This letter is being sent to the greater Roman ecclesia, it wasn't read in a Roman mega church, it was passed about to the various house churches and messianic synagogue attendees of the city.
An examination of Romans 16
It seems strange to the modern reader to be reading greetings at the end of a letter. We’re used to making our greetings at the beginning of a letter and simply signing our names at the end after wishing the recipient well.
While it’s true to say that the current text exhibits the common practise among writers of the time, it’s also true to say that the rhythm created throughout Shaul’s writing is one of unity and perpetuity. Shaul brings a Hebrew cadence to a Greek form, he weaves the threads of beginning among the strands of ending, presenting eternity in a very literary and practical way.
Like the Torah cycle, the letter of Romans is a circle, without beginning or end; and yet, it has both a literal beginning and end.
This teaches us that in Messiah, of G-d, we understand, “completion,” rather than, “ending,” and, “inception,” rather than, “beginning.” Why? Because all is created by the Eternal One (Romans 16:26) and eternity has neither beginning nor end.
16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a diakonos (servant, teacher, pastor, leader, minister, deacon, ruler) of the ecclesia (church) which is at Cenchreae (Port of Corinth); 2 that you receive her in ha-Adon (the L-rd) in a manner worthy of the holy ones, believers, sacred ones, saints; and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.
It seems likely that the reason for Shaul/Paul’s commendation of Phoebe is that she is carrying this very letter to the ecclesia of Rome. It’s clear from his choice of Greek words, that Shaul/Paul intends Phoebe to be recognised as a leader of the ecclesia in Cenchrea, a minister, pastor and yes, a servant (just as Messiah was a servant to us). The same Greek word, “diakonos,” has already been used by Shaul/Paul in this same letter in Romans 13:4, where it refers to world rulers: it’s also employed by the writer of Matthew’s gospel who quotes the words of Yeshua, “He who wants to become great among you must become the diakonos (servant, minister, and ruler) of all.” Math 10:43. Essentially, the text of Matthew presents a unity of opposites; an alternate reading might be, “He who wants to become a ruler among you must be both a servant and a ruler of all.”
The conclusion is this: it’s clear that women held positions of leadership in the Ecclesia of G-d and acted as trusted equals, in this case a trusted sister (in Messiah) of Shaul/Paul, an Apostle of Messiah Himself.
It’s interesting to note that Phoebe means, “bright, to shine and make manifest.”
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Messiah Yeshua, 4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the ecclesia of the nations;5 also greet the ecclesia that is in their house.
We are able to observe once again the natural rhythm of Shaul’s writing and the colloquial reality of equality that is presented by this great man of G-d. Here the woman is mentioned prior to the man, in the same way that it’s more natural in the English language to say, “Mum and dad.” Paul sees no need to emphasis male superiority because males, are understood to be the glory of G-d and women are the culmination and glory of creation; both find equal honour in Messiah. There is no need for either patriarchal or feminist arguments. We are echad (one).
It’s with intimate warmth that the writer acknowledges the ecclesia of Priscilla and Aquila’s home. This letter is being sent to the wider Roman ecclesia, it wasn’t read in a Roman mega church, it was passed about to the various house churches and messianic synagogue attendees of the city.
Note: Priscilla and Aquila are also mentioned in, Acts 18:2, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19.
Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first fruit of Messiah from Asia. 6 Greet Miryam, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my fellow Jews and my comrades in prison, who are outstanding among the apostles, who were also in Messiah before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in ha-Adon (the L-rd). 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Messiah, and Stachys my beloved.10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Messiah. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in ha-Adon (the L-rd). 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in ha-Adon (the L-rd). Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in ha-Adon (the L-rd). 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in ha-Adon (the L-rd), also his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers and sisters with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the holy ones, believers, sacred ones, saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the ecclesia of Messiah greet you.
Note the detail with which Shaul/Paul greets so many in Rome. Some of these he knew from meetings outside of Rome, some he specifically calls, “fellow Jews (brothers),” others he knows by name and reputation or through letters and messages sent back and forth. Many of these he has never met, for as yet he has not traveled to Rome.
The ecclesia of Rome was born of the return of messianic Jews after the outpouring of the Ruach ha-Kodesh during Shavuot, as recorded at the beginning of the book of Acts.
17 Now I urge you, fellow Jewish brothers and sisters, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions andh]" > hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Adon (L-rd) Messiah but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
In a summation which has, up till this point, encompassed both Jew and Gentile, why does Shaul/Paul now turn again specifically to his fellow Jewish believers in Rome?
One answer may be found in his rebuke of those who are mutilators of the flesh (Philippians 3:2), Jews who demand the adult circumcision of Gentile converts to Messiah. Shaul/Paul as only recently alluded to the trouble he expects from non-believing Jews and some of the messianic believers in Jerusalem (Romans 14:30-31). I believe his intention here is to make the messianic Jews of Rome aware of the dangers of this movement among the messianic ecclesia.
He may also be warning of the many other heretical groups that had arisen, those teaching Gnostic ideas and those who were flaunting their so called, “freedom to sin, that chesed (grace) may abound.”
In addition there are the more obvious allusions to the stomach and its implications regarding food regulations as addressed in Romans 14:1-15:7.
There is also an illuminating comparison to be made between verses 17 to 20 and the serpent of Genesis 2 and 3.
20 The G-d of shalom (peace) will soon crush Satan under your feet. The chesed (grace, mercy) of our Adon (L-rd) Yeshua be with you.
Has Satan not already been defeated? It’s clear from what Shaul/Paul says here, that Messiah has defeated Satan outside of time and space and has made a way for that completed work to have access to time and space here on earth. This reality—from our perspective—has yet to be manifest, however we will see the defeat of Satan and the reality of his position beneath the feet of the ecclesia. How? Through the chesed of our Adon Yeshua.
21 Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my other fellow Jews.
This is the same Timothy whom Shaul/Paul circumcised. Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father (Acts 16:3). Hence, “my other fellow Jews,” meaning, in addition to Timothy, also a Jew.
22 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in ha-Adon (the Lord). 23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole Ecclesia, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, a brother (singular, not Jewish but in Messiah).
Shaul/Paul makes room here for the greetings offered by his scribe Tertius.
24 The chesed (grace, mercy) of Adon Yeshua Mishiyachaynu be with you all. Amen.
This is the conclusion of Tertius’s blessing. We now receive a blessing from Shaul/Paul which reads like a Hebrew bracha (blessing), a formulated prayer that may well be an early messianic adaption of a traditional bracha recited in the synagogues of Shaul’s time.
25 Now to ha-Echad (The One) Who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Yeshua ha-Mashiyach, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret from ages past, 26 but now is revealed, and by the Scriptures of the Nevi’im (prophets), according to the Torah (Instruction) of the eternal G-d, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience through emunah (trust, faith); 27 to the only wise G-d, through Yeshua ha-Mashiyach, be the glory forever. Amen.
Why does Shaul say, “The One”? Because the Shema proclaims G-d as a unity in opposition to the many gods of the nations.
Note that the secret from ages past has now been revealed, that secret being the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, G-d with us. This is a strong rebuke against Gnostic lies that pretend to hold so called, “deeper secrets,” for the select few. Shaul’s gospel is for everyone, not just a select few special initiates into a Gnostic superstition. Hence, “has been made known to all the nations.”
Shaul then reminds the reader again of the written foundations of this revelation, the Tanakh, Torah and Nevi’im (ketvi – written word).
In conclusion, he affirms the goal of the Torah Who is found in emunah (trust, faith), Yeshua the Messiah, Who in turn gives all glory back to HaShem, The One.
“Berisheet bara Elohim…”
“When G-d began to create (out of nothing that which now exits)…”
And so, we begin again…
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
May the G-d of hope fill you with favor and wholeness, peace, stability and firm structural integrity inside the depths of your belief, faith, trust; so that you will prosper in hope, (not by your own power but) by the power of the Holy Spirit. --Romans 15:13
An examination of Romans 15.
The opening verses (1-6) of Romans 15 conclude the theme of Romans 14. This is a reminder to the modern reader that chapter and verse markers are not present in the original Greek manuscripts and that this is a theological letter rather than a book. In verses 1-6 Shaul/Paul points once more to the Author and finisher of our faith, naming Yeshua Himself as the ultimate example of one who bears the weaknesses of others.
15:1 Now we who are strong (in emunah/trust/faith) ought to bear the weaknesses (feebleness) of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
Strength here refers to strength of faith born of Yeshua and increased by the washing of ha-D’var--the Word. Weakness here refers to burgeoning faith, vulnerable and still trapped in certain superstitious beliefs. Those who consider themselves strong and yet look down upon those who appear to be weak, are in fact weak. Therefore we should not please ourselves—which is an act of weakness—but should consider the well being of our neighbor (brothers and sisters in Messiah.)
A literal rendering of this verse could read, “But we, the able, are obligated to support the stumbling of the unable.” (Quoted from the NRSV annotated Jewish New Testament).
2 Each of us is to please his neighbour for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Messiah did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” (Tehilim/Psalm 69:9)
The p’shat, or plain meaning of this psalm explains the unjust treatment of a servant of G-d. Shaul/Paul sees in these words a remez, or hint, of Messiah. Messiah is seen here to be taking the reproach of those who reproach G-d Himself. The wider context shows that for the sake of salvation He suffered rejection from His own brothers (fellow Jews).
“I became a stranger to my brothers, and a foreigner to my mother’s children. For zeal for Your house has consumed me and the reproaches of those who reproached You have fallen on me.” –Tehlim/Psalm 69:8-9
With Messiah as our example we are to accept reproach rather than destroy the feeble faith of others.
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have tikvah—hope. 5 Now may the G-d who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Messiah Yeshua, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the G-d and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Shaul/Paul continues, as in Romans 14, to speak to both the Jews and Gentiles of the Roman ecclesia. When he says, “you,” here, it’s in reference to the plural, “you,” of the Roman ecclesia, both Jew and Gentile. We must keep in mind that these verses are part of chapter 14’s conversation and conclude here with the admonition to love one another. This based on the example of Messiah.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Messiah also accepted us to the glory of G-d.8 For I say that Messiah has become a servant to the circumcision (Jews) on behalf of the truth of G-d…
Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah who has come as a servant of the Jewish people in order to proclaim the truth (gospel) of G-d.
to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
Yeshua came to confirm the promises made to Avraham, Isaac and Jacob; the promises made to Yosef, Moshe, Yehoshua and David. G-d cannot break His promises because of His righteous nature. We know this, that, "G-d cannot lie.”
9 and for the Gentiles to glorify G-d for His mercy; as it is written,
The good news is, the Salvation (Yeshua) of HaShem which has brought chesed (mercy) to the nations. Shaul/Paul had set up the premise for the proceeding Scripture quotations in verse 4.
“Therefore I will give praise to You among the Nations,
And I will sing to Your name.” (2 Sh’muel/Samuel 22:50)
10 Again he says,
“Rejoice, O Nations, with His people.” (Devarim/Deut. 22:43)
11 And again,
“Praise HaShem all you Nations,
And let all the peoples praise Him.” (Tehilim/Psalm 117:1)
12 Again Isaiah says,
“There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Nations,
In Him shall the Nations Tikvah—hope.” (Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 11:10)
Note that Shaul/Paul quotes from every major section of the Tanakh. Firstly from the early prophets, then from the Torah, then the Writings (Psalms) and finally from the latter prophets, in fact he finishes with the prophet who Yeshua quoted most, Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah. From the fullness of G-d’s word, the Word of G-d, Who is Himself the one Who fills G-d’s word, brings the assurance of G-d’s chesed (mercy) to the nations.
Of special significance is the understanding gleaned from the Isaiah passage. By reading it in its p’shat, plain context, we find a subtle variance in the plant analogy used by the writer:
“And there shall come forth a rod (choter, a strong, straight, solid staff) out of the trunk (geza, trunk, tree stock) of Yeshai (I possess) and a (natzer, sprout, shoot, branch) shall grow out of his roots (sheresh, lowest point or beginning of the root feeding system, permanence, firmness).” –Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 11:1
“In that day there shall be a root (sheresh, lowest point or beginning of the root feeding system, permanence, firmness) of Yeshai (I possess) which shall be lifted up as a sign of the people (Israel--am rather than goyim); The Goyim (nations) shall seek Him and find a glorious resting place in Him.”—Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 11:10
Notice that Yeshua is described in this passage as:
a.) Choter; a strong, straight, solid staff, come from the, geza, trunk, tree stock of Yeshai, one who possesses,
b.) Natzer, sprout, shoot, branch,
c.) Sheresh, root, feeding system, permanence, firmness.
Yeshua, the one in Whom the nations will find hope, is first of all the strong staff of the trunk of the tree representing the ancestors (patriarchs of Israel) of the one who possess (Yeshai, David’s father; David who is a prefigure of the Messiah) and is the source for the root of that same tree, the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the end, the sheresh (root) and the natzer (sprout, progeny). The life giver Who entered life.
13 Now may the G-d of tikvah (hope) fill you with all ratzah (joy, favour) and shalom (peace) in believing, so that you will abound in tikvah (hope) by the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
“May the G-d of hope fill you with favour and wholeness, peace, stability and firm structural integrity inside the depths of your belief, faith, trust; so that you will prosper in hope, (not by your own power but) by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Shaul/Paul, having finished assuring the Gentile believers of the hope they have in Messiah, by confirming it to them from the Hebrew Scriptures; now turns to his own people once more. Using the plural brothers, he addresses his Jewish brothers and sisters in Messiah Yeshua.
14 And concerning you, my fellow Jewish believers, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
You’re responsible to keep each other accountable and to encourage each other as Jewish believers. The former quotes refer to the nations, but they are born of the Jews through the root and branch of Yeshai Himself, Yeshua.
15 But I have written very boldly (strongly, frankly) to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the chesed (grace, mercy) that was given me from G-d,
Throughout his letter Shaul/Paul has called the Jewish believers to be accountable to their high calling in Messiah. At times some of the things he’s said may have seemed harsh/bold, however his intention has always been to relay the ultimate chesed, mercy, grace of HaShem toward His chosen people Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) and to encourage them to rejoice in their calling to be a light to the nations.
16 to be a minister of Messiah Yeshua to the nations, ministering the gospel (truth) of G-d as a priest, so that my offering of the nations may become acceptable, sanctified by the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
Shaul/Paul is speaking of both the soul harvest and the monetary offerings of the nations that he will offer up to HaShem in Jerusalem, as a priest on behalf of the nations. In this act He is imitating Messiah.
17 Therefore in Messiah Yeshua I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to G-d.
Shaul/Paul isn’t disobeying his own teaching against boasting, rather he is boasting in Messiah pertaining to G-d and not of himself. Note: Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 66:20-23
18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Messiah has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the nations by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel (truth) of Messiah. 20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel (truth), not where Messiah was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but as it is written,
The above description almost precisely mirrors the words of Isaiah 66:20-23.
“They who had no news of Him shall see,
And they who have not heard shall understand.” (Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 52:15)
This passage connects to the messianic quote in verse 3 from Psalm 69. The entire portion of Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is intended, which is one of the most significant foreshadowing texts regarding the Messiah in the Tanakh.
22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you;
Paul/Shaul, has taken on his role as minister to the nations very seriously. This has meant he has been unable to take the time he might have liked to take to fellowship with his fellow Jewish believers in Rome.
23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you 24 whenever I go to Spain—for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while-- 25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the believers/holy ones/sacred ones.
After making Aliyah (going up) to Jerusalem to encourage, serve and offer gifts to the holy ones, sacred ones, saints, messianic believers. Shaul hopes to visit Rome on his way to Spain.
26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the holy ones, messianic Jews, saints in Jerusalem.
The Gentile ecclesia of Macedonia and Achaia had decided of their own free will, to send a monetary gift to the poor among the Jewish believers in Jerusalem.
27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.
Shaul/Paul is conveying to his Jewish brothers and sisters in the Roman ecclesia, the generosity of the Gentile believers toward the Jewish believers and acknowledging that because salvation has come from the Jews, that the Spirit of G-d indwelling Gentile believers had inspired a kind of giving that made them pleased to give to the people through whom G-d had chosen to reveal His Son.
This is not an admonishment of the Gentile believers but an honoring of their practical emunah (faith, trust) and the gratefulness of their hearts toward G-d because of the gift of His son. A gift far greater than material possessions.
28 Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Messiah. 30 Now I urge you, Jewish brothers and sisters, by our Lord Yeshua ha-Mashiyach and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to G-d for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the holy ones, messianic believers, saints; 32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of G-d and find refreshing rest in your company. 33 Now the G-d of shalom (peace) be with you all. Amen.
Shaul/Paul, is aware of those non believing Jews in Judea who would seek to persecute him. He is also aware that while the Leaders of the ecclesia in Jerusalem are delighted by his ministry, there were those among the messianic Jews who continue to struggle to accept the idea of the nations being saved without full conversion to Judaism through brit milah (circumcision). He therefore asks for prayer from his messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in Rome, who are in the best position to understand the issues that have arisen among the Jews due to the spread of the gospel.
As we journey with Yeshua in the calling placed on our lives, may we too find rest in Him among like minded believers.
Now the G-d of shalom be with you all. Amen.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Prove yourselves doers of the Torah, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. - Yaakov(James) 1:22
Simchat Torah (Celebrating the Torah/Word)
Some have said we shouldn't celebrate this festival because it's not commanded in Scripture. I have previously written regarding this very poor reasoning and why it is error, suffice to say, this is an extra biblical festival that is entirely focused on the Bible. The ironic hilarity born of the foolish admonishment of some, is a poignant reminder that we should define ourselves by who we are and not by what we are not.
It's true that Simchat Torah was probably developed during the latter diaspora. There is no record of it's celebration in Israel until the eleventh century. The rabbi's teach that like a generous host, HaShem invites us to remain with Him after Sukkot, to tarry a while and continue the celebration, hence, Simchat Torah.
Just as the festival of Shavuot is connected to the giving of the Torah, the festival of Simchat Torah is connected to the perpetuating of the same. It's at this time of year that we complete and renew the Torah cycle: the Chatan Torah (Groom of the Torah) reads the final Torah portion of Devarim/Deuteronomy followed by the reading of the first Torah portion of Beresheet/Genesis by the Chatan Beresheet (Groom of the beginning). Our Messiah Yeshua is the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the end, because He is the eternal one He's also the end and the beginning, the Chatan Torah and the Chatan Beresheet.
When we speak of grooms we are reminded of the Jewish wedding vow, "I have loved you with and everlasting love, I betroth myself to thee..." HaShem "has" betrothed Himself to Israel, notice the past tense; "with an everlasting love," notice the future tense. The sum of this statement is eternity past present and future. This is the love we celebrate during Simchat Torah.
The Torah is ketvi (written word), it contains the representation of the memra (word essence), the d'var (written essence) and the kol (voice). All of these are echad (one) in HaShem, all are representations of Ha-Ben (the Son) our Messiah. When we celebrate the Torah we are celebrating the living Torah, Yeshua, our salvation. We might just as easily call this celebration Simchat Yeshua (Rejoicing in Salvation/Yeshua). Lets return to those who have rebuked us and ask, "Should we refuse to celebrate our Messiah? A curse on it!"
It is interesting to note that Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret are essentially synonymous in Israel today. Therefore this is a Biblical feast, the eighth day which follows Hoshana Raba (The great salvation)!
This festival is the culmination of the High Holy Days. It’s purpose is simply to celebrate the Word or Torah of G-d. We began the High Holy Days by "listening to the voice of the Ram's horn," the voice of Yeshua, G-d's sacrificial Ram. We now bring the High Holy Days to perpetual completion by celebrating the presence of Ha-Kol (the Voice), Yeshua our Messiah.
Tradition dictates that all members of the community should participate. In synagogues, as many aliyah’s as possible are called to the bima (pulpit) to read from the Torah and the prophets.
One could site the writing of Shaul/Paul the Shaliach (Apostle) in defense of this practice:
"Until I come, don't forsake the Torah cycle and it's public readings, because it brings exhortation and teaches doctrine."
1 Timothy 4:13
It's this very same cycle of public readings from the Torah that Simchat Torah celebrates.
The readings of the Simchat Torah celebration are done beneath a chuppah (Wedding canopy) signifying G-d's relationship to Israel as groom and Husband. We also look forward to the day when all believers in Messiah Yeshua are united as a bride to our Messiah at the wedding feast of the Lamb.
"Let the word of Messiah richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and encouraging one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
The service begins with the Chatan Torah/The Groom of the Torah. This person is selected for the privilege of reading the last portion of the Torah for the end of the yearly Torah cycle.
After all the other service readings, the Chatan Bereshit/Groom of the beginning reads the first portion of Genesis to begin the next yearly Torah reading cycle.
Messiah Yeshua is both the Groom of the Torah (in that He fills the Torah with purpose and unifies the Word of God) and the Groom of the beginning; He is the Alpha and Omega, eternal, the Aleph and Tav, the beginning and the end.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fill."
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Another tradition is the giving of candy or honeyed foods to the children to remind them that God’s word is sweet like honey from the honey cone.
What the Bible says about The Torah/Word
"I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
"How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You."
"Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."
"But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”
The living Torah/Word—Yeshua The Messiah - John 1:1-5
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him; and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
· Symbol: TALLIT--Tzittzit, Shamash thread
The Shamash (Servant) strand, binds the five knots of the tzitzit (tassels), representing the books of the Torah and the wynds representing each book of the Tanakh.
Yeshua is the servant Messiah who said, "I have not come to be served but to serve."
Yeshua is the Word essence that binds the Torah together. He is the Author.
The written Torah/Word – Matthew 5:17-20
“Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. 18 Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. 19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P’rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
The Full Torah - Mathew 5:21 -37
“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not murder,’ (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17) l and that anyone who commits murder will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you that anyone who nurses anger against his brother will be subject to judgment;
Lev 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai.
“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not commit adultery.’(Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17) 28 But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Exo 20:17 You shall not lust after your neighbor's house, You shall not lust after your neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's.
“It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a get.’(Deuteronomy 24:1) 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and that anyone who marries a divorcee commits adultery.
Deu 24:2-4 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 3 And if her next husband hates her, and writes her a bill of divorce, and gives it to her, and sends her out of his house; or if he dies. 4 her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before Adonai:
“Again, you have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not break your oath,’ and ‘Keep your vows to ADONAI.’ Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:22) 34 But I tell you not to swear at all — not ‘by heaven,’ because it is God’s throne; 35 not ‘by the earth,’ because it is his footstool; and not ‘by Yerushalayim,’ because it is the city of the Great King. 36 And don’t swear by your head, because you can’t make a single hair white or black. 37 Just let your ‘Yes’ be a simple ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ a simple ‘No’; anything more than this has its origin in evil.
Exo 20:16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The Rock - Mathew 7: 24 – 29
“So, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the winds blew and beat against that house, but it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the wind blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed — and its collapse was horrendous!” 28 When Yeshua had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way he taught, 29 for he was not instructing them like their Torah-teachers but as one who had authority himself.
· Symbol: Rock
Psa_18:2 (18:3) The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in Him I take refuge; my shield, and my horn of salvation, my high tower.
Psa_18:46 (18:47) The LORD lives, and blessed be my Rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation;
Psa_19:14 (19:15) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before Thee, O LORD, my Rock, and my Redeemer.
Psa_71:3 You have become to me a rock of shelter, a safe place where I can continually turn, a place You have appointed for my salvation; for You are my rock and my fortress.
Celebrate with me, The Rock, The Covering, The Ketvi, The Memra, The D'var, The Kol, The Torah, The Word, The Messiah, HaShem...
Chag Simchat Torah Sameach Lekulam!
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
There is fruit in every believer.
During Sukkot the people of Israel were to dwell in temporary dwellings. (Leviticus 23:33-43)
“39 ‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. 40 Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
No one was to appear before the Lord empty handed. ( Deuteronomy 16:16)
“16 ‘Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and at the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) and at the Feast of Booths, (Sukkot) and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.’”
Sukkot is the feast of the latter harvest. (Leviticus 23:39) In particular, Fruit is brought to Jerusalem as part of the offering to the Lord.
“39 ‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.’”
A Sukkot Drash (Illumination)
The present life is temporary. Our lives are filled with temporary dwellings—work places, houses, shopping malls and yes, even church buildings. The fruit believers bring to G-d to adorn these temporary dwellings is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is eternal. It will seed more fruit and fill not only our lives but also the lives of others, now and into future generations, l’dor v’dor.
Empty handed or fruit filled?
As followers of Messiah, we are unable to appear before God empty handed, because Messiah lives in us by His Ruach ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit—and the Holy Spirit bears fruit in us.When we become followers of Messiah we are given The Holy Spirit.
“For we know how dearly G-d loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
The Holy Spirit bears fruit in us…
“The fruit of the Holy Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
This fruit is not something we can make happen. It is produced from the tree of the Holy Spirit in us. We see this fruit in our lives and the lives of others, not by creating it ourselves but by cultivating an intimate relationship with God, through Messiah and in His Holy Spirit.
There is fruit in every believer.
The enemy wants to tell us that there is no fruit in us. He hopes to miss direct us into hiding away in shame, so that the fruit in us will not benefit others.
G-d on the other hand, wants to encourage us to see the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is in us. So that we are set free to unashamedly present that fruit to the world. Why? So that by consuming this good fruit, the world will be drawn to G-d’s Son Yeshua the Messiah, and reconciled to G-d.
Every believer exhibits the fruit of the Spirit who lives within us. In a very tangible way, we become that fruit.
“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Halakhah -- The Way We Walk
Take some time to read through the list of the fruits of the Ruach ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit. Read it carefully at least three times. Consider each fruit. Picture the fruit it most reminds you off. Perhaps lemon reminds you of the zesty delight of joy?
Love – ahava –אהב
Joy – simcha – שׂמחה
Peace – shalom – שׁלום
Patience – savlanoot – סבלנות
Kindness – chesed – חסד
Goodness – tov – טוב
Faithfulness – emunah – אמנה
Gentleness – anavah – ענוה
Self-control – shelyitah eytzmiyt – שליטה עצמית
Take some quiet time before G-d. Surround yourself with a tallit or blanket, close a door or find a peace-filled place in the garden. Ask G-d our Abba (Daddy) this one question:
“What fruit of Your Holy Spirit do you see in me?”
Simply listen, He will answer you. Write down the fruit or fruits He speaks into your heart and mind.
As you consider your fruit, consider also the fruit of the lives of other believers who you know well, remind yourself that the fruit you see in another believer is reflected in your own life. In return, the fruit that has been seen in you is being reflected in their lives. Rewrite the fruit or fruits that the Ruach ha-Kodesh has shown you onto small squares of paper and pin them to the wall, attach them to a bathroom mirror or magnetize them to your fridge. Keep this fruit before you so that you don’t forget who you are becoming in Messiah.
Speak the name of the fruit you’ve been given to yourself—saying, “the fruit of …… has been seen in me.” Say it three times. Then thank G-d for the gift of His Holy Spirit in you.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
With a fragrant offering of myrrh, Yeshua made covering between the cherubim/angels, with the cloud of His suffering.
An examination of Leviticus 16
The fast of Yom Kippur, its sacrifices and ancient practices, rooted in the Torah, are filled with Messianic symbolism and hope. An examination of Leviticus 16 will reveal the Messiah in a number of specific ways, it will also reveal some wonderful symbolism related to the deliverance of Israel and her escape from sin through the substitute (goat), sacrificed for the covering and cleansing of the people.
16:1 Now HaShem spoke to Moshe after the death of the two sons of A’haron, when they had approached the presence of HaShem and died.
It’s of great importance that these instructions were given following the tragic deaths of A’haron’s sons. They had attempted to offer secular fire, perhaps from the camp fires of Israel, before the presence of HaShem. The people of Israel were still coming to terms with the Holiness of G-d and the separation of holy and mundane things. Sin and uncleanness of any kind could not stand in the presence of HaShem. This meant that Israel needed to understand her need for covering and cleansing. Without a means of sanctification and purifying covering, no one could approach G-d. The death of the Kohen ha-gadol—high priest’s—sons is a poignant teaching moment for A’haron, Moshe and all of Israel. It’s on this foundation that G-d builds the instruction of covering.
2 HaShem said to Moshe: “Tell your brother A’haron that he shall not enter at just any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark (the mercy seat is the lid space between the cherubim), or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.
The Kohen ha-gadol—high priest—in this case A’haron, was only permitted entry to the holy of hollies inside the veil, once a year. This foreshadows the fact that Messiah would enter into the eternal heavenly holy of hollies once from within time, in order to allow humanity access to eternity, outside of time, through His covering and cleansing, sanctifying blood, we would be allowed the opportunity to be made holy, reconciled to G-d.
The mercy seat is a significant picture of future mercy, it is hallowed between the cherubim—messengers/angels. The reason for the death of the uncovered entrant would be the manifest presence of HaShem in a cloud above the mercy seat, between the cherubim. G-d is light and in Him there is no darkness. (1 John 1:5)
3 A’haron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
The bull symbolizes the male head of the herd, this makes covering for the priest. The ram is a symbol of Messiah, also a male head of the herd and a link to the foundational story of ha-akedah—the binding of Isaac.
4 He shall put on the holy linen tunic (linen in its raw state is a pail cream to white colour, this symbolizes purity, as seen throughout scripture), and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body (the private parts must be covered so as not to be exposed to the floor of the sacred place), and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments).
The linen garments were a symbol of the purity purchased by the covering sacrifice. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18) Note the turban, a head covering. Its pure foolishness and poor biblical interpretation that causes some Christian denominations to claim that male worshipers should not cover their heads.
Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on.
The mikvah—full immersion pool—is a mainstay of Jewish practice. Immersion in water carries symbolism for death and resurrection, cleansing and purity. Our—high priest--Yeshua was immersed by Yochanan/John, the rightful high priest of Israel in the first century C.E. Through this immersion we see the unifying of the Davidic and Levitical lines in Messiah Yeshua, Priest and King.
“Yeshua came from Galilee to the Jordan to Yochanan, to be immersed by him. Yochanan would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be immersed by you, and do you come to me?" But Yeshua answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’” (Mattitiyahu/Matthew 3:13-15)
Yeshua is our Kohen ha-gadol—high priest, “being designated by G-d as a kohen ha-gadol according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:10)
The order of Malki Tzedek--My King of Righteousness.
After victory in battle against his enemies our father Abraham was met by the King of Salem (Jerusalem) Malki Tzedek, Priest of El Elyon, that is G-d most High, who had brought matzah and wine as a sacrament for Abraham… (Genesis 14:17-20)
Unlike the priesthood of A’haron, Yeshua’s priesthood is eternal, just as Malki Tzedek is shown without beginning or end, so he stands as a prefigure of Yeshua our Messiah.
5 He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make covering for himself and for his household.
Note that the two male goats are taken as a singular offering, technically speaking, they should both die as a single sacrifice. They are male goats rather than lambs because a male goat is the leader of the herd and they are intended to make covering for all of Israel, therefore Israel is represented by a leader of the people. The ram, also a male leader of the heard, is linked to the binding of Isaac. The bull, yet another male leader of the herd, acts as a sacrifice for the priesthood.
7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the HaShem at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
Note: the goats are echad—one, a unity. They are a single sacrifice. They are both appointed for death at this point.
8 A’haron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for HaShem and the other lot for Azazel—goat that escapes.
By the hand of HaShem one goat is chosen for blood sacrifice, the other is allowed to escape, hence the combining of the Hebrew words aze—goat, and awzal—escape, which form the name Azazel.
“The lot is cast within the bosom but its entire outcome is with HaShem.” –Mishlei/Proverbs 16:33
HaShem has chosen the goat for blood sacrifice ahead of time.
9 Then A’haron shall offer the goat on which the lot for HaShem fell, and make it a sin offering.
The goat named, “for HaShem,” is the blood sacrifice that covers/cleanses Israel from sin. This can only represent Messiah Yeshua, whose sacrificial death brings not only covering and cleansing but also the complete erasing of sin.
10 But the goat on which the lot for the Azazel—goat that escapes—fell shall be presented alive before HaShem, to make covering upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the, Azazel—goat that escapes.
Note: covering is made upon the second goat, not by it. The first goat makes covering for the second goat. Therefore the second goat cannot represent Messiah. The second goat is allowed to go free because covering has been made for it. Who does the second goat represent?
11 “Then A’haron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make covering for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.
This sacrifice is not required on behalf of our great Kohen ha-gadol, Yeshua, because He is sinless.
“Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
12 He shall take a fire pan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before HaShem and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. 13 He shall put the incense on the fire before HaShem, so that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die.
The incense cloud makes covering for the protection of the priest. Without this covering he would die. In the first century C.E. there was no ark in the Holy of holies, it had not been seen since the diaspora following Solomon’s temple. A singular distinctive feature in the floor of the Holy place would receive the covering, this feature was the capstone of the Temple which stood out approximately 4 inches above the floor in the centre of the Holy place.
Speaking of Yeshua, the psalmist says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the head of the pinnacle.”—Tehilim/Psalm 118:22
The mercy seat upon which Yeshua made His fragrant offering is in the heavens, however at His resurrection He left a representation of it on earth in the Holy place of His tomb.
“Miryam saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Yeshua had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.” –Yochanan/John 20:12
With a fragrant offering of myrrh, Yeshua made covering between the cherubim/angels, with the cloud of His suffering.
14 Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 “Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16 He shall make covering for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. 17 When he goes in to make covering in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make covering for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.
The blood of both the bull and the goat were sprinkled firstly at the front--keh’dem, (not east), and then on the faces--pawneem—top surface, of the mercy seat (The lid space between the cherubim). The blood was sprinkled seven times on the faces--pawneem, of the mercy seat, signifying the sevenfold spirit of HaShem. This denotes intensity, not plurality.
The scripture says that the priest makes covering for the Holy place: this means he is covering the Holy place for his own protection and the protection of Israel. The Holy place needs no covering against the priest.
No one could aid the priest in this function, he must enter alone. Yeshua our high priest did this very thing when He entered alone into death carrying the punishment that was rightfully ours.
18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before HaShem and make covering for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides. 19 With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it.
The horns of the altar, like the ram’s horn, represent strength and anointing. The priest is again, making covering, not for the altar but for himself and the people.
20 “When he finishes the covering for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall approach with the live goat.
Many English versions of the Bible mistranslate the Hebrew ka-rab as, “offers.” This is entirely inaccurate. The goat named for HaShem has been offered, whereas the goat named for escape is approaching.
21 Then A’haron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
The laying on of hands signifies an identification with a sacrifice. In this case the priest, representing the people, is identifying the goat as Israel. The former goat (Yeshua) named for HaShem has already been sacrificed in the latter goats place. Therefore the latter goat, identified for Israel, goes free. This goat cannot be the devil, as some foolishly claim, nor can he represent Messiah, Who clearly didn’t go free. The goat that escapes is Israel and in a more universal sense, you and I.
It is interesting to note that tradition holds to a practise of tying a scarlet cloth to the horn of the escaping goat prior to sending it out. It is said that if the sins of Israel were forgiven, the goat would return with the scarlet cloth having turned white. It is also said that this is exactly what happened up until approximately 30 C.E. Following this the goat began to return with the cloth having remained scarlet.
23 “Then A’haron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. 24 He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make covering for himself and for the people. 25 Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar.26 The one who released the goat as the Azazel—goat that escapes—shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp. 27 But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make covering in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. 28 Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.
The hide, flesh and refuse of the goat named for HaShem is taken outside the camp, this correlates to the death of Messiah taking place outside of Jerusalem at Golgotha.
29 “This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you;
This is called a permanent statute because, “the life is in the blood,” there is no other way to atone for sin. We understand that this convocation has been made truly permanent/eternal through the sacrifice of Yeshua.
“Humble/afflict your souls,” is a euphemism for fasting. Both the native Israelite and the foreigner living among them were required by HaShem to keep this day holy according to these instructions.
30 for it is on this day that covering shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before HaShem.
This day was to be for both covering and cleansing. Yeshua did more than just cover sin, He cleansed it and erased it for all who would receive the gift of G-d. This day is for the sake of Israel and those that dwell with her as aliens living in her midst.
31 It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. 32 So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place shall make covering: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments,33 and make covering for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make covering for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make covering for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make covering for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year.” And just as HaShem had commanded Moshe, so he did.
It was the rightful Kohen ha-gadol of Yeshua’s day, Yochanan/John, who immersed Yeshua, identifying with Him and recognising in Him the heavenly role of covering and cleansing that Yeshua would perform. Yeshua, our Kohen ha-gadol, has offered Himself once for all, so that salvation could come, first for the Jews and also for the nations.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,