“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses lying around us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2a
1. What is your take on the cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12, can we engage with them?
The allusion to the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 is referring back to the list of those witnesses to God’s faithfulness who are listed in Hebrews 11, commonly known as the Faith Chapter. These witnesses, as can be seen from Hebrews 11, are the now deceased patriarchs and heroes of the Jewish faith. The writer of Hebrews, a Jew and a Cohen (Priest), knows that the witnesses he is referring to are deceased and that many of them are buried throughout the land of Israel, and that they are therefore uncontactable according to the teaching of Scripture regarding the dead (Hebrews 9:27).
In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16) Yeshua explains that while the dead are conscious, they are not able either to traverse the chasm between Gehinnom (torment) and Gan Eden (Paradise) nor (re: Lazarus etc. once they are finally deceased [Hebrews 9:27]) are they able to traverse the distance between Sheol and the present world. In my article on Saul, Samuel and the Witch of Eyndor, I explain why the events of 1 Samuel 28:3-21 are not describing the dead spirit of Samuel called up but rather an evil spirit that fools the witch and is used by God to condemn Saul. For further study please use the following link below:
The writer of the book of Hebrews is using the deceased Jewish witnesses of Hebrews 11 as a figurative example. When he says:
“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses lying around us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2a
He is making a Drash (inquiry/comparative teaching) regarding how we should act in light of the figurative (not literal) cloud of witnesses that are buried throughout the land of Israel. We must remember that the writer is probably writing from the perspective of a priest living in the Land of Israel prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE (AD). He then qualifies this teaching by instructing us, not to focus on the cloud of witnesses, but on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of our faith (The faith that our Jewish forebears shared in the coming Messiah Yeshua).
We cannot engage with this cloud of witnesses because they are deceased and according to Scripture (Hebrews 9:27) they are uncontactable. Those who do seek to speak to the dead are in fact speaking with demonic forces rather than the spirits of dead people (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” –Deuteronomy 18:10-12
Therefore, not only are we unable to engage with the dead witnesses of Hebrews 11-12, we are also commanded by God not to attempt to speak with the dead.
2. When Yeshua (Jesus) went to Sheol (Holding place of the dead), did He preach to the dead or to a specific order of captives?
The text this question refers to is 1 Peter 3:14-21:
“If you suffer for righteousness' sake, be glad: and don’t be afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify (Kiddush) HaShem (Merciful) Elohiym (Judge) in your core being (heart): and be ready always to give an answer to every human being that asks you the reason for the hope that is in you with humility and reverent awe: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conduct in Messiah. For it’s better if God’s will is that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil. For Messiah also at one time suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Ruach (Spirit). By Whom (The Spirit) He also went and made proclamation to the ruachiym (spirits) in prison (phulake: foo-lak-ay). Who were formerly disobedient, when at one time the longsuffering God waited in the days of Noach (Comfort), while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls (nefesh) were saved by water (mikveh: gathering of water). This figurative likeness being a representation of the immersion (baptism) that now also saves us (not the washing of the flesh but the earnest seeking of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah.”
–1 Peter 3:17-21
In the context of Peter’s letter, the community of believers is being encouraged to share their faith with anyone who asks, and not to shy away from suffering if that is what God’s will entails. Peter then offers Yeshua as an example of One Who suffered and shared His message in the Spirit of God. It is explained that Yeshua’s suffering puts to death the sinful practices of the flesh and resurrects each believer in the life giving Spirit of God. It is by this same Spirit that the resurrected Messiah (not in sheol) transcends time and space, and thus traverses time and space by the Spirit, to proclaim His saving work to those spirits of human beings who were still living in the flesh at the time of Noah prior to the flood. The text explains that during the time of Noah only eight imprisoned spirits received Yeshua’s message and were delivered through the figurative tevilah immersion (baptism) of the flood, which the author shows to be a prefigure of the same tevilah immersion (baptism) that believers in Messiah have received unto salvation.
From the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text and the subsequent, remez (hint), drash (comparative) and sod (mystery), we see that it does not place Yeshua in sheol in relation to His proclamation but shows that it is by the Spirit of God following His resurrection that He spoke to the imprisoned spirits of humanity past. This text is not teaching anything even remotely to do with communicating with imprisoned dead people or angelic spirits. To the contrary, it simply teaches that God is just and that all humanity from Adam to the end of days has and will have an opportunity to either reject or receive the message of Messiah. This text shows how in the Spirit (of God), the resurrected Messiah transcends time and space and manifests the supernatural reality that He was both literally and figuratively slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
3. It seems there is an emergence of tribal peoples throughout the world who are now claiming to be part of the 12 tribes of Israel. To date DNA testing has proven that these claims are erroneous. In addition, many Messianic believers who are Gentiles, and have no proven evidence of Jewish bloodline are wearing, Jewish Tallits, Tzit tzit etc. Do you see this as another enemy tactic to dilute the unique ethno-religious identity of the Jewish people?
Yes I do. Ethnic, empirical, religious Israel, the descendants of Yaakov (Jacob) have a unique role to play in history, past, present and future. The enemy Satan has consistently sought to either wipe out the ethnic identity of the Jewish people and or make her identity generic in a desperate attempt to resist the plans of God. Satan has done this through popular Christian theology, Supersessionism, Continuationism, British Israel, the Lost Tribes myth, to name a few, and is now doing it by utilizing well-meaning so called Messianic Gentiles who have come to believe the lie that their own culture is somehow less important than the Jewish culture.
Allow me to offer an example: I love the Maori people, the indigenous people of Aeotearoa (New Zealand), but I don’t have an ancestral Maori tattoo. I don’t have even an ounce of Maori blood in my body. I have Ashkenazi Jewish blood, Italian blood, South American blood, English blood, German blood, but not an ounce of Maori blood. Therefore I will not desecrate the Maori culture by getting a sacred Maori tattoo. The sacred elements of Maori culture belong to the Maori people and are an intrinsic part of their God given unique identity.
If you don’t have any Jewish blood, don’t attempt to steel our sacred God given identity. Those who are not Jewish but wear tzit tzit and kippot etc. or claim, erroneously that they are members of the house of Ephraim (their DNA proves otherwise), are doing the very thing they accuse the Replacement and Superssesionist theologians of doing. They are seeking to replace ethnic, empirical, religious Israel. It is sin, don’t become entangled in it! It not only defiles God’s chosen people, it also defiles you and your beautiful, unique ethnic identity.
4. I hear people talking about the 10 lost tribes. Are there lost tribes?
There are no lost tribes. In approximately 540 BCE after the return of the tribes of Israel from exile in Babylon, all the tribes became united under the remnant of Judah who had remained in the land. Thus all Hebrews regardless of tribe took on the common title Yehudi (Jew), which became a term synonymous with Israel. From this point in time the Jewish people, consisting of the 12 tribes experienced various dispersions, the greatest of which occurred following the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
The biblical book of Yaakov (James) affirms this understanding when it refers to the “12 tribes scattered throughout the world.” In fact the Biblical book of Yaakov (James) was written specifically to the Jews (the twelve tribes of Israel).
There are specific DNA markers in the various groups of dispersed Jews throughout the world that offer irrefutable evidence of the various tribes within the Jewish nation. The terms Israelite and Jew have been synonymous since the sixth century BCE (BC).
5. I’ve heard it taught that Jewish women were uneducated in the first century CE (AD) And that this is why they weren’t allowed to teach in the early community of believers, is this true?
This is simply not true. This foolish teaching finds very limited supported in the singular works of Ben Sira a Hellenistic Jewish scribe, sage, and allegorist from Jerusalem. His works contradict the wealth of Jewish tradition and teaching regarding women, and are often interpreted out of context. Women have been teachers, prophets and leaders of Israel throughout history. These include, Miriyam the sister of Moses, Ruth, Esther, Miriyam the mother of the Messiah, Devorah the prophetess etc.
Many are unaware that the ancient synagogues of Israel had no partitions separating men and women. The 2nd century Synagogue in Capernaum by the Galilee is a replica of the Synagogue that stood beneath it. I’ve stood there and seen for myself the open seating. In fact men and women sat together to listened to the Torah in the synagogues of first century Israel. How then could they have been uneducated?
From ancient times the women of Israel have been tasked with the greatest of teaching roles. That of teaching our children the core doctrines and practices of the Jewish faith. I ask then, if they were uneducated, how did they teach the Torah to countless generations of young Jews? How did they pass on the prayer tradition and Halakhah of Israel to subsequent generations?
6. Could you explain the ancient Jewish betrothal and wedding practice?
There are many localized variations regarding minor themes concerning the ancient Jewish betrothal and marriage customs, however, the primary themes are consistent throughout Jewish history and practice, and continue to find a place of prominence in the modern Jewish wedding ceremony. I will answer this question by explaining the common primary themes of the ancient Jewish betrothal and marriage. They are themes that arise from both Scripture and tradition and have been perpetuated for thousands of years. They are a living allegory for the great mystery of God’s relationship to Israel (empirical, ethnic) and of the relationship between Messiah Yeshua and the Ecclesia (Messianic community of believers). As such, they transcend their temporal function and become a picture of our eternal hope as believers, in love relationship with God.
Much of the information that follows is taken from both Biblical and Talmudic sources. The information from Talmudic sources, while not codified until a much later date, does pass on an oral tradition dating back to a time long before the Messiah’s birth. Many of the Talmudic articles on the subject of marriage affirm the spiritual allegory attributed to Messiah and His bride and are therefore a valid commentary on the events that continue to transpire regarding the second coming of Yeshua our Mashiyach and Chatan (groom).
a.) SHIDUKHIN (ARRANGEMENT)—SELECTION OF THE BRIDE:
From ancient days it has always been the father of the groom who selects his son’s bride. In cases where it is not practical for the father to go to the home of the bride to arrange things, he sends a Shadkhan (arranger/matchmaker). This is exactly what happened in the case of Abraham’s selecting of a bride for his son Isaac:
“Avraham said to his servant (Eli-eytzer/My God is my helper, comforter), the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, ‘Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by HaShem, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Yitzchak.” –Genesis 24:2-4
The Scriptures remind us that we were chosen by The Father (God) from before the creation of the world:
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” –Ephesians 1:4
Yeshua reminds us that:
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit.” –Yochanan/John 15:16
b.) THE BRIDE MUST ACCEPT THE PROPOSAL:
In Jewish culture no woman may be forced to marry. Without the prospective brides acceptance of the marriage proposal there can be no marriage.
In Rebekah’s case, she had not seen her husband to be (Yitzchak), but accepted his proposal based on the word of the servant (Eli-eytzer, My God is a helper). This is also true of each of us who have accepted Yeshua’s proposal having had it offered to us at the hands of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit/The Helper).
“The servant said to him, ‘Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?’” –Genesis 24:5
“Then they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ And she said, ‘I will go.’” –Genesis 24:58
We must remember that it is Yeshua as the Jewish bridegroom (Chatan) Who always initiates the love relationship and that it is God Who selects us and not the other way around:
“We love Him because He first loved us.” –1 John 4:19
c.) THE MOHAR—BRIDE PRICE:
rom ancient times brides in Israel were purchased, a bride price (mohar) was paid as a means of showing that the groom valued the woman he was to marry. The price varied depending on the circumstances of those involved. In Yaakov’s (Jacob) case, he worked seven years as the bride price for Leah and Rachel respectively. (Genesis 29:20)
To the modern reader this may seem to denigrate women, treating them as property rather than valued equals, however, in the context of the Biblical society the opposite was true. The pagan nations surrounding Israel were taking women to wife without ceremony or consideration of a woman’s value. When a wife displeased a husband in these communities she was tossed aside and replaced without consequence, often left to fend for herself and in many cases to die without provision because men were the providers of a family’s income and protection.
The value placed upon a Jewish bride was a means of protecting her and valuing her as a person rather than an object of property for men to abuse. The fact that a husband, “owned,” his wife was not demeaning in the least, it was a sign to other men and to the bride, that she was cared for and valued. The Hebrew word for wife, Be’ulah, means, “owned,” and the Hebrew word for husband, Ba’al, means, “master or owner”.
“When Avraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before HaShem. 53 The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.” –Genesis 24:52-53
Yeshua has paid the highest price as a mohar for His bride by dying on the tree:
“You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” –1 Corinthians 7:23
“(Yeshua) Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” –Ephesians 1:14
“Knowing that you were not purchased with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.” –1 Peter 1:18-19
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a mohar (price): therefore glorify God in your body.” –1 Corinthians 6:19-20
d.) KETUBAH (WRITTEN)/ EYRUSIN (BETROTHAL)/ KIDUSHIN (SANCTIFICATION):
Following the shidukhin (arrangement) by the father via his shadkhan (Matchmaker) the acceptance of the proposal by the bride and the offering of the gift by the groom; a binding covenant was entered into and a ketubah (written) document was signed. This process, known as both Eyrusin (betrothal) and kidushin (sanctification from Kadosh [Holy], meaning set apart), was conducted approximately one year prior to the actual marriage ceremony and was considered binding. So much so, that a divorce or get (Hebrew) must be obtained by the husband in order to dissolve the betrothal. It’s important to note that only a husband can initiate a get (divorce) [Deuteronomy 24:1-4].
This is an affirmation of eternal security for the believer. Our security is not dependent on us because we’re not able to break our engagement once we’ve entered into the agreement. Only the groom can break the betrothal and Yeshua has no intention of doing so:
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” –Yochanan/John 10:28-30
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot disown Himself.” –2 Timothy 2:15
e.) MIKVEH (Immersion/Baptism):
Prior to the Eyrusin (Betrothal) rite, both the groom and the bride tevilah totally immerse themselves in a ritual bath (Mayim chayim—living water) of purification called a mikveh (Gathering of water). Yeshua was immersed by the forerunner Yochanan in preparation for His Eyrusin (Betrothal). Likewise as believers we enter into the mikveh of tevilah immersion (baptism) as a sign of our new beginning, identifying with Messiah’s immersion, His death and resurrection.
The mikveh is a symbol of a fresh start, a new beginning, a new family unit which is to be born of the married couple.
Following their tevilah (immersion) in the mikveh (gathering of water) the Eyrusin (Betrothal) ceremony took place under a Chuppah (canopy). In ancient times the Chuppah was a separate room in the groom’s father’s home, later the tradition of a canopy developed.
The Chuppah is a symbol of a new household and of God’s protective covering over the couple and their future progeny. It is also a sukkah (booth) which promises that God will one day Mishkhan (tabernacle, dwell) in the midst of His people for all eternity:
“As a bridegroom coming out of his chamber (Chuppah); rejoicing as a strong man to run his course.” –Tehillim/Psalm 19:5
“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room (Chuppah) and the bride out of her bridal chamber (Chuppah).” –Yo’el/Joel 2:16
f.) THE CUP:
During the Eyrusin (Betrothal) ceremony gifts/rings are exchanged and a cup of wine is shared. The Kiddush (sanctification) cup used in this ceremony is kept to be used again at the wedding ceremony in a years’ time. In ancient times the cup was most likely made of hardened clay: today a thin wine glass is used.
On the night He was betrayed, Yeshua offered His bride to be (Israel—empirical, ethnic and the birthing Ecclesia), a new covenant in blood, a wine cup, a kiddush (sanctifying) cup. This cup, the third cup of the Pesach/Passover Seder, taken after the main meal, is called Kos Ge’ulah (cup of redemption):
“In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” –Luke 22:20
“’For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’” –Luke 22:18
Following the Eyrusin (Betrothal) ceremony the couple is considered married in every way except for cohabitation and sexual relations. Both bride and groom live apart for approximately one year. Something similar is seen in the length of time between Rebekah’s acceptance of Isaac’s proposal and their marriage in Canaan sometime later.
The year was used by the groom as a time of preparation. It was traditional in the ancient Middle East for the groom to leave the bride’s home town and return to His father’s house where he would build a room onto his father’s dwelling that would serve as the couple’s chadar (wedding chamber) following their marriage ceremony. The parallels with Yeshua and His bride are obvious. Yeshua has gone to prepare a place for us:
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” –Yochanan/John 14:2-3
Likewise, the bride spends the year in preparation for her groom’s return. She is to be ready at any hour of the day as the year draws to a close. She prepares items for her future home and a pure white dress for the wedding day.
We are reminded in the Scriptures that we should invest our time in those things which are eternal:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” –Mattitiyahu/Matthew 6:19
g.) THE RETURN OF THE GROOM:
Tradition dictates that only the father of the groom may decide on the time for the groom’s return, neither the groom nor the bride know at what hour the groom will return to carry the bride to the wedding feast.
“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” –Mark 13:32
In many cases, as the year of waiting drew to a close, the bride’s household would wait late into the night, keeping oil lamps lit in case of the groom’s return. This tradition became common among certain groups and is still practised in some communities today. The groom would often return at night.
“But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’” –Mattitiyahu/Matthew 25:6
The implications for us as believers are clear, we are to prepare ourselves and be constantly ready for our groom’s return.
The groom would return, often late at night, with a procession of family and friends from his father’s household, shouting out, with torches burning and the shofar sounding to herald his coming.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the shofar of G-d, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be carried away (nisuin, to carry) together with them in the cloud (of His presence) to meet the Lord in the fresh air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” –1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
The groom’s entourage would be carrying an aperion (a seated canopy, carried on the shoulders of men). He would pick up his bride and place her in the aperion thus carrying her away to her new home.
The bride would cover her face with a veil and intermittently along the way the groom would check under her veil to ensure he had carried away the right bride. This tradition is called bedeken and came about due to the problems experienced by Yaakov (Jacob) at the hands of Laban his father in law, when he deceived him on his wedding night by substituting Leah for Rachel.
There is a beautiful modern Hassidic practise among many Charediym (Orthodox/Pious) that combines both the night time arrival of the groom and the peeking behind the veil. It involves two men carrying Havdalah candles as they approach the bride walking arm in arm with the groom. They come with the groom at night and approach the betrothed woman’s home with the multi-wicked candles lit. The bride is veiled and awaiting the groom dressed in pure white. As the community chants traditional Hebrew songs, the groom is led by candle light to meet His bride, who is surrounded by her female attendants. Once the groom is standing before her, he unveils her face and leads her to the place where the wedding ceremony will take place.
h.) NISUIN (TO CARRY) THE CHUPPAH:
The Nisuin (Wedding) ceremony is the last stage of the betrothal and marriage. The Chuppah (canopy) was a specially made embroidered canopy or a tallit (prayer shawl) held up by four poles. It was representative of the bridal chamber.
The groom enters the proceedings first, as the rabbi calls out, “Baruch haba b’shem Adonai,” blessed is he who comes in the name of the L-rd. The groom stands on the left hand side, then the bride enters to the call, “B’rukhah haba’ah b’shem Adonai,” blessed is she who comes in the name of the Lord.
“O HaShem, do save, we beseech You; O HaShem, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the HaShem; We have blessed you from the house of the HaShem. HaShem is Elohiym, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” –Tehillim/Psalm 118:25-27
The bride walks around the groom either three or seven (depending on the local tradition) times as a symbol of her willingness to consecrate herself to her groom. Three times is symbolic of God’s three-fold betrothal to Israel:
“’I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice (1), In loving kindness (chesed) and in compassion (2), And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness (3). Then you will know HaShem [YHVH] (Mercy).’” –Hosea 2:19-20
Seven is a symbolic promise of the bridal week and the completeness found in marriage. Mirroring the completeness of the creation week and the Shabbat rest of God.
The bride then stands to the right of her groom.
i.) SHE’VA BRACHOT (Seven blessings):
The She’va Brachot (seven blessings) are pronounced beginning with the blessing over the Kiddush cup (the same cup used during the Erusiyn betrothal rite), but the cup is not drunk until the blessings are completed. These blessings are also known as Birkat Nisuin (blessings of being carried away):
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן.
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha olam, bo'rei p'ri hagafen.
Translation: "Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine."
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, שהכל ברא לכבודו.
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha olam shehakol bara lichvodo.
Translation: "Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created everything for His Glory."
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, יוצר האדם.
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha olam, yotzer haa’dam.
Translation: "Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates man."
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, אשר יצר את האדם בצלמו, בצלם דמות תבניתו, והתקין לו ממנו בניין עדי עד. ברוך אתה ה', יוצר האדם.
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha olam, asher yatzar et ha-adam b’tzalmo, b’tzelem d’mut tavnito, v’hitkin lo mimenu binyan adei ad. Baruch atah Adonai, yotzeir ha-adam.
Translation: "Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates humanity in your image (likeness), fashioning perpetuated life. Blessed are You, HaShem, creator of humanity."
שוש תשיש ותגל העקרה, בקיבוץ בניה לתוכה בשמחה. ברוך אתה ה', משמח ציון בבניה.
Transliteration: Sos tasis v’tageil ha-akara b’kibutz baneha l’tocha b’simcha. Baruch ata Adonai, m’sameach Tzion b’vaneha.
Translation: "May the barren one exult and be glad as her children are joyfully gathered to her. Blessed are You, Hashem, who gladden Zion with her Children."
שמח תשמח רעים האהובים, כשמחך יצירך בגן עדן מקדם. ברוך אתה ה', משמח חתן וכלה.
Transliteration: Sameiach tesamach reiim ha-ahuvim k’sameichacha y’tzircha b’gan eden mikedem. Baruch ata Adonai, m’sameiach chatan v’chalah.
Translation: "Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, as you did your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, HaShem, who grants the joy of groom and bride."
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, אשר ברא ששון ושמחה, חתן וכלה, גילה רינה, דיצה וחדווה, אהבה ואחווה, ושלום ורעות, מהרה ה' אלקינו ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים, קול ששון וקול שמחה, קול חתן וקול כלה, קול מצהלות חתנים מחופתם, ונערים ממשתה נגינתם. ברוך אתה ה', משמח חתן עם הכלה.
Transliteration: Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher bara sason v’simcha chatan v’kallah, gilah rinah ditzah v’chedvah, ahavah v’achavah v’shalom v’reut. M’hera Adonai Eloheinu yishammah b’arei Yhudah uv-chutzot Y’rushalayim kol sason v’kol simcha, kol chatan v’kol kalah, kol mitzhalot chatanim meichupatam u-n'arim mimishte n’ginatam. Baruch ata Adonai, m’sameiach chatan im hakalah.
Translation: "Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, song, delight and rejoicing, love and harmony and peace and companionship. Soon, Hashem our God, may there ever be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem voices of joy and gladness, voices of groom and bride, the jubilant voices of those joined in marriage under the bridal canopy, the voices of young people feasting and singing. Blessed are You, HaShem, who causes the groom to rejoice with his bride."
THE CUP #2:
Following the blessings the Kiddush cup (the same cup used in the Eyrusin ceremony of betrothal) is drunk by both groom and bride and is then wrapped in a napkin and shattered beneath the groom’s foot.
“For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” –Luke 22:18
The breaking of the cup is a more recent addition to the ceremony but it holds great significance. Originally the rabbis added the shattering of the cup in order to remind those present that even in joyous times we remember the destruction of the temple and Israel’s suffering. However the symbolism is also powerfully representative of the fact that no one else can ever drink from the cup that the married couple have shared. The covenant of marriage is sacred and sealed forever in the sight of God. This is also the case regarding our marriage to Yeshua.
The marriage is then consummated in the bridal chamber (chadar), following which the groom calls out to the shadkhan (matchmaker) or friend of the groom, letting him know that the marriage has been consummated.
“And Yeshua said unto them, ‘Can the attendants of the bride chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.’” –Mattitiyahu/Matthew 6:15
The couple then celebrates an elaborate wedding feast with their guests. The feast is followed by a seven day period together in seclusion, in order to complete the marriage week.
All of these events remind us of the Messianic community’s coming marriage to Yeshua. We will be carried away, and join with Him in spiritual marriage. He will finally drink again of the Kiddush cup with us and we will celebrate with Him at the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.
“’Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’” –Revelations 19:7-9
RENEWED COVENANT SCRIPTURES REGARDING BETROTHAL & MARRIAGE:
• Legally free to marry & purposed for fruit
“Therefore, my Jewish brothers and sisters, you also were made to die from the Torah’s perspective (regarding marriage to sin), through the body of Messiah, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” –Romans 7:4
We are dead to sin through the covenant blood of Messiah Yeshua and are therefore free to remarry. Yeshua is our groom and we marry for the purpose of bearing fruit.
• Shidukin (arrangement, match making)/ Eyrusin (betrothal)/ Ketubah (it is written)
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I have betrothed you to one husband, so that to Messiah I might present you as a pure virgin.” –2 Corinthians 11:2
In this text Shaul/Paul is the Shadkhan (match maker, arranger).
• Nisuin (to carry)/ Kidushin (Sanctification, from kadosh [Holy] set apart)—Marriage
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Messiah also is the head of the Messianic Community, He Himself being the Saviour of the body. But as the Messianic Community is subject to Messiah, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the Messianic Community and gave Himself up for her (bride price), so that He might sanctify (Kidushin) her, having cleansed her by the washing of water (Mikveh) with the word, that He might present to Himself the Messianic Community in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or blemish; but that she would be holy (Set apart) and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Messiah also does the Messianic Community, because we are members of His body. ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.’ (Gen. 2:24) This mystery (sod) is great; but I am speaking with reference to Messiah and the Messianic Community.” –Ephesians 5:22-32
In this text Shaul/Paul uses the example of the Jewish betrothal and marriage (P’shat) to touch (Remez) on a much deeper understanding (Sod) of our relationship (Drash) with Yeshua. This mystery is in part available to all who understand the process of Jewish marriage from betrothal to the wedding chamber.
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.