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
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.