illegitimacy inferred in verse 41.
“Yeshua answered, “I do not have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity; but I honour, esteem, revere My Father, and you dishonour, insult Me.” Put simply, “By dishonouring Me you dishonour the God Whom you claim as your Father.”
Elsewhere when accused of having an evil spirit Yeshua warns His accusers that if they determine to continue to believe this of Yeshua that they will have no hope of salvation (Mark 3:23; Luke 12:10).
50 But I do not seek (zeteo[G]) My glory, judgement, view, opinion (kevodiy[H], doxa[G]); there is One who seeks and separates, selects, chooses (krino[G]).
We note that again a correlation can be made between glory and judgement. Yeshua submits His glory and judgement to the One to Whom it belongs, God the Father.
51 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, speech, essence, substance (devariy[H], logos[G]) that one will never see, attend to, remain in (tereo[G]) the death of the body (mavet[H], thanatos[G]).”
Further illuminating the practical outworking of the freedom He has previously spoken of, Yeshua explains that through intimacy with God in Him a person can be free from slavery to sin and death and instead will not remain or abide in death. Elsewhere Yeshua explains this in another way saying:
“‘I am the resurrection and the living. The one who believes in Me will live, even though that one dies;” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
“And as it is appointed unto human beings once to die, and then the judgment:” -Hebrews 9:27
The key here is that the one who keeps the message of Messiah Yeshua will not “remain” in the death that results from temporal life in the sin affected world.
52 The Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]) said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G]). Avraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, speech, essence, substance (logos[G]), that one will not taste (geuomai[G]) of the death of the body (meit[H], thanatos[G]) into the unbroken age (aion[G]).’
This is the ancient equivalent of “You’re a total psycho, Abraham and the prophets died years ago, which proves that what you’re saying about your words having the ability to give a person life over death is a lot of garbage!”
53 Not in the least are You greater (ha’gadol[H]) than our father Avraham, who died? The prophets (han’viyiym[H]) died too; who are You making Yourself out to be?”
Yeshua’s opponents accuse Him of delusions of grandeur. The height of irony. Added to this is the interesting fact that the Samaritan woman asked something similar when she challenged Yeshua’s authority with the rhetorical question “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:12).
It’s clear to we Messiah following Jews that those who challenged Him with these words did not represent the whole. One of our ancient commentators writes:
""Behold my servant shall deal prudently", this is the King Messiah; "he shall be exalted" above Abraham, as it is written, (Gen.14:22) "and extolled" above Moses, as it is written, (Num.11:12) and he shall be higher than the ministering angels, as it is written, (Eze.1:26) for he shall be גדול מן אבות, "greater than the fathers".'' - Tachuma apud Huls. p. 321
54 Yeshua answered, “If I glorify, extol, honour, prefer (chabeid[H], doxazo) Myself, My glory, judgement, view, opinion (k’vodiy[H], doxa[G]) is nothing; it is My Father (Aviy[H], Pater[G]) Who glorifies, extols, honours, prefers (chabeid[H], doxazo[G]) Me, of Whom you say, ‘He is our God (Eloheiynu[H], Theos[G])’;
Yeshua responds, “I’m not making Myself out to be anything, to the contrary, it’s My Father, Who honours Me, the same Father Whom you claim as your God.”
“For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” -2 Corinthians 10:18 (ESV)
55 and you have not come to know (y’datem[H], ginosko[G]) Him, but I see, perceive (eido[G]) Him; and if I say that I do not see, perceive (eido[G]) Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do see, perceive (eido[G]) Him and keep, guard, carefully attend to (tereo[G]) His word (d’varo[H], logos[G]).
The Greek text here is important. Yeshua explains that His opponents have not come to know (ginsoko) Him, and that Yeshua sees (eido) God. Note the present continuous tense of the text, not that Yeshua has seen God but that He continues to exist in and see God. Therefore, even if He wanted to acquiesce to the incredulity of His opponents He could not because being the very definition of Truth He is unable to lie and say that He is someone else.
Notice that Yeshua “guards carefully and attends to God’s word (davar[H], logos[G]). Yeshua is the Word (John 1). Therefore, He is instructing those who believe to follow His example (v. 31-32).
56 Your father Avraham rejoiced exceedingly (sas[H], agalliao[G]) to see perceive (eido[G]) My day (yomiy[H]), and he saw (eido[G]) it and was glad, hailed it, thrived in it (yis’mach[H], chairo[G]).”
In the order (Seder) of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) it is written:
“Abraham rejoiced with the rejoicing of the law, he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law; Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, rejoiced with the joy of the law; he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law.'' -Seder Tephillot, fol. 309. 1. Ed. Basil.
Yeshua is quite literally saying that Avraham saw Yeshua and His day (time) [past tense]. Moses also knew the Messiah, which is the reason for his giving up life in Pharaoh’s palace in order to live among his Jewish people (Heb. 11:26).
NB: First century Jewish tradition (Testament of Abraham) records a story of Avraham being taken by the Arch Angel Michael on a tour of the heavens and the inhabited world, the idea being that on this tour he saw the coming judgement and the mercy and grace of God made manifest. However, it does not specify the revelation of the Messiah and is therefore unlikely to apply to the present text in any meaningful way.
57 Therefore, the Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]) said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Avraham?”
They focused on the wrong subject. They were still fixated on how Yeshua measured up against Avraham when they should have considered how Yeshua might have been revealed in the faith of Avraham. It was not that Yeshua had seen Avraham that was important, rather it was that Avraham had seen Yeshua. God is the focus of our prayer, not the vehicle for our desires. Clear sight begets right conclusions and right conclusions beget clear sight.
The reference to the age of fifty years has significance in ancient Judaism. Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21. Says that at the age of fifty a Jewish man becomes fit to give counsel (as an elder of the community). This is said to be why the Levites were dismissed from service at that age.
A Jewish man could not be chosen as a Meturgeman (interpreter) in a kehilah (congregation), until he reached fifty years of age. (Talmud Bavliy Chagigah, fol. 14. 1. Yuchasin, fol. 44. 2.)
If a Jewish man died before fifty years of age it was considered a death of “cutting off”, inferring a curse for a sinful life of disobedience to the Torah. (T. Hieros. Biccurim, fol. 64. 3. Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. Macsecheth Semachot, c. 3. sect. 9.)
58 Yeshua[H] said to them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, before Avraham was born, I am, exist (Aniy[H], ego eimi[G]).”
Any fool who says that Yeshua never claimed to be God (with us) need look no further than this verse to see that Yeshua claimed to pre-exist Abraham as the great I AM. This is quite literally the meaning of verse 58.
“And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” -Exodus 3:14 KJV
59 Therefore they picked up stones to drop on Him, but Yeshua[H] hid Himself and went out of the temple (hieron[G], hamikdash[H]).
Believing Yeshua to have committed the gravest of blasphemies his opponents (not the majority of the crowd but the few who were already seeking a reason to kill Him) picked up heavy stones to drop on Him. They did this contrary to the sanctity of the Temple precinct in the court of the women, and contrary to the Torah instruction concerning the Sabbaths of God (although one commentator claims that the Torah allows for stoning on the Sabbath under exceptional circumstances. T. Hieros. Yom Tob, fol. 63. 2. ). But, Yeshua’s time had not come and Yeshua hid Himself in the crowd and made His way safely out of the Temple complex. It is highly likely that the crowd aided His escape, given that many believed and that those who were unsure did not consider Him worthy of stoning.
At this juncture the reader of the New Testament is faced once more with a major decision. Is Yeshua Who He says He is, that being God with us, or is He a blasphemer and heretic to be completely rejected? These are the only two choices. You may not call Him both a good teacher and a heretic, that is a contradiction. You may not call Him a devout Jew and a blasphemer, that would be a contradiction. According to the prophet Isaiah you may not call Him the Messiah and at the same time say that He is not God with us (Imanu El), that would be a contradiction. Either Yeshua is both God with us and the promised King Messiah of Israel, or He is a liar and a heretic. You choose. The truth will not be changed by your decision, but you could be.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
“Aniy Or Ha-Olam, I am, I exist, am present as the uncreated Light of the world:” -Yeshua
With regard to the debate over whether the portion of John’s Gospel from 7:53 to 8:11 is valid Scripture or not: while it’s true that no early manuscripts include this account, it is equally true to say that it’s more than likely a legitimate oral or written tradition passed on by the first century Ecclesia (Body of believers), Church, and included by later scribes. Any believer who has met Yeshua and been filled with His Spirit will testify that the Spirit of God in us witnesses to the inspiration of this portion of the text.
Therefore, in keeping with the teaching of Messiah, I trust myself to the unity of Scripture and Power (Born of the Spirit), and consider this account to be Scripture, inspired by God and passed on to us for good purpose.
It seems to me that the Yeshua of this story is the Yeshua of the wider body of New Testament writing. He is here, unmistakable, the Teacher of Israel, full of compassion, mercy, tenacity and holy chutzpah. His feet firmly planted on the ground and His Spirit drawing wisdom from the heavens.
I invite you to put away the conjecture of scholarship and instead to embrace the incomparable Messiah of Israel. The story of the young woman caught in adultery is one of His most powerfully intimate public moments.
1But Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua, Jesus) walked (halakh[H]) to the Mount of Olives (har-hazeiytiym[H]).
Yeshua had clearly walked to the Mount of Olives (Har Ha-zeiytiym) the night before, probably with His disciples in tow. It appears He had spent the night there, or alternatively He may have stayed in the village of Bethany on the lower eastern slope of the mount with His friends Miriyam (Mary), Marta (Martha) and El’azar (Lazarus)[John 11:1-2].
Keep in mind that the walk from the Temple precinct the night before down the hill into the Kidron valley would have taken Yeshua and His disciples past Gat Sh’maniym (Gethsemane) and then up the other side to the summit. The journey to and from the mount of Olives is approximately 1.5km, taking in terrain and the navigating of a clear path. If Yeshua had stayed overnight in Bethany, He would likely have taken a path along the Kidron ravine on the road to Bethany, an estimated further 2 kilometres could be added to each trip if this was His route. Of course, it would have meant that He climbed to the summit of the Mt of Olives from the opposite side the following morning before sunrise and thus ascended from the Mount as described in the text.
2 In the morning, at daybreak (orthos[G], ba-boker[H]) He came again into the temple (hieron[G], ha-mikdash[H]), and all the tribes (ho laos[G], ha-am[H]) were coming to Him (Yeshua); and He sat down (yeishev[H]) and taught, held discourse with them (didasko[G], vay’lam’teim[H]).
This event took place early, probably prior to Sacharit (Morning Prayer). Yeshua sat down to teach in the court of women as was the custom of other rabbis of the time. This is unlikely to refer to the court of the Gentiles as some suggest. Those coming to Him were of the “tribes” of Israel, the collected Jewish pilgrims who had made aliyah for the festival of Sukkot, only Jews were allowed in the court of women. As confirmation of this location verse 20 has Yeshua near the treasury which is situated in the court of the women.
The Greek “didasko” perfectly conveys the rabbinical method of teaching which involved discourse rather than a Greco-Roman style lecture and rhetoric format.
Keep in mind that the Jewish day had begun after the previous sundown and it would continue to be the seventh day of Sukkot until after sundown that evening. Therefore, Sh’mini Atzeret (the eighth day Sabbath following Sukkot was yet to occur).
It is important to note that the great lamps of the court of women had been put out for the final time at the conclusion of the last full night of Sukkot (The previous night). This gives context to Yeshua’s “I am the light of the world” statement later in the text.
3 Some of Ha-Soph’riym The Scribes (of Torah & commentary; often Sadducees) and the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees) brought a woman caught in adultery, and had her stand (histemi[G]) in the centre of the court (of women), 4 they said to Him (Yeshua[H]), “Rabbi [H] (didaskalos[G]), this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Torah[H] (Instruction) Moshe[H] (Moses, drawn out) commands us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
“Scribes and Pharisees” is used only here in John’s Gospel, leading some to believe that the textual addition of verses 7:53 to 8:11 is more likely to be connected to Luke’s Gospel account, due to similar language being employed more often by Luke. However, it is equally possible that the author of John’s Gospel simply used a different turn of phrase. The result is the same, it shows the unified front of the two groups who held little theological common ground between them, the Scribes generally being associated with the Sadducees rather than the Pharisees.
The first question many ask is, “If the woman was caught in the act of adultery as the text explains, where is the man who had been involved?” Of course, this can be answered by conjecture in many different ways: perhaps the Scribes and Pharisees in question were Patriarchal chauvinists’, happy to let a fellow male go free? It is possible, based on Mishnaic assertions regarding the proliferation of adulterous acts in the first century (ref. note on v.7-6), that several of them might have been guilty of such sin themselves? It is even possible that the man involved in the sinful act was complicit in the plan to trap the girl or that he was simply able to escape while she was being caught? There is no way of knowing for certain. There must however, be two witnesses to this crime according to Torah (Deut. 19:15).
What we do know is that the Torah requires that both the man and the woman caught in this type of sexual sin are to be punished (Lev.20:10; Deut.22:22-24 ref. Num. 5:11-31). Therefore, the question that was being posed by the Scribes and Pharisees was already outside the specific guidelines of the Torah, meaning that the response must come in the form of an interpretive halakhic ruling from the rabbi being questioned, in this case, Yeshua.
We also know (because the Torah Scribes and Pharisees, specify stoning as the punishment) that the woman was a virgin pledged in marriage prior to the act of adultery. We know this because that is the only situation in which the Torah specifies stoning as the method of punishment for adultery (Deut. 22:23-24). Elsewhere in cases of adultery strangling is the commanded punishment (Lev. 20:10).
The fact that this was done publicly was unusual, given that it was illegal for Jews to carry out the death penalty under Roman governance (Though this was not always successfully policed Acts 7:58-59). This was the counter balance to the fact that the Torah required stoning for such an offense, leaving Yeshua in what some of the Torah Scribes (teachers) and Pharisees might have hoped to be an impossible position.
It’s important to note that Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary) might just as easily have found herself in this situation if not for the righteous action of Yeshua’s earthly (adoptive) father Yosef (Joseph). The key difference of course being that Miriyam was not guilty of adultery. This correlation may well have made this an especially emotional event for Yeshua. It’s also important to note that throughout His earthly ministry Yeshua sought to honour women and restore their rightful place in God’s creative order. Therefore, the intentional humiliation of this young woman could only have served to anger Yeshua. In light of this, His measured response under the circumstances is without comparison.
6 They were saying this, to try Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Yeshua[H] stooped down and with His finger (daktulos[G]) wrote, (grapho[G], letters as opposed to drawing) on the ground (stone floor of the court of the women).
In the midst of this tumultuous scene, Yeshua, calmly bends down and starts to write in the dust on the stone floor of the temple court of the women of Israel. One of our Yeshivah students noted that it reminded her of a child at play. Another student suggested that in doing this He took control of the situation, drawing everyone’s attention to Himself and requiring the Torah Scribes (teachers) and Pharisees to work to His time table, unwilling to be bullied into playing their silly game. Those of us who are old enough to remember might also liken it to a teacher writing on a black board. All eyes and ears are now on Yeshua and what He is writing.
We know that He wrote rather than drew. The Greek “grapho” refers to the writing of letters.
So, what did He write? We can’t possibly know for certain though there are many suggestions. The only one I have found value in outside of what I will propose is the idea that He may have written the words of Jeremiah 17:13:
“Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord,
the spring of living water.”
Perhaps Yeshua began His list of their names here and completed them when He stooped down to write the second time. However, while I like this idea, It seems highly unlikely. I would like to propose another option.
I have asked myself, “Did God the Father ever write on stone with His finger?” The answer is “yes”, in fact He did it three times (Exodus 31:18; 34:1; Dan. 5:25). I suggest that the first thing Yeshua wrote in the dust of the stone floor was the Ten commandments. Perhaps He did this, emulating His Father (Exodus 31:18; 34:1). It’s worth noting that the second to last commandment is, “You shall not commit adultery.” Thus, He reminded His audience of the many commandments each one of them had broken, and that they might just as well find themselves standing where the woman was now put on display.
7 But when they stayed to question Him (Yeshua), He rose up, and said to them, “The sinless one (ho-anamartetos[G]) of you, let him be the first (protos[G]) to drop (ballo[G]) a building stone (lithos[G]) on her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote (grapho[G], letters as opposed to drawing) on the ground (stone floor of the court of the women). 9 When they heard (akouo[G]) it, they began to leave one by one, beginning with the elderly ones, and He (Yeshua) was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the centre of the court of women.
Clearly there were none present who were without sin. Therefore, Yeshua’s statement was intended to bring a right judgment to this situation (Deut.17:7).
We note that elsewhere Yeshua calls that generation an adulterous one (Matt. 12:39). If there’s one thing we know about Yeshua it is that He detests hypocrisy.
In reference to the time of Roman occupation, during the lifetime of Rabban Yochanan ben Zaccai, the Mishnah records the following:
"when adulterers increased, the bitter waters ceased; and Rabban Yochanan ben Zaccai (who was now living) caused them to cease.'' -Mishnah. Sotah, c. 9. sect. 9.
In other words, adultery had become so prolific among the people of that generation that the practice of the Torah concession regarding trying a suspected adulteress with “bitter waters” (Num. 5:11-31) was stopped due to the fact that many of the husbands in question were already guilty of adultery themselves.
By responding as He did Yeshua was not breaking the Torah, as some suggest, to the contrary, He was upholding its finer requirements. Both offenders were not present, nor was this being done in a court of Jewish rulers. Yeshua therefore, was making a halakhic ruling based on the fact that the Torah could not possibly be honoured by this illegitimate trial.
After speaking He then stooped down to write for the second time. The result being that one by one the woman’s accusers walked away in defeat.
I suggest that this time He wrote the words that the finger of God wrote on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace in Babylonian:
“Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Uparsin (Peres): Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
In other words, to these particular Scribes of the Torah and the Pharisees He was saying, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to your oppressors (not the Medes and Persians but the Romans).”
Therefore, in all of Scripture God has written directly on stone three times plus one (Yeshua in the present account).
Whatever Yeshua wrote, it seems that it was what He said that moved them to leave. After all, the scripture says, “When they heard it, they began to go out one by one.” This likely refers to His challenge “Let the one among you who is without sin drop the first building stone…” Although, given that the chronology places the second writing before the description of their leaving, it may be that Yeshua spoke while He wrote, or even spoke out loud what He wrote.
Now Yeshua is left standing with the young woman, an intimate moment emphasized by the tender words that follow.
10 Rising up, Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua, Jesus) said to her, “Dear woman (gune[G]), where are they? Is there no one to give judgement (katakrino[G]) against you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord (Adonay[H], kurios[G]).” And Yeshua[H] said, “Neither do I pass judgement on you. Separate (apo[G]) yourself now and miss the mark (sin) no more hereafter.”
Yeshua looks upon this humiliated and broken woman and with great mercy and compassion He shows her that social justice is but a tear in the vast ocean of God’s eternal justice. “Does anyone condemn you?” He says, to which she responds in a somewhat shaky but surprised voice, “No one, Adonay.” And in keeping with what John’s Gospel says about Him Yeshua says, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” I hear it this way, “Your sin has been covered, you’re free to start again child, don’t go back to that self-destructive lifestyle.”
And, just maybe, He was also thinking, We need to get my mum to set you up with a nice Jewish boy with the character of my adoptive dad Yosef (Joseph), someone who will honour you and treat you the way a woman should be treated.
It’s important to note that Yeshua did not validate the woman’s sin, rather He showed her that she had great worth in God’s sight in spite of her sin. Therefore, “Continue to live, and turn away from your sinful practices…” Yeshua upheld the Torah and the redemptive grace of God.
12 Again (palin[G]) therefore (oun[G]) Yeshua[H] spoke to them, saying, “Aniy Or Ha Olam[H] I am, I exist, am present as (eimi[G]) the uncreated Light of the world (kosmos[G]); the one who follows, joins, accompanies (akoloutheo[G]) Me will not, not in the smallest way (ou me[G]) continue to walk (haholeikh[H], peripateo[G]) in the darkness (bachosheikhah[H], skotia[G]), but will have the Light of the life (phos ho zoe[G]).”
This must have taken place sometime later given that “they” had all walked away prior to Yeshua’s closing words with the woman caught in adultery. Therefore, verse 12 begins a separate discussion held later that day (still Hoshanah Rabah) in the court of women near the treasury or treasury receptacles that surrounded that place. This was not heard by non-Jews.
Yeshua’s claim to being the light of the world is made with the backdrop of the Sukkot lamp stands in mind. Further, it is made in the court where those same lamp stands had stood shining light into all Jerusalem for the seven days of Sukkot.
There were great Menorah-like four branched candle stands in the Temple precinct. At sundown on the first day of the feast, they went down to the court of the women where golden candlesticks had been erected, and at the head of them four golden basins, and four ladders to every candlestick, and four young priests had four pitchers of oil, that held a hundred and twenty logs (an ancient measure of oil), which they put into each basin. Wicks were made from the old breeches and girdles of the priests, and it was these oil soaked wicks that the priests would light. There was not a court in Jerusalem which was not lit up with that light, and religious men, and men of good works, danced before them, with lighted torches in their hands, singing songs and hymns of praise, which continued for the following six nights (Mishnah. Succah, c. 5. sect 2, 3, 4; Maimon. ib. c. 8. sect. 12.).
“Aniy Or Ha-Olam” I am, I exist, am present as the uncreated Light of the world:” This is a statement of Deity and an allusion to the light through Whom God spoke all things into existence. It’s interesting to note that unlike other occasions the Pharisees did not immediately seek to take hold of Yeshua for what they may well have understood to be a blasphemous statement. It may have been because they were still smarting from the theological defeat they had experienced earlier that day.
“…the one who follows Me will not, not in the smallest way continue to walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of the life.” A flood of Scripture comes to mind:
“The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.” -Isaiah 9:1  NASB
““But for you who [b]fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” -Malachi 4:2 (3:20) NASB
“He says, “It is too [a]small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light [b]of the nations
So that My salvation may [c]reach to the end of the earth.” -Isaiah 49:6 NASB
Each of these Scriptures and many more throughout the New Testament testify to Yeshua being the light of the world. This is revealed first and always first to the Jews and also always to the nations.
We note that it is the one “who follows” who will not walk in darkness. Following is the fruit of true belief, trust, faith. By nature following Messiah proves faith because it is an act of faithfulness.
13 So some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees) said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true, valid, faithful (ne’emanah[H], alethes[G]).”
If they consider Yeshua’s statement to be blasphemy they may also consider Him on trial and therefore cite Torah in relation to the need for witnesses to establish a matter (Deut.17:6; 19:15). However, it’s not clear why they say this, they may simply be invoking a sense of accountability (Prov.27:2). Regardless, it is not true to say that simply because a person speaks of themselves that the person is lying or that their testimony is unfaithful/invalid. If it were, the complaint of the Pharisees would be equally inadmissible.
14 Yeshua[H] answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, valid (emet[H], alethes[G]), for I see, perceive (eido[G]) My place of origin (pothen[G]) and where I am going; but you do not see, perceive (eido[G]) My place of origin (pothen[G]) or where I am going.
This re-establishes the former conversation regarding false judgement by sight as opposed right judgement by the relational knowledge of God (John 7:24).
Yeshua being God with us, has every right to testify on His own behalf because He has come from God, is in God, is One with God. God Who is faithful and cannot lie is the origin and the present person of Yeshua.
15 You all according to the flesh (ha-basar[H], sarx[G]) separate, choose, discern, esteem, prefer, judge (tishpotu[H], krino[G]); I am not separating, choosing, discerning, esteeming, preferring, passing judgement (eshpot[H], krino[G]) on anyone.
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” -John 7:24
“I am not separating, choosing, discerning, esteeming, preferring, passing judgement on anyone.” Yeshua was not at that time acting as Judge, however, He will in the future judge everyone (5:22, 27-30).
16 But even if I do separate, choose, discern, esteem, prefer, judge (eshpot[H], krino[G]), My judgment (mishpatiy[H]) is true, valid (emet[H], alethes[G]); for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father (Aniy ve’ha-Av[H]) Who sent Me (shelachaniy[H]).
The unity of God as unique manifestations of Himself, Father and Son, is self-evident here. Yeshua is qualified to judge because the Judge (the Father) is with Him and His judgement is truth.
17 Even in your Torah (be’torat’chem[H]) it is written (katuv) that the testimony of two men is true, valid, faithful (ne’emanah[H], alethes[G]). 18 I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father (ve’ha-Av[H]) Who sent Me (shelachaniy[H]) testifies about Me.”
Some say Yeshua is distancing Himself from the Torah by saying “Your Torah”. This is utter nonsense. He is the Author and goal of the Torah, why would He distance Himself from it? In fact, saying “Your Torah” is intended as an admonition to accountability. “If you cite the Torah, then be prepared to abide by it.”
When a Prime Minister speaks to the nation and says “Your country needs you”, that same Prime Minister is not saying “It’s your nation, not mine” rather the statement is a call or challenge that is being made with the intention of uniting the nation. Something similar is happening here.
Yeshua offers two witnesses according to the Torah as a concession to their disbelief, Himself and God the Father.
19 So they were saying to Him (Yeshua), “Where is Your Father (Aviykha[H])?” Yeshua[H] answered, “You see, perceive (eido[G]) neither Me nor My Father; if you see, perceive (eido[G]) Me, you would see, perceive (eido[G]) My Father also.” 20 These words He spoke in the treasury (nishkah[H], gazophulakion[G]), as He taught (didasko[G]) in the temple precinct (hieron[G]); and no one seized Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour (hora[G]) for Him had not yet come (lo bai to[H]).
As is the case elsewhere, they had obviously misunderstood Yeshua and had concluded that He was speaking of His adoptive earthly father. Yosef is not mentioned in the Gospels following Yeshua’s youth and it is likely that he had passed away. So when Yeshua, referring to God, says “You see neither Me nor My Father; if you see Me, you would see My Father also.” They presume He is speaking of an earthly father whom they have not seen. In fact, Yeshua is clearly alluding of their spiritual blindness.
NB: The Septuagint text of Neh. 13:7 uses the same gazophulakion[G] to translate the Hebrew nishkah[H], meaning “storeroom”.
The Temple treasury may be a reference to a storeroom in the court of the women or to the treasury receptacles for financial offerings which were positioned in the colonnade which surrounded the court. Either way, these things were being said in a place where only Jews could enter.
We note the now familiar refrain:
“…and no one seized Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour for Him had not yet come.”
21 Therefore, He (Yeshua) said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek (zeteo[G]) Me, and will die in your sin (missing the mark);
For the first time in the Gospel of John dying in sin without a vicarious means of redemption is alluded to. This is not an idea foreign to Torah but it is an idea that is beyond the scope of the first century Jewish understanding of atonement as it pertains to a transcendent application.
where I am going, you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come.” 22 So the Religious Judean leaders (Yehudiym[H]) were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come.’”?”
Once again they understand Yeshua literally and ironically conclude at least part of the whole. See my commentary of John 7:34 for further clarification of what Yeshua is alluding to.
23 And He was saying to them, “You are from below (kato[G]), I am from above (ano[G]); you are of this world (ha-olam[H], kosmos[G]), I am not of this world (ha-olam[H], kosmos[G]).
“You are from below, I am from above” Not, “you are from under the earth” but, “Your origin is of the earth”. Whereas, “My origin is above in the heavens, of God Himself”. Yeshua was born into time and space from an eternal existence outside of time and space, being a manifestation of the person of God seeded in a human womb and thus fully God and fully man.
“you are of this world, I am not of this world” Once again this concerns origin. Yeshua is quite clearly in the world but He originates from within God whereas those who are hearing His words originate from within the sin affected creation.
24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins (missing the mark); for unless you believe, are persuaded (pisteuo[G]) that I Am (ego eimi[G]), you will die in your sins (missing the mark).”
Therefore, as alluded to previously, without a saving knowledge of Yeshua they will die in their sin. In fact, the Greek text essentially says “Unless you believe that I AM (God with you), you will die in your sins.”
25 So they were saying to Him (Yeshua[H]), “Who are You?” Yeshua said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?
It’s possible that those questioning Him were wondering who could have devised this strange new teaching and therefore, asked “Who are You?” Alternatively, some of them had begun to feel a pricking of awe and were seeking an explicit revelation in order to decide whether or not to accept Yeshua and His teaching. Finally, those who hated him were challenging His claims by saying “Who are You?”
26 I have many things to speak and to judge (lishpot[H]) concerning you all, but He who sent Me (sholchiy[H]) is true, faithful (ne’eman[H], alethes[H]); and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world (ha-olam[H], kosmos[G]).”
Yeshua is essentially saying, “You don’t get to know all the details now, I will say only what the Father has given Me to say, the rest will be revealed at the proper time.”
27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father (Ha-Av[H]). 28 So Yeshua said, “When you lift up the Son of Man (Ben Ha-Adam[H]), then you all will know (yoda’tem[H], ginosko[G]) that I Am (ego eimi[G]), and of separation (apo[G]) I Myself make, fashion, produce (poieo[G]) nothing, but according (kathos[G]) to that taught (didasko[G]) to Me of the Father (Ha-Av[H]), these things I speak.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you all will know that I Am…” Yeshua is referring to the means of His death and inferring that His death will come about as a result of their actions. He is also clearly saying that those listening will come to understand that He is the King Messiah and God with us, upon seeing Him crucified. Therefore, lifting up in the sense of glory is intrinsically connected to His suffering on the cross.
Once again Yeshua points to the Father God as the origin of His actions and speech.
29 And He who sent Me is with, after, behind, in the midst of (meta[G]) Me; He is not leaving Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
Yeshua is saying that He is inseparable from God. The Father Who sent Him is with Him before, after, and in the midst of Him, eternally present and One. Therefore, the foolish popular evangelical notion that the Father turned His face away from Messiah on the cross (Not recorded in Scripture), is untenable and diminishes both the nature and the redemptive work of God in its presumption that the Father did not suffer with the Son. It is tantamount to blasphemy.
30 As He spoke these things, many had come to believe, were persuaded by, put their trust (ya’amiynu[H], pisteuo[G]) in Him (Yeshua).
Once again “many”, including some of them Pharisees and Scribes, Sadducees and rulers, had come to believe in Yeshua as they listened to His words. These same ones would later come to have a fulness of understanding regarding His redemptive work following His death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). They had begun a genuine journey of faith. This does not, as some Christian scholars presumptively conclude, describe a shallow intellectual assent to faith in Yeshua. It saddens me to hear even some Messianic Jews proliferate this nonsensical idea. The text gives no such indication.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Yeshua and His disciples observed, at least in part, significant portions of the Oral Torah, which was later codified as the Mishnah (2nd Century CE).
The first half of this chapter concerned the clear redemptive messianic mandate of Yeshua and His unwillingness to abide the plans of fallen human beings. It continued with His faithful observance of the instruction to go up for the festival of Sukkot, and alludes to His public teaching in the Temple proper (an area Gentiles were excluded from) among His fellow Jews in the middle of the festival.
As I previously stated, a sound understanding of the festival of Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43; Num. 29:12-39; Deut. 16:13-16) and its first century customs (some of which are described in the Mishnah and Talmud) is key to a correct interpretation of John 7:37-39 and 8:12. The festival of Sukkot is the backdrop for John chapters 7 and 8.
Sukkot begins 5 days after Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on the 15th of Tishri (the Shabbat or seventh month of the Biblical lunar calendar). It is highly likely given Yeshua’s strict observance of the Torah, that He had gone up to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur and had returned to the Galilee for the 5 day interim period between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. He had every intention of going up for Sukkot, in His own timing (according to God’s timing).
Sukkot is the festival of the later harvest and is full of completions: seven days, seventy sacrificial bulls etc. It has a long standing connection to the nations, from the time of the giving of the Torah in the presence of seventy elders, to the time of the prophet Zechariyah, and in the Talmud of rabbinical Judaism, and beyond.
“16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the
Concerning the seventy bulls required by Numbers 29:12-34, which were to be sacrificed over the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, the Talmud Bavliy says:
“Rabbi El’azar said, ‘To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations…” (Sukkah 55b)
Based on the many correlations between the number seventy and the nations in the Torah, rabbinic tradition teaches that seventy is a number for the nations and that the seventy bulls sacrificed during Sukkot are meant as an atonement for the nations.
Jewish Tradition and Practice During First Century CE Sukkot Celebrations at the Temple in Jerusalem:
In addition to the continued Torah instructed practice of dwelling, sleeping, eating and drinking, in temporary shelters, first century Jews practiced various other rites during Sukkot in Jerusalem each year.
The waving of the four species or Lulav (still practiced today) made up of branches of palm tree, myrtle, and willow, bound up together in a bundle (Lev.23:40). These were carried in the right hand, with an etrog (citron native to Israel) in the left. The lulav is waved three times first toward the east, then south, east, north, toward the heavens and then toward the lower regions and brought back to rest over the heart of the worshipper. This signifies that God is Creator and sustains of all things.
In the first century the priests walked around the altar once for each of the first six days of Sukkot, with the lulav in their hands, saying the words "Hoshana Save now, I plead to You, O Lord, O Lord I plead to You, send now prosperity" (Psalm 118:25): and on the seventh day, they went around the altar seven times (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Maimon. Hilch. Lulab, c. 7. sect. 5, 6, 9, 23).
There were great Menorah-like four branched candles stands in the Temple precinct. At sundown on the first day of the feast, they went down to the court of the women where golden candlesticks had been erected, and at the head of them four golden basins, and four ladders to every candlestick, and four young priests had four pitchers of oil, that held a hundred and twenty logs (an ancient measure of oil), which they put into each basin. Wicks were made from the old breeches and girdles of the priests, and it was these oil soaked wicks that the priests would light. There was not a court in Jerusalem which was not lit up with that light, and religious men, and men of good works, danced before them, with lighted torches in their hands, singing songs and hymns of praise, which continued for the following six nights (Mishnah. Succah, c. 5. sect 2, 3, 4; Maimon. ib. c. 8. sect. 12.).
On every day of the festival water was drawn from the pool of Siloach (sent) [Situated approximately 2km south of the Temple Mount], and was poured along with wine at the base of the altar as a libation offering. This was celebrated with great rejoicing (simchateinu). During the illumination in the court of the women, many instruments were employed such as harps, psalteries, cymbals, and two priests with trumpets, who sounded them when they were given the signal, and on every day, as they brought water from the pool of Siloach to the altar, they sounded with trumpets, and shouted; the great "Hallel" (Psalms 136), was sung all the eight days (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 8, 9. & c. 5. 1, 4, 5. & Eracin, c. 2. sect. 3). The whole festival was one of great rejoicing, according to Leviticus 23:40.
With all this and more in mind, and ultimately, guided by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh Who imparts the teaching of Yeshua to all believers, we attempt to humbly, and contextually understand the text that follows.
25 So some of the people of Yerushalayim[H] (Jerusalem: Downpour of Peace) were saying, “Is this not the one whom they’re seeking to kill?
“Is this not the one whom they’re seeking to kill?” This is a reference to those religious leaders among the Judean sect that were moved to hatred by Yeshua’s making whole of the man at Beit Chasda (House of Kindness and practical love). As mentioned previously, John 5:18 says “they sought to kill Him…”
The fact that “some of the people of Jerusalem” (Jews who had made aliyah for the festival of Sukkot) use the determiner “they” to refer to the small group of leaders who wanted to kill Yeshua, shows a social distancing between the speakers and the group who hated Yeshua. To say “they” is to exclude self and or, the collective “we”.
26 See, behold, pay attention (eido[G], Hinei[H]), He is speaking unreservedly, frankly, without ambiguity (parrhesia[G], doveir[H]), publicly, among the masses (barabiym[H]), and they’re not saying anything to Him.
The same “they” of the previous verse have been witnessed by the crowd watching Yeshua and listening to His teaching without making a move to prevent Him or interrupt Him, even though He is doing all this publicly and with dynamic, articulate, awe inspiring success.
The rulers, leaders, magistrates, heads (archon[G], rasheiynu[H]) haven’t truly concluded, come to the knowledge, come to have faith, trust (ginosko[G], um’nam[H]), because (kiy[H]) in truth (be’emet[H]) this one (zeh[H]) He (Hu[H]) is the Messiah (ho Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]), have they?
“The rulers, leaders, magistrates, heads” Refers to the Spiritual leaders, certain adjudicators of Torah and early rabbinic Halakhah, and possibly to some of the leaders of various smaller synagogues from throughout the region who practiced a pharisaic form of Judean Jewish faith. It does not refer to the Pharisees or Priests who are named separately in verse 32.
“haven’t truly concluded, come to the knowledge, come to have faith, trust… have they?” This statement reads as either incredulity or sarcasm, possibly even as a rhetorical question. It is certainly not a genuine attempt to discern the thinking or faith of the religious Jewish leaders.
The Greek “ginosko”[G] which alludes to mental assent or knowledge gleaned from persuasion, is equivalent but not the same as the more holistic Hebrew concept of emunah[H], faith, trust, knowledge of the inner being. The Greek concept of consciousness requires the seat of consciousness to reside in the brain/mind, the Hebrew idea of consciousness does not, rather, for the Hebrew the seat of consciousness is at the centre of being where the mind, emotion, soul, spirit, intellect, action etc. converge. Thus the Hebrew concept of consciousness allows for a continued conscious state following the physical death of the brain, and finds a greater continuity with the meta-narrative of Scripture.
In the next verse the Greek “ginosko”[G] is juxtaposed against the idea of belief based on various forms of sight “eido”[G]. This is yet further evidence of the Hebraic thought of the author, who appropriates Greek language as a vehicle for relaying a more holistic Hebrew understanding of the redemptive work of God.
27 In addition (alla[G]), we see, perceive (eido[G]) this man’s place of origin (pothen[G]); but whenever the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach) comes, no one (oudeis[G]) knows (ginosko[G], yeida[H]) His place of origin (pothen[G]).”
“we see, perceive this man’s place of origin” This tells us that by far the majority of those who were listening to Yeshua were aware that He had been residing in K’far Nachum (Capernaum) in the Galilee and as testified to in John 6:42, others were aware of His parents Yosef and Miriyam and His connection to Nazareth. However, based on what follows it seems clear that few if any (other than His immediate family and close retinue) were aware that He had been born in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, the house of bread), the town of King David.
Note the Greek “eido” does not mean “to know”, as is translated in so many English versions. In fact the text makes a clear distinction between perception based on knowledge “ginosko” and perception based on the various forms of sight “eido”. Yeshua’s listeners claim to be speaking of “knowing” where Messiah will come from, but Yeshua rebukes them by saying (to paraphrase), “You see Me and see where I have come from, I haven’t separated Myself from God Who is Truth and sent Me, Him you don’t see or perceive of, in spite of the fact that you can most certainly see Me!”
“…but whenever the Messiah comes, no one knows His place of origin;” Among the many strands of thought regarding Jewish messianic expectation in the first century CE, was the tradition of the “Hidden Messiah”, which some associate with the apocryphal (Not Inspired) book of Chanoch (1 Enoch 46:1-3).
“Then I inquired of one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me every secret thing, concerning this Son of man; who he was; whence he was; and why he accompanied the Ancient of days.” -1 Enoch 46:1b
The point is that contrary to Scripture (Micah 5:1), the “Hidden Messiah” tradition of the first century CE was prevalent among observant Jews.
The reality is that Scripture makes clear that the King Messiah will be born in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem):
“But as for you, Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, house of bread) Efratah (Ephrathah, fruitful place). Insignificant among the clans of Y’hudah (Judah, Praise), from you One will go forth for Me to be Ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago,
from the days of eternity.” -Micah 5:1  Author’s translation
Note that our rabbis rightly conclude that this refers to the King Messiah the Greater Son of David, due to the fact that according to this text the individual being referred to is both of the lineage of Judah and of eternity past.
One might conclude that this belief in the “Hidden Messiah” tradition was one held by Am Ha-aretz (Commoners) unlearned in the Torah, Prophets and Writings. If this is the case the latter reference to these unlearned commoners and their ignorance by the religious rulers (v.49), denotes that the religious leaders, being aware of the prophet Micah and knowing the birthplace of the Messiah, were all the more accountable and therefore in a much worse position than that of the ignorant masses, whom were supposedly under God’s curse. This brings to mind the writing of Yeshua’s brother Yaakov (James):
“Not many of you should aspire to become teachers, my Jewish brothers and sisters, knowing that as such we teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” -Yaakov (James) 3:1 Author’s translation
28 Then Yeshua (YHVH Saves, Jesus) cried out like a raven, like a prayer for vengeance (krazo[G], kara[H]) in the Temple (hieron[G], ha-Mikdash[H]), teaching (didasko[G], vay’lameid[H]) and saying (lego[G], vayomer[H]), “You both see, perceive (eido[G]) Me and see, perceive (eido[G]) My place of origin (pothen[G]); and of separation (apo[G]) I have not come, but He Who is true, faithful, trustworthy (ne’eman[H]) did the sending, sent Me (ho pempo me[G], she’lachaniy[H]), Whom all of you don’t see, perceive (eido[G]).
The Greek “krazo” denotes a cry like that of a raven or a man screaming a prayer of vengeance. Such was the power of His voice, that the sound of it carried over the heads and into the ears of the thousands of worshippers gathered in the Temple complex.
As stated in my previous article “…in the Mikdash (Temple)” means inside the Temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the Gentiles which is not considered part of the Temple proper. In other words, at the time of these events Yeshua’s teaching was made available only to Jews.
“You both see, perceive Me and see, perceive My place of origin;” Yeshua acknowledges that with their physical sight and human intellect they have observed and heard of His then current physical place of origin. However, what follows is a rebuke regarding their inability to see His ultimate origin in God the Father and His manifest identity as the visible substance of the invisible God. We should be slow to judge these first century Jewish worshippers, after all, we who have seen Yeshua spiritually are prone to the same lack of discernment but are, unlike them, without an excuse.
“and of separation I have not come,” Yeshua’s physical and spiritual being are inseparable. Likewise He and the Father are inseparable. He has not come from just one physical location, nor has He ever been separate from His origin in the Father, rather, He has come in unity with the Father and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in unity with the Father’s will.
Therefore, Yeshua’s identity can only be fully understood in the unity of the Godhead and the Person of Yeshua as Imanu El “With us God”. Ironically, to see Him in any other way is to practice the compartmentalization of the Greco-Roman world, and yet, Yeshua’s listeners were doing that very thing. Sadly, many believers also misperceive Yeshua in the same way today.
“…but He Who is true, faithful, trustworthy did the sending, sent Me, Whom all of you don’t see, perceive.” Simply put, you don’t perceive of the true nature of God, Who sent me.
29 I (Aniy[H]) see, perceive (eido[G]) Him, because from Him likewise existing, present (eimi[G]), I am sent (apostello[G], she’lachaniy[H]).”
Yeshua is essential saying, “I am God with You, In Him and of Him, Sent from Him to dwell within Him in the created order…”
30 As a result they were seeking (zeteo[G]) to lay hold of (piazo[G]) Him; and no one could lay a hand (epiballo[G]) on Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour (hora[G]) for Him had not yet come (lo bai to[H]).
“As a result they were seeking to lay hold of Him” In almost every instance when the religious authorities sought to lay hold of, stone, throw of a cliff or kill Yeshua, it was because He was either directly or indirectly claiming to be Imanu El God with us. Not “A son of God” but “The Son of God”.
“…and no one could lay a hand on Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour for Him had not yet come…” Notice the repetition of this phrase which is used to illuminate the reason that Yeshua would not acquiesce to His brothers’ suggestion earlier in this chapter. It is Yeshua, within God’s will, Who both knows and decides when He will give up His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all who will believe.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” -John 10:17-19 (NASB)
31 From the crowd many (polus[G], rabiym[H]) believed, trusted, had faith, were persuaded, placed their confidence (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in Him; and they were saying, “When the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) comes, He will not perform more, superior or greater (pleion[G], har’beih[H]) signs, marks, wonders (semeion[G], otot[H]) than those which this man has, will He?”
Notice that “many” of the Jewish worshippers who heard Yeshua were “persuaded” (pisteuo[G]) and “trusted, chose faith in Him” (he’emiynu[H]). This is not, as some suggest, a limited or superficial faith. To the contrary, like the disciples of Yeshua’s inner circle many thousands of Jews of the first century began to have faith in Yeshua during His ministry and found a greater fullness in the progression of that same faith following His death and resurrection.
Long before the body of believers became predominantly Gentile, it was wholly Jewish. In fact, at the convergence of the Jewish and Gentile progression of faith in Yeshua, the body of believers (Ecclesia[G]) was called Ha-Derech (The Way), a “Jewish Sect”. Interestingly, today in modern rabbinical Judaism we have a prayer dedicated to God’s protection and blessing as we journey, called Tefiylat HaDerech, Prayer of the way.
32 Some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees) heard the crowd murmuring these things about Him (Yeshua), and the chief priests (archiereus[G], ha-kohaniym[H]) and some of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees) sent servants (huperetes[G]) to apprehend (piazo[G]) Him.
I have added the words “some of” for clarification because it is clear from Scripture that Nakdiymon (Nicodemus) and other Pharisees like Him, along with many of Yeshua’s own disciples, who were clearly of the Pharisaic sect, were not among the Pharisees who were seeking to seize Yeshua. For all intents and purposes Yeshua Himself was a Pharisee.
It is worth noting the P’rush means “Separate, distinct, set apart”. Therefore, the P’rushiym (ancient forerunners to rabbinical Judaism) were “Distinct, set apart ones”. In respect to God’s call on His people this is a wonderful name to carry, however, God’s Son our King Messiah comes to remind us that we are to be set apart unto God and not separated from Him by our fallen sense of self-righteousness.
At this juncture we need to be reminded once again that for all intents and purposes and with regard to theology and faith Yeshua was a Pharisee. Likewise Nakdiymon, Rav Shaul (Paul the sent one) and many others who chose faith in Yeshua. The Chief Priests and Pharisees mentioned here are a subgroup among those groups and do not represent the whole.
It’s important to clarify the distinction between the Pharisees and the Chief Priest, the majority of whom were Sadducees (forerunners of the modern Karaite Jews). Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees accepted the Torah alone as authoritive Scripture and would therefore have rejected Yeshua’s claims to Messiahship, a majority of which were based on the writings of the prophets, which the Sadducees considered uninspired. In addition, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (imagine their chagrin concerning the resurrection of Lazarus), angels, demons, miraculous healing (Oiy Vey) and so on. The Sadduciym were essentially moralists, making ethics out of sacred writings and seeing death as the absolute end of life. Not unlike numerous ethics lecturers in our modern western universities.
Therefore, the fact that Sadducees and Pharisees could have united in their dislike of Yeshua means that at least part of the reason was political rather than spiritual. Roman occupation hung on their minds and the repercussions they foresaw regarding a messianic uprising terrified them.
Pilate, the Roman Governor of the time is recorded in extra Biblical history as an insidious man who used provocations and tyranny to incite and murder Jews in Roman occupied Israel. Thus, the Pharisees and Sadducees had good reason to be fearful of what might result if Yeshua was allowed to be hailed as the King Messiah of Israel, a land known in the first century by the Roman names of occupation, Roman province of Judea, Roman province of Samaria, Roman province of Idumea. Later following the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 CE Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the land to Syria Palaestina, thus the present day illegitimate name of occupation “Palestine” used by Israel’s oppressors and those who would take God’s Name “El” out of the land of Yisra-El. To hear the name “Palestine” on the tongue of one who claims to be a follower of Yeshua (Jesus) is an appalling oxymoronic disgrace!
33 Therefore the Yeshua said, “Yet for a short time I am with you, then I withdraw Myself (hupago[G]) to Him Who sent (pempo[G], she’lachaniy[H]) Me. 34 Seeking (zeteo[G],) Me, you will not come upon (heurisko[G]) Me; and where I am, exist (eimi[G], aniy sham[H]) you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come.”
“the Yeshua” The Greek says “ho Iesous”. Not just any Joshua of the time but “the Joshua”. Remembering that Joshua was a very common name in the Jewish community of the first century CE and indeed continues to be popular today among Jewish families both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
In hindsight it is easy to see that Yeshua was referring to His death and resurrection and possibly to His subsequent ascension. However, given the theological dialogue and the first century worship environment, along with the messianic expectation and the physical need for deliverance from the Roman occupation: it seems reasonable that His hearers might conclude a literal interpretation of His words rather than a euphemistic one.
“…and where I am, exist you’re not able, nor do you have the power to come.” The use and tense of the language is illuminating. In one sense Yeshua is saying He is already where He is going to be (slain before the creation of the world [Rev.13:8]). Furthermore, He explains that where He is going (Gan Eden, the Bosom of Abraham, Paradise), they are presently unable to enter because they do not (in their present state of disbelief) qualify among the righteous of Israel’s departed. Nor have they yet received Yeshua and the means of redemption by which they might follow Him to Gan Eden, as the thief on the cross did (Luke 23:39-43). Therefore, even if they wanted to locate Yeshua, following this dialogue, they could not. Not yet. Keep in mind that it is highly likely that many of His opponents were among those who would soon come to faith at Shavuot (Pentecost) [Acts 2] following His resurrection.
35 Some of the the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to travel to the Diaspora (Jewish dispersion throughout the Greco-Roman world) among the Greeks (Hellen[G]), and teach (didasko[G]) the Greeks (Hellen[G]), is He? 36 What is this word, speech (logos[G]) that He said, ‘Seeking (zeteo[G],) Me, you will not come upon (heurisko[G]) Me; and where I am, exist (eimi[G], aniy sham[H]) you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come’?”
They ask if Yeshua will go into the Diaspora or where Jews are dispersed throughout the Greco-Roman world. While the text says specifically will He “teach the Greeks”, it may denote Jews living in the diaspora, who were looked down upon by the Jews of the land, in much the same way as Jews living outside of Israel today are looked down upon by some ultra-observant religious Jews in the land of Israel. It is worth noting that by far the majority of secular and less observant Israeli Jews are extremely friendly toward Jews from outside of the land and are welcoming and supportive of all new comers to Israel.
37 Now on the last day, Hoshanah Rabah[H] (the Great Save Now) the great day of the festival of Sukkot[H] (hagadol chag[H]), Yeshua stood and cried out like a raven, like a prayer for vengeance (krazo[G]), saying (lego[G]), “If anyone is suffering thirst (dipsao[G]) let that one come (erchomai[G]) to Me and drink (pino[G]). 38 He who believes, has faith, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G]) in Me, according to the speech of the Writing (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]), ‘A river (potamos[G]) coming out of the entire cavity of his inner being (koilia autos[G], leiv[H]) will flow (rheo[G]) with waters that are living (mayim chayiym[H]).’”
The last or seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshanah Rabah, which literally translates as “the save now that is great”. It is the climax of the seven-day festival during which the water libation offering of the first century period was conducted.
For seven days the people had watched the Cohen Hagadol (High Priest) pour out water at the base of the altar inside the Temple grounds. This water was collected from the pool of shiloach (Siloam, meaning “sent”), situated approximately 2km south of the Temple Mount not far from the place where the Hinnom and Kidron valleys converge. A specially selected priest collected the water each day and brought it up the hill and through the water gate into the Temple with singing, a variety of instruments and great rejoicing (the festival of Sukkot is closely associated to the word simchateinu “Our great rejoicing”). This was a kinetic form of ritual prayer petitioning God for rain. It also figuratively represents the out pouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on the people of Israel. Our rabbis make the connection between this first century practice and Isaiah 12:3:
“Collectively you will draw water in joy you will draw water
from the springs of the salvation” -Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 12:3 Authors Translation
Therefore, the Jewish worshippers of the first century have prayed for rain and that God would send the promised King Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression. And now, on the final day of the feast called Hoshanah Rabbah (The Great Save Now), the water is carried to the Temple accompanied by Cohaniym (priests) blowing gold trumpets and L’vi’iym (Levites) singing songs of praise and worship, surrounded by common Israelis waving lulaviym of the four species prescribed by Scripture (Lev.23:40), including the palm branch, and chanting the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which include in their final verses:
“I plead with You HaShem, Hoshana, save us!
I plead with You HaShem, send prosperity, I plead!
Barukh Haba b’sheim Adonai, Blessing is He who comes in the Name of HaShem!
We have blessed from the House of Hashem!
God HaShem and uncreated light to us!
Bind a festival sacrifice with cords against the horns of the altar.
My God, You I throw praise to You My God, exalting You!
Give thanks to HaShem for Good, forever, for His kindness, faithfulness, practical and transcendent love!” -Psalm 118:25-29 Author’s translation
This prayer is employed as a heralding of the Messiah during Yeshua’s later entry into Jerusalem (Matt.21:9; Mk.11:9-10). It was also a petition for salvation from sin.
The Encyclopedia Judaica notes:
“A connection between the possession of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh and ecstasy, or religious joy, is found in the ceremony of water drawing, Simchat Beit-HaSho’evah [“feast of water drawing”], on the festival of Sukkot. The Mishnah said that he who had never seen this ceremony, which was accompanied by dancing, singing and music (Sukkot 5:4), had never seen true joy (Sukkot 5:1). Yet this was also considered a ceremony in which the participants, as it were, drew inspiration from the Holy Spirit itself, which can only be possessed by those whose hearts are full of religious joy (Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5:1, 55a).” - Encyclopedia Judaica 14:365
Given the historical context of these events and Yeshua’s participation in and veneration of the practices associated with the festival, and the fact that these rites are extrabiblical, being recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud; we can determine that Yeshua and His disciples observed, at least in part, significant portions of the Oral Torah, which was later codified as the Mishnah (2nd Century CE). Therefore, it is foolish to discount the Mishnah in its entirety as “the traditions of men” (Mark 7:5-13), in light of the fact that Yeshua considered its traditions to be valid expressions of Jewish worship and further still, used these practices as a platform for revealing His identity and purpose.
Now, in the midst of the cacophony of rejoicing and spiritual ecstasy the Cohen Hagadol (High priest) pours the water out at the base of the altar for the final time and the energy of the crowd builds to a crescendo; a young rabbi from the Kinneret (Galilee) shouts out above the crowd who have gathered in great anticipation, and says:
“If anyone is suffering thirst let that one come to Me and drink, He who believes, has faith in Me, according to the speech of the Holy Writings, ‘A river coming out of the entire cavity of his inner being, will flow with waters that are living.’”
Yeshua was unifying the message of several passages from the prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah):
“‘For I will pour out water on him who is thirsty
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;” – Isaiah 44:3 (NASB)
“Ho, take notice, be awe struck! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.” -Isaiah 55:1 Author’s translation
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” -Isaiah 58:11 (NASB)
“The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” -Proverbs 18:4 (NASB)
Of course, the ultimate and everlasting fulfilment of these kinetic prayers is recorded in Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan:
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” -Revelation 22:17 (NASB)
39 But this He (Yeshua) spoke of the Spirit (Pneuma[G], Ha Ruach[H]), Whom those who believed (ha-ma’amiyniym[H]) in Him were to receive; for the Spirit (Pneuma[G], Ha Ruach[H]) was not yet given (nitan[H]), because Yeshua was not yet glorified.
“But this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive;” Yeshua speaks of the outpouring of water as a metaphor for the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh. This was something that all Israel was anticipating in association with the festival of Sukkot and its many spiritual implications. However, the author of John’s Gospel explains that the Ruach HaKodesh will be given in full measure at a later date and only to those who believe.
“…for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” Yeshua did breathe the Holy Spirit upon His disciples prior to His ascension (John 20:22), however, the Spirit was not given in full measure, that is, did not indwell the disciples and others who believed until the Shavuot (Pentecost) that occurred 50 days after His resurrection (Acts 2).
“Yeshua was not yet glorified” This refers to His resurrected glory. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son (Rom.8:9; Heb.9:14; Phil.1:19; 2 Pet.1:20-21; Gal.4:6), could not be poured out into the hearts of human beings until the death and resurrection of Yeshua had made possible the perpetual atonement that brings salvation and right standing before God. Therefore, it was after Yeshua’s ascension and from His position seated in and with the Father, that the Father and the Son began to pour out their unified Spirit into the hearts, the inner being, of every believer.
40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet (zeh hu ha-naviy[H]).”
“This is the prophet” God spoke to Moses of, “I will raise up a prophet like you…” (Deut.18:15-18; Acts 7:37).
41 Others were saying, “This is the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]).” Still others were saying, “Surely the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) is not going to come from the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]), is He? 42 Has not the Writing (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]) said that the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) comes from the descendants of David (Beloved), and from Beit Lechem[H] (House of Bread) Bethlehem, the village David came from?”
“Others were saying, ‘This is the Messiah’” As attested to in verse 31, many already believed Yeshua was the promised King Messiah.
“Surely the Messiah is not going to come from the Galilee, is He? 42 Has not the Writing said that comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village David came from?” Sadly human beings are prone to both proposing and making false choices. The Scriptures show that Messiah is from both Bethlehem and the Galilee. In fact, He is from Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth and the Galilee.
Ref. Matt. 2; 2 Sam. 7:12-13; Jer. 23:5-6; Micah 5:1 ; Psalm. 89:36-38 [35-37]; 132:11; 1 Chron. 7:11, 14).
The people were right to say that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem. Those who were in confusion and disbelief were clearly not aware that Yeshua had been born in Bethlehem. If they had been, many more may well have believed, but, this would not have allowed for the purposes of God to come about because they would have made of Yeshua a temporal King, and devoid of the sacrificial means of eternal redemption, would have died in their sin without the eternal Kingdom promised by God.
43 As a result a division, split, gap (schisma[G]) occurred in the crowd because of Him (Yeshua[H]).
There have and until His return will always be only two responses to the work of Yeshua: acceptance and life, rejection and death.
“For we are a fragrance of Messiah to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;to the one an aroma from death leading to death, to the other an aroma from life leading to life. And who is adequate for these things?” -2 Corinthians 2:15-16 Author’s translation
44 Some of them intended to apprehend (piazo[G]) Him, but no one laid hands on Him. 45 The servants (huperetes[G]) then came to the chief priests (archiereus[G], ha-kohaniym[H]) and some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees), and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?”
“No one laid hands on Him” because His time had not yet come.
46 The servants (huperetes[G]) answered, “Never has a human being (anthropos[G]) spoken in the manner this man speaks.”
In saying this the servants insulted the P’rushiym, who considered themselves well versed and well spoken in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. The servants were testifying to witnessing the reality of Yeshua’s own words: “My teaching is not Mine but His Who sent Me!” (v.16).
47 The P’rushiym[H] then answered them, “You haven’t also been led astray, have you?
The hubris of this small group of P’rushiym is palpable. They conclude that no one could speak in a manner that is superior their own ability, therefore, those who witnessed it must be deluded, lead astray.
48 No one among the leaders, magistrates, rulers, princes (archon[G], ha-sariym[H]) or P’rushiym[H] have believed, trusted, been persuaded (pisteuo[G]) in Him, have they?
In fact Nakdiymon is likely to have already become a disciple of Yeshua, and his subsequent rebuttal of the religious party’s unlawful judgement is further evidence of this (v.50-52). In addition to Nakdiymon, many others among the P’rushiym who had been among the crowd had also become followers of Yeshua (v.31).
49 But this crowd which does not know (yod’iym[H]) the Torah[H] (Instruction, ho nomos[G]) is under God’s curse (epikataratos[G]).”
Once again the pride of the learned religious leaders raises its ugly head. They’re essentially saying that all the common Israelis who have come up to attend the festival of Sukkot in obedience to the Torah, are ignorant of the Torah. Worse still, because many in the crowd have concluded that Yeshua speaks the truth, the religious leaders consider them under God’s curse. What a sad and ironic situation the religious leaders find themselves in, for, as the Scripture says “an undeserved curse cannot land”, in fact, it returns to rest upon the one who uttered it.
50 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) [the one who had come to Yeshua before, being one of the P’rushiym[H]) said to them, 51 “Our Torah[H] (Instruction, ho nomos[G]) does not separate, judge, access (krino[G]) a man unless it first hears (akouo[G]) from him and knows (ginosko[G]) what he is doing (poieo[G]), does it?”
Many among them knew and were thinking this but it was Nakdiymon alone who had the courage to speak up. A courage born of the Spirit of God. He is correct in his assertion. Deuteronomy 19:15-21 demands that a lawful gathering be held in order to hear from all parties involved in a matter of Torah law.
52 They answered him (Nakdiymon), “You’re not also from the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]), are you? Search, and see that prophets aren’t raised out of the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]).” 53 Each man journeyed to his house.
“You’re not also from the Galilee, are you?” Personal attacks are often the domain of those who have lost an argument or are found wanting in their ability to refute the truth. Therefore, knowing they’re in the wrong the religious leaders cover up their inadequacy with bigotry. They were essentially saying, “You’re not also one of those ignorant hicks from the Galilee are you?” This they said to a man honoured by the Talmud as a tzadik (righteous saint), well learned in the Torah and well-practiced in Halakhah, righteous living (see my article on John 3).
“Search, and see that prophets aren’t raised out of the Galilee” Usually, when one relies on emotion to further a point of disagreement, the result is untenable. Not only was Nakdiymon right concerning the Torah, he was also vindicated by the response of the religious leaders which proved them to be guilty of the ignorance they had presumed upon others. One need not look far to find that the prophet Yonah came from Gat-Hefer in the Galilee. What’s more, our own rabbis, men who are the progeny of Pharisaic Judaism, testify against the false information of the religious leaders:
“Rabbi Eli’ezer… said… ‘There was not a tribe in Israel which did not produce prophets…” (Sukkah 27b).
However, because the tense of the Greek text allows for the meaning “no future prophet comes from the Galilee”, we must give the religious leaders the benefit of the doubt on this matter.
“Each man journeyed to his house.” This does not mean that the people returned from the festival to their home villages but that those involved with the private meeting of the religious leaders and their servants returned to their homes in the city of Jerusalem. We know this because the eighth day Sh’mini Atzeret of Sukkot was yet to occur and the seventh day would not conclude until the following sundown according to the Biblical lunar calendar. Therefore, thousands remained in Jerusalem for the conclusion of the festival.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
In fact, theology in the traditional Christian Scholarship (Post the original Jewish Ecclesia: Messiah following Jews) sense, does not exist in the Messianic Hebrew faith, because to the Messianic Jew belief not acted on is unbelief.
1After (meta[G]) these (tauta[G]) words, essences, things (ha-devariym[H]) Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua) was walking (peripateo[G], halakh[H]) in the land (b’eretz[H]) of the Galilee (ha-Galiyl[H], a circuit), for He was unwilling to walk (halokh[H]) in Judea (Ioudaia[G], b’Yehudah[H]) because the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were seeking to kill Him (Yeshua[H, A]).
“After these things” Means after the making whole of the lame man on the Sabbath of Purim [John 5:5-16] (which will become poignant in verse 23), after the feeding of the 28,000 (5000 men) [John 6:1-15], after the sign of walking on water and calming the storm [John 6:16-21], after the profession of His identity as the true manna from the heavens [John 6:48-51] and the means of salvation for all who will believe…
The Hebrew text of the Ha-Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) says “Achar ha-devariym” After these words, essences, things…
“Yeshua was walking” The Hebrew “halakh” means more than just “physical walking”, it means to walk with spiritual, religious, moral integrity according to the perfect practice of God’s word. In Judaism our “halakhah” the way we practically walk our faith is inseparable from our theology. In fact, theology in the traditional Christian Scholarship (Post the original Jewish Ecclesia: Messiah following Jews) sense, does not exist in the Messianic Hebrew faith, because to the Messianic Jew belief not acted on is unbelief (ref. the book of Yaakov [James]). Therefore, one could understand the text by way of remez (hint) drash (comparative teaching), to say “Yeshua’s halakhah was among the common Jewish people of the Galilee, for He was unwilling to practice the halakhah of religious hypocrites.”
Regardless, the reason “Yeshua was not willing to walk in Judea” is clearly stated in the text, it was because the Judean religious leaders “wanted to kill Him”, and while it was His intention to go to the cross, He was determined that His death happen at the “opportune time.” We note that His life was not taken from Him by the authority of men but was given of Him by the authority of God (John 10:17-18).
The sign/miracle that became the catalyst for the Religious leaders’ plan to kill Yeshua was the making whole of the man at Beit Chasda (House of kindness/practical love), because Yeshua had performed a miracle on the Sabbath (John 5:5-16). This is affirmed as we read on, in the discussion over Yeshua’s sanity and the hypocrisy of those who claim Moses as their guide and yet do not keep the Torah that Moses gave to them, albeit from God via Moses. How sadly ironic that the miracle which ignited such hatred toward Yeshua was performed in the House of Kindness by the Kindest man Who ever lived.
“Because of this therefore the Judeans, religious Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Shabbat, but also was calling the God His own Father, making Himself equal with the God.” -John 5:18 Author’s translation
“for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Judeans, religious Jews, were seeking to kill Him.” We see here one of the many examples showing why it is foolish to translate the Greek Ioudaios as “Jews” in general. The context of this passage shows clearly that Yeshua was walking among Jews in the Galilee but did not walk among the Jews of the region of Judea because a group of religious Jews from Judea were intent on killing Him. Therefore, in the context of this passage all are Jews, some are Galileans, some Judeans, some religious, some secular, some of one sect, some of another, all Ioudaios but not all Ioudaios from the region of Ioudaia, though most made regular aliyah (going up) to Jerusalem in Judea for the three Regaliym (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot). It is the foolish general translational choice to equivocate all instances of Ioudaios, that has led to some of the most heinous anti-Semitic theology and action of the so called “Christian Church”. It shames the Name of Christ and has mislead countless people of genuine faith for millennia.
2 Now the feast (Chag[H]) of the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]), the Feast (Chag[H]) of Sukkot[H] (Shelters), was near.
“Now the feast of the Judeans, religious Jews” Because all observant Jews (from all over Israel and not just from Judea) went up to this feast, the “Feast of the Judeans” here refers to a feast all Jews participated in. Once again, context is key to translation, interpretation and understanding.
“The feast of Sukkot was near” Much time has passed since the end of chapter 6. The events of chapter seven begin some months later. The feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) has been skipped by the author and we now find ourselves nearing the end of the year at the time of the later harvest heading toward fall and winter. The author of the Gospel of John does not intend his Gospel to relay a blow by blow historical and chronologically detailed account like that of Luke. The theme of this Gospel regards the present deity of the Messiah and His redemptive purpose as the Lamb of God come to give Himself as a vicarious sacrifice for all who would receive Him. Thus, the next point in the revelation of the theme begins prior to Sukkot, that festival which prophecies the future dwelling of God with His redeemed creation.
A sound understanding of the festival of Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43; Num. 29:12-39; Deut. 16:13-16) and its customs is key to a correct interpretation of John 7:37-39 and 8:12. The festival of Sukkot is the backdrop for John chapters 7 and 8.
Sukkot begins 5 days after Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on the 15th of Tishri (Shabbat or seventh month of the Biblical lunar calendar). It is highly likely given Yeshua’s strict observance of the Torah, that He had gone up to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur and had returned to the Galilee for the 5 day interim period between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. He had every intention of going up for Sukkot, in His own timing (according to God’s timing).
Sukkot is the festival of the later harvest and is full of completions: seven days, seventy sacrificial bulls etc. It has a long standing connection to the nations, from the time of the giving of the Torah in the presence of seventy elders, to the time of the prophet Zechariyah, and in the Talmud of rabbinical Judaism, and beyond.
“16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the
Concerning the seventy bulls required by Numbers 29:12-34, which were to be sacrificed over the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, the Talmud Bavliy says:
“Rabbi El’azar said, ‘To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations…” (Sukkah 55b)
Based on the many correlations between the number seventy and the nations in the Torah, rabbinic tradition teaches that seventy is a number for the nations and that the seventy bulls sacrificed during Sukkot are meant as an atonement for the nations.
Jewish Tradition and Practice During First Century CE Sukkot Celebrations at the Temple in Jerusalem:
Apart from the continued Torah instructed practice of dwelling, sleeping, eating and drinking, in temporary shelters, first century Jews practiced various other rites during Sukkot in Jerusalem each year.
The waving of the four species or Lulav (still practiced today) made up of branches of palm tree, myrtle, and willow, bound up together in a bundle. These were carried in the right hand, with an etrog (citron native to Israel) in the left. The lulav is waved three times first toward the east, then south, east, north, toward the heavens and then toward the lower regions and brought back to rest over the heart of the worshipper. This signifies that God is Creator and sustains of all things.
In the first century the priests walked around the altar once, with the lulav in their hands, saying the words "Hoshana Save now, I plead to You, O Lord, O Lord I plead to You, send now prosperity" (Psalm 118:25): and on the seventh day, they went around the altar seven times (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Maimon. Hilch. Lulab, c. 7. sect. 5, 6, 9, 23).
There were great Menorah-like four branched candles stands in the Temple precinct. At sundown on the first day of the feast, they went down to the court of the women where golden candlesticks had been erected, and at the head of them four golden basins, and four ladders to every candlestick, and four young priests had four pitchers of oil, that held a hundred and twenty logs (an ancient measure of oil), which they put into each basin. Wicks were made from the old breeches and girdles of the priests, and it was these oil soaked wicks that the priests would light. There was not a court in Jerusalem which was not lit up with that light, and religious men, and men of good works, danced before them, with lighted torches in their hands, singing songs and hymns of praise, which continued for the following six nights (Mishnah. Succah, c. 5. sect 2, 3, 4; Maimon. ib. c. 8. sect. 12.).
On every day of the festival water was drawn from the pool of Siloach (sent), and was poured along with wine upon the altar as a libation offering, which was celebrated with great rejoicing (simchateinu). During the illumination in the court of the women, many instruments were employed such as harps, psalteries, cymbals, and two priests with trumpets, who sounded them when they were given the signal, and on every day, as they brought water from the pool of Siloach to the altar, they sounded with trumpets, and shouted; the great "Hallel" (Psalms 136), was sung all the eight days (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 8, 9. & c. 5. 1, 4, 5. & Eracin, c. 2. sect. 3). The whole festival was one of great rejoicing, according to Leviticus 23:40.
3 Therefore His brothers (achiym[H]) said to Him (Yeshua), “Leave here and go into the region of Judea (Ioudaia[G], b’Yehudah[H]), so that Your disciples (talmidim[H]) also may see Your works, deeds (ergon[G], ha-ma’asiym[H]) which You are doing, making (oseh[H]).
It seems clear that Yeshua had many disciples outside His intimate retinue and that many of them were not always with Him but were Judean Jews who often spent time in Judea among the religious community there. The suggestion of Yeshua’s biological brothers is a practical one, and in and of itself is not wrong.
4 For no one does anything, word (davar[H]) in secret (kruptos[G], seiter[H]) when he himself seeks to be known (l’hivodeia[H]) publicly, become famous. If You’re going to do these things, show Yourself to the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]).”
“no one does anything in secret when, he himself seeks to be known publicly.” Initially the suggestion of Yeshua’s brothers may have been well meaning, a desire to see Yeshua succeed in His role as a great teacher of Israel. However, their disbelief alluded to in the following verse illuminates their true motivation. Like so many others of their generation and like so many human beings throughout the generations, the thought of failing to promote one’s gifts in order to form a mass following seemed ludicrous to them.
We are guilty of the same idolatrous sin today: Mega Churches, Media promotion of certain faith leaders, buildings, empires, mass followings, and all contrary to the ministry of Messiah Yeshua. Our motivation has been self-promoting idolatry, whereas Yeshua’s motivation was to walk according to the redemptive purposes of God and in full obedience to the Father regardless of what that meant for His own reputation and well-being.
“Secret, hidden” The use of the Greek kruptos, meaning “secret, hidden, concealed” is poignant, given that Yeshua had explained earlier (some months past, but directly precedent to this chapter) that He is the “true bread from the heavens”( John 6:48-51), the manna that had been hidden, kept secret, concealed from the eyes of the Jewish people up to this point in history. Yeshua is the hidden manna in that He can be seen only by those who receive Him. He has no need of popularity because His intent is not to please the public but to honour God His Father. Modern believers would do well to emulate Him.
“The one who has an ear, let that one hear what the Spirit says to the body of believers. To that one who overcomes, to that person I will give some of the hidden, secret, concealed (krupto) manna (bread from the heavens), and I will give that person a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but the one who receives it.’” -Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan 2:17
5 For not even His brothers (achiym[H]) were believing in Him, thought Him true, were persuaded of Him, had faith in Him, trusted Him (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]).
Yeshua’s brothers are named in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark as: Yaakov, Yosef, Yehudah, and Shimon. These were sons of Miriyam (Mary) and Yosef (Joseph), Yeshua’s biological mother and earthly but not biological father (Matt.13:55-56; Mark. 6:3).
“A stranger I have become to my brothers and a foreigner to the children of My mother…” -Tehilim (Psalms) 69:8 Author’s translation
It’s important to note that the disbelief of Yeshua’s brothers did not persist after His death and resurrection. We know for certain that Yaakov became not only a believer in Yeshua but also a leader of the early Messianic Jewish sect (The Way) [Acts. 2:17, 15:13, 21:18, Galatians. 1:19, 2:9, 12]. He is also the most likely author of the book of Yaakov (James) included in the Ha-Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT). Another brother Yehudah is thought to be the author of the NT book of Yehudah (Jude).
6 So Yeshua[H] said to them, “The true measure, opportune time for Me (ho kairos[G]) is not yet here, but your true measure, opportune time (ho kairos[G]) is all the time, any time, always now (pantote[G]).
In other words, pursuing popularity, self-promotion and idolatry are always the go to for those who are spiritually blind. In and of itself fame is not wrong, the Scriptures tell us that because HaShem was “with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land” (Joshua 6:27), but when the pursuit of fame seeks to promote self rather than the Gospel, or worse, in place of the Gospel, it becomes idolatry.
7 The world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]) can’t hate you, but it hates Me because I testify (meiiyd[H]) of it, that its deeds are perpetual, intense, multiples of evil (raiym[H]).
The sin affected people of this world love those who tell them what they want to hear, but those who challenge sin and teach the need for sacrifice and repentance are hated by this world. Why? Because our evil actions are perpetual, so much so that evil has become the norm. Therefore, when our long held beliefs are challenged we do what all sin affected people do, we become defensive and attack the one who has exposed the lie of our existence.
8 Go up to the feast (Chag[H]) yourselves; I do not go up to this feast (Chag[H]) because the true measure, opportune time for Me (ho kairos[G]) has not yet (oupo[G]) fully come (pleroo[G]).” 9 Having said these things to them, He stayed in the Galilee (ba’Galiyl[H], b’Galeela[A]).
Notice that Yeshua’s brothers were religiously observant Jews who had clearly planned to make aliyah (going up) for the Regaliym Festival of Sukkot (Shelters).
Both the context and the grammar tell us that Yeshua was not saying that He wouldn’t go at all, rather He was saying that He would come at the appropriate time. The present tense of the Greek is better translated as “I’m not presently going up”.
10 But when His brothers (achiym[H]) had gone up to the festival (Chag[H]), then He Himself also made aliyah[H] (went up), not openly (b’gelya[A]), but in secret, hidden, concealed (kruptos[G]). 11 So the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were seeking Him at the feast (Chag[H]) and were saying, “Where is He?”
Yeshua had always intended to attend. It is likely that He followed soon after His brothers and arrived in time for the beginning of the feast so as to make His chagigah or sacrifice according to first century practice. The journey from the Galilee to Jerusalem was approximately 3 days by foot, with stops to rest each evening). However, the Mishnah allows for the sacrifice to be made at another point during the festival (Mishnah. Chagiga, c. 1. sect. 6. Maimon. Hilch. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 4, 5, 6, 7). Therefore, regardless of when He went up, He non the less kept the Torah requirement, as was His custom.
The anger of the Religious leaders was such that they were actively searching for Yeshua at the festival. However, we note that they at very least considered Yeshua an observant Jew, or else why were they looking for Him at the feast?
12 There was much murmuring, grumbling, secret displeasure (goggusmos[G]) among the crowds concerning Him (Yeshua[H]); some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He causes people to go astray (planao[G]).” 13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]).
The people of Israel were undecided as to whether Yeshua was a good, even truly prophetic figure or a heretic. Some spoke quietly against Him, others spoke quietly in His favour, but such was the power of the religious leaders that none spoke publicly concerning Him for fear of religious persecution or being “Put out of the synagogue”.
14 But when it was now the middle (alt. chol ha-moediym[H] intermediary days) of the feast (Chag[H]) Yeshua[H] (Jesus) went up into the Temple (hieron[G], ha-Mikdash[H]), and began to teach.
Some date this Sukkot festival to the year 29 CE, the definitive middle of the festival being at the convergence of yom shiyshiy and the beginning of the only weekly Shabbat of the festival. If this dating is correct the ministry years of Yeshua spanned 27-30 CE.
“…into the Mikdash (temple)” means inside the Temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the Gentiles which is not considered part of the Temple proper. In other words, at the time of these events Yeshua’s teaching was made available only to Jews.
15 the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) marvelled, were astonished, admired His teaching (thaumazo[G]) saying, “How has this man become knowledgeable, learned in sacred things, having never been educated?”
“How has this man become knowledgeable, learned in sacred things, having never been educated?” In other words, “How is this hick from the Kinneret (Galilee) able to clearly articulate Jewish halakhic teaching without ever having attended a yeshivah or studied under a famous rabbi or scholar?”
Interestingly the Talmud acknowledges that Yeshua was taught by the great Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Peracyah, the chief teacher of his day (Sanhedrin 107b, Sotah 47a). However, that is utter nonsense, given that the rabbi in question lived a hundred years earlier. Still, the point is that Jewish tradition does not record Yeshua as being ignorant of religious training and knowledge.
16 So Yeshua[H] answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me (sholkhiy[H]). 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, that one will know of the teaching, whether it is of the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) or whether I speak (adabeir[H]) from Myself.
In reality Yeshua’s learning, knowledge, and application were in this world but not of it. His wisdom and practice are from above, the impartation of the Father God. His teaching, perpetual, sacred and transcendent.
“…whether it is of the God or whether I speak from Myself.” The beautiful irony here is that in either case the teaching is of God.
18 He who speaks from himself seeks, craves, demands (zeteo[G]) his own judgement, opinion, view, glory (doxa[G], k’vod[H]); but He who is seeking the judgement, opinion, view, glory (doxa[G], k’vod[H]) of the One who sent Him, He is true, faithful, trustworthy (alethes[G], ne’eman[H]), and there is no injustice, unrighteousness (adikia[G]) in Him.
Note the intrinsic connection between judgement (discernment, view) and glory (honour). This link between judgement and glory bears fruit in verse 24 where Yeshua challenges the false judgement/glory of His hearers.
19 “Didn’t Moshe[H] (drawn out) give (natan[H]) you the Instruction (Ha-Torah[H]), and yet none among you does, acts out (oseh[H]) the Instruction (Ha-Torah[H])? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
In fact Moses gave Israel the Instruction of God, the author and goal of that Instruction being Yeshua Himself. The religious Jewish community of the first century were proud of their connection to the Torah and Moses, and yet they did not do what the Torah required. This is true of so many people of faith today. We are aware of what we should do but non the less act in a contrary fashion. Yeshua is not exposing their inaction but their hypocrisy.
20 The crowd answered, “You have an evil spirit, demon, divinity, god (daimonion[G], sheid[H])! Who seeks to kill You?”
In modern terms, “You’re a demonized psycho, a sicko, crazy person…”
21 Yeshua[H] answered them, “I did (poieo[G]) one (echad[H]) deed, work (ergon[G]) and you all admire, marvel (thaumazo[G]).
The work Yeshua speaks of is recorded in John 5:5-16, and concerns the making whole of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda on the Shabbat of Purim now some months prior. John 5:18 quite literally says that the religious Jewish leaders “sought to kill” Yeshua because of this miraculous sign performed on the Shabbat. Thus, what follows concerns actions that are permissible by first century Jewish halakhah on the Shabbat, even when they contradict the Shabbat commandment.
22 For this reason Moshe[H] (drawn out) has given (natan[H]) you circumcision (ha-miylah[H]) [not because it’s from Moses, but from the fathers (ha-Avot[H], Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov)], and on the Sabbath (Ha-Shabbat[H]) you circumcise (tamulu[H]) a man.
“Moses has given you circumcision” Leviticus 12:3
“…not because it’s from Moses, but from the fathers” God originally gave the commandment of circumcision to Avraham in Genesis 17:1-27, which he carried out on Yitzchak in Genesis 21:4, and it was perpetuated by Yitzchak and Yaakov respectively. This occurred centuries prior to the command given through Moses, which was a reiteration of the original command.
"we do not circumcise because Abraham our father, on whom be peace, circumcised himself and his household, but because the holy blessed God commanded us by Moses, that we should be circumcised, as Abraham our father was circumcised.'' -Maimon. in Mishnah. Cholin, c. 7. sect. 6.
23 If a male receives circumcision (timol[H]) on the Sabbath (Ha-Shabbat[H]) so that the Instruction (Torah[H]) of Moshe[H] will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire human being (anthropos[G]) sound, whole, fully restored (hugies[G]) on the Sabbath (Ha-Shabbat[H])?
The Torah commands that a Jewish male be circumcised on the eight day (Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3), however, it also prohibits work on the Shabbat (Exodus 20:9-10, 23:12, 31:14-15, 34:21; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:12-14 etc.) Therefore, if the eighth day of a new born male’s life falls on a Shabbat there is a practical conflict. It is clear from the text that the halakhah of the first century Judean Jews under these circumstances was to practice circumcision on the Shabbat. The Talmud tractate Shabbat 128b-137b records this halakhic practice for posterity. Therefore, that which Yeshua referred to was a well-known and accepted halakhic practice. Yeshua was not denying its validity, rather He was using it as an example so as to expose the hypocrisy of His accusers.
Yeshua is using a form of reasoning which in Judaism is called kal ve’chomer or a light and heavy argument. He is essentially saying, “You permit the breaking of the Shabbat in order to circumcise, how much more important is it to make a person whole on the Shabbat?”
Jewish tradition agrees with Yeshua’s reasoning. The Talmud Bavliy sites the principle that saving a life suspends the Shabbat:
“Rabbi El’azar answered, ‘If circumcision. Which involves only one of the 248 human body parts, suspends Shabbat, how much more must [healing] the whole body suspend Shabbat.” -Talmud Bavliy Yoma 85b
"…the preservation of the soul life, suspends the Shabbat…” -Talmud. Bavliy. Shabbat, fol. 132. 1.
Put simply, a suffering person cannot rest, therefore, in order for the suffering person to keep the Shabbat that person must first be made whole. After all, Shabbat means “Seventh, blessing, stop, rest, pause, completion, wholeness, sound construction and transcendent peace.”
24 Do not separate, select, prefer, determine, judge (krino[G], tish’petu[H]) according to sight, seeing, appearance (opsis[G], lemareih[H]), but, instead by righteous, innocent, faultless observation (dikaios[G], tzedek[H]) separate, distinguish, make just, right judgment, alt. conclude justly (krisis[G], mishpat[H]).”
This verse challenges the false sight of the religious Jewish leaders and those among the crowd who oppose Yeshua’s teaching. He brings to summation the idea seeded in verse 18 concerning the intrinsic connection between judgement and glory, as a means of challenging His hearers to choose a different way of looking at, perceiving, judging, accessing things. If they were to follow His advice they would receive Him and His teaching and find redemption.
Every modern believer is promptly challenged to do away with the foolish, decontextualized popular pseudo Christian phrase, “Don’t judge”. While it is true that Scripture indicates elsewhere that we are not in any position to condemn others or pass judgement on them, it is certainly not true that we should not judge. A lack of judgement results in sin. Rather, we are instructed to judge well, truly, rightly, based on Godly sight born of the righteousness purchased for us in Messiah. Therefore, “Stop judging by mere appearances and make a truly just judgement.”
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Sefer Yochanan (Gospel According to John) Chapter 6 Pt.2Eat My Flesh & Drink My Blood (John 6:33-71)
“For the soul living of the flesh is in the blood; and Him I have given to all of you upon the altar to purge, make reconciliation upon your soul existence: for the blood, He is in the soul purging reconciliation.” -Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11 (Author’s Translation)
What follows is the extension of Yeshua’s exposition regarding the manna from the heavens and His identity as the “True Manna” from the heavens. This idea is further developed and illuminated in the hearing of His listeners and culminates in a sifting of the wheat from the chaff (making a distinction between the devout disciples and the faithless ones). Leaving only the faithful few at His side.
34 Therefore (oun[G]), they said to Him (Yeshua), “Lord, Master (Kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), always give (tanah lanu[H]) us this (touton[G], et[H], ha-zeh[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]).”
34 Therefore, they said to Yeshua, “Lord, Master, always give us this the bread.”
“Therefore” relates to all that has gone before, the sign of the loaves and fishes, the sign of the walking on water, and the subsequent teaching regarding the true Author of the manna given to Israel’s forebears.
They are responding to the words that Yeshua has just spoken concerning His identity as the bread from heaven, however, they have not understood what He has said.
“JOHN 6:33 For the bread (lechem[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) is Him (hu[H]) Who comes down (hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), and gives (notein[H]) living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) to the world (kosmos[G], laolam[H]).”
“They” That is, some of those present. It is impossible to know how many addressed Yeshua with this request.
“Lord” To call Yeshua Lord denotes respect but it does not reflect the inner being of those who are petitioning Him.
“Always give us this bread” This is an ironically insightful use of language, however, it is clear from their response later in the text, that they were seeking something other than what Yeshua was offering.
At Yeshua’s final Pesach (Passover) Seder meal one of those present reflected their first century Jewish understanding of the metaphysical nature of the Olam Haba (World to come/Kingdom of God & His Messiah King):
“When one of those who reclined at table with Him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” -Luke 14:15 (ESV)
Our sages say of the manna:
“in the manna were all kinds of tastes, and everyone of the Israelites tasted all that he desired; for so it is written in Devarim (Deut.) 2:7, "these forty years the Lord your God has been with you, you have lacked nothing", or "not wanted for anything"; what is anything? when he desired to eat anything, and said with his mouth, O that I had fat to eat, immediately there was in his mouth the taste of fat. Young men tasted the taste of bread, old men the taste of honey, and children the taste of oil.'' -Shemot Rabba, sect. 25. fol. 108. 4.
"whoever desired flesh, he tasted it, and whoever desired fish, he tasted it, and whoever desired fowl, chicken, pheasant, or pea hen, so he tasted whatever he desired.'' -Bamidbar Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 188. 1.
35 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua) said to them, “I Am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (ego eimi [G], Anachiy hu[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], lechem[H]) of the life, living (ho zoe[G], ha-chayiym[H]); all (kol[H]) who come (ha-bah[H]) to Me (eme[G]) will not hunger, continue to be hungry (peinao[G]), and all who believe, are persuaded of, have placed confidence, trusted (pisteuo[G], yamiyn[H]) in Me (eme[G]) will never at any time, perpetually (popote[G], od[H]) suffer from thirst (dispsao[G]).
35 Yeshua said to them, “I Am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He the bread of the life, living; all who come to Me will not hunger, continue to be hungry, and all who believe, are persuaded of, have placed confidence, trusted in Me will never at any time, perpetually suffer from thirst.
“I AM, I Exist” This is the self-existing statement of God the Father (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 1:1-3; 6:20; 8:58). For the religiously observant Jewish reader there is no question that Yeshua is claiming deity.
“I Am the bread of perpetual living” Yeshua is not just a form of bread but is the eternally sustaining bread of the unbroken age (Olam Haba)
“all who come to Me will not hunger, continue to be hungry,” Coming to Yeshua is the first step in response to His invitation. One can’t believe, trust, without first having come.
The Kohen who wrote the book of Hebrews reminds us:
“But without faith it is impossible to please God: because in order for a person to come to God, that person must first believe that God exists, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” -Hebrews 11:6 (Author’s translation)
To hunger is to be devoid of the necessary fuel for existence. Therefore, to be free from hunger is to be perpetually energized.
“and all who believe in Me will never at any time, perpetually suffer from thirst.” Coming to God through Yeshua is the beginning, believing is a continuing act of the will and by its nature means the receipt of salvation (yeshuah). To thirst means to be devoid of the primary resource of life. To use modern terminology, the body is made up predominantly of water, and can survive not more than three days without it. How much more important then, are the metaphorical waters of eternal existence. Yeshua promises these mayiym chatiym (living waters) to all who continue to believe in Him.
36 And I (ve’Aniy[H]) behold, pay attention (hineih[H]) have spoken to you, since (hoti[G]) indeed (kai[G], gam[H]) you have seen, observed (horao[G], chaziytim[H]) Me (otiy[H]) with your eyes, and yet are not (lo[H]) persuaded, convinced, trusting, believing (pisteuo[G], te’miynu[H]).
36 And I, behold, pay attention, have spoken to you, since indeed you have seen, observed Me with your eyes, and yet are not persuaded, convinced, trusting, believing.
In other words. Yeshua is expounding on the concepts He has seeded in order to provide His hearers with the greatest possible opportunity to receive His teaching and come to repentance.
37 All [individually] (kol[H]) that My Father [the Father] (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) gives (yit’nenu[H], didomi[G]) Me will come (Yavo[H]) to Me (eme[G]), and the one who comes (erchomai[G], ve’haba[H]) to Me I will certainly not (lo[H]) cast, drive, send, repulse (ekballo[G], eh’dafenu[H]) outside (exo[G], hachutzah[H]).
37 All (individually) that My Father [the Father] gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast, drive, send, repulse outside.
In one verse the foolish debate pitting predestination against freewill is silenced. “All individually that my Father GIVES Me (Predestination)… and the one who comes to Me (Freewill)…”
Therefore the answer to the false choice “Freewill or Predestination?” is “Yes!”
Grace is offered to all but can only be received by the repentant.
Predestination can’t exist without Love. Love can’t be reciprocated without Freewill. Therefore, the Chooser, knowing the outcome, proposes relationship, and the chosen choose to be predestined.
Predestination is a fruit of God’s nature stemming from the fact that He sees the end from the beginning (something we are incapable of ). Freewill is the seed of our view from within time and space, that when fully grown produces the tree from which it came.
38 For (kiy[H]) I have not (lo[H]) come down (katabaino[G], yarad’tiy[H]) from (min[H]) the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]) to do, make, accomplish (poieo[G], la’asot[H]) My own will, determinations, wishes (thelema[G], retzoniy[H]), but the will, determinations, wishes of Him (thelema[G], im-retzon[H]) Who sent Me (pempo[G], sholchiy[H]).
38 For I have not come down from the heavens to do, make, accomplish My own will, determinations, wishes, but the will, determinations, wishes of Him who sent Me.
Having descended from the Father in the heavens, Yeshua has come to do the will of the Father Who sent Him. The Hebrew “sholchiy” meaning sent me is related to the Hebrew Shaliyach, sent one, emissary or Apostle. In these terms Yeshua is the first and Ultimate Apostle. As is the case in all things, Yeshua submits His will to God’s will, thus showing the order and unity of the Godhead. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son but the Son is not outside the Father, and therefore He submits to the Father.
39 And this is (ve’zeh[H]) the will, determination, wish of Him [the Father] (thelema[G], retzon ha-Av[H]) Who sent Me (pempo[G], sh’lachaniy[H]), that of all [individually] (kol[H]) that He has given (didomi[G], hanitan[H]) Me I destroy, render useless (apollumi[G]) nothing (lo-yovar[H]), but raise it up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].
39 And this is the will, determination, wish of Him [the Father] Who sent Me, that of all [individually] that He has given Me I destroy, render useless nothing, but raise it up on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last day.
“All that He has given Me” Includes all creation and those human beings who have been predestined to become His. Note that nothing given to Yeshua will suffer destruction. The resurrection is the resurrection and transformation of the present body into a transcendent metaphysical body. We will not rise as spirits alone (a pagan Gnostic idea) but as a redeemed unity of body, mind, spirit, heart, soul, breath.
It’s interesting to note that the Zohar speaks in similar terms regarding the resurrection of the latter day:
ולא יתאביד כלום, "and not anything shall be lost", but all shall rise again; for, lo, it is said, Dan. 12:2, "and many of them that sleep in the dust", &c.'' -Zohar in Exod. fol. 43. 4.
40 For this is the will, determination, wish (thelema[G], retzon[H]) of My Father (Pater mou[G], Aviy[H]), that everyone individually (pas[G], kol[H]) who beholds, sees (theoreo[G], ha-roeh[H]) the Son (ho uihos[G], et ha-Ben[H]) and believes, is persuaded, trusts (pisteuo[G], uma’amiyn[H]) in Him will have, hold (echo[G]) eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]) [living in a perpetual world], and I Myself (ego[G], va’Aniy[H]) will raise him up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].”
40 For this is the will, determination, wish of My Father, that everyone individually who beholds, sees the Son and believes, is persuaded, trusts in Him will have, hold eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living [living in a perpetual world], and I Myself will raise him up on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last day.”
Note that all who believe will hold or have (past tense) unending life. This life begins upon receipt of Yeshua and not at the resurrection. Those who receive Yeshua have already begun to live eternally. The life a believer lives in Yeshua is transcendent by nature of His transcendent person dwelling within each believer.
“Yeshua said to her, ‘I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will continue to live, even if he dies.’” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
"They shall be gathered from their captivity, they shall sit under the shadow of their Messiah, "and the dead shall live", and good shall be multiplied in the land.'' -Targum Hosea 14:8
"the holy blessed God will quicken the righteous, and they shall not return to their dust.'' -T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 1.
"the land (of the living), whose dead live first in the days of the Messiah.” -T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 32. 3.
It is said that Rabbi Jeremiah wanted to he buried with his clothes and shoes on, and his staff in his hand, so that when the Messiah came, he would be ready (T. Hieros. Kilaim, foi. 32. 3. col. 2.).
Kimchi says regarding Isaiah 66:5:
"They shall live at the resurrection of the dead, in the days of the Messiah.''
And regarding Jeremiah 23:20:
""ye" shall consider, and not "they" shall consider; which intimates the "resurrection of the dead in the days of the Messiah".''
Iben Ezra says regarding Daniel 12:2:
"The righteous which die in captivity shall live, when the Redeemer comes;''
41 Therefore the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were grumbling, muttering, speaking in a low tone (gogguzo[G]) about Him (Yeshua), because He said, “I Am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (Ego[G] eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) Him (hu[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]) that came down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]).” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), the son (uihos[G], ben[H]) of Yosef[H] (Joseph: YHVH adds), whose father (et aviyu[H]) and mother (et imo[H]) we know (yod’iym[H])? How does He now say, ‘I have come down (batiy[H]) out of the heavens (ek ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H])?”
41 Therefore the Judeans, religious Jews were grumbling, muttering, speaking in a low tone about Him, because He said, “I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He, Him the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Yeshua, the son of Yosef, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of the heavens?”
Those Judean religious Jews speaking about Yeshua (behind His back as it were) did so in a muttering low tone in order to speak ill of Him without Him being able to hear clearly. These same Judeans may have consisted of those who had been offended by His healing on the Shabbat during Purim in Jerusalem.
The Hebrew text makes it very clear why the Judeans were upset. In Hebrew Yeshua said “I Am Him the bread that came down from the heavens”. To them this could be heard as nothing short of blasphemy. The “I Am” phrase being the same as in the former use and referring to Yeshua’s deity.
Notice that these particular Judeans were familiar with the family of Yeshua. Perhaps even close to the family in community with them. They knew Yosef and Miriyam and were incredulous at the idea that an uneducated labourer’s son might claim such high standing.
“How does He now say” is equivalent to, “What qualifies him to speak this way?” or “This guy’s got a lot of chutzpah if He thinks He can get away with saying…”
43 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered and said to them, “Do not mutter, grumble, speak in a low tone (gogguzo[G]) among yourselves. 44 No one (oudeis[G]) is able, has the power to (dunamai[G]) come (erchomai[G], lavo[H]) to Me unless My Father [the Father] (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) Who sent (pempo[G], shelachaniy[H]) Me draws, drags (helkuo[G]) him; and I (Kago[G], va’Aniy[H]) will raise him up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on the extreme last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].
43 Yeshua answered and said to them, “Do not mutter, grumble, speak in a low tone among yourselves. 44 No one is able, has the power to come to Me unless My Father [the Father] Who sent Me draws, drags him; and I will raise him up on the extreme last day.
Yeshua rebukes them for their rudeness and explains their own incredulity to them. The Greek uses helkuo, meaning to drag, perhaps an allusion to the way His hearers will later come to faith in Him.
45 It is written (grapho[G], katuv[H]) in the Prophets (Prophetes[G], Neviyim[H]), ‘And they shall all (vekulam[H]) be taught (y’lamdu[H]) of God (Elohiym[H], Theos[G]).’ For yes (Lachein[H]), everyone individually (Pas[G], kol[H]) who has heard (shama[H]) and learned (v’lamad[H]) from (min[H]) the Father (ho Pater[G], ha-Av[H]), comes to Me (yavo eilay[H]). 46 Not that anyone human (Adam[H]) has seen the Father (ho Pater[G], et ha-Av[H]), except the One Who is from the God (ho Theos[G], ha-Elohiym[H]); He (Hu[H]) has seen (ra’ah[H]) the Father (ho Theos[G]), the God (et ha-Elohiym[H]).
45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ For yes, everyone individually who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone human has seen the Father, except the One Who is from the God; He has seen the Father, the God.
“And no man has ascended up to the heavens, except He Who came down from the heavens, even the Son of man Who is in the heavens.” -Yochanan (John) 3:13 (Author’s translation)
“It is written in the Prophets” Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 4:2. The Neviyim (the Prophets) is a section of the wider body of Hebrew Scripture (Tanakh) that collects the prophetic writings of God’s prophets.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” - Isaiah 54:13 (KJV)
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” - Jeremiah 31:34 (KJV)
“and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” -Micah 4:2 (ESV)
The Zohar confines those being taught by God to the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel:
"they are truly taught of God from whom prophecy comes, which does not to all the world, but to Israel only, of whom it is written, "and all thy children are taught of God".''
47 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, he who believes, is convinced, is persuaded, trusts, has, holds (echo[G]) eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]) [living in a perpetual world].
47 Amen Amen, In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, he who believes, is convinced, is persuaded, trusts, has, holds eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living.
As is always the case the double Amen is a testimony to the firmly established nature of that which Yeshua is about to say.
Once again it is affirmed that the person who believes in Yeshua already has life unending.
48 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (ego eimi[G], Anochiy Hu[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) of the life, the living (ho zoe[G], hachayiym[H]). 49 Your fathers (pateros[G], avoteiychem[H]) ate the manna (manna[G], ha man[H]: “What is it?”) in the wilderness (eremos[G], bamid’bar[H]: ba[in the] mi [from] davar [Word, essence, substance]), and they died (apothnesko[G], va’amutu[H]). 50 This is the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) which comes down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]), so that one may eat of it and not die (me apothnesko[G], velo yamut [H]).
48 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He the bread of the life, the living. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of the heavens, so that one may eat of it and not die.
Yet another “I Am” statement. The writer of John’s Gospel saturates His account with titles and figurative language pointing to the deity of Yeshua.
Yeshua reminds His hearers that the manna their forebears ate was temporal, resulting in the eventual death of their ancestors. Yeshua however was born in Beit Lechem “House of Bread”, the source of all sustenance, and He is the Bread of Eternal Living. The bread that once eaten will perpetuate a person’s life.
51 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (ego eimi [G], Anachiy[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]), the living (ho zoe[G], hachayiym[H]) that came down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]); if anyone eats of this one specific (toutou to[G]) bread (artos[G], lechem[H]), he will live (yich’yeh[H]), breathe (zao[G]) into (eis[G]) the unbroken age (ho aion[G], le’olam[H]) into the world everlasting; and the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) also which I will give (didomi[G], et’nenu[H]) for the life, living (zoe[G], chayeiy[H]) of the world (ho kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]) is in My flesh (sarx[G], b’shariy[H]).”
51 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He the bread, the living, that came down out of the heavens; if anyone eats of this one specific bread, he will live, breathe into the unbroken age, into the world everlasting; and the bread also which I will give for the life, living of the world is in My flesh.”
“I AM, I Exist” This is the self-existing statement of God the Father (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 1:1-3; 6:20; 8:58).
“if anyone eats of this one specific (toutou to[G]) bread (artos[G], lechem[H])” The Greek text is interesting, leaving no room for a general or esoteric application of the bread Who is Yeshua. “This specific Yeshua (bread)” there is no other means of eternal sustenance.
Elsewhere Yochanan writes:
“Yeshua said to him, I Am Ha-Derekh (the way), Ha-Emet (the truth), and Ha-Chayiym (the life, living): no one person can come to the Father, except through, by, with Me.” -Yochanan (John) 14:6 YBYV
“Yeshua said to her, "I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will continue to live, even if he dies.” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
“he will live, breathe into the unbroken age, into the world everlasting” Notice that living and breathing are a unity. The Breath and Spirit are intrinsic and necessary. The Spirit of God is the breath of the believer Who maintains an unbroken life from the inception of belief into perpetuity.
“and the bread also which I will give for the life, living of the world is in My flesh.” Some so called “Messianics” teach a disconnect between these words and the symbolism alluded to by Yeshua concerning the bread (matzah) and the wine (Kos Ge’ulah) of Pesach (Passover). They’re wrong!
Unlike the synoptic Gospels Yochanan’s (John) Gospel does not allude to the symbolic use of the Pesach elements by Yeshua as pertaining to His body and blood. Therefore, the present text is an allusion to that which John does not mention elsewhere but is fundamentally important. Yeshua is saying that He will give His flesh, His human existence as a sacrifice so that those who believe might have the life eternal which He has promised. Therefore, there is an intrinsic connection between the present verse and the symbolic use of the matzot at Pesach (Passover). Yeshua is the Pesach Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
52 Then the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) began to argue, fighting (machomai[G]) with one another, saying, “How can this man give (didomi[G]) us His flesh (sarx[G], b’saro[H]) to eat (phago[G, le’echol[H])?”
52 Then the Judeans, religious Jews began to argue, fighting with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
“Then the Judeans, religious Jews began to argue, fighting with one another” We note that the Judean religious Jews were not in agreement over what Yeshua had said and done. Some were clearly of the opinion that there was value in Yeshua’s signs and mashaliym (parables, metaphors, allegories), while others were fiercely opposed to Yeshua’s teaching. Thus, there was an argument between the Judean religious Jews concerning what they perceived as a difficult teaching.
53 So Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) said to them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you, unless you eat (phago[G], tochlu[H]) the flesh (ho sarx[G], et b’saro[H]) of the Son of the Man, humanity (ho uihos ho anthropos[G], ben ha-Adam[H]) and drink (pino[G], ush’tiytem[H]) His blood (aima[G], et damo[H]), you have, hold (echo[G]) no life, living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) in (en[G]) yourselves (heautou[G], Qnoma[A]: underlying substance).
53 So Yeshua said to them, “Amen Amen, In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of the Man, humanity and drink His blood, you have, hold no life, living in yourselves.
“Amen Amen” This is firmly and eternally established truth. Listen, pay attention, hear, receive, understand, implement!
It is not as many suppose, that Yeshua’s Jewish hearers thought He was suggesting cannibalism or pagan ritual. They were used to rabbis speaking in mashaliym (parables) and using metaphorical sayings like these. To the contrary, they considered it a hard teaching because they understood that Yeshua was saying they must live and continue to live as He lived, and that somehow He was also saying that it was possible for His very substance to be received by them and enable them to live this way. It was not difficult because it was non-kosher but because it was hyper-kosher.
A similar idea is addressed by our rabbis in the Midrash Rabbah to Ecclesiastes 2:24 where the issue of food and drink in the grave is addressed:
“‘The days of his life’; and that alludes to the grave. So are there food and drink in the grave that accompany a person to the grave? Of course not. Therefore, ‘food and drink’ must mean Torah and mitzvot’” -Midrash Rabah to Ecclesiastes 2:24
The point being that it was common practice for the rabbis and sages of Judaism to use figurative and metaphorical language when addressing spiritual subjects that are beyond the paradigm of the present age. In this respect Yeshua’s teaching was no different from that of a number of His contemporaries.
54 He who chews (trogo[G]) My flesh (sarx[G], b’sariy[H]) and drinks (pino[G], vehashoteh[H]) My blood (aima[G], et dami[H]) has, holds (echo[G]) eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]) [living in a perpetual world], and I (Kago[G], va’Aniy[H]) will raise him up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on the extreme last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].
54 He who chews My flesh and drinks My blood has, holds eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living [living in a perpetual world], and I will raise him up on the extreme last day.
The Torah instructs us that “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. Yeshua is expounding the ultimate fulfilment of this phrase from the Torah. The blood of flesh affected by sin and subject to the temporal world is inevitably destroyed but the blood of God with us (Immanuel) is sinless, and having entered the world manifest as a human being, God Himself offers His blood to humanity so that we might transcend the limitations of the fallen creation and be born from above into eternal life through Yeshua, Who is God with us. It is Yeshua’s blood that has been given upon the altar to make atonement for all who receive Him.
“For the soul living of the flesh is in the blood; and Him I have given to all of you upon the altar to purge, make reconciliation upon your soul existence: for the blood, He is in the soul purging reconciliation.” -Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11
“and I will raise him up on the extreme last day.” This phrase is completely consistent with the teaching and future hope of the P’rushiym (Pharisees). Yeshua is not alluding to anything new, He is simply illuminating the fullness of what is known and revealing its ultimate Goal, that is, Yeshua Himself (Romans 10:4).
55 For My flesh (sarx[G], b’sariy[H]) is true (alethes[G], be’emet[H]) food (brosis[G], ochel[H]), and My blood (aima[G], damiy[H]) is true (alethes[G], be’emet[H]) drink (posis[G], shikuy[H]). 56 He who chews (trogo[G], ochel[H]) My flesh (sarx[G], b’sariy[H]) and drinks (veshoteh[H]) My blood (aima[G], damiy[H]) abides, remains (meno[G], yaliyn[H]) in Me (en, biy[H]), and I (va’Aniy[H]) in him (vo[H]).
55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who chews My flesh and drinks My blood abides, remains in Me, and I in him.
“My flesh is true food” Here, “true” is synonymous with “indestructible”. The temporal food of the fallen creation does not qualify as “true” food because it perishes along with the body. But Yeshua’s flesh, His life, is true food and true drink because it does not perish. He is from everlasting to everlasting and is thus able to sustain all who come to God through Him.
“He who chews My flesh and drinks My blood abides, remains in Me, and I in him.” Notice the present and continuous verb “trogo” (chews, chewing). The act of eating Yeshua’s sacrificial way of living, the act of continuing to feed on His character and chew on His nature, is a perpetual exercise. Receiving Him is the beginning of an eternal meal. The present and continued practice of holiness born of faith.
“abides, remains in Me, and I in him.” Note that we who eat His flesh and drink His blood (metaphors) are related to Him in the same way that He is related to God. We are in Him and He is in us but we are never outside of Him.
57 Accordingly (kathos[G]) the living (ho zoe[G], hachay[H]) Father (Pater[G], ha Av[H]) sent (apostello[G], sh’lachniy[H]) Me, and I (Anochiy[H]) live, breathe (zao[G], chay[H]) through (dia[G]) of My Father (Aviy[H]) [the Father] (ho Pater[G]), so he who chews on (trogo[G], ha ochel[H]) Me, he also will live, breathe (zao[G], yich’yeh[H]) through (dia[G]) Me.
57 Accordingly the living Father sent Me, and I live, breathe through of My Father, so he who chews on Me, he also will live, breathe through Me.
Once again Yeshua gives all glory back to the Father Who has given all glory to the Son. Yeshua never fails to submit His ministry to the Father. In this example we find the nature of the One Whom we seek to abide in.
The life of the disciple of Yeshua is lived in, through and with Him, and this of the Father. Ultimately all life is from God.
It is worth noting the very similar ideas expressed in the Talmud Bavliy:
“Says Rab, the Israelites shall "eat" the years of the Messiah: says R. Joseph, it is certainly so; but who shall "eat him?" shall Chellek and Billek (two judges in Sodom) אכלי לה אכלוהו, "they ate him" in the days of Hezekiah.” -T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2. & 99. 1.
Therefore, the sages taught that sinners ate the Messiah (Metaphorically speaking) in the days of Hezekiah. This agrees with Yeshua's message of redemption from sin through the eating of His flesh (Metaphorical). In other words, only the person who admits to being a sinner can receive and benefit from Yeshua's substitutionary sacrificial blood.
58 This is the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) which came down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]); not as your fathers (pateros[G], avoteiychem[H]) who ate (phago[G], ochel[H]) and died (apothnesko[G], yamutu[H]); he who eats chews on (trogo[G], ochel[H]) this specific (touton ho[G]) bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) will live, breathe (zao[G], yich’yeh[H]) into (eis[G]) the (ho[G]) unbroken age (aion[G]), the world perpetual (leolam[H]).”
58 This is the bread which came down out of the heavens; not as your fathers who ate and died; he who eats chews on this specific bread will live, breathe into the unbroken age, the world perpetual.”
Yeshua reaffirms the fact that He is the “True” eternal manna from the heavens which will remain, as opposed to the temporal manna of Israel’s forebears, which perished.
59 These things (devariym[H]) He (Yeshua) said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H]).
59 These things He (Yeshua) said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
As discussed in previous articles, K’far Nachum was the home town of Yeshua’s ministry years. Appropriately named “Village of Comfort”.
60 Therefore many of His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]), when they heard this said, “This is a hard (sleros[G], kasheh[H]) word (logos[G], ha-davar[H]); who is able (dunamai[G]) to hear it (akouo[G], lish’ma[H])?”
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a hard word; who is able to hear it?”
Take careful note that these are His disciples (not the twelve but the wider following), and not the Judean religious Jews (though some of them may be included). Therefore, it is those who have been following Yeshua who have decided that what He is saying is too hard to accept (which is what “hear” infers).
Let me repeat, it is not as many suppose, that Yeshua’s Jewish hearers thought He was suggesting cannibalism or pagan ritual. They were used to rabbis speaking in mashaliym (parables) and using metaphorical sayings like these. To the contrary, they considered it a hard teaching because they understood that Yeshua was saying they must live and continue to live as He lived, and that somehow He was also saying that it was possible for His very substance to be received by them and enable them to live this way. It was not difficult because it was non-kosher but because it was hyper-kosher.
“This is a hard word” A hard word or case is one that is difficult to discern by using common sense. The Torah alludes to this very thing in regard to the judgements of Moses:
“And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves.” -Exodus 18:26 (ESV)
The point is that Yeshua the “Prophet” like Moses, is the One Who must be looked to in order for this “hard word” to be adjudicated.
In rabbinical Judaism the phrase “hard saying (word)” is used in the same way:
מה הדבר קשה, "is this an hard saying with you?"'' -Mishnah. Nidda, c. 8, sect. 3.
61 But Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua), seeing, discerning, perceiving (eido[G]) that His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) muttered, grumbled, spoke in hushed tones (gogguzo[G]) at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble (skandalizo[G], l’mich’shol[H])?
61 But Yeshua, seeing, discerning, perceiving that His disciples muttered, grumbled, spoke in hushed tones at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?
The wider body of disciples had fallen into the same disbelieving and rude behaviour of those who had been confronting Yeshua. Therefore, Yeshua gives them an opportunity to repent. Put simply He is saying, “Will you choose to walk in the light of My teaching, even when it’s hard, or will you choose to stumble over My teaching like those walking in darkness?”
62 What then if you become spectators watching (theoreo[G]) the Son (ho uihos[G]) of Man (anthropos[G]) [ben ha-Adam[H]] ascending (anabaino[G], oleh[H]) to where He was before (proteron[G])?
62 What then if you become spectators watching the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
Yeshua qualifies His challenge by pointing out that “harder things (devariym, from Davar)” are yet to come, such as the death and resurrection of the Son of Man and His ascension to the Father in the heavens. In other words, “If you can’t navigate the present teaching how will you make sense of the ultimate fulfilment of it?”
63 It is the Spirit (ho pneuma[G], ha-Ruach[H]) Who gives (hanotein[H]) living (chayiym[H]), bears living (zoopoieo[G]); the flesh (ho sarx[G], ha-basar[H]) profits nothing; the words, substance, essence, spoken things (ho rhema[G], hadevariym[H]) that I have spoken to you are Spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]) and are living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]). 64 But there are some of you who do not believe, trust (ya’amiynu[H]).” For Yeshua knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe (ma’amiyniym[H]), and who His betrayer (ha-moseir[H]) would be.
63 It is the Spirit Who gives living, bears living; the flesh profits nothing; the words, substance, essence, spoken things that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are living. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe, trust.” For Yeshua knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who His betrayer would be.
“It is the Spirit Who gives birth to life” This is an allusion to the beginning of creation and the Spirit of God brooding over the deep. This illuminates the phrase “Yeshua knew from the beginning… who His betrayer would be.”
It is not a spirit but the Spirit of God Who gives life.
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God hovered, brooded, nurtured upon the face of the waters.” -Bereishit (Genesis) 1:2
“the flesh profits nothing” This is not a Gnostic teaching as some suppose, it does not mean that all physical things are “evil”. Flesh here refers specifically to the sin affected flesh of fallen humanity. Because the fallen nature and its flesh will perish the specific form of flesh in question profits nothing.
“the words, substance, essence, spoken things that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are living.” The word of Yeshua is of the same Spirit Who brooded over creation and are therefore perpetual and living, never perishing.
65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one is able to (dunamai[G]) come to Me unless it has been given (didomi[G]) him from the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]).” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one is able to come to Me unless it has been given him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Yeshua’s words may have seemed overly harsh to those who had been following Him so faithfully for so long. However, Yeshua was intentionally weeding out those who would fail to perpetuate faith in Him. Many believers today choose to be offended by the hard teaching of some, not because the teaching is error but because it has exposed their sin and challenged them to pursue a deeper faith.
67 So Yeshua said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away also, do you?” 68 Shimon[H] (Hears God) Kefa[H] (Peter: Rock) answered Him, “Lord (Kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), to whom shall we go? You have words, utterances, spoken things (rhema[G], divreiy[H]) of eternal living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).
67 So Yeshua said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away also, do you?” 68 Shimon Kefa answered Him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have words, utterances, spoken things of eternal living.
Peter, is speaking on behalf of the twelve, note that He says “to whom shall we go?” He responds to Yeshua in humility. Peter is not saying that He or the twelve are finding Yeshua’s words “easy”, to the contrary, they too are finding Yeshua’s teaching “hard”, rather Peter is saying, “We know you, we trust Your character, we see Your nature, we are witness to Your sinless life, Your teaching is difficult to receive but it’s Your teaching which we believe is from God, so, to whom will we go but You? You are speaking eternity into our temporal existence.”
Where the many disciples who left Yeshua failed through pride, Peter and the twelve remained through humility. They too found Yeshua’s teaching hard, but rather than allow their own inability to understand guide their decision making they instead chose to trust in Yeshua, His nature, character and His relationship with them. Like the disciples of Yeshua we too must learn that the person of Yeshua, the person of God is our certain secure peace, and not temporal things, events or circumstances. The hard things that come from God are worthwhile because they pierce and illuminate the complacent ease of the darkness. We don’t receive the hard things because they are hard but because they are from God.
69 We have believed, are convinced, trust (pisteuo[G]) and have come to learn, know (ginosko[G]) that You are the most Holy (hagios[G], k’dosh[H]) One of the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H]).”
69 We have believed, are convinced, trust and have come to learn, know that You are the most Holy One of the God.”
Peter echoes the sentiment held by the twelve. They have come to know Yeshua’s person, His character, and the testimony of His deeds, and they are convinced that He is the promised holy One of God.
70 Yeshua answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a slanderer, accuser (diabolos[G], satan[H])?”
70 Yeshua answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a slanderer, accuser?”
Yeshua chose His own betrayer. God is in control of all things. To have security in the storm is to know that God is in the storm.
Both the Hebrew satan and Greek diabolos mean slanderer or accuser. Neither word is a noun unless qualified and if qualified by the definite article “The”, each word refers to that individual “the Satan”. In the present case the text is speaking of an accuser, Yehudah the disciple. He is not “the Satan”, he is an accuser (satan).
71 Now He meant Yehudah[H] (Judah, Judas) the son of Shimon Iysh k’riyot (Simon a man of the town), for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
71 Now He meant Yehudah the son of Shimon Iysh k’riyot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
It is sadly ironic that the King born of Yehudah is to be betrayed by Yehudah from the tribe of Yehudah. Yehudah was the son of a man from the village of K’riyot. It is interesting to note that in modern Hebrew K’riyot means “collisions” or “crashes”. So the name of Judas Iscariot meant Praise the son of a man of collisions.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2020
Sefer Yochanan (Gospel According to John) Chapter 6 Pt.1The Work of God is to Believe in the One Whom He Has Sent (John 6:1-33)
“For near to you all is Ha-Davar (The Word), meod, very much so, in your mouth, and in your inner being, so that you might accomplish, do, act accordingly.” -D’variym (Words) Deuteronomy 30:14
All that follows is pursuant to the rebuke that Yeshua has leveled toward His Judean religious accusers following the making whole of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda in Jerusalem on the weekly Shabbat during Purim celebrations.
6:1 After these things Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went away over (peran[G]) the body of water, lake (thalassa[G], yam[H]) of the Galilee (Galilaias[G], ha-Galiyl[H]) the Tiberias (ho Tiberiados[G]). 2 A large (polus[G], ha-mon[H], rav[H]) crowd of common people (ochlos[G], am[H]) followed Him, because they saw the signs (semeion[G], otot[H]) which He was making, constructing, causing (poieo[G], asah[H]) on those being sick, weak (astheneo[G], ha-choliym[H]).
“These things” are the miraculous healing of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda in Jerusalem, and the rebuke that Yeshua had levelled at His religious opponents regarding the legitimacy of His identity, His teaching and His authority regarding the Shabbat.
Therefore, Yeshua and His talmidim (disciples), followed by a large number of common people, had made the journey from Jerusalem to the Galilee region following Purim (see my commentary on John 5). They had arrived in the Galilee region at least three days after the cessation of Purim celebrations and it was now close to the time of Pesach (Passover), which occurs just over a month after Purim. The text says that Yeshua went over the lake, probably to an area several kilometres south-east of Bethsaida (Philip’s home town), across the lake and east of Capernaum, north east of and a greater distance away from Tiberias, which is situated at approximately the half way point on the western shore of the lake of Galilee.
The Gospel writer’s allusion to “The Tiberias” is, contrary to popular opinion, not a concession to non-Jewish readers but rather an allusion to the illegitimate authority of the Emperor Tiberias after whom the location was named, and the subsequent illegitimate authority of Rome in general. To usurp the native name of this area (Rakkat “shore” - Joshua 19:35) is an act of occupation on the part of Rome. The Hebrew Galiyl means “circuit, perpetuity”. HaShem has promised this land to Israel (Ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) [Naphtali] in perpetuity.
“because they saw the signs” This means that those who followed Yeshua had either seen the signs He had previously performed in the Galilee region or had seen Him perform signs at the Regaliym (Going up festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot) or both. The crowd was a crowd of Jews, Israelis (Ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen), seeking the physical redemption of the people of Israel from Roman oppression. We note that the people were following Him “because they saw the signs” and not necessarily because they believed in Him. This is made evident in their request for a further sign in order to prove His identity as the delivering “Prophet” promised by God through Moses (John 6:30; Deut.18:15-19).
“Signs” Not just miracles but “otot” signs plural, of God’s manifest power designed to point Israel to repentance and reconciliation to God. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the signs performed by God in Egypt and through His prophets.
3 Then Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went up on the mountain (ha-har[H]) , and there He sat down with His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]).
“The mountain” Whichever mountain this is it is a significant land mark of the Galilee. It is not called “a mountain” but “the mountain”. It is very likely one of the peeks on the upper eastern shore of the Galilee just below Bethsaida (Beiyt Tzaida: House of the hunt).
Mountains were places of solitude and introspection, and are connected to the expounding of God’s Word (Moses Exodus 19:3; Elijah 1 Kings 19:11). The sides of hills and mountains are also an ideal location to teach from. Situated on the side of a mountain or high hill, a first century Jewish teacher could speak at a moderate volume and be heard by a large crowd gathered at the foot of the mountain in a natural amphitheatre. This type of scenario can be seen as far back as the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The Galilee was an ideal location for this style of teaching given the mountain ranges on both sides of the lake and the natural amphitheatres that have formed in the terrain nearby.
It was Yeshua’s practice to draw aside with His core group of disciples for a period of solace and teaching prior to public speaking and sign working (Matt.5:1; Luke 9:10 etc). Yeshua shows concern for the whole health and well-being of His talmidim, knowing that public ministry takes its toll mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Yeshua leads by example, often going away by Himself to commune with the Father in order to refuel and refocus His energies (Matt.14:23; Luke.6:12 etc). In this also He was not unlike Moses (Exodus 19:3-25).
A great deal can be learned by modern believers from this practice of Yeshua. We are fools to work tirelessly without rest when HaShem has commanded (not suggested) regular rest. God does not need our help but He allows us to participate in His work according to His guidelines. Failure to obey God’s rhythms of rest results in burn out and disillusionment.
Sitting was the preferred position from which the religious teachers of first century and later rabbinical Judaism taught their adherents.
“"The master sits at the head, or in the chief place, and the disciples before him in a circuit, like a crown; so that they all see the master, and hear his words; and the master may not sit upon a seat, and the scholars upon the ground; but either all upon the earth, or upon seats: indeed from the beginning, or formerly, היה הרב יושב "the master used to sit", and the disciples stand; but before the destruction of the second temple, all used to teach their disciples as they were sitting.'' -Maimonides, Hilch. Talmud Torah, c. 4. sect. 2.
4 Now the Passover (Pascha[G], ha-Pesach[H]), the festival (Chag[H]) of the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]), was coming near (lavo[H]).
Note that the observance of Pesach and its intrinsic connection to Yeshua is of utmost importance to the Gospel writer.
Why does the Gospel writer mention this? First, it is because of Yeshua’s intrinsic link to the Passover and His role as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world”. Second, it places the chronology in firm order, Purim having just passed and Pesach (Passover) being the next closest festival. Third, the pursuant event, the sign of the feeding of the five thousand men of Israel is premised by a perceived inability to purchase and provide bread. In the weeks prior to Passover Jewish homes would have been slowly reducing their bread supplies, using up excess yeast and setting aside grain to be used for matzot (unleavened bread). Subsequently only a small amount of bread would have been available at the time of these events, this in addition to the cost of feeding so many. All of this is pretext to the sign which Yeshua was about to perform.
Five Loaves, Two Small Fishes
(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
To set the stage for this miraculous sign (the only miraculous sign that is recorded in all four Gospels) we must look at where it falls in relation to the surrounding text of each account.
Matthew’s version is preceded by the unbelief of Yeshua’s home town synagogue and the description of the beheading of Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist, the cousin of Yeshua), then following the sign of the loaves and fishes Peter attempts to walk on water.
Mark’s account is preceded by the unbelief of Yeshua’s home town synagogue and the sending out of the twelve, two by two, after which the beheading of Yochanan (John) is described, then the twelve return; the miracle of the loaves and fishes is followed by the walking on water sign.
Luke’s narrative has the sending out of the twelve, the description of Yochanan’s (John’s) beheading, and the return of the twelve: then the loaves and fishes followed by the “Who do you say I am,” statement of Yeshua and later the transfiguration.
John’s version is unique in that it is preceded by Yeshua attending a feast (Purim) in Jerusalem and being rejected by those who opposed him there, Yeshua explains the Father God’s testimony of Messiah and that Moses will judge the people for their rejection of Him. The writer of the Gospel According to John then alerts the reader to the fact that Passover is at hand. The loaves and fishes event is still followed by the crossing to Capernaum and the walking on water, but is then proceeded by an extensive discussion concerning Moses and the manna from heaven which is to be understood as a metaphor in reference to Messiah Yeshua, “the bread of life.”
While we don’t know the exact time frames associated to the ordering of these events we can still deduce the writers’ intended theological and contextual meanings in relation to their accounts of the sign of the loaves and fishes. All the surrounding events and meanings give insight as to the reason for this important (even pivotal) event in Yeshua’s ministry.
Prior to looking at the specific details of John’s Gospel account I will address the chronological and thematic elements using the main themes from each of the four accounts as a combined whole. This of course presumes that this was a singularly unique event recorded by each of the Gospel writers.
Both Matthew and Mark record a second event that took place in the region of the Decapolis, a predominantly Gentile location. The feeding of the five thousand, the sign of the loaves and fishes took place near the city of Bethsaida (House of the hunt or House of fishing), a predominantly Jewish area, and close to Yeshua’s home in the Galilee region. The fact that the four Jewish writers of the Gospels (I am not alone in seeing Luke as a Jew) all saw fit to include this sign, indicates it’s importance: symbolically, historically, religiously, prophetically, nationally, spiritually and metaphorically.
The united themes of this event read chronologically as follows:
· Yeshua in Jerusalem for a Jewish feast (Purim)
· The testimony of the Father God (on behalf of the Son) Yeshua (a firstborn)
· Yeshua warns that Moses will judge the disbelief of the religious leaders
· Rejection of Yeshua by the people of His home town
· Yeshua sends out the twelve disciples, two by two
· Yeshua grieves over the loss of John the Immerser (Baptist) His cousin (a firstborn)
· The disciples return from their travels throughout Israel’s Jewish towns
· The time of Passover was at hand
· The sign of the loaves and fishes
· The sign of walking on water
· The discussion concerning manna, “the bread of life,” back in Capernaum (Links Yeshua to Moses)
· The transfiguration recorded in Luke’s account (Links Yeshua to Moses)
Overview of the chronology of events:
Yeshua in Jerusalem for a feast (Purim):
A number of scholars suggest that this was the Passover feast of the previous year, meaning that what follows took place at the beginning of the Passover of the following year. However, this is extremely unlikely given the consistent chronology of John’s Gospel and the language used. As I have shown in my commentary on John 4 and 5, the feast in question is almost certainly Purim.
Yeshua was affirmed by the Father’s testimony:
God the Father has testified throughout Scripture concerning His Son Yeshua. He had also poured out the Holy Spirit in a public show of glory over His Son and had testified saying, “this is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Yeshua need not explain Himself to the people on the basis of the required Torah instruction concerning two or three human witnesses. His witnesses were God the Father and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and the signs He performed. God the Father had given comprehensive testimony to the validity of Yeshua’s ministry, authority and Kingship over Israel and all the earth. Following the sign of the loaves and fishes, Yeshua’s command over the raging waters was proof yet again to His disciples, of God’s testimony of Him.
Yeshua warns that Moses will be Israel’s judge regarding their disbelief in Him:
The centrality of the Jewish reliance on the Torah of Moses is key to understanding the sign of the loaves and fishes. The Jewish people of Yeshua’s time expected a prophet, a miracle worker and a Messiah who presented in accordance to their understanding of the words of Moses as taught to them by their religious leaders. The man they were looking for would perform miracles similar to those of Elijah and Elisha, he would show signs like those of Moses and He would reign in power as the son of David, over Israel and all the nations of the earth according to the prophecies of the Tanakh (OT). Many of these expectations were about to be manifested before their eyes. Therefore Moses would be their judge, for he had written clearly the prophetic words that would prove Yeshua’s rightful position as the one who would be like Moses (Deut.18:15-19).
Rejection of Yeshua in His home town:
His own friends and wider family/community rejected Him because they believed Him to be of common birth, they were jealous of Him. This is not an uncommon response to the prophets of Israel as testified to by the lives of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and so on. Their treatment of Him later became a testimony to His identity.
Yeshua sends out His disciples, two by two:
This was a ministering of the twelve to Israel, hence twelve disciples. Later in Luke’s Gospel narrative (Luke 10:1-17; ) a new Sanhedrin of sorts is sent out to minister to the wider towns and spread the good news to other nationalities, thus seventy, the Hebrew number representing the nations. However the events surrounding the sign of the loaves and fishes pertain specifically to Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) and not to the Decapolis and other surrounding areas.
Two by two may be a correlation with the Ark: used as a metaphor here for the repopulating of the earth with immersed (baptized, a type for the flood) spiritual children. The news of God’s kingdom as taught by Messiah Yeshua was to be made known to the tribes of Israel prior to the sign of the loaves and fishes. When Israel was in slavery in Egypt, word of Moses actions needed time to spread to them prior to their coming out of Egypt into the wilderness.
Yeshua grieves over the loss of John the Immerser (Baptist):
When Yeshua heard of the death of John the Immerser (Baptist) we are told that He retreated to a deserted place by Himself. He was clearly greatly grieved by the death of His cousin and perhaps reminded of His own destiny. He shows us an example of turning to the only one who can truly comfort us in times of great sorrow. The Father is often beheld in deserted places of solitude (Exodus 3; 1 Kings 17:1-5). The disciples must have returned to the vicinity with Him because Mark’s version of events has them retreat with Him after the death of John. It is interesting to note that John’s disciples came and took his body away for burial, while Yeshua’s disciples fled after His death.
Passover is at Hand:
Barley is the first grain harvested in Israel at this time of the year. Leaven/yeast is removed from homes, and food without leaven is eaten. Leaven/yeast symbolizes sin in Judaism. Jews from all over the known world would head up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, which is one of the three Regaliym (Aliyot Moadim—going up festivals/Sabbaths).
The sign of the Loaves and Fishes:
The Passover was near, Jews from the known world were on their way to Jerusalem and had heard of this mysterious prophet of God. Perhaps some detoured to find Him? What is certain is that all had cleaned their homes and traveling gear of yeast (the Biblical symbol of sin) and were preparing their hearts to celebrate deliverance from slavery. They were also hoping for deliverance from Roman rule.
Luke tells us that following the sign the day was drawing to a close, so that it was toward the late afternoon.
Upon seeing the crowd Yeshua says to Philip (the obvious person to ask because he came from the nearby town of Bethsaida—John 1:44), “Where can we buy bread for all these people?” He said this to prove Philip. Does that mean Yeshua wasn’t sure of Philip’s loyalty and so had to test him? No, of course not. When God with us/Yeshua seeks to prove someone it is for that person’s benefit. We could say, “Yeshua sought to make Philip aware of the extent of his own faith in Yeshua/God with us.” Philip’s response sets up the sign, by his reasoning that the request is humanly impossible. Andrew adds to the confusion by saying, “Hey, there’s a young boy here with five (probably unleavened, because Passover is at hand) loaves and a couple of small fish (probably the local sardines), but that’s not going to feed all these people.”
Yeshua doesn’t miss a beat, “Have the people recline (Passover terminology) together in groups.” There was a large grass area there, probably at the base of the hill/mountain where the disciples had been with Yeshua (thus creating a natural amphitheatre for what would come next).
Yeshua took the loaves and said the b’rakha for bread (ha-motzi) and began to distribute them to the crowd. He then did the same with the fish. All accounts indicate that either Yeshua alone or both Yeshua and the disciples were involved in distributing the food directly to the people, this would dispel the foolish conjecture that suggests the people simply brought out their lunches and shared them. Most Jews attending an Aliyah festival like Passover would travel light, expecting to buy food on the way, hence Yeshua’s question to Philip prior to the miracle. In addition, the fact that Yeshua suggested the crowd go and buy food infers that they did not already have food.
This miraculous feeding of such a large group of Jewish men (5,000), plus women and children, a total of approx. 19-28,000 (Matt.14:21); is reminiscent of Moses’ (God’s) feeding of Israel with manna and quail in the desert. Manna being the miraculous bread of heaven and quail being the common bird of that area. Here the manna will be later explained figuratively as referring to Messiah Yeshua Himself. The small fish (probably sardines) is a common catch from the Lake.
Three types of fish were primarily sought by fishermen in antiquity in these waters. Sardines are the most likely candidates for the, “two small fish" that the young man brought to the feeding of the five thousand. Sardines and bread were the staple food and traded product of the locals. The second type of fish, Barbels receive their name from the barbs at the corners of their mouths. The third type is called Musht but is more popularly known today as "St. Peter's Fish." This fish has a long dorsal fin which looks like a comb and can be up to 45cm long and 1.5 kgs. in weight.
The barley bread (eaten predominantly by the poorer classes) brought by the young boy was most likely unleavened, given that Passover was at hand (the leaven is always cleaned from Jewish homes and meals prior to Passover), and that the miracle is followed by a discussion that relates manna (unleavened heavenly bread) to the body of Messiah Yeshua (who is without sin, remembering that in first century Judaism yeast is seen as a symbol of sin).
After the meal Yeshua says, “Gather up the fragments that are left over so that none of them may be lost.” Why is the gathering of the left overs so important to Yeshua? Perhaps the number of baskets is a clue, there are twelve, the number of disciples, but more importantly, the number of the tribes of Israel. It is possible that this was meant as a symbol or metaphor for the reconciliation of Israel to God at the end of time. Shaul/Paul the shaliach (apostle) tells us that when the allotted number of the members of the nations have come to faith, that the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26)
The Sign of Walking on Water:
This shows Messiah’s authority over creation (as the second Adam). This sign affirms Him again as the prophesied one. Elisha, in a somewhat lesser sense also exhibited the authority of God over the natural order of creation when he made the axe head float. (2 Kings 6:4-7) Similarities to the great prophets in the ministry of Yeshua were proofs of His authenticity.
The Discussion (back in Capernaum) Concerning Moses, Manna, and the Bread of Life:
The link between the sign of the manna in the desert and the feeding of the five thousand is unmistakable. The “Bread of life,” discourse was intended to be strengthened by the recently performed sign of the loaves and fishes. Yeshua was revealing Himself as the manna from heaven, the bread of life. The crowd asks for a sign, seemingly immune to the obvious sign that has just been performed. Yeshua points them away from Moses and toward the Father God saying, “It was not Moses that gave you the manna, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” They respond, “Give us this bread from heaven.” Yeshua answers, “I am the bread of life!”
Yeshua reminds His people that their fathers ate manna and died (the death unto judgment). Yeshua was now offering Himself, the bread of life. Those who eat the life of Messiah will never die. Why did the forefathers die? Through disobedience. Therefore Yeshua is warning that failure to accept His manna will result in eternal death. This He had already pretexted prior to the miracle when He was in Jerusalem warning the people that Moses would be their judge. It was Moses who stood as a mediator regarding the manna in the desert. Now Messiah Yeshua is claiming to be the manifest manna and mediator of God, all wrapped up in one.
It is interesting to note the words of Rabbi Isaac who wrote:
“as the former redeemer caused manna to descend (referring to Moses)… so will the later Redeemer cause manna to descend.” Ecclesiastes Rabbah on Ec. 1:9
The bread of life discourse does not refer to pagan magic practice regarding the consummation of power through blood drinking as some have supposed. Yeshua is talking to Jews who despise their Roman rulers and abhor the pagan Roman worship practices however this discourse is offensive to them, not because of pagan links, but because of its seeming direct contradiction to the Torah. Yeshua, did not act outside of rabbinical practice when he used the metaphor of his flesh and blood as a teaching tool. What is clear is that Yeshua was miss understood, not only by the crowd but also by His own disciples.
Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36):
This event links Yeshua again to both Elijah and Moses, affirming the theme of the narrative surrounding the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This event may well have taken place months later, perhaps even during the feast of Sukkot (booths), given the offer of Peter to build shelters/Sukkot.
5 Therefore Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large (polus[G], rav[H]) crowd (ochlos[G], am[H]) of common people was coming to Him, said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) so that these may eat?”
As stated previously, it is likely that Yeshua asked Philip this question in part because these events were taking place close to Philip’s home town of Bethsaida.
In the natural the question “Where are we to buy bread…” is reasonable given that Passover is approaching and bread supplies are diminished among those traveling to Jerusalem for the Aliyah Festival.
6 This He was saying to prove, raise a banner for, give a directive sign to (peirazo[G], nasot[H]) him (Philip), for He Himself knew (eido[G], yada[H]) what He was about to do (poieo[G], ya’asah[H]).
“Therefore” means, because it was close to Passover and the crowd was large in size. Why is the proximity of Passover important? Because it infers that many of those gathered were pilgrims heading toward Jerusalem for Passover and thus lacking yeast and keeping grain set aside for matzot (unleavened bread). As mentioned earlier Yeshua was not “testing” Philip, Yeshua already knew what the outcome would be, rather He was proving to Philip the nature of his faith and the reality of Yeshua’s identity. Philip would later ask Yeshua to reveal the Father God to him:
“7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? -John 14:7-9 (NASB)
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii (half a year’s wages) worth of bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) is not enough for them, not even for everyone to receive a small piece each.” 8 One (heis[G], echad[H]) of His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), Andrew, Shimon Kefa (Simon: Hears God Peter’s: Rock) brother (achiy[H]), said to Him, 9 “Behold (hinei[H]) there is a young boy (paidarion[G], na’ar[H]) here who has five barley (krithinos[G]), loaves (artos[G]) and two small fish (opsarion[G]), dagiym[H]) but what are these for so many?”
Barley loaves indicate two things: first, the wheat harvest had not yet come and second, those present were predominantly lower class. The higher class had wheat grain remaining from the previous year’s harvest whereas the lower class lived from yield to yield and ate what was seasonally available.
The five loaves amounted to a loaf for each group of a thousand men.
10 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]), “Have the people (ha-am[H]) recline (anapipto[G], lashevet[H]).” Now there was much grass (chortos[G]) in the place. So the men (aner[G]) reclined (anapipto[G]), numbering about five thousand. 11 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) then took the loaves (artos[G]), and having said the b’rakha[H] blessing [given thanks] (eucharisteo[G]), He distributed to those who were reclining; He did the same with the small fish (opsarion[G], dagiym[H]) as much as they wanted.
Note that Yeshua says a blessing prior to the bread but that no mention is made of a blessing over the fish, this is in keeping with Jewish religious practice. The blessing for the bread is always said prior to eating it whereas the blessing for the meal (including the fish) is said following the meal in accordance with Deut. 8:10. Note further that in John’s account it is Yeshua Who personally distributes the bread and fish to the crowd, continuing to do so until they’d had “as much as they wanted”.
Five thousand Jewish men plus women and children, a total of approx. 19-28,000 (Matt.14:21).
Five loaves, one loaf for every thousand Jewish men. Two small fish,
12 When they were fully satisfied (empiplemi[G]), He said to His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), “Gather together the leftover broken pieces (klasma[G]) so that nothing will perish, be destroyed, be lost, (apollumi[G]).” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces (klasma[G]) from the five barley loaves which were left by those who had eaten.
Notice that all present were Jews (Israelites) and that 12 baskets of broken pieces representing the twelve tribes of Israel were collected after they had eaten by the twelve disciples of Yeshua. This is a figure for the redemption of all ethnic religious Israel at the end of the age, through Yeshua the King Messiah (Romans 11:25-26).
The collection of food remnants was a rabbinical practice, the destruction of food over a certain size being prohibited in Jewish Halakhic law (Talmud Bavliy Shabbat 50b, 147b). The principal being that nothing is to be wasted.
14 Therefore when the people (anthropos[G], ha-anashiym[H]) saw the sign (semeion[G], et-ha-ot[H]) which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet (prophetes[G], ha-navi[H]) who is to come into the world.”
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘they have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
D’varim/Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (NASB)
15 So Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king (basileus[G], melekh[H]), withdrew again to the mountain (ha-har[H]) by Himself alone.
Yeshua could not allow His people to make Him King or force Him to lead a rebellion against Rome because He had come according to Isaiah 53 to be the suffering servant Who would take away their sin. Yeshua will one day come as the victorious King to rule over Israel and the nations on the throne of David according to the wealth of prophecy from the Tanakh. But this could not happen until He had made a way for the reconciliation of the souls of Israel. Why? Because God’s victorious King Messiah is to reign over Israel for all eternity, something that can only happen if Israel is made right with God and enabled to live forever.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Judean religious leaders; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” -John 18:36
The view of the people was desperate and temporal, whereas Yeshua’s view was redemptive and everlasting. He ached because of the temporal suffering of His people but understood that if He were to submit to their plan, their eternal suffering would far outweigh their temporal suffering.
Yeshua’s withdrawal to the higher elevation of the mountain was common practice for Him. When faced with the plans of men He sought the counsel of God. When faced with the temptations of man He sought the righteousness of God. When faced with the weakness and exhaustion of man He sought the strength and comfort of God. All this as an example to us that we might practice the rhythms of God’s rest in our walk with the Messiah.
16 Now when evening came, His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) went down to the sea, lake (yam[H]) 17 and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea, lake (yam[H]) to Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H], village of comfort). It had already become dark, and Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had not yet come to them.
The disciples had respected Yeshua’s need for private space and had trusted that He would return home to Capernaum when He was ready. Thus they headed for Capernaum a number of hours after sunset, knowing that it was a short journey across the lake of not more than 7 kilometres.
18 The sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) became stirred up because a strong (megas[G]) wind (anemos[G], ruach gedolah[H]) was blowing (pneo[G], hayatah[H]).
It is quite possible that the lake was perfectly calm when they set out. To this day lake Galilee experiences rapid shifts in countenance as a result of sudden changes in weather. On one of my many trips there I was seated by a perfectly calm Galilee at midday only to see the water turn into raging surf blown by a storm front a matter of hours later.
It is also worth noting that the Galilee is known for its unique seemly randomly forming whirlpools. These whirlpools have been the cause of many drowning deaths in the Lake over the years.
19 Then, when they had rowed about five or six kilometres, they saw Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) He was walking (peripateo[G], mehaleich[H]) on the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) and coming near to the boat; and they were afraid, alarmed, in awe (phobeo[G], vayiyrau[H]).
“When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost’(Apparition or spirit is understood here from a Hebrew cultural perspective, it does not refer to the disembodied spirit of a human being—which is the common modern understanding of this English term) And they cried out in fear.” -Matthew 14:26
It is clear from the Matthew account that the disciples were afraid because they had presumed that this was a spirit or apparition, possibly (but not certainly) an omen of doom. They were not afraid because Yeshua was walking on water (at this point they weren’t even sure it was Yeshua). Of course it is natural for human beings to assume that when something defies the laws of the natural world or seems to be humanly impossible, it is an apparition or of supernatural origin. The lesson soon becomes, what is impossible for human beings is possible with God (perhaps even possible in God). The storm had caused them concern, but the appearance of the apparition had left them terrified.
At the five kilometre point they were still at least 2 kilometres away from their destination and it was approximately 4am (Matt.14:25). In the darkness and squall it would have been difficult to see clearly.
Yeshua was certainly aware of the storm much earlier in the night. So why did He wait? Perhaps He was proving the disciples? Not testing them to see if they were faithful, He was already aware of their character, rather He was taking this opportunity to show them that they were faithful. This is possibly one of the reasons for His gentle rebuke to Peter regarding his being small of faith (not saying that Peter’s faith lacked entirely, he had faith, he simply lacked it in greater volume).
God is pictured walking on the waters in Job 9:8 and Psalm 77:19, in the latter He is walking amidst a storm. Yeshua is Immanuel (God with us). Yeshua is revealing Himself here as God with us; firstly by doing what only God is recorded as having done and secondly by simply stating in Matthew’s account (14:27) “Take courage, I AM, don’t be afraid.” This results in the disciples worshipping Him at the conclusion of the episode.
The text states, “He was walking on the lake.” John clearly has no intention of dwelling on what to him was a natural progression: walking on water was just the next sign in the ordinal march toward the revealing of the King Messiah Yeshua.
Yeshua had now feed Israel (5,000 men 28,000 total) in the wilderness, delivered Israel (12 disciples) through the waters…
It was in the morning watch (3am to 6am) that God manifest His power to Israel at the Red Sea. Exodus 14:24
20 But He (Yeshua) said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to them, “I Am He (ego eimi[G], Aniy Hu[H]); do not be afraid (al-tiyrau[H]).”
“I Am” is an expression of divinity (Exodus 3:14; John 1:1-3; 6:35; 8:58). Therefore, “Because I Am God with you, you have no need to fear”. The fear of God is an end to all fear.
It is at this point in Matthew’s narrative that Peter asks Yeshua to call him out onto the water to meet Him.
“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’” -Matthew 14:28
Peter has plenty chutzpa (courage and tenacity)! Peter initially takes Yeshua at His word and exhibits great courage. Why does Peter appear to use a subjective question to determine whether this is truly Yeshua who is speaking to him? The answer comes in the question itself, it’s rhetorical, Peter calls Yeshua “Lord,” it’s as if he were saying “Yeshua, if you’re who I know you are, ask me to come out to You.”
“And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Yeshua.” -Matthew 14:29
Yeshua called, “Bo (Come),” and Peter didn’t think twice, you could say he responded to Yeshua immediately.
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” - Matthew 14:30
Perhaps he said, “Adonai, Hoshanah!” Lord, save me now!
Like Peter we all take our eyes off Yeshua at times, focusing on our present circumstances instead of seeing the eternal nature of our Messiah, who is before us. There is no shame here, just an opportunity for a lesson. Faith the size of a mustard seed moves great obstacles. Small faith is the beginning of a journey, it is a stepping stone to great faith, born of Messiah.
“Immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of small faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:31
Peter began to sink and immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him. Yeshua doesn’t wait until we’ve sunk, He sees us begin to sink and immediately He takes hold of us.
While it is true that Yeshua observed small faith in Peter, the emphasis is on the phrase, “why did you doubt?” Yeshua knows why Peter doubted. The question is one that Peter is meant to ask himself. We too need to question our doubt and find the motivation behind it. Faith is born in the heart (core being), doubt is manufactured in the mind. Many modern proponents of healthy mind teaching neglect to remember that the Hebrew Leiv (heart) refers to the core being, where heart, mind and spirit converge. It is to be understood in a similar way to nefesh (soul), which indicates the whole of our parts. So we understand that the soul encompasses the whole and the heart is where the parts of the whole converge. When the Scripture says that “the heart is wicked above all things,” it is also addressing the mind. It is not a case of the mind being superior to the heart, rather the heart and mind are both wicked above all things. Humanity is inclined toward evil, we will not overcome this inclination by controlling our own minds and thus our wicked hearts. We will overcome only when we submit all control to Yeshua. That is, when we realize that He is in control regardless.
21 So they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately, at once (eutheos[G]) the boat was at the land (ho ge[G], la-aretz[H]) at the part of the coastline they were going to.
“When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”- Matthew 14:32
In the same instant the wind stops and the waters bring the boat instantaneously to its destination. All creation obeys the Master of the universe and is immediately quiet as a testimony to the deity of Yeshua (God with us).
This immediacy is not explainable in natural terms. This is a case of the unbound Kingdom of God seeding freedom in the midst of the sin affected creation. A sinless Adam walks the earth anew, and this Adam will set free that which the former Adam allowed to come under bondage.
“And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son—Ben Elohim!’” -Matthew 14:33
“Even the wind and waves obey Him.” (Matthew 8:27) The witness of this sign is the seed that births a greater faith in the Leiv (heart) of the disciples. If Peter, who had faith enough to begin to walk on water, is said to have “Small faith,” then the faith of those who wouldn’t even get out of the boat was smaller still. Now, having identified the Messiah as King of creation, their faith grew and they worshipped Him.
May the storms and failures of our own journey with God produce such great growth spurts as we witness the present acts of God in our lives and the lives of those around us.
22 The next day the crowd of common people (ochlos[G], am[H]) that stood on the other side of the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had not boarded with His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) into the boat, but that His disciples had left alone.
This is the crowd that had witnessed the sign of the loaves and fishes and had camped the night in the region below Bethsaida. The record of their observation is testimony to the fact that Yeshua could not have crossed the Lake by natural means.
23 Other small boats (ploiarion[G]) came from Tiberias close to the place where they had eaten the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) after the Lord, Master (ho Kurios[G], ha Adon[H]) had made the b’rakha[H] blessing (given thanks). 24 So when the crowd of common people (ho ochlos[G], ha am[H]) saw that Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) was not there, nor His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), they themselves got into the small boats (ploiarion[G]), and came to Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H], village of comfort) seeking Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves).
Tiberias is approximately 10 km south-west of the location of the loaves and fishes sign. More people had come from Tiberias following the news of the sign and were seeking out Yeshua.
The Gospel writer explains that “the Lord” was not there. The use of the term Adon is more than a colloquial allusion to masterly status, the Gospel writer is saying that these signs are evidence of Yeshua’s divine nature.
Once the existing crowd and the newcomers determined that Yeshua had probably gone to His home town by some other way, they all took their boats to Capernaum seeking Him out.
It’s important to remember that many of these were pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for Pesach (Likewise, as was His custom, Yeshua too would have attended Pesach in Jerusalem following these events). These pilgrims were sufficiently awed by Yeshua’s sign so as to delay their journey to Jerusalem in order to find out more about Him.
We note once more that they were seeking Salvation (Yeshua) in the village of comfort (K’far Nachum).
25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) they said to Him, “Rabbi (lit. My Great One; Religious Teacher), when did You get here?” 26 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered them and said, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you all (lachem[H] PL), you seek Me, not because you saw the signs (semeion[G], ha otot[H]), but because you ate of the loaves (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) and were satisfied, filled (chortazo[G]).
The crowd found Yeshua in Capernaum (John 6:59). Calling Him “Rabbi” showed some degree of respect on the part of the crowd. The crowd ask “when” not “how”, the knowledge of “how” is at this time kept by the disciples.
Yeshua does not even bother to answer their question. As is His custom He gets to the heart of the matter, that being their lack of faith and their misinterpretation of the events unfolding.
Note that Yeshua refers to “signs” plural. Those seeking Him have witnessed numerous signs in addition to the most recent one.
Yeshua now makes a statement that is firmly established by the double “Amen”. He is essentially saying, “You’re interested in me for carnal (physical) earth born reasons, the satiating of physical hunger etc. You have misunderstood the signs that God has given through Me to point to His redemptive purpose and present coming Kingdom, and instead of seeking God you are seeking to fill the desires of your flesh (fallen humanity).”
27 Do not work for the food (ho brosis[G], achal[H], makultha[A]) which perishes, is destroyed, dies (apollumi[G]), but for the food (ho brosis[G], achal[H], makultha[A]) which endures, remains, abides (meno[G]) to life unending (zoe aionios[G], le’chayeiy olam[H]), which the Son of the Man (ho huios ho anthropos[G], ben ha-adam[H]) will give to you, for on/in Him the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]), the God (ho Theos[G], ha-Elohiym[H]), has set His seal (sphragizo[G]).”
This is pretext for the discussion regarding Moses and the Manna from the heavens.
It is likely that the Aramaic text uses the word “makultha” meaning food or nourishment, as a wordplay linking the Aramaic word for kingdom “malkutha” to the message of the text. In other words, as a drash (comparative teaching) we could read, “Do not work for the kingdom which perishes (olam hazeh: this present world), but for the Kingdom that endures forever (Olam haba: World to come)…”
The Hebrew “chotam” meaning seal, sign, endorse is consistent with the Greek “sphragizo” used in the past tense to mean “has sealed, set a seal upon, made a private signet mark, preserved etc”. A seal is set to keep something hidden until those it has been sent to are ready to receive it and open it. Therefore, Yeshua is the message and God’s Kingly seal is upon Him so that He alone can open Himself and give the salvation He carries to His people.
It is as if the people are beholding the sealed scroll but are unable to open it because in order to open it one must first be seeking God and His Kingdom rather than the fallen kingdom of humanity. In fact, Yeshua is the only One worthy to open the seal that God has placed upon Him (Rev. 5:1-6:2).
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, make (poieo[G], ba’aseh[H]), so that we may be working, trading in, performing (ergazomai[G], lif’ol[H]) the works, tasks, deeds (ergon[G], p’ulot[H]) of the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H])?” 29 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered and said to them, “This is the work, task, deed (ergon[G]), p’ulat[H]) of the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), that you continue to believe, trust, have faith (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) in Him whom He has sent (apostello[G], shelachu[H]).”
“Therefore” Because Yeshua had offered eternal life above and beyond the miraculous sign they had witnessed of Him. And, because they had some sense of Yeshua’s authority based on His signs and words.
“What shall we do, make, so that we may be working, trading in, performing the works, tasks, deeds of the God?” The question shows that they have not understood Yeshua at all. Yeshua is offering redemption, relationship, eternal life, the strength of God at work in them, a gift to be received, but the people are looking for something they can build, accomplish, achieve in their own strength in order to make them right with God. Their focus is on “doing” rather than “being”. They say, “What shall we do, so that we can accomplish the works of God” and Yeshua completely reverses their question and defeats their paradigm with a very simple and eternally profound instruction:
“The works of God are this, that you continue to believe in Him Whom He has sent”. In short, “Be in Me, don’t do for Me. Your doing must come from Me.” Objects are for use, persons are for relationship. Many fall from the faith because they do not understand this simple truth. Many more retain faith but become burned out and unfruitful because they don’t understand this simple truth.
Yeshua is pointing His hearers back to the Torah and the Word (ha-Davar: John 1:1) of God spoken to their forebears through Moses:
“For near to you all is Ha-Davar (The Word), meod, very much so, in your mouth, and in your inner being, so that you might accomplish, do, act accordingly.” -D’variym (Words) Deuteronomy 30:14
Notice that The Word is offered to the inner person and that it is from the strength of The Word in each one that each one works, accomplishes, acts. Yeshua is Ha-Davar, the Word, Essence, Substance of God, with us.
It is interesting to note that by summing up the 613 commandments of the Torah with this one phrase “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab.2:4), the Talmud agrees with Yeshua’s assertion that to have faith is the work of God (Talmud Bavliy Makkot, fol. 23. 2. & 24. 1.).
30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do (poieo[G], ta’aseh[H]) for the sign (semeion[G], ha ot[H]), so that we may see, and believe (pisteuo[G], na’amiyn[H]) You? What work (tif’al[H], ergazomai[G]) do You perform? 31 Our fathers (ho pater[G], avoteiynu[H]), ate (achlu[H]) the manna (What is it? ha-man[H]) in the wilderness (bamidbar[H]); as it is written (kakatuv[H]), ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat (lechem min-hashamayim natan-lamo le’echol).’”
Almost as if they had not listened at all they demand that Yeshua “do” something to prove His identity. In spite of the fact that they have already witnessed Him perform many signs. The signs being directive and for their benefit. Yeshua need not prove His identity, to the contrary, it is they who need to consider their own identity and return to God.
As proof of their corporate tribal pride the people site the sign of the manna given to their forbears by the hand of Moses. As if to say, “Moses provided bread for hundreds of thousands, You provided bread for only five thousand men (28,000 people).
‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ Exodus 16:4, 15; Num. 11:8; Psalm 78:24; 105:40 etc.
However, Yeshua disagrees with their exegesis. Ultimately, God is the “He” of the text.
32 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) then said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to them, ““Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you all (lachem[H] PL), it is not Moshe[H] (Moses, Drawn out) who has given (notein[H]) you the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]), out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), but it is My Father (ho Pater ego[G], Aviy[H]), Who gives you the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]) that is true (alethinos[G], ha’amitiy[H]).
Once again the double “Amen” denotes established truth. Yeshua explains that Moses was the mediator but that the bread (manna) from the heavens was “From the heavens” from God and not from Moses. Nor did Moses merit it.
Yeshua’s teaching is in direct opposition to the teaching of our rabbis on this subject:
מן בזכות משה, "the manna, by the merits of Moses".'' -Talmud. Bavliy. Taanit, fol. 9. 1. Seder Olam Rabba, p. 28.
33 For the bread (lechem[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) is Him (hu[H]) Who comes down (hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), and gives (notein[H]) living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) to the world (kosmos[G], laolam[H]).”
Yeshua identifies Himself as the “bread of God” Who has “come down from the heavens” and “gives living to the world”. Not the temporal bread for the physical body, bread that will perish fed to a body that will perish, but the living and everlasting bread of Yeshua’s transcendent resurrected body, His life essence, His nature, His character, the very substance of God. This He offers continually to a spiritually starving Israel and also subsequently to the nations.
The sign Yeshua gives them is the sign of the manna (bread of the heavens), that sign being Himself.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2020
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