For the child of Light approval should not be confused with the false desire to earn it. In Messiah Yeshua we have (past tense) been approved. Therefore, we should live from that approval and not for it.
Yeshua speaks what follows in Jerusalem prior to (Pesach) Passover. He is among the disciples, and many other devote Jews are overhearing Him. This follows His triumphal entry into the city to the Messianic shouting of tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers and some Greek God fearers.
He has just used the mashal (figure) of the wheat falling to the ground in order to produce fruit as a prophetic image pointing to His death and resurrection. Now He expounds on the imagery by explaining that those who follow Him will also suffer with Him, that is, as He has suffered and will be with Him (in a transcendent way) where He is, both in death and in resurrection.
26 If anyone serves, attends, waits on, ministers to (diakoneo[G]) Me, that one must follow Me, become My disciple (akoloutheo[G]); and where I am, in that place (ekei[G]) My servant (diakonos[G]) will also be; if anyone serves (diakoneo[G]) Me (in the future), My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]) will fix value upon, revere, venerate, honour (timao[G]), y’chab’denu[H]) that one.
If one is determined to attend to Yeshua, serve Him, minister to Him, that one must take a step further, beyond mental assent and into discipleship. Discipleship in this context means sitting at the Rabbi’s feet, staying so close so as to be near Him at all times, and thus the essence of the Rabbi is absorbed by the disciple, talmid shel Yeshua. If one truly enters into this relationship with Yeshua, he or she will, by nature of this relationship, be where Yeshua is. Therefore, given the inseparable nature of God, the Father will honour the true disciple of Yeshua as a son or daughter.
27 “Now, at this present time (nun[G]) My breath/soul (psuche[G], nafshiy[H]) has become agitated, disquieted, anxious, distressed, troubled (tarasso[G]); and what shall I say, ‘My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), save Me, keep Me safe, rescue Me (sozo[G]) from the (ho[G]) certain definite time, fixed season, hour (hora[G])’? Nevertheless, through, by, for (dia[G]) this which is to come (erchomai[G]) I came to the certain definite time, fixed season, hour (hora[G]).
Yeshua’s words here are similar to those of His prayer in Gat Sh’maniym (Gethsemane) [Matt. 26:38-39; Mark. 14:34-36; Luke. 22:41-43]. The enormity of the task before Him overwhelms His humanity. He has suffered and been tried in every way as we have and yet remains sinless (Heb. 4:15). There is great comfort here for those suffering mental distress and emotional turmoil. The suffering Messiah walks with us in our suffering, not as a Job’s comforter but as One Who has suffered as we suffer.
We note that it is “through, by, for” His coming death and resurrection that Yeshua has come. It is through His death and resurrection that He brings glory to the Father, and by His death and resurrection that He brings freedom to those imprisoned by sin, and it is for the purpose of reconciling the creation to the Creator that He refuses to give in to distress and anxiety.
28 My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), glorify, extol, magnify, celebrate, convey the thoughts of, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour (doxazo[G]) Your Name (sh’mecha[H]).” Then a voice came from the heavens (kol min-hashamayim[H], Bat Kol [daughter voice]): “I have glorified, extoled, magnified, celebrated, conveyed the thoughts of, adorned with lustre, clothed with splendour (doxazo[G]) My Name (it), and will glorify, extol, magnify, celebrate, convey the thoughts of, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour (doxazo[G]) My Name (it) again.”
Notice that Yeshua does not ask the Father to glorify Yeshua’s Name but to glorify the Father’s Name. Many a human being throughout history has relied on the remembrance of their name and its veneration in the temporal world in order to gain some solace at the point of their martyrdom, but Yeshua thinks not of Himself but of the Father and His eternal redemptive purposes. The primary flaw in much of our fallen human thinking is our inability to see beyond the boundaries of time and space, our inability to perceive of something outside of the temporal created universe. We ask for evidence and proof of intangible things, and when none is given we presume that the intangible simply does not exist. Yeshua shows us that even in our most desperate circumstances we can look to the Father our Creator and be certain that there is a truer reality than the one we perceive with our limited intellect.
“Then a voice from the heavens…” In rabbinic tradition this “voice” is known as “Bat Kol” literally “Daughters voice” and is a title given to the voice of an angelic messenger of God. Following the last prophet of the Tanakh it is said that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) did not manifest Himself among the people of Israel but that instead the voice of an angelic messenger would from time to time speak from the heavens.
“After the death of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, the last of the prophets, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) ceased from Israel; nevertheless they received communications from God through the medium of the Bat Kol.” -Tosefta Sotah 13:2
The rabbis also say that the Bat Kol is:
"a voice that comes out of heaven proceeding from the midst of another voice,'' -Piske Tosefot in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, art. 30.
One of the rabbis of the Talmud R. Yochanan ben Zaccai, was said to be well versed in the language and speech of angelic beings (Talmud Bavliy Sukkah, fol. 28. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 134. 1.).
It is impossible to narrow down the many ways God had glorified His Name prior to these words into just one instance. In reality, the Father is referring to all that has gone before that has brought glory to His Name, and to all that is to proceed from the redemptive work of Yeshua, bringing perpetual glory to the Name of YHVH the God of Israel and of all creation.
29 Therefore, the crowd (ochlos[G]) who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “A messenger/angel (aggelos[G], malakh[H]) has spoken to Him.”
The first clause emulates the response of Israel to the thundering of God at Sinai (Exodus 19:18-19). The second clause reflects the rabbinic understanding of the Bat Kol (as explained in the previous notation).
30 Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) answered and said, “The voice (ha-kol[H]) has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.
Yeshua was aware of the tradition among the teachers of Israel who taught that no man (no would be prophet, Messiah etc.) was to be listened to or received, even if he were to do as many great signs and wonders as Moses, unless the people of Israel were to hear the Lord speaking audibly to him as He did to Moses (R. Mosis Kotsensis praefat. ad Mitzvot Torah).
31 Now a separating, judgement, decision (krisis[G], nidin[H]) is upon this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]); the present ruler, first in rank, a prince (archon[G], sar[H]) of this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]) will be violently driven out (ekballo[G]).
The driving out of the “ruler of this world” is a reference to the removal of the keys to death and hades from the one who had been given temporal control over them. That one being Satan the adversary and accuser of humanity. Thus, we see Yeshua pictured in the Revelation of John holding the keys to death and Hades as the living One Who was dead but is now alive forever perpetually and is victor over death (Revelation 1:18).
The text is not saying that Satan will no longer have any influence in the fallen creation but that he has had the temporal control over death (the fruit of sin) removed from Him even while the present world order remains within the domain of death, which is within time and space. Therefore, Satan’s influence is reduced and He no longer has the ability to hold death over the heads of those who Yeshua will redeem through His death and resurrection.
The reference to Satan being violently driven out is intentionally ambiguous. It means that Yeshua’s violent death will result in Satan being violently driven out of his temporal place of rule.
One sees here that Satan has never been on equal footing in the battle between good and evil. In fact, as a created being he is subject to the Creator and is nothing more than a footnote in the eternal purposes of God for His creation. Satan has been allowed certain temporal power in order to facilitate the decision required in order to validate love. The so called “problem of evil” is only a problem to those whose vision is limited to time and space (the present world). From the point of view of Yeshua, even when present within time and space, Satan and the problem of evil have already been solved, overcome, done away with, through the sacrificial act of vicarious love that Yeshua has committed Himself to from before the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8).
It’s interesting to note that our rabbis use the title “Sar haolam” Prince of the world in reference to the angel of death (Talmud Bavliy Yebamot, fol. 16. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 94. 1. & Cholin, fol. 60. 1.).
32 And I, if I am lifted up from the land (ho ge[G], ha-aretz[H]), will draw all individually (pas[G]) near to Myself.” 33 Moreover He was saying this to give a sign (semaino[G]) of the nature of death (thanatos[G]) by which He was to die.
In describing the type of death He would die Yeshua also reveals the intrinsic link between glory (being lifted up in exaltation) and sacrifice (being lifted up on a Roman cross of execution). In fact, Yeshua’s vicarious sacrifice is evidence of God’s incomparable love and is therefore a manifestation of His glory.
The Talmud Bavliy says that in the Olam Haba (world to come), the days of the Messiah (Messianic age), all the proselytes shall be g’ruriym גרורים, "drawn" to the sign or banner raised up by the Messiah, and will freely join the people of Israel (Talmud Bavliy Avoda Zara, fol. 24. 1. & Gloss. in ib.).
34 The crowd (ochlos[G]) then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Torah (ho nomos[G], ha-Torah[H]) that the Messiah (Christos[G], Mashiyach[H]) is to remain forever in an unbroken age (aion[G]); and how can You say, ‘The Son of Humanity (uihos ho Anthropos[G], Ben ha-Adam[H]) must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Humanity (uihos ho Anthropos[G], Ben ha-Adam[H])?”
“the Messiah is to remain forever in an unbroken age” In this context Torah/Law (nomos[G]) refers to the entirety of Hebrew Scripture (Tanakh). The reference that the crowd makes to the eternal reign of the Messiah can be linked to a number of Scriptures from the Tanakh (OT).
“The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” -Psalm 110:4 ESV
Our rabbis say the following concerning Zechariah 4:14, relating the two anointed ones, Aaron and the Messiah:
"These are Aaron and the Messiah; and it would not be known which of them is (most) beloved, but that he says, Psalm 110:4, ‘the Lord has sworn, and will not repent, you are a priest for ever’; from whence it is manifest that the Messiah is more beloved than Aaron the righteous priest.'' - Avot R. Natan, c. 34.
Rabbi Moshe Hadarsan writes:
Psalm 45:1-2 is also understood by our ancient writers to be an allusion to the King Messiah.
“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.” -Psalm 45:1-2 ESV
The Targum (2nd Century Aramaic paraphrase) renders: "thy beauty, O King Messiah, is more excellent than the children of men.''
Psalm 72:17 is interpreted by numerous rabbinical commentators as referring to the perpetual nature of the Messiah (T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 54. 1. Nedarim, fol. 39. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 1, 2. Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 32.):
“May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!” -Psalm 72:17 ESV
“how can You say, ‘The Son of Humanity (Ben ha-Adam) must be lifted up’?” They are not saying that they don’t know what the Messianic title “Son of Man” (taken from the prophet Daniel 7:13) means, rather they are asking to whom it applies. We know this because they link the title “Son of Man” to their question regarding the Torah, showing that they see the Messiah and the Son of Man as being synonymous titles.
Both ancient and modern Jewish scholars alike agree that Daniel 7:13 is a reference to the Messiah (Zohar in Gen. fol. 85. 4. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 13. fol. 209. 4. Yarchi & Sandiah Gaon in Dan. vii. 13. & R. Yeshua in Iben Ezra in ib.).
35 Therefore, Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) said to them, “For a little while longer the all existing Light [not created] (ho phos[G], ha-Or[H]) is among you. Walk halachically (hit’hal’chu[H]) while you have the all existing Light [not created] (ho phos[G], ha-Or[H]), so that darkness [created] (skotia[G], choshekh[H]) will not take hold of (katalambano[G]) you; he who walks his halacha (ha-holeich[H]) in the darkness [created] (bachoshekh[H]) does not see, perceive (eido[G]) where he goes.
Messiah Yeshua is the all existing Light that walks among them and will soon ascend to the Father. Therefore, while He is among them they are to “walk”, that is practice faith according to the Light of the King Messiah. Their halakhah (applied faith) must reflect Yeshua’s teaching and practice. The counterpoint to this is the consequence of darkness taking hold of those who fail to walk according to the Light of Yeshua. We note that the Light of Yeshua is not created but all existing, while the darkness is a created thing that is subject to the Creator, to Yeshua. Thus, the one who “walks” practices faith in darkness, practices vain faith and is unable to see (perceive) even the direction he is heading in.
36 While you have the all existing Light [not created] (ho phos[G], ha-Or[H]), believe, be persuaded, trust (pisteuo[G], ha-amiynu[H]) in the all existing Light [not created] (ho phos[G], ha-Or[H]), so that you may become children of the all existing Light (b’neiy ha-Or[H]).” These things Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.
We note that only those who trust in the all existing Light of Yeshua will become children of Light. All human beings are children of creation and therefore in one sense children of God. However, throughout Scripture a distinction is made between B’nai ha-Adam (children of fallen humanity) and B’nai Elohiym (children of God). Therefore, in another sense only those who receive the Light of God are truly children of God. “Children of Light” is synonymous with “B’nai Elohiym” children of God.
“Children of Light” is not as some suppose an allusion to Essene theology. In fact, Yeshua’s teaching could not have been further from the esoteric teaching of the Essenes. So much so that Yeshua never addressed the Essenes or acknowledged them as part of God’s continued plan for the ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen people of Israel. Far too much conjecture has been entered into by so called “Messianic” Bible teachers, who make erroneous claims concerning the Essene sect, linking Yeshua to the cult using nothing more than conjecture and supposition. In fact the teaching of the Essenes has more in common with the false belief of Gnosticism than it does with Judeo-Messianic thought.
37 But though He had made (asah[H]) so many miraculous signs (otot[H]) before them, they were not believing, being persuaded, trusting (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in Him.
In spite of the many signs Yeshua performed and the audible voice from the heavens, there were still many who didn’t trust in Him as the promised King Messiah.
38 Fully filling the word, essence, substance (ho logos[G], ha-Davar[H]) of Yishayahu[H] (Isaiah: Salvation He is YHVH[H]) the prophet (ha-naviy[H]) which he spoke: “Lord (YHVH[H]: Mercy), who has trusted (he’emiyn[H]) our report? And upon whom has the arm (zeroah[H]) of the Lord been uncovered, revealed, made naked (nig’latah[H])?[Isaiah 53:1]”
The author of John’s Gospel quotes the prophet Isaiah intending the full context of Isaiah 53:1-12 to be considered.
We note that a connection is made between the present verse and the beginning of the Gospel linking the Davar, word essence of God to both Yeshua and the words of Isaiah made manifest.
This tragic indictment observes the public revelation of Messiah to the people of Israel and our inability to comprehend Him. So obvious is His person among us that it is as if He were made naked before us. And yet, we failed to receive Him corporately at His first coming, though many believed individually.
39 For this reason they could not believe, trust (pisteuo[G], l’ha’amiyn[H]), for Yishayahu[H] (Isaiah: Salvation He is YHVH[H]) said again, 40 “He has shut (hasha[H]) their eyes and He made their heart (leiv[H]) fat (hash’mein[H]), otherwise they would not see (yir’eh[H]) with their eyes and understand, consider, discern (yaviyn[H]) with their heart (leiv[H]), and return (vashav[H]) and I heal (v’rafa[H]) them. [Isaiah 6:10]”
Once again the context of Isaiah 6 is intended. The reality was that we had allowed ourselves to become numb to God’s voice and under Roman oppression had become preoccupied with the temporal goal of freedom from servitude to a foreign power rather than concerning ourselves with our nation’s need for freedom from idolatry and godlessness.
The poetic imagery of the prophet Isaiah likens the clogging of the arteries to the spiritual condition of the inner being. We note that our return as a people needs to begin in our willingness to be discerning with our vision: only then can we return to be healed, made whole. This is a poignant reminder for the present age where the media seeks to cloud our vision with false reports and immoral agendas. We are challenged as followers of Messiah to be discerning, listening to the voice of the Ruach HaKodesh rather than the voice (spirit) of the air (Satan). Sadly, many so called “believers” today have fallen victim to spiritual fatness of heart (core being) and have been taken hold of by the darkness of the age.
41 These things Yishayahu[H] (Isaiah: Salvation He is YHVH[H]) said because he saw His (Yeshua/YHVH[H]) opinion, judgement, view, glory and he spoke of Him (Yeshua/YHVH[H]).
Yochanan the author once more makes the connection between Yeshua and Deity. The glory Yeshua spoke of in the previous verses was that of the Father, now the author of the Gospel notes that Isaiah said these things as a result of seeing the glory of the Son.
It seems likely that Yochanan is referring to Isaiah 6:1-3:
“In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw Adonai sitting on a throne, high and lifted up,[a] and the train of His robe filled the Temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 One called out to another, and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy, is Adonai-Tzva’ot!
The whole earth is full of His glory.’” -Isaiah 6:1-3 TLV
Therefore, John’s Gospel makes the glory of God the Father and the glory of God the Son echad (One, a complex unity).
Keep in mind that part of Yeshua’s glory is His death and the resulting resurrection and assent. We need also understand that this means that Isaiah saw and received the Messiah Yeshua some 700 years before Yeshua was born into time and space. So much for “progressive revelation”.
42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers, princes, leaders [both religious and secular] (archon[G], ha-shariym[H]) believed, trusted (he’emiynu[H]) in Him (Yeshua), but because of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue (aposunagogos[G]);
“many even of the rulers, princes, leaders [both religious and secular] (archon[G], ha-shariym[H]) believed, trusted (he’emiynu[H]) in Him (Yeshua)” Many among the ruling religious class believed. This means Pharisees, Priests, secular rulers, and yes, even some Sadducees.
“but because of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue (aposunagogos[G]);” Retrospectively the author of the Gospel would have loved for his fellow Jews to step up and have the godly chutzpah to profess their faith at this time, but having lived to see the outworking of God’s redemptive purpose he also knew that Yeshua had to enter death and resurrection as the King Messiah. Therefore, we should not stand passing judgement against those among the rulers who believed. They were in an extremely difficult position and would later become emboldened following Shavuot (Pentecost), spreading the Good News by the Spirit of God in them.
“put out of the synagogue (aposunagogos[G])” [John 9:22] 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.
43 for they loved the glory, judgement, approval, opinion, view (doxa[G], kevod[H]) of human beings (agappao[G], anashiym[H]) rather than the glory, approval (doxa[G], kevod[H]) of the God (ho-Theos[G], ha-Elohiym[H]).
This is a sad indictment on us all. It is not that we don’t love the glory and approval of God, rather it is that we have compromised ourselves in order to receive the glory and approval of human beings. In doing so we show that we do not properly understand the fruit of either. The glory and approval of human beings may reap temporal comfort but it will inevitably reap eternal destruction whereas the glory and approval of God may reap temporary discomfort but will ultimately reap eternal life.
For the child of Light approval should not be confused with the false desire to earn it. In Messiah Yeshua we have (past tense) been approved. Therefore, we should live from that approval and not for it.
44 And Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) cried out like a raven (krazo[G]) and said, “He who believes, trusts (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) in Me, does not believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyn[H]) in Me but in Him who sent Me.
Yeshua screams this truth above the crowd of Passover worshippers. Ref. “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:7, 9). “Seen” meaning, “perceived, received, understood, accepted etc.”
45 He who sees Me observes, looks attentively to (theoreo[G]) the One who sent Me. 46 I have come, all existing Light [not created] (ho phos[G], ha-Or[H]) into the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), so that everyone who believes, trusts ((pisteuo[G], hamamiyn[H]) in Me will not remain in darkness [created] (ba-choshekh[H]).
The Greek theoreo further affirms the depth of sight (spiritual) required in a person’s seeking out God the Father.
“I have come, all existing Light [not created] (ho phos[G], ha-Or[H]) into the world” This statement makes a clear distinction between the created light of the fallen world (Sun, moon etc.) and the all existing Light of the King Messiah. The Light of Messiah has entered the world and has eclipsed the created light of the sin affected days of the present creation. Therefore, the created darkness is removed from those who receive Yeshua’s all existing Light.
47 If anyone hears (akouo[G], v’hashomeia[H]) My spoken words (rhema[G], d’variy[H]) and does not keep, guard (phulasso[G], yish’mereim[H]) them, I do not separate, pronounce judgement on (krino[G]) him; for I did not come to separate, pronounce judgement on (krino[G], eshpot[H]) the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), but to save (sozo[G], l’hoshiya[H]) the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]).
The Greek rhema refers to spoken word, whereas the Hebrew davar is the sum of all aspects of word, substance. Yeshua is calling attention to His public teaching, after all, who can hear that which they haven’t had the opportunity to listen to.
“for I did not come to separate, pronounce judgement on the world, but to save the world…” This applies to Yeshua’s first coming. He has come the first time in order to give Himself as the substitutionary sacrifice that enables others to come to salvation. However, He will return to Judge (Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:22, 27; 2 Cor. 5:10; ). In fact the following verse tells us that the very word that issues from the mouth of Yeshua will judge humanity in the last day, that being Yom HaDin (Day of the Judgement).
48 He who disregards, rejects, does away with (atheteo[G]) Me and does not receive, take hold of (lambano[G]) My spoken words (rhema[G], d’variy[H]) has one who separates, pronounces judgement on (krino[G], yadiyn[H]) him; the word, essence, substance (ho logos[G], ha-Davar[H]) I spoke is what will separate, pronounce judgement on (krino[G], yadiyn[H]) him at the extreme last day (eschatos hemera[G], bayom ha’achron[H]).
The “One” Who passes judgement on the last day is both the Father and the word of Yeshua.
49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but My Father (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) Himself who sent Me has given Me a command, charge, injunction (entole[G]) to be spoken (epo[G]) and to be uttered (laleo[G]).
The commandment given to Yeshua is not, as some foolish so called Messianics’ teach, the Torah. Those who insist that the Torah is the centre of faith are idolaters and false guides. Rather the commandment given of the Father specifically to and through Yeshua is the sum of the Torah and the eternal application of that part of the Torah which remains (not all of the Torah is necessary in the Olam Haba. There will be no need for “Thou shalt not…” in a world devoid of sin).
The “command, charge, injunction” given to Yeshua by the Father concerns the freeing of those made captive to sin and its fruit death. The resulting command, injunction, bearing the fruit of eternal life.
50 And I see, perceive (eido[G], yodatiy[H]) that His command, charge, injunction (entole[G], mitzvato[H]) is eternal life (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]); therefore the things I speak, I speak in the same manner as My Father (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) has told Me.”
The Greek word entole is best translated “injunction” here. In the usual English sense and within the limitations of time and space eternal life is not a command but an injunction that puts an end to the fruit of sin and is an ongoing charge to those who are being sanctified within time and space until that point in time when eternity and the temporal world converge at the second coming of the resurrected King Messiah Yeshua.
The manner of the Father is manifest in the Son as the outworking of His redemptive purpose for humanity.
© Yaakov Brown 2020
“While the King sits at His table my spikenard gives its fragrance.” -Song of Songs 1:12
1 Therefore, Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua), six days before the Pesach[H] (Passover), came to Beit-anya[A] (“house of answering”, Beit-hiyniy[H] “house of dates/figs”, “house of misery”, “poor house”, Bethany) where Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) was, whom Yeshua[H A] had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him (Yeshua) a formal (evening) meal (deipnon[G]) there, and Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) was serving; and Elazar[H] (Lazarus) was one of those reclining at the table with Him (Yeshua).
“Therefore” means according to what had gone before (Chapter 11, the raising of Lazarus etc.), the events of chapter 12 follow.
“six days before the Pesach” Due to the need for purification explained in the previous chapter the allusion here to the six days prior is intended to convey the fact that Yeshua had returned to Bethany after only a brief interlude in Ephraim, and was at the home of Elazar (Lazarus), Miriyam and Marta, only a few kilometres from Jerusalem at the time that Jews from all over Israel and the known world were entering Yehudah (Judea) in preparation for the aliyah (going up) festival of Pesach (Passover).
As I will explain again in my commentary to verse 12: on the next day after the sixth day before Passover, that being the fifth day before Passover which at sundown would become the 10th day of Nisan (4th day before Passover) Yeshua entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt. Meaning that Yeshua entered into Jerusalem in time to be welcomed into a local home after sundown at the beginning of the 10th day of Nisan according to the Torah requirement for the Pesach Lamb (Exodus 12:3). Having been set apart unto the household of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen), Yeshua is subsequently sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan (4 days later) as the protection and redemption of the doors and homes of Israel’s spiritual being (according to the prefigure of the Pesach Lamb).
“Exo 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. Exo 12:4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, Exo 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Exo 12:7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. Exo 12:8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.” -Shemot (Exodus) 12:3-8 ESV
“Beit Anya” The name of the town has varied meanings due to the convergence of Aramaic and Hebrew roots. Therefore, one of the meanings of the name of this town is “House of figs”. It’s worth noting that the three other Gospel accounts relate these events very closely to discourse and events regarding the symbolism of the fig tree as a seat of first century scholarship, and or as representing the Sanhedrin (made up of some P’rushiym but predominantly populated by Sadduciym). Thus, there is also a possible correlation between the cursing of the fig tree and the accursed one (Yehudah/Judas), who is a focus of the accounts of both Mark and John but specifically connected to theft only by John. We recall Yeshua making the connection between the thief (of satanic origin) and the sheep in His discourse regarding the sheep fold at the Temple (John 10). Here it seems that the exposing of Yehudah by the author of John’s Gospel is intended to pretext what follows and retroactively applies the curse over the fig tree to, among others, Yehudah/Judas.
“Formal meal” Refers to the fact that this was an organised celebration of the great sign that Yeshua had performed. Thus, Miriyam, Marta and Elazar had likely invited friends from the religious Jewish community to attend. Some of whom would have come the short distance from Jerusalem.
3 Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) then took 340 grams of very valuable (polutimos[G]) pure spikenard oil (muron nardos pistikos[G], nirdiy[H]), and anointed the feet of Yeshua[H A] and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.
“anointed the feet” The washing and anointing of the feet of guests was the job of the lowliest house servant of the first century eastern household. Therefore, Miriyam’s actions denote extreme humility. It seems that being humbly teachable at the feet of the King Messiah was the modus operandi of Miriyam. As I have noted many times, if one wants to participate in the redemptive work of God in any generation, one should look to the women and seek out those who act in humble abandon.
Perfumed Spikenard was made by crushing the stems of the Nardostachys jatamansi plant (commonly found in the Himalayas, Nepal, China, India).
This perfumed oil was valuable due to the cost of importing it. Spikenard did not grow in Israel and was therefore acquired from other far off places at great expense.
Spikenard is mentioned in the Tanakh (OT) only three times, all occurrences are in the Shir Ha-Shiriym (Song of Songs) written by Ha-Melekh Shlomo (King Solomon: King of His perpetual Peace).
“While the King sits at His table my spikenard gives its fragrance.” -Song of Songs 1:12
The connection between this event and the love song of King Solomon (King of His Perpetual Peace) is of great significance. The Song of Songs, while in its plain meaning is an illumination of the love between a man and a woman, is also widely understood among Jewish scholars as an allegory of God’s love relationship with Israel His chosen people. Thus, when the Shulamiyt woman speaks of giving her spikenard to the King at His table she is figuratively representing Israel as bride to God her King. In the present text Miriyam represents Israel and offers her spikenard to the King Yeshua while He dines at the table. We note that the Song of Songs goes on to say:
“A bag of myrrh is my deeply beloved one to me…” -Song of Songs 1:13a
Myrrh is associated with burial, as one of the fragrances applied to the body after death. Yeshua says in verse 7 that Miriyam has kept this expensive perfumed oil as a forth giving memorial in leu of His coming death and burial.
“My deeply beloved one is to me as a cluster of kopher (henna)…” -Song of Songs 1:14a
Henna from which a red pigment is produced is figurative of blood and the Hebrew noun kopher can also meaning “pitch, asphalt, bitumen” and “ransom”. The blood of the Messiah covers and ransoms.
Therefore, Miriyam’s humble act fulfils the prophetic word of Song of Songs, prophetically acknowledges Yeshua’s coming death and resurrection and is an act of accepting the betrothal offer of God through Yeshua the King of His Perpetual Peace.
4 But Yehudah[H] (Judah: praise) Ish Kariot[H] (a man of Keriot[H], A town in the south of Judah (Joshua 15:25) one of His (Yeshua’s) disciples (talmidim[H]), who was intending to give Him (Yeshua) over (betray Him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii (silver coin weighing 3.898 grams: a denarii = a day’s wage [x 300 would be close to 80,000 NZD in 2020]) and given to the poor?” 6 Now he (Yehudah) said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was an embezzler (kleptes[G]), and as the keeper of the money box (glossokomon[G]), he used to take away (bastazo[G]) what was put into it (ballo[G]).
We learn here that Yehudah (Judas) was truly Jewish in the tribal sense being from the tribe of Yehudah and from one of the cities of Yehudah. We also learn that at the time of these events he was already planning to betray Yeshua.
Added to this is the knowledge that the perfume in question is of great value. A denarii was equivalent to a labour’s daily wage, making the sum of 300 denarii equivalent to approximately $60,000 NZD (a year’s wages). Although it’s difficult to make a precise equivocation, it is none the less true that the perfume would have been extremely costly and treasured, intended for a once in a life time event, like a wedding or funeral. Such is the case here. Perhaps the perfume was to be used to anoint the body of Elazar (Lazarus) at the end of the seven day mourning period (shivah) and was not needed due to Elazar’s resurrection? If so, Yeshua has taken the place of Elazar as substitute (like the ram for Isaac), and is being anointed for the sacrifice that He will soon make.
“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” What unfolds is a prime example of something appearing to be good and moral, even godly, but is in fact wicked, immoral, ungodly, anti-Messiah. We would do well to pay attention here and learn discernment of God for application in today’s world. Many times I have seen believers delighting in and promoting “Social Justice” causes that are smoke screens for evil agendas: organisations like Amnesty International (openly anti-Semitic), World Vision (proven to have funded Hamas via a proxy in Gaza), Compassion International (openly hostile toward the modern state of Israel), and the list goes on and on. On the surface all seem to be advocating for the poor and oppressed, while beneath the surface they proliferate a satanic agenda.
We note that like the false shepherds of Israel Yehudah (Judas) was a thief, one who climbed over the wall to enter the sheep fold rather than coming through the gate (John 10:1).
“the keeper of the money box (glossokomon[G])” The Greek word “glossokomon” is used by the rabbis who translated the Tanakh (OT) into Greek (the Septuagint) to translate the Hebrew word “aron” (box, chest, ark etc.) In 2 Chronicles 24:8, it refers to a box for the collection of the rightful offerings required by the Law of Moses. In the context of 2 Chronicles 24:7-14, the people are returning to God that which the sons of the wicked woman Athaliah had stolen from the House of God (the Temple). It is therefore, interesting to note that the present text alludes to a theft of that which belonged to the outworking of the redemptive things of God and is at least in part prefigured by the wicked actions of the sons of Athaliah.
7 Therefore, Yeshua[H A] said, “Don’t hinder her (aphiemi[G]), for she has kept it toward the day, the preparing of My body (entaphiasmos[G]) for burial.
“She has kept it” means she has kept it up until this point in time, and not that she is keeping any remaining perfume for the preparation of Yeshua’s body after death. The actual anointing of Yeshua’s body for burial is described in John 19:39-40, where it is Nakdiymon (Nicodemus) who anoints Yeshua’s body with myrrh and aloes according first century Jewish practice. We know that this did not include spikenard, the perfume used by Miriyam. Therefore, Miriyam’s act, as I have alluded to earlier is an act of figurative desire on the part of Israel to be united to her God through His Son our King Messiah Yeshua, Who like His ancestor King Solomon (Whose name means His Peace Perpetual), is the Prince of Peace, Wholeness, and Wellbeing.
Notice the beautiful figurative meaning here. The woman Miriyam, whose name means “from rebellion” has come humbly before the Yeshua (Salvation) and God Himself, and has lowered herself as the lowliest of servants and gifted her costly perfume in hope of betrothal to the King of Peace. Therefore, it was through the woman from rebellion Chaya (Eve) that sin and death entered the world and through a woman of rebellion (Miriyam the mother of Yeshua) that God seeded His Son (the last Adam) into time and space to redeem the world, and it is at the symbolically catalytic act of a woman of rebellion (Miriyam the sister of Lazarus) that we enter the final stage in Yeshua’s journey toward the ultimate manifestation of sacrificial and vicarious love, His unlawful execution on a Roman cross. Thus, the “woman of rebellion” (Israel) is reconciled to God through the repentant receipt of the death and resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua, and is therefore betrothed for the yet future Wedding of God and Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen).
8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me to hold (echo[G]).”
Yeshua is quoting the Torah and therefore, as is rabbinical custom, intending its context and application:
“Deu 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Deu 15:12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.
Deu 15:13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed.
Deu 15:14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him.” -D’varim (Deuteronomy) 15:11-14 ESV
We note, “You shall let him go free…” refers to a Hebrew who has been made poor and has become an indentured servant to Israel. Yeshua was born into servitude by His own choosing and had lived His life in service of God and of Israel (ethnic, chosen, religious), and by extension as a servant of humanity in the service of God’s redemptive purpose (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17).
We further see, “And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed.” And, “You shall furnish him liberally… As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him”. Yeshua is soon to leave (crucifixion, and by extension, resurrection and ascension). Therefore, Israel is obligated by Torah to make sure He does not leave empty handed. Israel must give to Him a liberal (that is expensive) farewell gift in honour of His service.
Therefore, Miriyam, in obeying the Torah has purchased honour and blessing on Israel’s behalf, and ironically, has in fact sought mercy for the one who has criticised her (Yehudah/Judas).
9 The large crowd of the Judeans, Jewish religious leaders (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), then learned that He was there; and they came, not only because of Yeshua[H A], but also that they might see Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus), whom He (Yeshua) raised from the dead. 10 And the chief priests (rosheiy hakoheniym[H]) planned to put Elazar[H] (Lazarus) to death also;
Notice that a large crowd of Judeans, religious Jews, Pharisees, and commoners had come to see both Yeshua and the man He had resurrected.
Contrary to popular belief, it was not the Pharisees who were Yeshua’s primary opposition but the Head Priests (predominantly Sadducees). We note that religious Judeans, some of whom were Pharisees, were attending the formal meal held to celebrate the resurrection of Elazar and the Rabbi who had performed it (Yeshua). They had come to see the evidence of the resurrected Elazar (Lazarus). This is because of the many first century Jewish sects it was the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, miracles, angels etc. On the other hand and for obvious reasons, the resurrection of Elazar (Lazarus) was damaging not only to Sadducaical rule (Head Priests, Sadducees) but also to their inherently flawed theological perspective. Therefore, “the Head Priest were planning to put Elazar (Lazarus) to death”.
11 because on account of him (Lazarus) many of the Judeans, Jewish religious leaders (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) were going away and were believing in Yeshua[H A].
This tells us that it was the manifest reality of resurrection that had caused many, including some of the Pharisees to walk away from their ruling pairs the Sadducees and Head Priests (who are the next closest subject of leadership in the text). In short, the Head Priests were fast losing power and saw murdering Yeshua and Elazar (Lazarus) as their only way out of the predicament.
12 On the next day the large crowd who had come for the festival (heorte[G], chag[H]), when they heard that Yeshua[H A] was coming to Yerushalayim[H] (down pour of peace, Jerusalem), 13 took the branches (baion[G]) of the date palm (phoinix[G]) and went out to meet Him (Yeshua), and shouted, “Hoshia-na Barukh haba b’sheim Adonay (YHVH) Melekh Yisrael[H]: Save please! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, King of Israel.[Psalm 118:25-26]”
On the next day after the sixth day before Passover, that being the fifth day before Passover which at sundown would become the 10th day of Nisan (4th day before Passover). Meaning that Yeshua entered into Jerusalem in time to be welcomed into a local home at the beginning of the 10th day of Nisan according to the Torah requirement for the Pesach Lamb (Exodus 12:3). Yochanan the author of this Gospel has been pointing to this very thing from the beginning… “Behold, pay attention, now, listen up, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29).
“Hoshia-na! Please, Adonai, save now!
We beseech You, Adonai, prosper us!
26 Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai--
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Adonai.
We bless you from the House of Adonai.” -Psalm 118:25-26 (TLV)
The Hebrew text of the psalmist “Hoshia-na” literally means “Save Please!” It is a phrase most strongly associated to the festival of Shavuot (Pentecost).
Those who were a part of the large crowd of Jews shouting the phrase, “Hoshia-na Barukh haba b’sheim Adonay (YHVH) Melekh Yisrael” knew with absolute certainty that they were invoking the prophetic words speaking of the promised King Messiah of God. These tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers who had come up to Jerusalem from all over Israel and the known world, believed that Yeshua was the promised King Messiah of Israel.
With regard to the waving of palm branches and the laying of cloaks before rulers and generals as they entered ancient cities, it is common knowledge among historians and theologians alike that this signified honour, victory, glory, coronation and so on.
“Mat 21:7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Mat 21:8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Mat 21:9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”” -Matthew 21:7-9 ESV
“Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.” -2 Kings 9:13 ESV
Our own rabbis associate the transliterated Greek for “palm branches” used in the text of John with victory.
"if a man takes באיין, (the very Greek word here used,) palm tree branches in his hands, we know that he is victorious.'' - Vajikra Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 170. 3.
This is of great spiritual significance given that Yeshua is about to win the victory of all victories, that is the victory over death and the one who had up to that point had temporal reign over it [Hebrews 2:14-15] (that reign having been allowed by God the Father Who had always been the ultimate sovereign over all things) [Revelation 1:18].
14 Yeshua[H A], finding a young donkey (onarion[G], ayir[H]), sat on it; as it is written (grapho[G], katuv[H]), 15 “Don’t be put to flight in fear (phobeo[G]) daughter (thugater[G]) Tziyon[H] (Zion, parched place)… Behold, now, listen up (idou[G]) the King (basileus[G]) of you comes seated upon a colt (polos[G]) of a donkey (onos[G]).[Zephaniah 3:14-16 & Zechariah 9:9]” 16 These things His (Yeshua) disciples (talmidim[H]) did not understand at the first; but when Yeshua[H A] was glorified, magnified, adorned with splendour (doxazo[G]), then they remembered that these things were written (grapho[G], katuv[H]) of Him, and also that they had made (gam-asou[H]) these things to Him (lo[H]).
Many ask, “Why is the quote in John 12:15 different from Zechariah 9:9”?
The answer is quite simple: the author of the Gospel according to John is not quoting one passage but is combining two passages from the Tanakh (Zephaniah 3:14-16 & Zechariah 9:9) and presenting a convergent Messianic prophecy as a concise representation of what the Tanakh says concerning the coming King Messiah. Therefore, showing that he believes that Yeshua is the fulfilment of God’s redemptive purposes for Israel, the promised King Messiah of the line of David. This is affirmed by the phrase “they remembered that these things (plural) were written” meaning that after Yeshua’s resurrection the disciples retrospectively understood multiple Tanakh references to be applicable to Yeshua on this specific occasion.
“Zep 3:14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Zep 3:15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. Zep 3:16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.” -Zephaniah 3:14-16 ESV
“Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you,
a righteous one bringing salvation.
He is lowly, riding on a donkey--
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” -Zechariah 9:9 (TLV)
By merging these two passages the writer of John’s Gospel alludes to the unity of God, His Salvation and His Messianic King. Thus, once again, Yeshua as God with us is inferred by the Gospel writer.
17 The crowd (okhlos[G]) therefore, who were with Him and witnessed (martureo[G]) Him calling Elazar[H] (Lazarus) out of the tomb/grave (kever[H]) and raising him (Lazarus) from the dead, continued to testify. 18 For this reason also the crowd (okhlos[G]) went and met Him (Yeshua), because they heard that He had performed this miraculous sign (ot).
While all this was taking place the crowd who had already been drawn to Yeshua because of the resurrection of Lazarus were running round like excitable evangelical street witnessing zealots telling everyone they could find about Yeshua and what He had done. As a result thousands more came to meet Yeshua at the festival in Jerusalem.
19 So some of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) said to one another, “You see this is not to our advantage (opheleo[G]); look, the whole (kol[H]) world (kosmos, ha olam[H]) has gone after Him (Yeshua).”
Yeshua’s popularity was never going to be to the advantage of the select few religious leaders who, under Roman authority were in control of the people of Israel at the time.
“Look, the whole world has gone after Him…” means that there were non-proselyte Greeks in Jerusalem for the festival in addition to the devote Jewish worshippers. These Greek “God Fearers” often attended Jewish festivals due to their genuine devotion to the God of Israel. However, they were not all proselytes (converts to Judaism). This is why the next verse specifies “Hellen” without a qualifying allusion to proselytization. “Hellen” literally means “Greek” (or, “non-Jew”).
20 Now there were some Greeks (Hellen[G]: non-Jews) among those who were going up to worship at the festival (heorte[G], chag[H] [Pesach[H]]);
As I have stated, “Hellen” in this context, refers to Greek God Fearers and not to Greek proselytes.
21 these then came to Philippos[G] (lover of horses, Philip, a Jew), who was from Beit tzaiydah[A H] (House of fish/hunting) of Galiyl[H] (Galilee, circuit), and began to ask him, saying, “Adon (kurios[G] Sir, lord), we wish to see Yeshua[H A].” 22 Philippos[G] came and told Andreas[G] (manly, Andrew, a Jew); Andreas[G] and Philippos[G] came and told Yeshua[H A].
The Greeks probably came to Philip because although he was a Jew he had a Greek name and likely spoke Greek. Additionally, Philip conferred with Andrew for the same reason on behalf of the Goyim (Greeks “God Fearers”) who were seeking Yeshua.
23 And Yeshua[H A] answered them, saying, “The certain definite time (hora[G] hour) has come for the Son of Man (ho uihos anthropos[G], ben ha-adam[H]) to be glorified, magnified, adorned with splendour (doxazo[G]).
Yeshua’s answer is not a snubbing of Greeks, Gentiles, but is a poignant reminder that He has come for a specific purpose and will not step to the left or right for even a moment. The definite time for His final journey to the cross has come and He must be entirely focused on His work. Additionally, in His earthly ministry He had come “only for the lost sheep of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen)” [Matthew 15:24].
24 “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, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone without companions (monos[G]); but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit (karpos[G]).
Yeshua speaks an established reality to those listening. Unless He dies to make eternal life possible for those bound by sin, He will not produce the fruit that is born of His sacrifice. He is the seed from which everlasting life bears the fruit of salvation in the lives of others.
“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” -Romans 8:29
There is an interesting paragraph in the Talmud Bavliy that further clarifies ancient Jewish use of mashaliym (parables, figures, examples, symbols etc.) and the Kal v’chomer (light & heavy) method of drash (comparative teaching):
“The Samaritan Patriarch asked Rabbi Meir, ‘I know that the dead will come back to life… but when they do arise, will they be naked or clothed?’ He replied, ‘You may deduce the answer from a kal v’chomer (light & heavy) argument based on a wheat grain – if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouts forth in many robes, then how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their clothing!’” -Sanhedrin 90b
NB: The “clothing” of the righteous is their righteous actions/deeds (Isaiah 61:10; Rev. 19:8).
25 He who loves (phileo[G], oheiv[H]) his breath/soul (psuche[G], nafsho[H] [as a dear friend]) destroys it (apollumi[G]), and he who detests (miseo[G]) his breath (psuche[G], nafsho[H]) in this world (kosmos[G], baolam[H]) will guard (phulasso[G]) it to life/living (zoe[G], l’chayeiy[H]) eternal (aionios[G], netzakh[H]).
The Greek text refers to transient breath (psuche) and the Hebrew to the soul (nafsho) practice of life in the temporal world, but the one who does not regard his life in this world above His love for God will walk as Messiah does, giving up his temporal life in this world in order that he might enter the perpetual living of the everlasting world (Olam Haba). Therefore, the temporal “psuche[G], nafsho[H]” (breath, soul) gives way to the eternal “chayeiy” (living).
© Yaakov Brown 2020
“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
According to verse 55 the latter part of John 11 takes place just prior to the month of Nisan. This means that the events following the resurrection of Elazar happen four months further on (from Chanukah) [John 10:22] in the Biblical Jewish year and bring the text full circle to arrive at the month of Nisan just prior to Pesach. This is significant, given that the resurrection of Elazar (Lazarus) is a prefigure to the coming resurrection of the Messiah, and is the ultimate marker of a true prophet of God (e.g. (Elijah, 1 Kings 17:17-24; Elisha, 2 Kings 4:32-37).
This is now the third Pesach recorded in the gospel according to Yochanan, the focus on this festival is important to Yochanan’s identification of the “Lamb” of God, the King Messiah Yeshua. Later in the HaBrit Ha Chadashah the Rav Shaul (Paul) calls Yeshua “Messiah our Pesach (Lamb)” [1 Cor. 5:7].
1 Moreover a certain one [man] (tis[G]) was sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]), Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) of Beit-anya[A] (“house of answering”, Beit-hiyniy[H] “house of dates”, “house of misery”, “poor house”, Bethany), the village of Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) and her sister Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress). 2 It was the Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) who anointed the Lord (Kurios[G], Ha-Adon[H]) with perfumed resin (muron[G], probably myrrh), and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) was sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]).
Why did Yochanan (John the disciple) the author of this gospel, feel the need to identify Miryam with such precise detail? It’s true that there may have been several, if not hundreds of women named after the great woman of Israel (Miryam, Moses’ sister) among the residents of Judea, however it is unlikely that many, if any, had both a sister named Marta and a brother named Elazar (Lazarus).
We can be fairly sure Yochanan’s audience were almost a generation hence from the events being recorded, so it is most likely that he was using the now famous event of Miryam’s having anointed Yeshua as a way of illuminating both Miryam’s character and her relationship to the Messiah. It is interesting to note that the event Yochanan uses to clarify which Miryam he is speaking of is yet to occur in the chronology of his gospel (John 12:1-11.) From this some deduce that Yochanan assumes that his audience are familiar with the synoptic gospels.
The accounts of Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13 record the event taking place in the home of Shimon, making it likely that Shimon shared a home with Elazar and his sisters.
The village of Bethany was approximately half a day’s walk (100 km) from where Yeshua and His disciples were beyond the Jordan (John 10:40), and about 5 km east of Jerusalem.
3 So the sisters sent to Him (Yeshua), saying, “Lord (Kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), behold, now, pay attention (Hineih[H]) he whom You love as a dear friend (phileo[G], ahavta[H]) is sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]).”
Yochanan (author) only uses the phrasing, “whom You (Yeshua) love,” here and in relationship to himself as, “the disciple “whom Yeshua loved.” Primarily this indicates a special intimacy between Yeshua and those in question, a relationship which is set apart, different from the relationships He had with other disciples and family members. The point being that Elazar (Lazarus) was a very close friend of Yeshua, both Elazar’s death and the grief of his sisters would surely have been of paramount importance to Yeshua.
4 But when Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) heard this, He said, “This sickness, infirmity, weakness (astheneia[G]) will not be to the advantage (pros[G]) of death (thanatos[G], a Greek god), but in behalf of, for the sake of (huper[G]) the glory, judgement (doxa[G], likh’vod[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]), in order that (hina[G]) the thoughts, glory, splendour (doxazo[G]) of the Son of the God (Ho-Uihos Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Ben Ha-Elohiym[H]) be throughout (dia[G]) [alt. made known by the means of it].”
Yeshua says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Firstly, Yeshua is indicating foreknowledge, secondly, He is expressing knowledge of purpose. He’s speaking not only of physical death (as alluded to in the following verses) but also of eternal death. This is why He goes on to speak in metaphor, likening physical death to a temporary sleep state. This event is intended to be a platform, not only for Elazar’s (Lazarus’s) physical resurrection but also for the resurrection of Messiah and the filling of God’s promise for a final resurrection of all humanity: some to eternal life and some to eternal death. This is the glory that Yeshua is ultimately alluding to. The glory of God the Father and Yeshua the Son which reconciles repentant humanity.
The Talmud Bavliy tells us that the majority of lesser illnesses result in life “l’chayiym”, and the majority of major illnesses end in death “l’meiytah” (Talmud Bavliy Kiddushin, fol. 71. 2.).
In other words, there is a first century religious cultural precedent for the belief that certain illnesses were likely to lead to death, the present illness of Elazar was obviously one such illness, and yet Yeshua was saying that Elazar’s illness would not be “l’meiytah” for death.
Note that the Greek text says “This sickness will not be to the advantage of death but is in behalf of the God…” Death is personified as being the opposite to God, Who is Life, living. This is consistent with Yeshua’s statement in verse 25, “I AM the resurrection and the life!” Not only will the illness of Elazar end in either temporal or eternal death, it will also note afford death itself to exercise fear against others. Put simply, Yeshua is about to give a sign that prophecies the death of death in His own death and resurrection. The Scripture explains it this way:
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared the same humanity—so that through death He might break the power of the one who had the power of death (that is, the devil).” -Hebrews 2:14-15 TLV
Therefore, “This sickness will not be to the advantage of death” means that Yeshua has come to break the power of Satan, who seeded death into the world through sin. And “but is in behalf of the God…” means that Yeshua has come at the command of God in order to free all who would receive Him from bondage to death.
5 Now Yeshua[H] loved entirely (agapao[G], aheiv[H]) Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) and her sister and Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus). 6 So when He heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]), He (Yeshua) then stayed two days in the place where He was.
The text tells us that it is because Yeshua loved them that He stayed two more days in the place where He was. For most of us this seems counterintuitive but unlike Yeshua, most of us have very little idea of our own purpose or what we are capable of. Ultimately, “Because He loved them” means, because He knew that the resurrection of Elazar would strengthen their faith and benefit their eternal state. Therefore, in this case love meant allowing a dear friend to die.
7 Then after this He said to the disciples (talmidim[H]), “Let us go to Yehudah (the region of Judea) again.” 8 The disciples (talmidim[H]) said to Him, “Rabbiy[H] (My Teacher, My Great One), the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?”
“Let’s go to Yehudah” means “Let’s travel from here on the east side of the Jordan [John 10:40] back to the territory of Judea where Bethany, the village of Elazar, Miriyam and Marta is…”
This decision of Yeshua’s is probably best likened to a situation where any Israeli-Jew today were to suggest that he and his friends make a trip to Bethany (currently under occupation by the Palestinian authority). In other words, “let’s go to a place where the authorities hate me and everything I represent and are willing to at very least attempt my murder.” Understanding it this way makes the disciples’ response seem more than justified. Some of the Judean religious leaders had only just attempted to stone Yeshua after His claim to deity in Jerusalem following the Chanukah celebrations recorded in John 10:22-42. From the disciples’ perspective there was a clear and present danger awaiting them throughout Judea. Not even love for a dear friend would have ordinarily compelled them to go into that region given the religious-political situation.
It’s important to note the use of the Greek transliteration rha-bbi for Rabbi. Later in this account Marta refers to Yeshua as ha Moreh the Teacher. Note just a Rabbi, but The Rabbi.
9 Yeshua[H] answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day (hemera[G], ba’yom[H])? If anyone walks in the day (hemera[G], ba’yom[H]), he does not strike against something (proskopto[G]), because he sees the all existing light (phos[G], nuhra[A], Or[H]) of this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]). 10 And if anyone walks (holeikh[H]) in the night (balaylah[H]), he strikes against something (proskopto[G]), because there is no flame (nahira[A]) [all existing light] (phos[G], Or[H]) in him.”
Numerous Jewish sources affirm Yeshua’s assessment of the hours of daylight (T. Bab Sanhedrin, fol. 88. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Vid. Philo. de Somniis, p. 1143.)
There are several meanings that can be gleaned from this statement. Relative to Yeshua’s own ministry He is insisting here that He has a mission to complete and it will be completed in the appropriate time regardless of any attempts to thwart it. In other words, “They will not be allowed to kill me until I say so (I being I AM, ‘I and the Father are echad’).”
We could also observe in this an allusion to Messiah as light of the world. He will soon be gone, returned to heaven leaving behind His Spirit (Ruach ha-Kodesh) and a choice we all must make, choosing either to walk in His light or to stumble in the darkness of this fallen world. The key here is that the day He is speaking of doesn’t shine upon us, rather it shines from within us. Yeshua is that day, that all existing light (Or). Notice that the text says, “But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” This is true of those who don’t accept their position as purchased children of God. They are said to be devoid of the flame/light of God/Messiah: just as Yeshua has said elsewhere, “If the light inside you is darkness, how great is the darkness?” (Mattitiyahu/Matthew 6:23).
May His light dwell in you richly as you choose to accept His atoning death and resurrection life, thus taking your place as a chosen child of God.
The Aramaic text makes a word play between nuhra (light) and nahira (flame), which is from the root nuhra (light). In other words the flame of Messiah has its origin in the all existing Light of God.
11 This He (Yeshua) said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend (philos[G], chaver[H]) Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) has fallen asleep (koimao[G]); but I go, so that I may awaken (exupnizo[G]) him.”
Yeshua now uses sleep as a metaphor for physical death. This is not without Scriptural precedence, the patriarchs of Israel are said to have, “slept with their fathers.” (1 Melakhim/Kings 2:10.), and the prophet Daniel uses sleep to describe those who have been dead and are resurrected at the latter day:
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake—some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt.” -Daniel 12:2 TLV
However, it was probably not a colloquial expression in common use at the time. What is important to understand is that Yeshua is not saying that Elazar (Lazarus) is sleeping because of the knowledge that He will soon raise him from the dead, rather He is saying that all physical death (that is death prior to the Judgment) is sleep, that is, temporary. Elazar is sleeping because he is in transition, neither alive in the world nor yet present in Gan Eden (Paradise).
It’s interesting to note that Yeshua begins by saying, “Our friend Lazarus,” but ends by saying, “I will awaken him from sleep.” Yeshua is obviously emphasizing the fact that only He is able to raise Elazar (Lazarus). He may also be giving the disciples’ permission to stay behind. As disciples of Messiah we all find ourselves in situations where we are given a choice to remain behind or to follow Him into a terrifying situation, perhaps even at the risk of our very lives. It is important to remember that He is not giving us an ultimatum, rather He remains our Lord and redeemer regardless of whether we stay or go. However, if we go we may see His glory now in ways we might have missed if we had stayed.
12 The disciples (talmidim[H]) then said to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), if he has fallen asleep (koimao[G]), he will recover (sozo[G]).” 13 Now Yeshua had spoken of his (Lazarus) death (thanatos[G], moto[H]) but they thought that He was speaking of reclining (koimesis[G]). 14 So Yeshua then said to them plainly, “Elazar[H] is dead (thanatos[G], meit[H]), 15 and I am (Aniy[H]) full of joy (sameach[H]) for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe, trust, be persuaded (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]); and now let’s go to him (Lazarus).” 16 Therefore Toma[H] (Tuma[A] “Thyme”, Thomas), who is called Didymus[G] (“a twin”, Ta’ama[A] “twin”), said to his fellow disciples (talmidim[H]), “Let’s also go, so that we may die (apothnesko[G]) with Him (Yeshua).”
How did Yeshua know Elazar (Lazarus) was dead? The messenger was sent with news of grave illness, not death. Clearly, despite the many commentaries to the contrary, Yeshua knew many things outside of time, either by intimate conversation with the Father or simply because He is God with us. Those who attempt to separate Yeshua’s deity and humanity have great difficulty explaining how Yeshua knew things only God could have known.
Yeshua is glad He did not rush to the aid of Elazar (Lazarus) because the coming miraculous sign will be a catalyst for the disciples’ belief, both in the witnessing of it and in the recollection of it, post Yeshua’s own resurrection. His comment “Elazar is dead and I am full of joy for your sakes…” may seem harsh at first but as we read on we can understand why Yeshua was glad. Many times, I’ve wondered at the seeming harshness of God, only to discover at a later date that what looked like cruelty within my situational experience is beheld as glory outside of time. Knowing this we can only ask that God grant us an unnatural ability in trusting Him beyond the grave, for there are some harsh realities for which we will not see a glorious end in this life.
Toma (Thomas) speaks from the heart here, the guy has some chuztpah that’s for sure and he’s not the doubting Thomas we all remember (take note, we’ve all doubted, there is no faith without doubt). Many have supposed a number of options for the, “him,” Thomas is referring to when he says “let’s go so that we might die with him.”: some say he is referring to Elazar (Lazarus) but I find that highly unlikely given that the context of this conversation relates to the danger threatening Yeshua upon His return to Judea.
The only realistic interpretation is that Yeshua is perceived to be taking His life in His hands by returning to Judea to comfort the mourning sisters and family of Elazar (Lazarus). If this is the correct interpretation then Thomas, far from doubting, has become a zealot for Yeshua and (perhaps caught up in the emotion of the moment) has decided to lay his life on the line alongside his Lord. Thomas doesn’t keep his passion to himself either, he excitedly invites all the disciples to do the same.
17 So when (Yeshua) came, He found that Elazar (he) had already been in the tomb/grave (mnemeion[G], bakaver[H]) four days.
It seems based on this time frame that Elazar (Lazarus) had died soon after the messenger had been sent to inform Yeshua and the disciples of Elazar’s illness.
The length of time that Elazar was in the grave is significant due to the fact that there was a first century Jewish belief (other religions like Zoroastrianism also have a similar superstition) that the spirit of a person stayed near the body for three days after death. After four days it was believed there was no chance of resuscitation or resurrection (Vayikra [Leviticus] Rabbah a. 18:1.)
At the four day point, given the lack of modern preservation techniques, the body of Elazar was already beginning to decay and would have stunk badly.
Yeshua raised other’s from the dead (Luke 7:11-17; 8:41-42, 49-56), and both Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead (Elijah, 1 Kings 17:17-24; Elisha, 2 Kings 4:32-37). There are numerous examples in extra Biblical Jewish literature of people being raised from the dead after three days (Midrash Raba Ruth 3:1; Semchos 8 ). Also, modern doctors bring people back from “clinical death”, minutes, sometimes hours after they are declared. However, neither in the Bible nor in all of human history has anyone other than Yeshua resurrected a person who has been dead for more than three days. The fact is that such a person has already begun to decay and is beyond the reach of medical science. What Yeshua was about to do was to bring back to life a four day old rotting corpse. This is why there was such an excited reaction from the people and the religious authorities following this miraculous sign. This kind of display of God’s manifest power was and is terrifying. It stands in opposition to the natural order of the sin affected creation, and that is precisely the point.
18 Now Beit-anya[A] (“house of answering”, Beit-hiyniy[H] house of dates, house of misery, poor house, Bethany) was near Yerushalayim (Downpour of peace, Jerusalem), about five kilometres away; 19 and many of the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) had come to Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) and Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary), to console them concerning their brother. 20 Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) therefore, when she heard that Yeshua was coming, went to meet Him, but Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) was sitting (kathezomai[G]) in the house (babeit[H]).
Being a religious Jewish family, it is certain that Miriyam and Marta would have observed some form of sitting shivah (a seven-day period of mourning), one of the requirements being that the immediate family members of the dead were to remain inside the house without footwear, seated on low stools close to the floor in sombre remembrance. The community is tasked with bringing food and providing for the needs of the bereaved and various localized customs are enforced. The Greek text infers the sitting of shivah by using the Greek kathezomai, meaning to sit rather than the Greek katecho (detain, hold back) or epecho (hold, attend), which would make more sense if Miriyam were simply staying behind and not involved in a religious rite.
"the mourner the first week does not go out of the door of his house; the second he goes out, but does not sit, or continue in his place; the third he continues in his place, but does not speak; the fourth, lo, he is as every other man. R. Judah says, there is no need to say, the first week he does not go out of the door of his house, for behold, all come to his house, לנחמו, "to comfort him".'' -Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 23. 1.
"on the first day he (the mourner) did not wear his phylacteries; on the second, he put them on; on the third day, others come to comfort him.'' -Massech. Semachot, c. 6. fol. 14. 3.
Maimonides outlines the ancient tradition concerning the comforting of mourners as follows:
תנוחמו מן השמים Job 2:13 Job 2:13 Job 3:1 Job 4:1, and when he nods with his head, the comforters may not sit with him any longer, that they may not trouble him more than is necessary. If a man dies, and there are no mourners to be comforted, ten worthy men go and sit in his place all the seven days of mourning; and the rest of the people gather to them; and if there are not ten fixed every day, ten of the rest of the people gather together, and sit in his place:'' -Maimonides. in Mishnah. Peah, c. 1. sect. 1.
The fact that Marta left the house, thus breaking the extra-Biblical rabbinic law, perhaps shows how impacted she had been by Yeshua’s words to her during His previous visit to the home of Miriyam, Marta and Elazar (Luke 10:41-42). At that time Marta had been more concerned with formalities and tradition, now she is willing to disregard religious norms in order to seek out Yeshua.
The, “Therefore,” here refers to the fact that because there were some present who might seek to take hold of Yeshua, Marta would leave quickly and avoid being seen.
Why did Miryam stay in the house? Aside from the fact that she was keeping Jewish religious law regarding sitting shivah (seven days of mourning), the most probable answer is that she hadn’t heard that Yeshua had arrived, after all, the text says that “Marta heard,” and later we read that when Marta secretly told Miryam that the Teacher was there, Miryam got up in a rush to go to Him. It seems likely that Marta had heard of Yeshua’s arrival in secret, due to the fact that to tell of it openly might have endangered Yeshua. Therefore, as soon as Miriyam did know of Yeshua’s arrival she too sought Him out.
21 Marta then said to Yeshua, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]), God (Theos[G]) will give You.”
This seems a reasonable observation from a grieving family member upon the arrival of the physician who could have saved her beloved brother had He been on time (that is, according to human timing). Some read malice into this, I do not. At best I hear incredulity and desperation in Marta’s voice, perhaps confusion, not anger. I think the following line affirms this.
The Aramaic nukhama (arise, resurrect etc.) from the root nukh (rest) makes an intrinsic connection between resurrection and rest.
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of the God, God will give You.” Wow what faith, this is not the Marta we have been told about, she is not the control freak of church tradition (perhaps we all have our weaknesses nu!) Whatever her understanding was, and it clearly wasn’t full by any means, she believes in her Messiah, she desperately cleaves to what she knows her friend Yeshua can do, why? Because she has faith that God (Whom she worships) will give Yeshua (perhaps, in her current estimation merely a prophet but a much loved one) whatever He asks. I suspect that at very least she saw her friend and Rabbi Yeshua as a prophet like Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and believed in His ability to do mighty acts for the sake of Israel.
23 Yeshua said to her, “Your brother will rise, recover, be revived, rest (anistemi[G], kum yakum[H], nukhama[A]).” [Heb. reads kum yakum, “rise, has risen”]. 24 Marta said to Him (Yeshua), “I know (yodatiy[H]) that he will rise (yakum[H] Heb. has risen) in the rising [resurrection] (bat’kumah[H]) on the last day (bayom haacharon[H]).”
In hindsight we say, “How could she not know He was referring to the imminent resurrection of Lazarus?” We are all about the instant miracle in the body of believers (Church) today, “Now Lord,” we demand. Perhaps we need to learn the opposite lesson to Marta, perhaps we need to learn to believe again in the Olam Haba (world to come) and the physical, yes I said physical, resurrection of the dead. We will not float in the ether friends, we will be raised to life and given renewed physical bodies for the purpose of living on a new physical earth in the presence of God eternally.
In fact, Marta’s answer is a very good Jewish answer for the time. Other than the Sadducees, almost every Jewish sect believed in the Olam Habba (world to come), the last day (Judgment day), and the physical resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:2; ). Marta merely responded with the then current Jewish theological understanding (which was not a wrong understanding, it was just incomplete). It was missing the Haf-tarah (filling/completing of the Torah). Again, her proclamation shows great faith even though it lacks a full understanding.
The final resurrection is called "the days of consolation" by the 2nd Century Jewish writers (Targum Jon. in Gen i. 21. & in Hos. vi. 2.)
The P’rushiym (Pharisees) believed in the resurrection [Daniel 12:1-3; Antiquities of the Jews 18:1-4; 2 Maccabee 7:9]. The Saduciym (Sadducees) [Mark 12:18].
25 Yeshua said to her, “I Am (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the rising [resurrection] (hat’kumah[H]) and the life (hachayiym[H]) [Alt. Aramaic: Ena na nukhama w’khayeh, “I am the all existing resurrection, rest and the living”]; he who believes, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) in Me will live (zao[G], yichyeh[H]) even if he dies [Heb. gam kiy-yamut, “also because he has died”]. 26 and everyone who lives (zao[G], hachay[H]) and believes, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyniy[H]) in Me will never die (apothnesko[G]). Do you believe, trust (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) this?”
Yochanan (author) is again using the Greek language to affirm a living title for HaShem, “I AM that I AM.” This is an unmistakable reference to the Holy One of Israel. Yeshua is claiming to be God with us. In addition, He is identifying Himself to Marta as the past, present and future Resurrection. He is aware that the miraculous sign He is about to perform in the physical world will echo in eternity. The raising of Elazar (Lazarus) and the subsequent affect it has on the people of Judea will become the catalyst for the religious leaders plan to put Yeshua to death. This in turn will produce His resurrection, a resurrection that will take hold of the keys of hades and death and consume them with victory and life.
In addition to Yeshua’s “I AM” statements (John 4:26), Yochanan records seven qualified “I AM” statements:
1.)I AM the bread of life (6:35)
2.)I AM the light of the world (8:12, 9:5)
3.)I AM the gate (10:7)
4.)I AM the good shepherd (10:11, 14)
5.)I AM the resurrection and the life (11:25)
6.)I AM the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6)
7.)I AM the real vine (15:1)
Following His resurrection and ascent to the right hand of the Father Yeshua spoke to Yochanan via His Angel naming Himself as Aleph and Tav (Alpha and Omega) [Rev.1:8], and as the beginning and the Goal (first and last) [Rev. 1:17]. All are unequivocal statements of deity.
When Yeshua says, “and the life,” He is speaking of eternal life: this is the juxtaposition to the temporary sleep of the present physical death (this is not to say that eternal life will not be physical, it will simply be a new kind of physical devoid of the effects of sin: metaphysical in the truest sense). Those who believe in Him then, even when they die in this present life are assured of eternal life beyond the grave, and those who believe in Him and live until His return will simply be transformed. As it is written elsewhere, “We will not all sleep but we will all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51.)
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]); I have believed, trusted (pisteuo[G], ya’amiyn[H]) that You are the Mashiyach[H] (Messiah, Christ, anointed one), the Son (Ho-Uihos[G], Ha-Ben[H]) of God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]), He Who comes into the world (ha-olam[H]).”
Marta doesn’t really answer the question. Yeshua is asking if she believes He is the Resurrection, Marta clearly doesn’t understand what He’s asking (and neither would we) so she answers with what she does know, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the One Moses and the prophets had promised to Israel. Again, this shows great faith, however she is yet to understand the all-encompassing reality of what it means for Yeshua to be the Messiah, the Resurrection, and the Living.
28 When she had said this, she went away and called Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) her sister, saying secretly, privately (lathra[G]), “The Teacher (ho-didaskalos[G], ha-moreh[H]) is here and is calling for you.”
Marta probably says this secretly so as to protect Yeshua from danger. It seems obvious that Miryam had not been aware that Yeshua had come. While Yeshua’s personal request for Miryam is not stated it is inferred by the text. Marta calls Yeshua, Ha Moreh “The Teacher,” using the Greek word didaskalos rather than the religious title rha-bbi (rabbi). Marta is making a confession of her belief that Yeshua is not merely a Jewish Rabbi, He is The Teacher, the One above all others; she leaves no room for confusion here. Perhaps, like Miryam, The Teacher is calling you, drawing you near in your hour of deep grief.
29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. 30 Now Yeshua had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Marta had met Him. 31 Then the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Miryam got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb/grave (kever[H]) to mourn (klaio[G]) there. 32 Therefore, when Miriyam came where Yeshua was, she saw Him (Yeshua), and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), if You had been here, my brother would not have died (apothnesko[G]).”
Miryam rushed to see Yeshua and in turn the other Judean mourners rushed to pursue her, thinking they were going to the grave site.
The, “therefore,” in the text tells us that it was as a result of Miryam’s rushing that she fell at Yeshua’s feet: exhausted from grief and the emotion fuelled exercise Miryam sees her close friend and Teacher Yeshua and falls at His feet, utterly spent. Miryam then repeats Marta’s question, probably for the same reasons but Yeshua, seeing her exhaustion from passionate grief does not enter into the same teaching dialogue He had shared previously with Marta, why? Because He connects with each person in the appropriate way to minister to their personality and position.
It is likely that given the lack of medical knowledge regarding the difference between the dead and the comatose, that first century Jews visited the grave for at least three days following the burial:
“We go out to the cemetery and examine the dead (to make sure they have not been buried while comatose etc.) for a period of three days, and do not fear being suspected of engaging in the ways of the Ammonites (witchcraft, necromancy and superstition regarding the dead). Once a man who had been buried was examined and found to be alive; he lived for twenty five years more and then died. Another such person lived and had five children and then died.” -S’machot 8:1
"they go to the graves and visit until three days.'' -Massech. Semachot, c. 8. fol. 15. 1.
2Ch 32:33, "they did him honour at his death"; that is, they made a sitting at his grave.” -Maimonides Hilchot Ebel. c. 14. sect. 25.
The post Talmudic tractate of S’machot means “joys” and is used in some sects of Judaism as a euphemism for mourning.
33 When Yeshua therefore saw her mourning, and the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) who came with her mourning, He was deeply moved in spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]) and was indignant, angry, anxious, agitated, distressed (tarasso[G]), 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), come and see.” 35 Yeshua wept. 36 So the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) were saying, “See what great (rabah[H]) love (phileo[G], ha-ahavah[H]) He (Yeshua) had for his dear friend!”
Some have suggested that Yeshua was angry due to the disbelief of Miryam and those with her, and that He was also angered by the professional mourners’ present (something that is presumed by scholars but not stated in the Scripture account). This seems ludicrous at best, an idea perpetuated by scholars who have never met the merciful and compassionate Messiah of our faith. How could Yeshua be angry with Miryam, who had merely implored Him with the appropriate question of grief? A woman whom the Scripture says, “He loved,” grieving with her friends for the tragic loss of her brother.
Some refer to the conversation with Marta saying that Marta angered Yeshua with her failure to understand: what nonsense, Yeshua is not angered by our inability to understand but rather by our arrogant resistance in the face of understanding. Even if this was the case, Marta is not mentioned here directly.
In fact, the text tells us what Yeshua is angry toward. It says, “Therefore,” that is, having seen what had come before, Miryam’s desperate rushing toward Him in hope of a miracle and “seeing her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was moved in spirit and was indignant, angry, anxious, agitated, distressed.” Yeshua was angry at the work of death itself, at the resulting suffering that death (born of sin, that is of the evil one) had brought to God’s children, and subsequently to Yeshua Himself. He would soon subject Himself to death on a cross for all our sakes.
The Greek word used to describe the weeping (klaio) of the Judeans means a loud wailing however the word used to denote Yeshua’s weeping (dakruo) refers to a quiet, intimate and intense form of weeping. It was this contrasting and authentic grief that those around Yeshua witnessed, therefore causing them to say, “See how He loved him.”
37 But some of them said, “Could not this man (Yeshua), who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying (apothnesko[G])?”
It is important to note that this statement does not have to be interpreted as being malicious. This is simply the valid public expression of the same question both Miryam and Marta had already asked. In addition, this was only spoken by some of those present.
38 So Yeshua, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb/grave (kever[H]). Now it was a cave, and a bolder was lying against it. 39 Yeshua said, “Remove the bolder.” Marta, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
After four days a body is already aggressively decaying, the skin takes on a grey pallor and is devoid of the natural oils that would normally moisten it. In addition, the stench of decaying biological matter can cause those around the body to reach (vomit). This is compounded by that fact that modern techniques for preserving bodies were not available to the people of first century C.E. Therefore, Marta’s statement is perfectly valid (something that was on the mind of all who heard Yeshua). There is no reason to read anything more than incredulity and confusion into her query, those who do are looking to place blame are missing the point entirely.
Maimonides writes concerning the use of a cave for burial:
"he that sells a place to his friend to make in it a grave or that receives from his friend a place to make in it a grave, עושה מערה, "must make a cave", and open in it eight graves, three on one side and three on another, and two over against the entrance "into the cave": the measure of "the cave" is four cubits by six, and every grave is four cubits long, and six hands broad, and seven high; and there is a space between every grave, on the sides a cubit and a half, and between the two in the middle two cubits.'' -Hilchot Mecira, c. 21. sect. 6.
As explained earlier some religious Jews of the first century probably held an eastern esoteric and superstitious belief, that the soul stayed near the body for three days following death.
Job 14:22.'' -Bereshit Rabba, sect. 100. fol. 88. 2. & T. Hieros. Moed Katon, fol. 82. 2
One Jewish interpretation of Jonah’s time in the whale reads as follows:
"these are the three days a man is in the grave, and his bowels burst; and after three days that defilement is turned upon his face.'' -Zohar in Exod. fol. 78. 2.
Therefore, in first century Jewish terms one is considered to have been properly dead only after three days.
40 Yeshua said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ta’amiyniy[H]), you will see the judgement, glory (doxa[G], k’vod[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H])?”
What is the glory of God? Certainly, the miracle He is about to perform will bring glory to God and to Yeshua, but is this the ultimate form of the glory that will result from this event? Given that this event is the cause for the inception of the plan to put Yeshua to death I believe that Yeshua is looking past this event to His own death and resurrection. This is the fulfilling of the plan and glory of God relative to humanity.
41 So they removed the bolder. Then Yeshua lifted up (airo[G]) His eyes, and said, “My Father (Aviy[H]), I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I see, perceive (eido[G]) that You always hear Me; but because of the crowd (ochlos[G]) standing around I said it, so that they may believe, trust, be persuaded (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) that You sent Me.”
“Lifted up His eyes” means He prayed with His eyes open, something that Jews continue to do today. Traditionally Jews pray standing and with eyes open.
Put in other words Yeshua is saying, “I could simply think this into being without any outward manifestation of power, but I want all these present to understand the relationship You and I have, so I’m going to say it all out loud for their sake.” Yeshua and the Father have been taking about this from before the birth of Moses, this whole event is a performance of grace and redemption, witnessed by the people of Judea.
43 When He (Yeshua) had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Elazar, arise, come out (kum tzei[H]).” 44 The man who had died came out, bound from head to toe with wrappings, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. Yeshua said to them, “loose him, and let him go.”
I see Yeshua here fierce with love for Elazar (Lazarus), screaming to His friend, ignoring death (which is desperately trying to hang on to Lazarus) and with the power of His own coming resurrection His words reach into the transitional grave (kever, NOT Sheol) like a hand wrenching Elazar (Lazarus) up into His light. Elazar (Lazarus), stumbles out of the tomb pulling at the grave cloth around his eyes, trying to see what’s going on, probably dazed and confused as a result of the experience, and perhaps thinking of heading to the mikveh to wash the stink off.
It’s here that I see the culmination of this wonderful miracle. Practically speaking Yeshua is asking that those present help Elazar (Lazarus) out of his grave clothes but there’s more: Yeshua, having raged against death itself is again speaking to death with final resolve, His voice brimming with fierce power, “Unbind my dearly loved friend and let him go!” He demands it. Yeshua speaks these same words on our behalf.
I am reminded of the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953):
“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
From the poem “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night,”by Dylan Thomas, written for his dying father.
45 Therefore many of the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) who came to Miriyam, and saw what He (Yeshua) had done, believed, trusted (he’emiynu[H]) in Him. 46 But some of them went to the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) and told them the things which Yeshua had done.
We note that among the Judeans that believed there were many who were religious leaders. We note further that there were also those who did not believe and reported the matter to the P’rushiym. However, we might just as well interpret that those who reported this miraculous sign to the P’rushiym (Pharisees) did so in order to convince them of Yeshua’s Messiahship. After all, the P’rushiym believed in the resurrection, while the Saduciym (Sadducees, many of whom were part of the priesthood) did not believe in the resurrection.
47 Therefore the heads of the priests (archiereus[G], rasheiy hakoheniym[H]) and the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs (otot[H]). 48 If we let Him go on like this, all the people will believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place (in the land) and our ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews).”
The council may have been a meeting of the Sanhedrin (70 Elders, Religious rulers of Israel).
The concern of the religious leaders was primarily to do with the fact that they foresaw a genocide of the Jewish people if a Messianic figure arose. In fact, first century Israeli Jews witnessed an attempted genocide of the Jewish people when the Romans responded to a later Jewish rebellion in 70 C.E. Therefore, practically speaking their concerns were valid.
49 But one of them, Kayafa[H] (for beauty, Caiaphas), who was high priest (Kohen ha-gadol[H]) that year, said to them, “You see, perceive (eido[G]) nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die on behalf of the tribe (laos[G]), lest the whole (holos[G]) ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews) perish.” 51 That thing moreover separated (apo[G]) him not to speak except as high priest (kohen ha-gadol[H]) that year, he prophesied that Yeshua was going to die for the ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews), 52 and not for the ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews) only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the offspring (teknon[G]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]) who are dispersed (diaskorpizo[G]).
“who was high priest that year” denotes political intrigue in the mixed bloodline priesthood of the first century. Kayafa was high priest between 18 – 36 C.E. (Antiquities of the Jews 18:90-95). However, God honoured the position of high priest regardless of the moral character of that priest, and thus, Kayafa, intending his words to refer to the literal physical benefit to the people of Israel, none the less was prophesying unbeknownst to him, a spiritual truth that reflected the goal of God’s redemptive plan for Israel and the nations.
“We all like sheep have gone astray.
Each of us turned to his own way.
So Adonai has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” -Isaiah 53:6 TLV
53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him (Yeshua). 54 Therefore Yeshua no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), but went away from there to the region near the wilderness, in the village Ephrayim[H] (double fruitfulness); and there He stayed with the disciples (Talmidim[H]).
This is a significant shift in the religious political leadership. The Sadducees (priests) and Pharisees were diametrically opposed and yet their fear of the potentially imminent annihilation of the Jewish people drove them to join forces in order to kill the man Whom they saw as the spark that would ignite the fury of Rome against them.
The village of Ephraim was located approximately 30 km northeast of Jerusalem.
55 Now the Pesach (Passover) of the religious Jews, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) was near, and many went up to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) out of the country before the Pesach (Passover) in order to ritually purify (hagnizo[G]) themselves.
We are now four months further on in the Biblical Jewish year and have come full circle to arrive at the month of Nisan just prior to Pesach.
Ritual purification prior to Pesach concerns those who may have become ritually unclean in regard to touching dead bodies. This has direct relevance in regard to the recent death and resurrection of Elazar. After all, were those who touched his dead body ritually unclean?
The Torah requires immersion for the purification of those who have touched dead bodies (Numbers 9:10, 13). In some cases purification took seven days (Numbers 31:19-20), which means the festival itself was probably still at least a week away.
56 Consequently they were seeking for Yeshua, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple (hieron[G], hamikdash[H]), “What do you think; that He will not come to the festival (ha-chag[H]) at all?”
The crowds of Jews who had made aliyah from all over Israel and the known world to observe the festival of Pesach (Passover), were all asking after the man who had raised a man from the dead. Why? Because resurrecting the dead was the ultimate sign of a prophet of God and potentially proof that Yeshua was the promised King Messiah and Redeemer of Israel (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37).
Essentially they were asking, “Is this miracle worker going to obey the Torah and make aliyah for this going up festival (Passover), or will He hide in fear rather than keep the Torah requirement?”
The answer is of course, “The Author of the Torah does not break the Torah!” Yeshua would soon be in Jerusalem attending Pesach.
57 Now the head priests (rosheiy hakoheniym[H]) and the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) had given orders that if anyone knew where He (Yeshua) was, that one was to report it, so that they might seize Him (Yeshua).
Those in power in the religious leadership had made it known to all that Yeshua was a wanted man. The religious Jewish public were therefore obligated to report Him. However, given the many thousands that believed already and the many times they had assisted Yeshua in escaping the religious leaders, it seems likely that many would have refused to inform on Yeshua. What is certain is that as a result of His most recent miraculous sign (witnessed by numerous religious Judeans, both leaders and commoners) had caused great excitement and expectation among the people of Israel.
© Yaakov Brown 2020
Thus, under Roman occupation and religious tyranny the common people of Israel were powerless to prevent Yeshua’s death, and in turn, neither the governments of this world nor any power in the heavens or on the earth were able to prevent His resurrection.
The events of John 10:1-21 took place sometime following Sukkot in the month of Tishrei, and probably occurred within a week of the eighth day Shmini Atzeret. The events of verses 22 to 42 take place in the winter during Chanukah at the end of the month of Kislev. Thus, two months have gone by between verses 21 and 22 of John chapter 10.
22 At that time the Festival of the Chanukah[H] (egkainia[G] , renewal, dedication from kainos - new) took place at Yerushalayim[H] (Jerusalem, downpour of peace); 23 it was winter (cheimōn[G] – stormy), and Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua, YHVH Saves), was walking in the house (b’veiyt[H]) of the temple (hieron[G], ha-mikdash[H]) in the porch (stoa[G]) of Shlomoh[H] (Solomon, peace, wholeness, well-being).
The Greek text allows for the reading “At the time of the new festival taking place in Jerusalem; it was winter…” Either way, the festival is Chanukah, the only Jewish festival that takes place in winter, and at that time a relatively new extra-Biblical festival, not a festival of the Torah or the Tanakh (e.g. Purim).
The festival of Chanukah (new dedication), appointed by Yehudah Maccabee and his brothers, following the purging of the temple, and renewing of the altar, after the desecrating of them by Antiochus Epiphanes; begins on the twenty fifth of the month of Kislev, (November-December of the modern western calendar).
"52 Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Kislev, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, 56 And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise. 59 Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Kislev, with mirth and gladness.'' -1 Maccabees 4
"5 Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Kislev. 8 They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.'' -2 Maccabees 10:8
חנוכה "the dedication"; and they are forbidden mourning and fasting, as the days of "Purim"; and the lighting of the lamps on them, is a commandment from the Scribes, as is the reading of the book of Esther. How many lamps do they light at the feast of the dedication? the order is, that every house should light one lamp, whether the men of the house be many, or whether there is but one man in it; but he that honours the command, lights up lamps according to the number of the men of the house, a lamp for everyone, whether men or women; and he that honours it more, lights up a lamp for every man the first night, and adds as he goes, every night a lamp; for instance, if there be ten men in the house, the first night he lights up ten lamps, and on the second night twenty, and on the third night thirty; until he comes to the eighth night, when he lights up fourscore lamps.'' -Hilchot Megillah Uchanucha, c. 3. sect. 2, 3. & 4. 1, 2. Vid. Talmud Bavliy Shabbat, fol. 21. 2.
Josephus the Jewish Historian calls Chanukah the “Festival of Lights” due to the lighting of the temple during this rededication festival. This is later reflected in the lighting of chanukiyot (special menorot for Chanukah) [Antiquities of the Jews. l. 12. c. 7. sect. 7.].
The following exert from a siddur (prayer book) used for Chanukah reads:
"blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hath sanctified us by his commandments, and hath "commanded" us to light the lamp of the dedication; blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who did wonders for our fathers on those days, at this time; blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who has kept us alive, and preserved us, and brought us to this time; these lamps we light, because of the wonders and marvellous things, and salvations, and wars, thou hast wrought for our fathers on those days at this time, by the hand of thine holy priests.--These lamps are holy, we have no power to use them, but only to behold them, so as to confess and praise thy great name, for thy miracles, and for thy wonders, and for thy salvations.'' -Seder Tephillot, fol. 234. 1, 2. Ed. Amsterd.
Solomon’s Porch was situated on the outside of the Temple complex to the east (also mentioned in Acts 3:11; 5:12). The covered portico on the west side of the outer wall which is often mistakenly called Solomon’s Colonnade, is in fact the Royal Stola. The record of Josephus makes it clear that Solomon’s Colonnade is situated next to the deep valley of the Kidron (east), and not on the west side of the temple complex.
"there was a porch without the temple, overlooking a deep valley, supported by walls of four hundred cubits, made of four square stone, very white; the length of each stone was twenty cubits, and the breadth six; the work of king Solomon, who first founded the whole temple.'' -Josephus Antiquities of the Jews. l. 20. c. 8. sect. 7.
In order to form a foundation for context I will retell the events leading up to Chanukah so as to give insight into the religious thinking of the first century at the time of these events recorded in John 10:22-42. My version of events touches on the main historical points while also allowing for some artistic licence in terms of storytelling.
The Chanukah Story as it relates to John 10:22-42:
It was the winter of 165 BCE and the known world was ruled by an anti-messiah named Antiochus Epiphanes, a man who claimed to be the manifest image of the invisible Supreme God. The darkness of his empire reached its greatest depths in the land of Israel where he had banned all practices associated with the worship of the God of Israel. The darkness was not confined to the physical world. Many in Israel, having suffered under relentless persecution, had turned away from worshipping God, Israel’s temple had been defiled, and the light of her holy Menorah, representing the manifest light presence of God had been snuffed out.
A small army of Jewish warrior priests lead by Yehudah Maccabee, approached the court of Israel inside the Temple complex in Jerusalem. Despite the size of their army God had enabled them to defeat the Tyrant Antiochus and his hordes and were now seeking to restore and rededicate the Temple of Israel’s God.
As they walked past the altar of sacrifice toward the doorway of the Temple they saw the remnants of burnt pig skin and smelt the foul stench of pigs’ blood. Several of the men buckled at the knees and vomited in disgust at this sacrilege, others hardened their resolve and moved forward toward the entrance of the Holy place.
The Temple was dark, devoid of light, and as they entered the men tripped on debris and slid on pig fat and faeces. One of the soldiers lit a torch, the flame struggled against the cold wind that blew in from behind them. Suddenly, as if by divine edict the wind stopped and the flame grew strong, illuminating the Holy place and revealing the full extent of the desecrations that had been perpetrated there. An Idol of the Greek god Zeus stood in the Holy of Holies and the remnants of pig and fowl carcasses littered the floor. The seven branched Menorah, the windowless Temple’s only source of light, lay toppled on the stone floor and the incense altar was overflowing with urine.
Judah and his men fell to their knees, they sobbed like helpless children and in the torch light they cried out to the God of Israel, “Hoshiyah na!” Save us now! In the midst of their wailing and hopelessness they heard the voice of a young boy who had followed them into the Temple courts. He yelled out at the top of his lungs, “I’ve found a jug of undefiled oil, the priestly seal is still on it. I discovered it hidden beneath the floor in one of the side rooms”.
The silence that ensued was palpable, something shifted in the atmosphere and the walls of the Temple seemed to radiate heat. As the boy lifted up the jug of oil, it glistened in the torch light. Yehudah called to his men and had them begin to cleanse the Temple, he collected the oil and used it to light the Menorah, knowing that there was only enough oil to last for one day. As the oil of the sevenfold lamp took fire, the Temple came to life and the hope of God filled the hearts of the heroic priestly warriors of Israel.
Day after day they returned to the Temple, and day after day the Menorah continued to burn until finally on the eighth day, after more oil had been consecrated, the miracle gave way to the practice of the priests. The Temple, once defiled and thrown into darkness was now restored to life with the light of God and the symbol of His Spirit and present glory.
On the eighth day as Yehudah returned to his residence he walked through the section of the Temple complex known as Solomon’s colonnade. Some of the Judean leaders asked him, “What shall we do with the defiled altar stones? They can’t be used again because we’re unable to purge them of the pigs blood that they’ve absorbed. But at the same time we can’t throw them out because they’ve been part of the Holy Temple service.” Yehudah responded, “Put them aside in a secure location and when the Messiah comes we will ask Him what we should do about the defiled altar.” And so they did as Judah had instructed, and Israel waited.
Some 200 years later circa 30 CE it was the time of the Festival of Chanukah in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Yeshua the King Messiah was in the Temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. Some of the Judean leaders who were there, gathered around Him, and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly, plainly, explicitly.” (Yochanan/John 10:22-24) Yeshua answered them, “I have already told you, and you don’t trust me. The works I do in my Father’s name testify on my behalf, but the reason you don’t trust is that you are not included among my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from My hands. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no one can snatch them from the Father’s hands. I and the Father are echad, one, a complex unity.” (Yochanan/John 10:25-30)
Through His sacrificial death on behalf of Israel and the nations and by His resurrection, Yeshua answered the question of what to do with the defiled altar stones:
“Throw them away, you don’t need them anymore!”
Yeshua had come to set alight a nation of priests (1 Peter 2:9), who would not only light up the physical temple but would become the temple of the living God, both individually and corporately.
A note on Chanukah’s proximity to Christmas:
It’s worth noting that while the Bible does not tell us when Yeshua was born, it is clear that early believers saw a link between Chanukah and the birth of the Messiah. Thus, there is documented evidence of the celebration of Messiah’s birth during winter from as early as the third century, and in spite of the many deluded accusations of Christmas hating Messianics, who circumstantially relate the decision of celebrating Messiah’s birth on the 25th of December to pagan observances, the reality is simply that early Messiah following Jews clearly saw a link between the Light of the World Yeshua and the light of the Chanukah celebration. As a result the 25th of Kislev found a convergence with the equivalent gentile calendar date during the month of December. Thus, the transposing of the date became the premise for the celebrating of Christmas on the 25th of December by Gentile Christians. It is high time we put to death the pseudo learned nonsense of those who theorize a Sukkot birth. It is simply not consistent with the majority of evidence available to us at present. For further study read my articles refuting popular objections to Christmas.
24 Some of the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), then gathered around Him (Yeshua), and were saying to Him, “How long will You leave us with our breathing (psuche[G]) heightened (airo[G]), in suspense [Aramaic txt. leh ‘dama lematy nasev anat nafshan[A]: How long will you hold our souls]? If You are the Mashiyach[H] (Christos[G], Anointed One, Christ), tell us boldly, plainly (parrhesia[G]).”
The Hebraic idiom “hold our soul” or “take away our soul” is equivalent to the modern phrase “Hold us in suspense.”
“Tell us boldly, plainly” means “Tell us explicitly, say ‘I am the Mashiyach’” or, as some understand it, “If you desire the position of Messiah, submit your request to us here in public.” The idea being that those particular Judean leaders wished to be consulted concerning Yeshua’s claims. This prideful presumption of authority over God’s redemptive purposes is also common in many Christian communities today. Spiritual blackmail has become an artform in modern Christianity, and those who wield it do so with dire consequences.
25 Yeshua answered them, “I told you, and you don’t believe, trust, are not persuaded (pisteuo[G], he’emun’tem[H]); the toil, occupation, works, deeds (ergon) that I do in the Name (b’Sheim[H]) of My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), these testify, bear witness (martureo[G], l’eidot[H]) of Me.
Yeshua’s response points them to the many things He has said that prove His identity as King Messiah. He goes on to qualify His position by explaining that their failure to recognize and publicly acknowledge Him is due to their inability to believe, trust, that what they have heard Him say is evidence of His Messiahship. Therefore, He asks them to consider the miraculous signs that they have seen Him perform, which are in themselves testimony of His legitimacy as the promised King Messiah (ref. 5:36).
26 But you don’t believe, trust, are not persuaded (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) because you are not of My sheep (probaton[G], mitzoniy[H]). 27 My sheep (probaton[G], tzoniy [H]) hear, listen to, receive (tishma’nah[H]) My voice, sound (phone[G], et koliy[H]), and I intimately know (ginosko[G], y’da’tiyn[H]) them, and they follow (akoloutheo[G]) Me;
“But you don’t believe” means that they don’t believe that Yeshua is the Messiah. The reason being that they have not accepted Him as God’s promised Shepherd and are therefore, not yet His sheep (ref. my article on John 10:1-21).
Given that this dialogue takes place in Jerusalem several months after the events of John 9:1-10:21, it can be deduced that those listening are religious Jews who have returned to Jerusalem for Chanukah and have heard Yeshua speak before concerning the figurative mashal (parable) of Shepherd and sheep (John 10:3, 4, 14, 16 etc). Thus, they are hearing Him say these words again, having already heard them following Sukkot in the Temple courts, as recorded in verses 1-21 of this chapter.
Yeshua has offered many opportunities for the sheep of Israel to believe in Him and listen to His voice. He stands before the people as both Redeemer and Prophet, warning them:
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,” -Tehillim (Psalm) 95:6-8 (ESV)
28 and I give life (zoe[G], chayeiy[H]) without end (aionios[G], olam[H]) to them, and they will never be destroyed (apollumi[G]) into (eis[G]) the (ho[G]) unbroken age (aion[G]); and no one will seize (harpazo[G]) them out of My hand (miyadiy[G]). 29 The Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]), Who has given (n’tanan[H]) them to Me, is greater (gadol[H]) than all; and no one is able to seize (harpazo[G]) out of the hand (miyad[H]) of the Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]). 30 I and My Father (Aniy v’Aviy[H]) we are (anachnu[H]) one, a complex unity (echad[H]).”
“No one will seize them out of My hand” Those who receive Messiah are locked in the grip of His Salvation. Once secure no sheep belonging to the Shepherd can be seized away. Furthermore, “The Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to seize out of the hand of the Father…” God the Father, in Whom God the Son takes hold of the sheep, is greater than all, immutable, unconquerable. Thus, there is a doubling of grip, a Hebrew idiom denoting a firmly established truth. The believer (sheep) is secure within security. Therefore, Yeshua explains, “I and the Father are echad, a complex unity”.
“31 What then shall we say in view of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? [a] 32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. [b] 34 Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah,[c] who died, and moreover was raised,[d] and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”[e]
37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.”- Romans 8:31-39 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
a. Romans 8:32 cf. Ps. 118:6.
b. Romans 8:34 cf. Isa. 50:8-9.
c. Romans 8:34 Some mss. read Messiah Yeshua.
d. Romans 8:34 Some mss. add from the dead.
e. Romans 8:36 Ps. 44:23(22)(43:23 LXX); cf. Zech. 11:4, 7.
Tree of Life Version (TLV)
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
31 Some of the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) picked up stones again to stone Him (Yeshua[H]). 32 Yeshua answered them, “I showed you many good, perfect, pure (toviym[H]) works (ergon[G]) from the Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]); for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 Some of the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) answered Him, “For a good, perfect, pure (toviym[H]) work (ergon[G]) we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man (anthropos[G], adam[H]), make Yourself God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]).”
Note that only some of the religious leaders picked up stones to stone Yeshua. Verse 42 clearly shows that many others were in favour of Yeshua and would not have allowed a stoning to take place.
Yeshua offers for evidence of His claim to be echad (a complex unity) with the Father, the miraculous signs that testify to His being the promised King Messiah Imanu-El (With us God).
“but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make yourself God” Many claim that Yeshua never said He was God with us. The text of the New Testament notes on many occasions that the Jews of the first century clearly understood Yeshua to be making that very claim. To say “I and the Father are One” is to claim deity. Therefore, the only question remains, will we accept that Yeshua is Imanu-El (God with us), or not?
34 Yeshua answered them, “Has it not been written in your Torah[H] (Tanakh[H], OT), “I have said “You are elohiym[H] (judges, rulers, gods)35 If He called them gods, judges, rulers (elohiym[H], theos[G]), to whom the Word, Essence, Substance (Ho-logos[G], Ha-Davar[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]) came (and the Writings [graphe[G], ketuviym[H]] cannot be undone [luo[G]]), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]) sanctified, set apart (hagiazo[G], kidsho[H]) and sent (vayishlacheihu[H]) into the world (kosmos[G], la’olam[H]), ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am (Aniy[H]) a Son of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ben-Elohiym[H])’?
Take careful note that the same Davar (Word, Yeshua) Who Yeshua refers to here, “If He called them gods, judges, rulers (elohiym[H], theos[G]), to whom the Word, Essence, Substance (Ho-logos[G], Ha-Davar[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]) came…” Is standing before them. He is offering them an opportunity to conclude rightly.
When Hezekiah the prophet speaks to Israel saying “Your God” he is not distancing himself from relationship to God. The phrase “Your God” is often used by Hebrew speakers to challenge the hearer to take ownership of their common bond. Likewise, Yeshua (Jesus) uses the phrase “Your Torah” (John 8:17; 10:34; 18:31). He does not mean to deny His ownership of the Torah, after all He is the Author and goal of the Torah (which in this context refers to the Tanakh rather than the five books of Moses alone), rather He means to stir in them a sense of right identity and ownership with regard to the Spirit of the Torah and the bond shared in the knowledge of God by every Jew who observes the Torah.
“I have said “You are elohiym” Yeshua is quoting Psalm 82 and is therefore, using the noun Torah to refer to the wider body of inspired Scripture rather than to the five books of Moses alone. This remains common practice today among observant Jews. Therefore, context informs meaning in the use of the noun Torah.
As is true of all rabbinic quotations the full context of Psalm 82 is invoked in the quoting of a small part of it. Yeshua is making a drash (comparative teaching) from this verse and its contextual meaning within the Psalm.
Tehillim (Psalm) 82 reads this way:
“1A Psalm of Asaph (Gatherer).
The elohiym (judges, plural) are in the congregation of El (God, singular);
He yishpot (judges) among elohiym (judges, gods, rulers, plural).
3How long will you judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah (pause and contemplate it).
4Defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaking.
6I have said “You are elohiym (judges, rulers, gods); and all of you are children of Elyon (Supreme God, Most High).
7Indeed, k’adam for humanity temutun you shall die uche’achad and as one of hasariym the princes tilpolu you will be cast down.
8Arise O God, judge the earth: for You shall inherit all nations.”
-Tehillim (Psalm) 82 Author’s translation
In the context of Psalm 82, God El (singular) stands in the midst of the congregation of the judges, rulers (elohiym: plural) of Israel. They have been appointed judges of the people in keeping with that attribute of God that exhibits His divine judgement. Therefore, the Hebrew word elohiym (gods, judges, rulers) is used to show the intrinsic connection between the Elohiym (God, The Judge) and the justice that He expects human rulers (in this case specifically rulers of Israel) to outwork in His likeness.
Yeshua quotes Psalm 82 to certain Jewish “Judges”, spiritual leaders (elohiym, rulers) of His day in response to their accusing Him of blasphemy for claiming to be a Son of God. For Yeshua to claim to be the Son of God is tantamount to saying He is the judge appointed by God. In response to the accusation of blasphemy Yeshua uses the Psalm to remind those who are accusing Him that they, as judges, spiritual rulers of Israel, were called in the likeness of God, to make right judgements as elohiym (judges, rulers), and to recognize that Yeshua is both a son of God (ben Elohiym) like them, and in addition He is the Son of God (Ha-Ben Elohiym), the Judge.
37 If I do not work at the occupation, works (ergon[G]) of My Father (Aviy[H]), do not believe, trust, be persuaded in (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) Me; 38 but if I do His works, though you do not believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) Me, believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) the works, so that you may intimately know (teid’u[H]) and understand, have faith (ta’amiynu[H]) that in Me (kiy-viy[H]) is the Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]), and I (va’Aniy[H]) in Him (bo[H]).”
Yeshua could have gotten angry with those who disbelieved and dismissed their ignorant hatred of Him but instead He desperately tries to convince them to consider the miraculous signs He has performed as evidence of Who He is so that they might come to an intimate and saving knowledge of Him, seeing the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father.
39 Therefore they were seeking again to lay hold of (piazo[G]) Him (Yeshua[H]), and He eluded their grasp.
As before in the court of the women (8:59) when Yeshua alluded capture, so again here it seems likely that many present enabled Yeshua to escape the grasp of those few who wanted to kill Him for His perceived blasphemy. From the beginning many Jews were for Yeshua.
40 And He went away again beyond Ha Yarden[H] (the descender, Jordan) to the place where Yochanan[H] (YHVH is gracious, John the Immerser) was first performing tevilah[H] (ritual immersion, baptizing), and He was staying there.
There is a sense of connection between the region of the Yarden, Yochanan the Immerser’s ministry and Yeshua. Yeshua returned to that place where Yochanan the Immerser had first said of Him:
“Joh 1:26 Yochanan (John the Baptist) answered them, saying, “I immerse (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with water: but there is one standing among you, Whom you don’t know; Joh 1:27 It is He, Who coming after me is preferred, ranked before me, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to untie. Joh 1:28 All (Kol[H]) These things were done in Beth-Anya[A] Bethany (House of Answering) beyond Yarden (Jordan, descender, the river) where Yochanan[H] (YHVH is gracious, John the Baptist) was immersing (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]). Joh 1:29 The next day Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) saw Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) coming to him, and said, “Behold, see, perceive, pay attention to, examine (Eido[G], Hineih[H]) the Lamb (Amnos[G], Sheh[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) Who takes away, carries away, raises up, causes to cease (Airo[G]) the sin, missing the mark, error, violation, offence (Hamartia[G], Chata’t[H]) of the world (Ho-Kosmos[G], Ha-Olam[H]).” Joh 1:30 This is He of Whom I said, “After me comes a man Who is before, in front of (Emprosthen[G]) me: for He was before me. Joh 1:31 And I knew Him not: but in order (Hina[G]) that He should be made manifest, visible, known (Phaneru[G]) to Israel (Yisrael[H]), therefore I am come immersing (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with water. Joh 1:32 And Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) bore witness (Martureo[G]), saying (lego[G] from logos), “I saw the Spirit, Wind, Breathe (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]) descending from the heavens like a dove, and it abode with, remained (Meno[G]) upon Him.” Joh 1:33 And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to immerse (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with water, the same said to me, “Upon Whom you shall see the Spirit, Wind, Breathe (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]) descending, and remaining, abiding with (on) Him, the same is He Who immerses (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with the Holy Spirit, Wind, Breathe (Pneuma-Hagios[G], Ruach Ha-Kodesh[H]). Joh 1:34 And I saw, and bear witness (Martureo[G]) that this is the Son of the God (Ho-Uihos Ho-Theos[G], Ben-Ha-Elohim[H]). Joh 1:35 Again the next day after that Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) stood, alongside two of his disciples (Talmidim[H]); Joh 1:36 And looking upon Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua, YHVH Saves) as He (Yeshua[H]) walked, he (John the Baptist) said, “Behold, see, perceive, pay attention to, examine (Eido[G], Hineih[H]) the Lamb (Ho-Amnos[G], Ha-sheh[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H])!” -Yochanan (John) 1:26-36 (Author’s translation)
41 Many came to Him and were saying, “While Yochanan[H] (YHVH is gracious, John the Immerser) performed no miraculous sign (ot[H]), yet everything Yochanan[H] (YHVH is gracious, John the Immerser) said about this man was true (emet[H]).” 42 Many believed, trusted, put their faith (pisteuo[G], vaya’amiynu[H]) in Him in that place (Ba-Makum[H]).
“Many put their faith in Him…” At this point in His ministry those who had put their trust in Yeshua now numbered in the thousands. It is utter nonsense to blame the entire first century Jewish populace for Yeshua’s death. As is the case today, a small minority in power held sway. Therefore, the governing bodies both Roman and Jewish allowed an illegal trial to take place and enforced an unjust death sentence, and carried it out against Yeshua. Thus, under Roman occupation and religious tyranny the common people of Israel were powerless to prevent Yeshua’s death, and in turn, neither the governments of this world nor any power in the heavens or on the earth were able to prevent His resurrection.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.