“You say that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into this world, to testify, bear witness to the immutable truth. Everyone who is of the immutable truth hears in My voice.”
The beginning of the so called “Passion Narrative” John 18:1-19:42 (Matthew 26:30-27:61; Mark 14:26-15:47; Luke 22:39-23:56)
Yeshua’s words to the disciples following the Pesach (Passover) Seder (John 13) and prior to crossing the Kidron valley to Gat Sheminim (Gethsemane), which included an open prayer to the Father concerning protection and reassurances of purpose, now come to a conclusion. What follows takes place across the Kidron valley (east of Jerusalem) in the garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives.
It’s interesting to note that the author of Yochanan’s gospel doesn’t include Yeshua’s anguished prayers in the garden or the inability of the disciples to stay awake and keep watch. However the reference to the cup of suffering (v.11) corresponds to the prayers in the garden (Luke 22:42).
John’s gospel which has been focused from the beginning on the all existing nature of the Messiah now reveals “God with us” as Lamb to slaughter. The impressive supernatural occurrence that results from Yeshua’s powerful declaration of identity in response to those seeking to arrest Him affirms His authority and illuminates further the convergent theme of Creator as Word having entered His creation.
Among other things the gospel writer focuses on the actions of his dear friend Kefa (Peter), a man who is fiercely protective of Yeshua and also suffers great emotional and spiritual turmoil over the denial of Him.
The motives of Pilate are illuminated in John’s gospel which implicitly alludes to his involvement in the arrest of Yeshua (v.3, 12), his nonchalant attitude toward Yeshua’s kingship (v.37-38) and his provocation of the Judean leaders (v.39). It’s worth noting that history records Pilate as a man who sought to provoke the Jews in order to justify harsh military response. He was not the innocent bystander that so many Christian commentators make him out to be.
1 Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Joshua, YHVH Saves, Jesus) spoke (epo[G]) these words, then He went forth with His disciples (talmidim[H]) over the valley (ravine) of the Kidron[H] (dark, from the root “kadar” to mourn) , where there was a garden (Gat Sheminim[H], press of olives), in which He entered with His disciples (talmidim[H]). 2 Now Y’hudah[H] (Praise, Judas Iscariot) also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Yeshua[H] had often met there with His disciples (talmidim[H]).
“These words” refers to the words taught, spoken, prayed over the last several preceding chapters (from chapter 13 to the present chapter) as Yeshua and His talmidim had walked through Jerusalem from the location of the Passover Seder meal, to the other side of the city (the east side).
The Kidron was known at least in part as a valley of refuse. The Levites had once cast the unclean things which had been cleaned out of the Temple into the Kidron valley at Hezekiah’s command to cleanse the Temple of idolatrous elements (2 Chronicles 29:16). There is a correlation here. Yeshua’s death and resurrection will ultimately cleanse the Temple to such a degree that God Himself and the Lamb will dwell in place of the Temple (Rev. 21:22).
“Kidron” means “darkness and mourning” and may be the physical valley that acts as figure for the “valley of the shadow of death” described in Psalm 23.“Gat Sheminim” means “press of olives (crushing of olives), an olive press”. It is fitting that Yeshua walk through “the valley of the shadow of death” to that place where He would firmly decide to drink the cup of wrath that the Father had given Him to drink. As a result of Yeshua being crushed He would resurrect, return to the Father and pour out the oil of His Spirit upon all who would believe.
There is a correlation to be made between the crossing of the Kidron by Yeshua and His disciples and the crossing of the Kidron made by king David and his retinue (2 Samuel 15:23). In the wake of Absalom’s betrayal of David (a prefigure of Y’hudah’s betrayal of Yeshua), David crosses the valley of darkness and mourning (Kidron) and into exile. In some respects this is what Yeshua is doing here: He will go into a temporary exile through death, but like David before Him He will return a conquering King and Ruler.
Gethsemane was a favourite meeting place of Yeshua and His talmidim. It was located not far from Bethany (the town of Lazarus, Mary and Martha) and was close to the city of Jerusalem (approx. 2.5 km away) so as to be a convergent point in the many travels of Yeshua and His talmidim.
There is another correlation here with respect to the garden. Just as the first Adam received sin into the world in Gan Eden (the garden of Eden [delight]) so too the Last Adam Yeshua (1 Corinthians 15:45) firmly decided to bring about the removal of sin from this world in and through Gat Sheminim (the pressing of olives [oil]).
3 Y’hudah[H] (Praise, Judas Iscariot) then, having received the 600-1000 strong cohort (speira[G], spiral) and servants from the chief priests (archiereus[G], hakohaniym[H]) and the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees), came there with torches (phanos[G]) and oil lamps (lampas[G]) and weapons.
“Speira” describes a Roman cohort. This means that Pilate was at least tacitly involved in the arrest of Yeshua. The cohort could not have been deployed without his full knowledge and approval. The Jewish Temple guard was smaller in number and thus could not qualify as a “cohort”. Further the cohort is said to be accompanied by the servants of the chief priests (predominantly Sadducees, some of whom would have been Temple guards) and representatives of the Pharisees (the sect controlling religious politics among the wider Jewish community). The Pharisees did not have their own guard, they were there purely as religious leaders. The full number of those who came to arrest Yeshua was approximately 1200. Matthew’s gospel calls those who came to arrest Yeshua “a great multitude” armed with “swords and long spears” (Matt. 26:47).
4 So Yeshua[H], seeing, perceiving (eido[G]) all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”
Yeshua had already seen these things completed outside of time and space in His position as Word Essence within the Godhead (John 1:1).
17 For this reason the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) loves (oheiv[H]) Me, because I lay down My life, breath, soul existence (et-nafshiy[H]) so that I may take it up again. 18 No one, nothing (oudeis[G]) has taken it away from Me or separated (apo[G]) Me from it, but I lay it down on My own initiative, in My Own power, by My Own choice (exousia[G]). I have authority, power, choice (exousia[G]) to lay it down, and to take it up again. This commandment (entole[G]) I received from My Father (Pater mou[G], Aviy[H]).” -Yochanan (John) 10:17-18
The Messiah was prophesied to lay down His life for the people of Israel (Isaiah 53:1-12; Psalm 16:8-11).
Yeshua knew Whom they sought. His question was for their sake. We might understand Yeshua’s question as “You come in the authority of Rome and the Jewish religious politicians, but do you truly realise the authority of the Person Whom you seek?” This is partially revealed to them in the power that emanates from Yeshua in the proceeding verse.
5 They answered Him, “Yeshua[H] the Nasraya[A] (Nazarene, HaNatzriy[H], consecrated, devoted one, from netzer - branch).” He said to them, “I Am, I Exist (ego eimi[G]).” And Y’hudah[H] also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I Am, I Exist (ego eimi[G]),” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Yeshua[H] the Nasraya[A] (Nazarene, HaNatzriy[H], consecrated, devoted one).”
It is literally true to say that based on the residence of His middle years Yeshua was from the town of Nazareth and was therefore, a Natzriy (Nazarene). It is also true to say that He is the Netzer (Branch) at the root of Natzriy and is come to fully fill prophecy concerning the Mashiach.
Although the speakers do not comprehend what they are saying, the response they give to Yeshua’s question, “we seek Yeshua the consecrated, devoted Branch”, is a prophetic statement of affirmation concerning the role that Yeshua fills as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah:
“Then a shoot will come forth out of the stem of Y’shai,
and a branch (nezter) will bear fruit out of His roots.
2 The Ruach of Adonai will rest upon Him,
the Spirit of wisdom and insight,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge
and of the fear of Adonai” -Y’shayahu (Isaiah) 11:1-2
Zechariah the prophet speaks a similar word concerning the Messiah but uses a different word for branch “tsemach”.
“Listen well, Joshua kohen gadol, both you and your companions seated before you, because they are men who are a miraculous sign—behold, I will bring forth My servant the Branch.” -Zakhariya (Zechariah) 3:8
“Then speak to him saying, “Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: Behold, a man whose Name is the Branch will branch out from his place and build the Temple of Adonai.” -Zakhariya (Zechariah) 6:12 TLV
By using different Hebrew words each prophet describes the strength of the branch at different stages of His ministry.
He said to them, “I Am, I Exist (ego eimi[G]).” (Ehyeh asher Ehyeh) [I have been Who I AM, I will be Who I AM, I AM Who I AM] By this statement Yeshua identifies as YHVH present within humanity and demonstrates power and authority over all things (Exodus 3:14; John 6:35; 8:58).
As Yeshua speaks these words power goes out from Him and causes those who have come to take Him to stagger backward and fall to the ground.
In Hebrew tradition the phrase “fall to the ground”, or “Strike to the ground” can refer to striking a person dead immediately, and is ascribed to God, who performs such acts via His angels, in particular Gabriel (Mighty One of God):
"let the master of thoughts come, (the blessed God,) and take vengeance on you; immediately Gabriel came, והבטן בקרקע, "and struck them to the ground"; and they died immediately.'' -Rav Simeon Ben Shetakh [F. Bavliy. Sanhedrin, fol. 19. 2.]
"if you transgress your father's command, immediately comes Gabriel, and "strikes to the ground".'' -Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 2.
Therefore, among the religious Jews represented there would have been great fear at the blowing down of those who approached Yeshua. This fear would have been equally present among the superstitious Roman soldiers who witnessed the event. Those who had come to arrest Him were made acutely aware that they would not be successful in their endeavour unless Yeshua allowed them to bind him. All power was in Yeshua’s hands.
8 Yeshua[H] answered, “I told you that I Am, I Exist (ego eimi[G]); so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 to make full (pleroo[G]) the word (ho logos[G], hadavar[H]) which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
Yeshua declares “I AM” a second time but withholds the power which He had levelled at His pursuers in the first stating of His Divine nature. This is an act of mercy toward His jailors and a clear expression of His decision to lay down His life:
Re: John 10:17. Note that Yeshua lays down His life of His own fruition and power. Neither the thief, nor the wolf, nor any other power is able to take the life of the Messiah except that He allows it. The giving of His life is entirely His decision.
“Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” A quoting of John 6:39 which makes an exception of Y’hudah [Judas Iscariot] (who himself chose not to be chosen [given]).
10 Shimon K’fa[H] (Simon [heard] Peter [rock]) then, having a short sword (machaira[G]), drew it and struck the high priest’s (archiereus[G], hakohen hagadol[H]) servant (doulos[G]), and cut off his right ear; and the servant’s (doulos[G]) name was Malchus[H]([kingly] alt. Malchut[H] [kingdom]).
The so called synoptic gospel accounts of this event: Matthew 26:51-52; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:50.
John’s gospel is the only account to name both the perpetrator Peter and the victim Malchus. There are at least two reasons for this. First, John was known to the high priest [v.15-16] and his court and thus was probably personally acquainted with Malchus. Second, John loved and admired Peter’s tenacity and courage in seeking to physically defend Yeshua. John did not act in the same way, perhaps out of fear.
11 So Yeshua[H] said to K’fa[H] (Peter, rock) “Put the short sword (machaira[G]) into the sheath; should I not drink the cup (kos[H]) which the Father (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) has given Me?”
“should I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?” Fits with the account of Luke 22:42.
The cup Yeshua must drink is the cup of God’s wrath against sin. This is the cup we sinners should drink from and yet He (the sinless One) chose to drink it on behalf of all who would receive His atoning work through death on a Roman cross and through His resurrection.
“God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” -Romans 5:9 NIV
12 So the 600-1000 strong cohort (speira[G], spiral) and the commander (chiliarchos[G]) and the servants of the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), arrested Yeshua[H] and bound Him,
The Greek “chiliarchos” translated “commander” refers to the Roman commander of a cohort of 1000 men. Thus, the Roman commander, the Jewish Temple guards and the religious leaders were jointly responsible for binding Yeshua. In short all present represented the major political and religious interests of both Jerusalem and the Roman Empire and therefore, were all equally culpable. It should be reiterated therefore, that Pilate was complicit in the arrest of Yeshua making His pretence at the subsequent trial all the more abhorrent.
We further note that at approximately 33 years of age Yeshua had shown that He had power to prevent His arrest and yet allowed them to bind Him. This correlates to Isaac, who at the same age allowed Abraham to bind him for sacrifice (Ha Akeidah [The Binding] Bereishit [Genesis] 22).
13 and led Him to Chananyah[H] (Gracious Yah [God], alt. Annas[G], humble) first; for he was father-in-law of Kayafa[A] (Caiaphas, attractive: Yoseph Ben Caiaphas), who was high priest that year.
John’s gospel alone tells of this preliminary hearing held before Annas (Chananyah) the father in law of the High Priest Caiaphas (Kayafa). Once again this makes sense given John’s relationship to the priestly class (v.15-16).
“High priest that year” is an indication that something other than Torah commanded priesthood was being practiced. The high priest of the Torah must be a descendant of Aaron and would be high priest until his death. In the early first century C.E. the priesthood had been defiled by Roman influence and the greed of certain Jewish religious power brokers, thus there was an albeit tenuous political relationship between the Jewish authorities of the time and the Roman Empire via her governor in Judea.
Annas had become high priest in 6 C.E. and reigned in that position until 15 C.E. In addition to Caiaphas many members of Annas’ family became high priest after him, including five of his sons. This was an apostate priesthood that existed in conjunction with Roman rule and was a desecration of the rightful priesthood of Israel. This in part is why Yeshua had set up His own Sanhedrin (Luke 10:1). Yeshua had confirmed the line of His priesthood (of all believers under Messiah) in His talmidim (disciples) as He ritually washed there feet during the Seder meal (John 13:4-17 see my article and note).
Caiaphas (Kayafa) [A.K.A Yoseph Ben Caiaphas] was appointed (contrary to Torah law) by Roman governor Valerius Gratus and served under him from 18 C.E. to 26 C.E. He then served under Pontius Pilate from 26 C.E. to approximately 37 C.E. In order to maintain his position political ties and compromise would have been necessary. He was not a legitimate (according to Torah law) high priest. He was chairman of the Sanhedrin which was made up predominantly of Sadducees. Ultimately Caiaphas held the position of high priest at the behest of Rome, making Pilate’s complicity in the arrest of Yeshua undeniable.
14 Now Kayafa[A] (Caiaphas, attractive: Yoseph Ben Caiaphas) was the one who had advised the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of all the people (kol-ha’am[H]) [11:49-52]. 15 Shimon K’fa[H] (Simon [heard] Peter [rock]) was following Yeshua[H], and so was another disciple [the author John]. Now that disciple was known (gnostos[G]) to the high priest (haKohen hagadol[H]), and entered with Yeshua[H] into the courtyard of the high priest (haKohen hagadol[H]),
God honoured the prophetic nature of the words spoken by Caiaphas (11:49-52) not because Caiaphas was a legitimate high priest but because the role of high priest was one of mediation and revelation to the people of Israel. In fact the legitimate line of Aaron seems to lead us to Yochanan the Immerser as a more likely candidate for a legitimate high priest. Regardless, Yeshua will be raised the Highest Priest of an everlasting priesthood that both precedes and supersedes the priesthood of Aaron.
Verse 14 gives clear evidence in support of translating “Ioudaios” as “Jewish religious leaders or Judeans [in the sense of a sectarian noun]”. The text calls the nation of Israel (all Jews in the land) “the people” and explains that Kayafa (Caiaphas) had advised the Ioudaios (Jewish leaders) on behalf of all Jews Ioudaios (the people). Therefore, the word Ioudaios must be translated according to context and not in an arbitrary manner.
The most obvious candidate for the unnamed disciple is the author Yochanan (John). Based on the inference of the text we can deduce that John was not only in relationship with some members of the Sanhedrin but was also known to the high priest personally. The fact that John was allowed entry based on his relationship to the priesthood and that he was afforded the right to gain entry for Peter (v.16) shows that there were those among the Sanhedrin and Pharisaic sect that remained sympathetic to Yeshua. As is so often the case this pretrial of Yeshua was subject to the loudest voices rather than the correct mode of Torah justice. It is very likely that many in the room disagreed with how Yeshua was treated.
16 but K’fa[H] (Peter) was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple [the author John], who was known (gnostos[G]) to the high priest (hakohen hagadol[H]), went out and spoke to the doorkeeper (thuroros[G]), and brought K’fa[H] (Peter) in. 17 Then the young girl (paidiske[G]) who kept the door (thuroros[G]) said to K’fa[H] (Peter), “You are not also one of this man’s disciples (talmidim[H]), are you?” He said, “I am not.”
Many are quick to pass judgement on Peter for his denial, and of course it was to his shame, however, who among us would have confessed our allegiance to a man accused of capital crime while we stood among his many accusers and at the risk of losing our lives? Peter had just risked his life for Yeshua by cutting of the servant Malchus’s ear in the midst of close to 1000 Roman soldiers and 200 Temple servant guards and Pharisees, was this the act of a coward? Was John questioned? Did John make an effort to physically protect Yeshua? And yet we laud John and decry Peter. Nonsense! Both were righteous, both acted according to their roles.
It is a mistake to presume that John’s gospel seeks to show Peter as a coward. To the contrary, John depicts his dear friend Peter in all the fullness of his humanity and with admiration.
18 Now the servants and the attendants were standing, having made a fire of coals, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and K’fa[H] (Peter) was also with them, standing and warming himself. 19 The high priest (hakohen hagadol[H]) then questioned Yeshua[H] about His disciples (talmidim[H]), and about His teaching, doctrine, instruction (didache[G]).
The pretrial that follows is illegal according to both Roman and Torah law. There were no legitimate witnesses as to a crime, the accused was not treated with respect or given an advocate, two or three corroborating witnesses were not presented and so on. That a man of such religious authority and political influence as Annas would conduct such a trial shows a lack of integrity and is an abhorrent misuse of power, compounded by the fact that Annas had recently been in the role of high priest and would surely influence Caiaphas in regard to Yeshua’s conviction at the hands of Pilate.
20 Yeshua[H] answered him, “I have spoken openly, unreservedly, without ambiguity (parrhesia[H]) to the world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]); I always taught in the gathering places, the synagogue (sunagoge[G]) and in the house of the temple (ho hieron[G], beiyt hamikdash[H]), where all the Jews (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. 21 Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.”
Due to context we see that “Ioudaios” is used here to refer to all Jews (Israelis), this being an exception to its more regular usage as a reference to the Jewish religious leaders and or the Judean religious sect of first century Judaism.
Yeshua shines a bright light on the illegitimacy of the pretrial and invokes Torah instruction with His answer.
“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.” -Shemot (Exodus) 23:1
A judge “must not commit unrighteousness!” -Vayikra (Lev.) 19:15
A judge “must not show favour to or be partial to a litigant!” -Vayikra (Lev.) 19:15
A judge “must not take vengeance or bear a grudge!” -Vayikra (Lev.) 19:18
22 When He had said this, one of the attendants standing nearby struck Yeshua[H], saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” 23 Yeshua[H] answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?”
Yeshua had not disrespected the authority (albeit illegitimate) of Annas, rather He had simply demanded that Torah law be followed and appropriate witnesses be presented in order to validate any accusations being levelled against Him.
Note that the One Whose word had sent men reeling and falling to the ground less than 40 minutes prior nonetheless allows himself to be struck. “Like a lamb to the slaughter…”
For the powerless man humility comes easy, but true humility is proved in the gentle response of a strong man.
The striking of one who speaks the truth warrants a weighty fine according to Mishnaic law:
The servant of the high priest who struck Yeshua should have been corrected by the Council, and made to pay the two hundred zuzim, fine required by Mishnaic law for such an offence, this fine could be substantially higher if the dignity of the person abused was deemed laudable. Perhaps in this case as much as 400 zuzim? (Mishnah Bava Kama, c. 8. sect. 6.)
It is interesting to note that the Mishnaic fine due Peter for cutting a man’s ear was four hundred zuzim. (Mishnah. Bava Kama, c. 8, sect. 6.) Given Yeshua’s status the unpaid fine due His offender might be considered to cancel out Peter’s debt.
24 So Chananyah[H] (Gracious Yah [God], alt. Annas[G], humble) sent Him bound to Kayafa[A] (Caiaphas, attractive) the high priest (hakohen hagadol[H]). 25 Now Shimon K’fa[H] (Simon [heard] Peter [rock]) was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also of His disciples (talmidim[H]), are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.”
Interestingly Yochanan (John the gospel writer) doesn’t record the details of the trial before Caiaphas nor the subsequent meeting of the Sanhedrin the following morning. It seems that Yochanan is more interested in conveying the meta-narrative of Yeshua’s Divinity and redemptive purpose than he is in giving a blow by blow account. He is clearly aware that there are others who have recorded the detail of these events (Matthew 26:59-68, 27:1-2; Mark 14:55-65, 15:1; Luke 22:66-23:1) and is content with conveying the gospel according to the inspiration that the Holy Spirit has afforded him.
It seems that Annas was at least partially convicted by Yeshua’s words. The act of sending Yeshua to Caiaphas places the responsibility of His conviction in the hands of another. However, like Pilate, Annas is complicit and will ultimately be held to account by God.
Sadly the Talmud Bavliy outright lies concerning the events of Yeshua’s trial claiming that after Yeshua was found guilty, a herald went before him forty days declaring his crime, and signifying, that if anyone knew anything worthy in him, to come and declare it (Talmud Bavliy Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1.). Ironic that this is written in the tractate “Sanhedrin”. This is an unqualified revisionist lie concerning the history of events surrounding Yeshua’s trial. Our rabbis should be ashamed for this false witness against our King Messiah! The polemic nature of their lie is palpable.
Peter’s second denial comes as the trial of Yeshua begins to heat up and the stakes become clearer. This is a life and death moment in time for all associated with Yeshua.
26 One of the servants of the high priest (HaKohen Hagadol[H]), being a relative of the one whose ear K’fa[H] (Peter) cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 K’fa[H] (Peter) then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.
The final denial by Peter comes in the face of direct confrontation by a witness to his act of defence in the garden of Gethsemane. One has great compassion for Peter at this point given the compounding of the accusations against him and the very real threat of death by association. The rooster crows according to Yeshua’s prophetic words (13:38).
Note that Yochanan does not dwell on Peter’s denial. He simply records it as fulfilling the prophetic word of Yeshua. Peter is dear to Yochanan.
28 Then they led Yeshua[H] from Kayafa[A] (Caiaphas, attractive) into the Praetorium [praitōrion[G]] (Governor’s court room), and it was early, daybreak (proia[G]); and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, become ritually unclean (miaino[G]), but might eat the Pascha[G] (Paskha[A] Passover sacrifice).
The ritual uncleanness or defilement mentioned here is not to do with Torah observance but with extrabiblical law that considered an observant Jew to be unclean after entering the home of a gentile. This is why Peter was given the vision of the heavenly cloth filled with all kinds of animals (Acts 10:28).
"the dwelling houses of Gentiles", or idolaters, "are unclean" - Mishnah Oholot, c. 18. sect. 7.
"if the collectors for the government (Romans) enter into a house to dwell in, all in the house are defiled.'' - Maimonides. Mishcab & Mosheb, c. 12. sect. 12.
According to both the Mishnah and Yarhci it was unlawful to to rent out a house in Judea to a pagan or to assist in building a Basilica for them. The Basilica is explained to be a palace, in which judges sit to judge men. (Mishnah. Avoda Zara, c. 1. sect. 8; Yarchi & Bartenora in ib. sect. 7.)
The “Paskha” or festival offering mentioned here is not the Passover meal of the previous evening but the Chagigah (festival sacrifice) made on the day of the Passover during the first century Temple period. Therefore, those who claim that the Seder meal in John’s gospel is not a Seder meal are in error based on a lack of understanding of first century Temple practice (Mishnah Pesachim 6:4 re. the eating of the Chagigah until the intervening night [15 Nisan]).
As further evidence of my assertion: King Josiah is said to offer for the Passovers (plural) three thousand bullocks, and the priests three hundred oxen, and the Levites five hundred oxen (2 Chronicles 35:7). Yarchi interprets these as the peace offerings of the Chagigah (Festival offering), which in second book of Chronicles are called Passovers (plural).
1 Esdras 1:7-9 mentions three thousand calves, besides lambs, that Josiah gave for the Passover; and three hundred by some other persons, and seven hundred by others: Deuteronomy 16:2, is explained of the "Chagigah", in both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Hieros. Pesacb. fol. 33. 1. Talmud Bavliy Pesachim, fol. 70. 2.)
Therefore, besides the Passover lamb, other sacrifices were slain, "in the name of the Passover” (Mishnah Pesachim, c. 6. sect. 5.)
The present text then is referring to the aforementioned Passover sacrifices which the observant first century Jewish men in question were to eat that day, and therefore were being careful not to defile themselves according to the Mishnah.
It should also be noted, that all the seven days of the festival were called the Passover; and those who eat the matzot (unleavened bread), say:
"Let everyone that is hungry, let him come and eat all that he needs, "and keep the Passover".'' - Haggadah Shel Pesach. p. 4. Ed. Rittangel.
29 Therefore Pilate (Pilatos[G], meaning: armed with a spear) went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”
Knowing what we do about Pilate’s actions during his role as governor of Judea and the fact that a Roman cohort was sent to arrest Yeshua (this could not have happened without Pilate’s approval), it is extremely difficult to take Pilate’s words as a genuine enquiry. He clearly already knew what some of the religious leaders who opposed Yeshua wanted. Therefore, Pilate’s question is a deception. In short, Pilate is a fraud and is complicit in the plan to put Yeshua to death.
Spotlight on Pilate
Pilate had sought to offend and provoke the Jews from the outset. His modus operandi was to provoke and then decimate those whom he saw as the Jewish agitators in Roman occupied Israel. Josephus tells us that Pilate provoked both Jews and Samaritans to riot “in order to abolish Jewish laws,”.
The gospel records Pilate mixing the blood of Galilean Jews with their sacrifices (Luke 13:1). This desecration alone was abhorrent but it was not the only action of its kind perpetrated by Pilate.
(see appendix A. for more details of Pilate’s actions)
30 They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.”
The religious leaders and their adherents had no evidence of evil doing. This was a false and unsupportable claim.
31 So Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your Torah[H], law (nomos[G]).” The Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,”
One must hold in a loud and sardonic guffaw (gut wrenching laugh) at the reading of this. Pilate, whose modus operandi was to seek to “abolish Jewish laws” (Josephus), says “Judge Him according to your Torah”. Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. Pilate is a two faced hypocrite, a liar, and a hater of both the idea of a Jewish Messiah and the Jewish people as a whole.
“We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” According to first century Roman law the Jewish leaders were not authorised to carry out the death penalty except in very rare cases. Therefore, because their false accusation concerned a crime for which they believed the Torah required capital punishment, they were seeking Pilate’s judgement and sentencing of Yeshua. Bottom line, without Pilate’s approval, tacit or otherwise, Yeshua could not be crucified. The washing of his hands would not be sufficient to clean the guilt of Pilate’s unrepentant soul.
32 to make full the word of Yeshua[H] which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die [John 3:14-15; 12:32]. 33 Therefore Pilate (Pilatos[G]) entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Yeshua[H] and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews (HaMelekh HaYehudim[H])?”
Yeshua’s word prophesying the type of death He would die (John 3:13-15; 12:32) was significant in that He would not die by stoning, the Torah prescribed method of death for the crime of blasphemy (Vayikra [Lev.] 24:16). This was to fulfil the figure of the snake on the pole held up by Moses to offer a means of redemption to those Israelites suffering snake bites during a plague against their disobedience as they wandered the desert toward the land of Israel (Bamidbar [Num.] 21:8-9; John 3:14-15).
We note that the previous events had taken place outside the Praetorium and that Pilate now brought Yeshua inside in order to talk to him away from the listening ears of the Jewish religious authorities.
Pilate’s question is one that seeks to find grounds for an accusation of insurrection. Anyone claiming to be a king was in direct opposition to the Roman Emperor and was therefore subject to the death penalty. Pilate had already killed Galilean Jews for similar reason (Luke 13:1). It seems clear that Pilate saw killing Yeshua as a win, win. First, he would be putting down a possible Messianic insurrection and second he would gain a large political favour from the subservient Jewish religious authorities, making his job as governor much easier (at least for a time). Of course history tells us that he did not manage to restrain himself after Yeshua’s death, and was reported to the Emperor by the Samaritans whom he had sought to decimate on Mount Gerizim in 36 C.E.
34 Yeshua[H] answered, “Are you saying this from your own soul (men nafshakh[A], alt. on your own initiative), or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate (Pilatos[G]) answered, “I am not a Jew (Ioudaios[G]), am I? Your own people (ethnos[G]) and the chief priests (archiereus[G], HaKohaniym[H]) delivered You to me; what have You done?”
Yeshua knows Pilate’s motives and the influence the religious leaders have had upon him. By addressing Pilate’s own soul Yeshua’s question affords Pilate an opportunity to repent but Pilate does not take the opportunity to do so.
Pilate’s reaction to Yeshua’s words is disingenuous, he lies to both Yeshua and himself. Pilate had okayed the sending of the cohort to assist the Jewish authorities in arresting Yeshua, therefore, he is lying in his pretence regarding the delivery of Yeshua by the chief priests. Notice that Pilate says “your people”. Pilate’s character as exhibited in the history of his actions as governor of Judea tells us that he detested the Jews, Yeshua being one of them.
36 Yeshua[H] answered, “My kingdom is not of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]). If My kingdom (malchutiy[H]) were of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]); but as it is, My kingdom (malchutiy[H]) is not from this place, not of this side (enteuthen[G]).”
Yeshua is King of all and will reign over the renewed heavens and earth, a world devoid of sin. He is not saying that He is not King over this present world, rather He is saying that His Kingdom is not of (born of, seeded by) this sin affected world. His Kingdom is of the heavens, of God Himself. Yeshua will return to reign forever. Pilate was unable to comprehend Yeshua’s response because he was deeply rooted in a kingdom of this world (the temporary Roman kingdom).
Note the Hebrew “Malchutiy” My Kingdom. It sounds familiar because it shares its root with the name of the servant of the high priest “Malchus” kingdom. The temporal and fallen kingdom of Malchus (representing the apostate priesthood. A kingdom of idolatry) was deaf to the Word of Yeshua and His Kingdom everlasting.
One Jewish commentator agrees that the Messiah is not of this world:
"the Messiah is separated from the world, because he is absolutely intellectual; but the world is corporeal; how then should the Messiah be in this world, when the world is corporeal, and ענין המשיח הוא אלהי לא גשמי, "the business of the Messiah is divine, and not corporeal?" - Rav Y’hudah Bezaleel Nizeach Israel, fol. 48.
37 Therefore Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to Him, “So You are a king?” Yeshua[H] answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), to testify, bear witness (martureo[G]) to the immutable truth (aletheia[G], haEmet[H]). Everyone who is of the immutable truth (aletheia[G], haEmet[H]) hears in My voice (phone[G], bekoliy[H]).”
“So you are a king” Pilate is hoping to confirm a legitimate reason to put Yeshua to death.
Yeshua holds Pilate accountable for his assertion “You say I am a King.” Then Yeshua proves Pilate with the words “Everyone who is of the immutable truth hears in My voice.” And Pilate confirms his true nature by saying, “What is Truth?”
38 Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) and said to them, “I find no reason to punish Him.
This performance places Pilate in the ultimate position of power. He has assured himself that he has a legitimate reason to kill Yeshua based on Roman law concerning insurrection and at the same time knows he can achieve this by passing the buck onto the Jewish religious authorities thus killing two birds with one stone. Therefore, Pilate is lying when he says “I find no reason to punish Him”. Pilate had sought the reason by asking that specific question concerning Yeshua’s Kingship.
The Talmud asks the same question Pilate has asked but gives an authoritative answer:
"What is truth?" and the answer is “the living God, and the King of the World!” - Talmud Hieros Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1.
Therefore, the better question is “Who is Truth”. God defines Truth and truth reflects the character of God.
39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Pesach[H] (Passover); do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews (HaMelekh HaYehudim[H])?”
This next question of Pilate which is posed to some of the Jewish religious leaders is insidious, duplicitous, he knows that the Jewish religious authorities are already enraged at the idea that Yeshua might be the King of the Jews. Added to this is the specific inference “King of the Jewish religious leaders, the Judean sect Ioudaios”. Pilate is intentionally rubbing their noses in it and provoking the result he wants. He knows that by using this title he will bait the Jewish religious authorities into choosing someone other than Yeshua to set free according to the governor’s Passover concession.
Bear in mind that there were not more than a thousand Jews present alongside the Roman cohort and Praetorium staff. By far the majority of Jews in Israel at the time were opposed to the political manipulation of the religious leaders and their plan to put Yeshua to death. The majority of Jews at the time (as testified to by the gospel narratives) if they were not certain that Yeshua was the promised Messiah, they were at least convinced He was Elijah, or the prophet Moses spoke of, or one of the other prophets, risen and active in the land. They believed this based on the miraculous signs He worked and the righteous teaching He proclaimed concerning the reconciliation of the Kingdom.
40 So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Bar-abbas[A] (Covenant son of the father/daddy).” Now Bar-abbas[A] was a robber (lestes[G]).
What a heart wrenching irony that the man set free is named Covenant Son of the Father? As well as dying as a substitution for all who would receive Him, Yeshua literally dies in place of a Jewish robber named Covenant Son of the Father.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Philo of Alexandria, The embassy to Caligula 299-305
Pilate was an official who had been appointed prefect of Judaea. With the intention of annoying the Jews rather than of honouring Tiberius, he set up gilded shields in Herod's palace in the Holy City. They bore no figure and nothing else that was forbidden, but only the briefest possible inscription, which stated two things - the name of the dedicator and that of the person in whose honour the dedication was made.
But when the Jews at large learnt of this action, which was indeed already widely known, they chose as their spokesmen the king's [Herod the Great] four sons, who enjoyed prestige and rank equal to that of kings, his other descendants, and their own officials, and besought Pilate to undo his innovation in the shape of the shields, and not to violate their native customs, which had hitherto been invariably preserved inviolate by kings and emperors alike.
When Pilate, who was a man of inflexible, stubborn and cruel disposition, obstinately refused, they shouted: "Do not cause a revolt! Do not cause a war! Do not break the peace! Disrespect done to our ancient laws brings no honour to the emperor. Do not make Tiberius an excuse for insulting our nation. He does not want any of our traditions done away with. If you say that he does, show us some decree or letter or something of the sort, so that we may cease troubling you and appeal to our master by means of an embassy."
This last remark exasperated Pilate most of all, for he was afraid that if they really sent an embassy, they would bring accusations against the rest of his administration as well, specifying in detail his venality, his violence, his thefts, his assaults, his abusive behaviour, his frequent executions of untried prisoners, and his endless savage ferocity.
So, as he was a spiteful and angry person, he was in a serious dilemma; for he had neither the courage to remove what he had once set up, nor the desire to do anything which would please his subjects, but at the same time he was well aware of Tiberius' firmness on these matters. When the Jewish officials saw this, and realized that Pilate was regretting what he had done, although he did not wish to show it, they wrote a letter to Tiberius, pleading their case as forcibly as they could.
What words, what threats Tiberius uttered against Pilate when he read it! It would be superfluous to describe his anger, although he was not easily moved to anger, since his reaction speaks for itself.
For immediately, without even waiting until the next day, he wrote to Pilate, reproaching and rebuking him a thousand times for his new-fangled audacity and telling him to remove the shields at once and have them taken from the capital to the coastal city of Caesarea [...], to be dedicated in the temple of Augustus. This was duly done. In this way both the honour of the emperor and the traditional policy regarding Jerusalem were alike preserved.
Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-174
Pilate, being sent by Tiberius as prefect to Judaea, introduced into Jerusalem by night and under cover the effigies of Caesar which are called standards.
This proceeding, when day broke, aroused immense excitement among the Jews; those on the spot were in consternation, considering their laws to have been trampled under foot, as those laws permit no image to be erected in the city; while the indignation of the townspeople stirred the countryfolk, who flocked together in crowds.
Hastening after Pilate to Caesarea, the Jews implored him to remove the standards from Jerusalem and to uphold the laws of their ancestors. When Pilate refused, they fell prostrate around his palace and for five whole days and nights remained motionless in that position.
On the ensuing day Pilate took his seat on his tribunal in the great stadium and summoning the multitude, with the apparent intention of answering them, gave the arranged signal to his armed soldiers to surround the Jews.
Finding themselves in a ring of troops, three deep, the Jews were struck dumb at this unexpected sight. Pilate, after threatening to cut them down, if they refused to admit Caesar's images, signalled to the soldiers to draw their swords.
Thereupon the Jews, as by concerted action, flung themselves in a body on the ground, extended their necks, and exclaimed that they were ready rather to die than to transgress the law. Overcome with astonishment at such intense religious zeal, Pilate gave orders for the immediate removal of the standards from Jerusalem.
Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.55-59
Now Pilate, the prefect of Judaea, when he brought his army from Caesarea and removed it to winter quarters in Jerusalem, took a bold step in subversion of the Jewish practices, by introducing into the city the busts of the emperor that were attached to the military standards, for our law forbids the making of images.
It was for this reason that the previous prefects, when they entered the city, used standards that had no such ornaments. Pilate was the first to bring the images into Jerusalem and set them up, doing it without the knowledge of the people, for he entered at night.
But when the people discovered it, they went in a throng to Caesarea and for many days entreated him to take away the images. He refused to yield, since to do so would be an outrage to the emperor; however, since they did not cease entreating him, on the sixth day he secretly armed and placed his troops in position, while he himself came to the speaker's stand. This had been constructed in the stadium, which provided concealment for the army that lay in wait.
When the Jews again engaged in supplication, at a pre-arranged signal he surrounded them with his soldiers and threatened to punish them at once with death if they did not put an end to their tumult and return to their own places.
But they, casting themselves prostrate and baring their throats, declared that they had gladly welcomed death rather than make bold to transgress the wise provisions of the laws. Pilate, astonished at the strength of their devotion to the laws, straightway removed the images from Jerusalem and brought them back to Caesarea.
Josephus on Pontius Pilate and the Aqueduct Riots
Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War 2.175-177
"On a later occasion he provoked a fresh uproar by expending upon the construction of an aqueduct the sacred treasure known as Corbonas; the water was brought from a distance of seventy kilometres. Indignant at this proceeding, the populace formed a ring round the tribunal of Pilate, then on a visit to Jerusalem, and besieged him with angry clamour.
He, foreseeing the tumult, had interspersed among the crowd a troop of his soldiers, armed but disguised in civilian dress, with orders not to use their swords, but to beat any rioters with cudgels. He now from his tribunal gave the agreed signal.
Large numbers of the Jews perished, some from the blows which they received, others trodden to death by their companions in the ensuing flight. Cowed by the fate of the victims, the multitude was reduced to silence."
Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.60-62
"He spent money from the sacred treasury in the construction of an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem, intercepting the source of the stream at a distance of thirty-five kilometres. The Jews did not acquiesce in the operations that this involved; and tens of thousands of men assembled and cried out against him, bidding him relinquish his promotion of such designs. Some too even hurled insults and abuse of the sort that a throng will commonly engage in.
He thereupon ordered a large number of soldiers to be dressed in Jewish garments, under which they carried clubs, and he sent them off this way and that, thus surrounding the Jews, whom he ordered to withdraw. When the Jews were in full torrent of abuse he gave his soldiers the prearranged signal.
They, however, inflicted much harder blows than Pilate had ordered, punishing alike both those who were rioting and those who were not. But the Jews showed no faint-heartedness; and so, caught unarmed, as they were, by men delivering a prepared attack, many of them actually were slain on the spot, while some withdrew disabled by blows. Thus ended the uprising."
© 2020 Yaakov Brown
Objects are made for use, whereas people are created for relationship. Therefore, those who enter relationship with God are perfected in life while those who refuse relationship with God make objects of themselves. Objects exist but they are not alive.
This chapter concludes Yeshua’s words to the disciples following the Pesach (Passover) Seder and prior to crossing the Kidron valley to Gat Sheminim (Gethsemane), with a prayer to the Father. The words of Yeshua’s prayer read as statements of fact concerning things only God could know, and convey concepts of which Yeshua is intimately aware. Therefore, it’s clear that His intention is to entreat the Father on His disciple’s behalf and at the same time to teach the disciples about His relationship to the Father and the desired relationship between the disciples and the Father through Yeshua and toward one another.
There are some important distinctions made by the Hebrew translation that are not illuminated by the Greek text. These distinctions are consistent with the first century Jewish context and would have been easily comprehended by the disciples and early Jewish followers of Yeshua. In short, the original recipients of Yochanan’s Gospel.
33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace, wholeness, wellbeing (shalom[H]). In this world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]) you have pressing together, travail, distress, troubles (thlipis[G]), nevertheless, be of good courage (tharseo[G]); I have conquered (nikao[G]) this world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]).”
1 Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Joshua, YHVH Saves, Jesus) spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes toward the heavens (ouranos[G], hashamayiym[H]), He said, “My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), the certain definite time, hour (hora[G]) has come; glorify, magnify, be of the opinion of, celebrate (doxazo[G], Paeir[G]) the Son of You (ho uihos[G], HaBen Shelcha[H]), that the Son (ho uihos[G], HaBen[H]) may glorify, magnify, be of the opinion of, celebrate (doxazo[G], Paeir[G]) You,
“Yeshua spoke these things” meaning all that had preceded and all that was about to proceed in respect to His prayer to the Father before the disciples.
“Lifting up His eyes toward the heavens” is a reflection of Yeshua’s former prayer posture when standing before the grave of Lazarus (John 11:41-42). Then, as now, His prayer is being said aloud in front of His talmidim as a testimony to them. Yeshua need not lift up His eyes to the heavens nor pray aloud, both these actions are for the benefit of those who are with Him.
The phrase “he lifted up his face to the heavens” is used by our sages to describe a posture of prayer that denotes honour toward the seat of God’s power, figuratively speaking (Vayikra Rabba, sect. 34. fol. 174. 4.).
“My Father” expresses an intimate and distinct difference in Yeshua’s prayer. Yeshua is conversing as He has always conversed with the Father, in inseparable relationship. When asked how they should pray Yeshua instructed the disciples to pray “Avinu Shabashamayiym…” (Our Father in the heavens). Here, Yeshua intimates His unique familial connection to the Father as being the means by which the disciples are able to pray “Our Father”.
We note that the glory of the Son in the Father is more than just bright light and awe. The Greek “doxazo” denotes celebration and the idea of sharing the opinion and purposes of another. Therefore, The Son seeks to reflect back to the Father the mind of the Father and to do so based on the fact that the Father has already given the Son the power and liberty to act as the Son pleases.
Being in and of the Father the Son acts according to the mind of the Father in seeking the salvation of those who would receive the Father through the Son. This is explained from a perspective outside of time and space as being the result of the Father having given to the Son those whom He has seen as obedient to receive His offer of love, even before they themselves had chosen to act in obedience. Thus, seeing the end from the beginning the Father gives those to be redeemed to the Son, Who exists in the Father from before the foundation of the world.
2 According to the power, liberty to do as He pleases, authority (exousia[G]) You have given (natat[H]) Him, over all flesh (sarx[G], basar[H]) individually (pas[H]), that to all whom You have given Him, He may give (natat[H]) life, living (zoe[G], chayeiy[H]) without end (aionios[G], olam[H]).
“According to the authority You have given Him over all flesh” is an important distinction. Yeshua has been given authority over all creation, including the angelic etc. However, the focus here is on the Father’s relationship to humanity through the Son. Thus, “all flesh”, a reference to the human race.
“to all whom You have given Him, He may give life without end” The Father has given the Son the role of gate keeper to life without end. It is through the Son alone that human beings gain access to everlasting life. Like the Father the Son desires that none should perish, however, like the Father He also knows that love cannot exist without freewill. Therefore, predestination is concluded based on the observation of freewill.
“Yeshua answered, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”” -John 14:6
3 And this is the (ho[G]) unending (aionios[G], haolam[H]) life, living (zoe[G], chayeiy[H]) that gives them the opportunity to learn to know, perceive, understand, intimately know (ginosko[G], lada’at[H]) You, the only, singular (monos[G]) genuinely, absolutely, true (alethinos[G]) God (Theos[G], Elohim[H]), and Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Joshua, YHVH Saves, Jesus) Ha-Mashiach[H] (The Messiah, Christos[G], Christ) Whom You have sent.
Everlasting life is not simply continued existence after the death experienced as a result of this sin affected world. All, both the righteous and the wicked share continued existence following death (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29 etc.), some enter everlasting living and others everlasting torment/the second death (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).
Everlasting living through Yeshua in God is a form of relational existence that perfects the concept of life and is founded in the knowledge of God, the Creator and the One Who sustains all things through Yeshua His Anointed One. Objects are made for use, whereas people are created for relationship. Therefore, those who enter relationship with God are perfected in life while those who refuse relationship with God make objects of themselves. Objects exist but they are not alive.
A modern example of the difference between eternal living and eternal damnation might be that of the patient whose life is sustained entirely by medical machines, this person is considered to have “life” technically continuing to exist but for all intents and purposes is not truly living, not in practical action, nor in relationship to others. Add to this the possibility that one could experience consciousness while being utterly paralyzed in this state and we have an example of existing torment, a reflection, at least in part, of the far worse reality of eternal death.
To receive the Person of God and to be known by God in relationship is eternal living. In Messiah He unplugs us from the life support machines of this temporary world and supports us with life Himself. We do not merely exist in Him, we are alive in Him.
The life Yeshua speaks of begins in Him within time and space and in doing so transcends time and space. To begin to be known by God is to begin to know God, making everlasting living a journey entered into within the temporal world, a journey that transforms temporal things, sanctifying (setting them apart) to function outside of time and space.
“the only, singular genuinely, absolutely, true God” reflects the Shema (central prayer of Judaism Deut. 6:4). God is “monos” One, “echad” Complex and One, He defines truth.
Our sages remind us that engaging with God’s Torah (Written Word, Instruction) is part of the journey toward eternal life and that those engaged in temporary things are constantly afforded an opportunity to repent and turn to the practice of eternal things up until the time allotted them on this earth.
Rabbi Yoḥanan heard that one angel said to the other: Let us knock this wall down upon them and kill them, as they abandon eternal life of Torah study and engage in temporal life for their own sustenance. The other angel said to him: Leave them, as there is one of them whose time of achievement stands before him, i.e., his time has yet to come. Rabbi Yoḥanan heard all this, but Ilfa did not hear the angels’ conversation. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to Ilfa: Did the Master hear anything? Ilfa said to him: No. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to himself: Since I heard the angels and Ilfa did not hear, I can learn from this that it is I whose time of achievement stands before me. -Talmud Bavliy, Taanit 21a, 3
"fleeing to the Divine Being, "is eternal life"; and running front him is death.''
-Philo, De profugis, p. 461
4 I have glorified, magnified, am of the opinion of, celebrated (doxazo[G], peiartiycha[H]) You in the land [earth] (ho ge[G], va’aretz[H]), having accomplished the business, employment, occupation, work (ergon[G]) which You have given (didomi[G], tziviytaniy[H]) Me to do, make, produce, fashion, construct (poieo[G], la’asot[H]).
Both the Hebrew “aretz” and the Greek “ge (ghay)” mean “land” and thus to the Jewish residents of the land of Israel in the first century CE (in particular His disciples), Yeshua’s words are understood to refer first and foremost to Ha Aretz, the land of Israel and only secondarily to all the earth.
5 Now, My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), glorify, magnify, be of the opinion of, celebrate (doxazo[G], Pa’areiniy[G]) Me together with Yourself, with the glory, opinion, judgement, view, in the holiness (doxa[G], bakavod[H]) which I had/hold (echo[G], hayah-liy[H]) with You before this (ho[G]) the (ho[G]) world (kosmos[G], haolam[H]) was.
Our sages teach that God will give the Messiah “of the supreme glory” (Midrash Tillim in Psal. 20 apud Galatin. de Arcan. Cathol. Ver. l. 3. c. 9.)
The Greek “echo” meaning to “have, hold” is used in the past tense here but only because Yeshua is speaking within time and space. In reality Yeshua is speaking into time and space a transcendent truth. We could read “Now, (present) My Father, glorify Me together (echad) with Yourself, with the holiness which I hold (eternal present) with You before (past) the world existed.” In short, all things are an echo of God’s voice, His Davar (Word, essence = Yeshua) and therefore, Yeshua is God with us speaking within the echo of God. Thus, the Greek “echo” being the foundation for the English “echo”, reflects the reality of super-real truth.
Yeshua is not merely pre-existing, He is eternal. He is not only the Word that emanates from the mouth of God, He is also the eternally present thought that is in the mind of God. Therefore, Yeshua is unique and inseparable. “Imanu-El”.
On the eternal nature of Yeshua, the Davar (Word, Essence, Substance):
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.” -Micah 5:2
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” -John 1:1
“Yeshua said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” -John 8:58
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” -Colossians 1:17
“Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” -Hebrews 7:3
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the goal.” -Revelation 22:13
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” -Colossians 1:15
“They will perish, but You remain;
And they all will become old like a garment,
And like a mantle You will roll them up;
Like a garment they will also be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not come to an end.” -Hebrews 1:11-12
“John gave testimony about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” -John 1:15
“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” -Revelation 1:17-18
6 “I have manifested, made visible (phaneroo[G]) the Name, identity, character, person (ho onoma[G], shimcha[H]) of You to the children of the man [humanity] (anthropos[G], liv’neiy[H] haadam[H]) whom You gave (natat[H]) Me out of this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]); they were Yours and You gave (natat[H]) them to Me, and they have kept, preserved, guarded, observed (natzaru[H]) Your word, essence (ho logos[G], et-d’varecha[H]).
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him.” -John 1:18
“Yeshua *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” -John 14:9
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” -Colossians 1:15
Notice that Yeshua has made the very Name (identity, nature) of God visible to those among the children of Adam whom God has given to Yeshua from the creation which was made through Him. Those given to Yeshua belong to God and are His to give, and, they (first the disciples and subsequently all believers) have (past tense) kept, guarded, treasured, protected, observed the Word (Davar). That is, in the capacity allowed them by the Word (Yeshua), they have been given the opportunity to treasure and guard His words, to observe them and to pass on His teaching, to convey to others the opportunity afforded them through His death and resurrection, that they too might receive His Essence (Davar, Logos, Memra etc).
7 Now they have come to know, perceive, understand, intimately know (ginosko[G], yadu[H]) that everything, individually (pas[G]) You have given (didomi[G], natat liy[H]) Me is from You; 8 for the words spoken, things, essence (rhema[G], had’variym[H]) which You gave (didomi[G], natat[H]) Me I have given (didomi[G], natatiy[H]) to them; and they received them and in truth (be’emet[H]) understood, have come to know, perceive, understand, intimately know (ginosko[G], yadu[H]) that I came forth from You, and they believed, trusted, were persuaded, placed confidence in the fact (pisteuo[G], vayamiynu[H]) that You sent Me.
Yeshua has given to His disciples the message of God’s redemptive love and His desire to reconcile humanity to Himself. The Disciples now understand that Yeshua has been given authority over all things. They have come to this understanding not by taking hold of it but by receiving it from Yeshua Who has taken hold of them. The disciples now comprehend that Yeshua is the promised King Messiah sent from God and have trusted Him.
ואיתן פתגמי, "and I will give the words", of my prophecy into his mouth, and he shall speak with them all that I have commanded.'' -Targum of Yonatan Ben Uzziel, Deut. 18:18 (second century CE)
9 I ask, desire (erotao[G]) concerning, for, on behalf of (peri[G]) them; I do not ask concerning, for, on behalf of (peri[G]) this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]), but of those whom You have given (didomi[G], natat liy[H]) Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and all that is Yours is Mine; and I have been glorified, magnified, extoled of opinion, celebrated (doxazo[G]) in them.
Notice that Yeshua is not asking God to guard those who choose to reject Yeshua and God’s redemptive offer. There is no forgiveness for the unrepentant, this is a firmly established teaching of Scripture. “Forgive them for they know not what they do” denotes an opportunity for them to know and repent, it is not an offer of forgiveness to the unrepentant. God does not force people to spend eternity in relationship with Him. Yeshua is not interested in the prosperity of “this world” (the sin affected world), rather He is interested in the eternal prosperity of those whom God has given Him. Furthermore the glory and opinion of God in Yeshua is now in the disciples (and by extension, in all who come to faith).
11 And now, I am no longer in this world/in the land (hokosmos[G], baaretz[H]); but they themselves are in this world/in the land (hokosmos[G], baaretz [H]), and I come to You. Holy, morally blameless (hogios[G], kidoshiy[H]) Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), keep, guard, protect (sh’mor[H]) them in Your Name, identity, character, nature, person (shimcha[H]), which You have given (didomi[G], natat liy[H]) Me, that they may be one (heis[G], echad[H]) even as We are.
Notice the present tense “I am no longer in this world”. The Hebrew translation is interesting in that it says “I am no longer in the land” meaning, “I am no longer in the land of Israel”. The phrase “I come to you” is in the present continuous tense.
“Holy, morally blameless Father, keep, guard, protect them in Your Name, identity, character, nature, person, which You have given Me that they may be one even as We are.” Yeshua asks God’s protection over the souls of His followers (and by extension the souls of all believers) because He is aware that He will not be physically present to guard them Himself. Yeshua is speaking with the post ascension period in mind. He will of course return to His disciples briefly after His resurrection, however, in this context He is speaking within time and space of the present eternal perspective He holds at the right hand of the Father outside of time and space.
“Keep them in Your Name” does not mean keep them from trial or physical harm but keep them in the character, identity, eternal nature of Your Name, don’t allow them to be lost to disobedience and damnation. And this for a purpose, “that they may be one even as We are.”
“In Your Name which you have given Me” This reveals the true nature of Yeshua as Imanu (with us) El (God). Therefore, “that they may be one even as we are”. Yeshua is praying the heart of the Father, asking for what the Father desires, that those who receive Him might be a complex unity in relationship with the Father and the Son in the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy spirit).
12 While I was among (meta[G]) them in the world (hokosmos[G], baolam[H]), I was keeping, guarding, protecting, observing (shamartiy[H]) them in Your Name, identity, character, nature, person (shimcha[H]), which You have given (didomi[G], natat liy[H]) Me; and I kept, guarded, protected, observed (shamartiy[H]) them and not one (echad[H]) of them perished, was lost, destroyed (apollumi[G]) except the son of damnation, destruction, waste (apoleia[G], ben haavadon[H]) so that the word (devar[H]) of the sacred writing, Scripture (graphe[G], hakatuv[H])would be fulfilled, accomplished, perfected (pleroo[G], l’malot[H]).
Yeshua was in this world and guarding His disciples from spiritual demise. However, Yeshua did not force the redemptive purpose of God upon them. Thus, because He loves as God loves He was not able to keep Yehudah (Judas Iscariot) from spiritual demise. Yehudah chose His own destruction and in doing so confirmed what God already knew, that he was destined to betray Yeshua and bring destruction upon himself.
“so that the word of the sacred writing, Scripture (graphe[G], hakatuv[H])would be fulfilled, accomplished, perfected” Both the Greek and Hebrew use words meaning “writing” and refer specifically to the “Ketuvim” (writings) of the Tanalkh (OT). In this case the writings in question are from the Tehilim (Psalms):
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.” -Tehilim (Psalm) 41:10(9) [John 13:18] NASB
“But it is you, a man [a]my equal,
My companion and my [b]familiar friend;
14 We who had sweet [c]fellowship together
Walked in the house of God in the throng.
15 Let [d]death come deceitfully upon them;
Let them go down alive to [e]Sheol,
For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.” - Tehilim (Psalm)55:13-15 NASB
“Thus they have [c]repaid me evil for good
And hatred for my love.
6 Appoint a wicked man over him,
And let an [d]accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is judged, let him come forth guilty,
And let his prayer become sin.
8 Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
9 Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.” - Tehilim (Psalm) 109:5-9 [Acts 1:20] NASB
The prefigure of Yehudah (Judas Iscariot) referred to in these Psalms is probably Achitofel (my brother foolish), who betrayed King David (2 Samuel 16:14-17).
13 But now, to Your advantage (pros[G]) I come to You; and these things I speak in this world (hokosmos[G], baolam[H]) so that they may have My transcendent joy (chara[G], simchatiy[H]) made full, accomplished, perfected (pleroo[G]) in themselves.
Yeshua’s coming to the Father is to the Father’s advantage in that it is the catalyst for the redemption of those who are to be saved from the sin affected world. Yeshua speaks this aloud in the fallen world so that His disciples will have recollection of what He has said following His resurrection and ascension and will thus be filled with the transcendent Joy of Yeshua which refuses to submit to temporal sorrow. Therefore, their joy will be perfected within them because the Spirit of Messiah will dwell in them as a result of His death, resurrection and ascension.
14 I have given (didomi[G], natatiy[H]) them the word (ho logos[G], et d’varecha[H]) of You; and this world (hokosmos[G], baolam[H]) has pursued them with hatred (miseo[G]), because they are not of this world (hokosmos[G], baolam[H]), even as I am not of this world (hokosmos[G], baolam[H]).
“I have given them Your Word” is tantamount to saying “I have given them Myself”. It of course also refers to the words and practices of Yeshua as they have been conveyed to the disciples. It is because the disciples have received Yeshua (the Light) and His word, that the sin affected world (darkness) hates them. In receiving Yeshua the disciples have become as alien to the sin affected world as the light is alien to darkness. They have already become part of another world, that is the Olam Haba (world to come, the eternal present) and are therefore recognized as a threat to the temporal world of sin and death whose very existence is threatened by those who live in Messiah.
Note that the disciple of Yeshua, and therefore, by extension every believer is not of this world in the same way that Yeshua is not of this world. We have become children of a sinless Father and are therefore no longer recognized as being children of the fallen father Adam. This is why Yeshua is called the last Adam (1 Corinth. 15:45).
15 I do not ask, desire (erotao[G]) You to take them out of this world (hokosmos[G], baolam[H]), but to keep them, tenderly care for them, observe them, protect them (tereo[G]) from the evil, harassment, bad nature, wickedness, the evil one (poneros[G]). 16 They are not of this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]), even as I am not of this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]).
Yeshua does not ask that His followers be removed from this sin affected world, nor does He ask that they be kept from the struggles of life, rather He asks that they be kept from the evil one. Once again He is asking that God keep His followers in saving relationship. If Yeshua had asked for His followers to be taken out of this world He would have been preventing the salvation of all who would come to faith through them. The same is true of us today. Often I think, how much better it would be if God simply took me as He did Chanoch (Enoch), who walked with God and was not. Then I remember my calling in Messiah to make disciples of all nations, first the Jew and also the peoples of this world.
If our goal is to avoid suffering in pursuit of happiness we will fail to spread the Good News of our Messiah. The Good News of Yeshua walks in dark places because it is the darkness that must be illuminated. After all, what good are headlights in summer at midday? Not so long ago I was in hospital in agony and crying out to God asking why He would allow me to go through such suffering, at which point He pointed to the Muslim man and his suffering son in the bed next to me. Moments later the Muslim man asked me, “what do you believe?” I mean, who does that? I shared my faith in Messiah with him and prayed for his son. Perhaps that will be the only time that man ever has the opportunity to hear the Good News of Yeshua. And if I had not suffered? Forget the American dream, dream a better dream, make the ambition of Yeshua your dream.
They (the disciples and by extension all subsequent believers) are not of this world (fallen) any longer because in Yeshua they are born from above, that is, they are of the eternal world to come and are now eternally present through Yeshua. Thus, they are not of this temporary fallen world any more than Yeshua is.
In Messiah we are of the world to come. Therefore in this world we sin when we forget that we are of another world.
17 Sanctify, set apart, consecrate, purify, cleanse (hagiazo[G], kadeish[H]) them in the absolute, immutable truth (ho aletheia[G], b’emet[H]); Your Word, essence (logos[G], d’varecha[H]) is (eternally present) absolute, immutable truth (aletheia[G], emet[H]).
The Hebrew “kadeish” and the Greek “hagiazo” mean to be “set apart”. And how are the Messiah’s followers set apart? We are set apart in the Word (Both Living [Yeshua], and written [Divinely inspired]). God’s Word is eternally present, the measure of truth. Therefore, we are set apart, sanctified within time and space having already been perfected outside of time and space. The living Word Yeshua lives in us and so, we consume and practice the written word daily so as to perpetuate immutable truth in a world that is compromised by the temporary defilement of the lie.
There is a practical application here. We impede our own sanctification when we neglect the written word. To neglect the written word is to forget the Living Word Who dwells in us. Do you recall a time when you wrote a heartfelt message on a greeting card and handed it to your loved one with a gift in tow, only to see your loved one put the card to the side and rip open the gift?
18 As You sent Me into this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]), I also have sent them into this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]).
As followers of Yeshua we are being sent to this sin affected world from our new home in the eternal present. We have become shaliachiym (sent ones) of the King Messiah and are tasked with His purposes in God. We are not Him, but we are like Him.
19 For their sakes, [Aramaic alt. and upon/before their faces, v’al apayhun[A]] I sanctify, set apart, consecrate, purify, cleanse (hagiazo[G], makdiysh[H]) Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified, consecrated, purified, cleansed (m’kudashiym[H]) in truth (b’emet[H]).
The Aramaic text is beautiful. It reads “Upon their faces I set apart Myself…” In short, “My countenance illuminated in their faces will show them to be set apart and of a different world (Olam Haba). “Upon their faces” is an idiom denoting intimacy, a closeness of lovers. Therefore Yeshua is shown to be set apart in the countenance of His followers and by His work He has set apart those same followers in Truth. God defines truth.
The plain meaning is this, that the disciples will see Yeshua crucified and resurrected (the process of His being set apart).
20 “I do not ask, desire (erotao[G]) concerning, for, on behalf of (peri[G]) these only, but for those also who believe, trust (haamamiyniym[H]) in Me through their word (devariym[H]);
Over two thousand years ago Yeshua prayed not only for His disciples but also for you. Thus, He continues to make the same request to the Father on your behalf today.
“It is Messiah Yeshua that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. -Romans 8:34
21 that they may all be one (echad[H]); even as You, My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]) may believe, trust (ya’amiyn[H]) that You sent Me.
This is perhaps one of the greatest indictments against the body of believers today. Yeshua has asked that we might be one as He and the Father are one, and yet here we stand divided. The unity of the body of believers does not require us to agree on every little detail but it must be established in the Father and the Son through the intrinsic connection of the Holy Spirit. It must also submit to order and the roles God has given the Jew and the Gentile. Unity cannot come to a body of believers that denies the position of the elder brother (Israel, ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). There is no unity in disrespecting one’s elders. Nor can unity come as long as the elder son looks down on the younger brother (Gentile believers). It is only in the love of God through Messiah that we can walk as one respecting our differences while holding tightly to core doctrine and the Word of Truth.
We must allow God to manifest the unity of His Son in us lest the world fail to see His redemptive purpose in us and thus fail to trust in Yeshua Whom God has sent. God will work this unity through discipline if we continue to refuse to operate in it of our own fruition.
22 The glory, opinion, judgement, view, splendour, brightness (doxa[G], haKavod[H]) which You have given Me (didomi[G], natatiy[H]) I have given (didomi[G], natat liy[H]) to them, that they may be one (echad[H]), just as We are one (echad[H]);
We have been given the glory, judgement, brightness of Yeshua as He has received glory from God. It is by His judgement, opinion, brightness that we find unity. The same unity that Yeshua has with the Father.
23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected, brought to the goal (teleioo[G]) in oneness (heis[G]), so that this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]) may come to know (ginosko[G]) that You sent Me, and loved entirely (agapao[G], ahavta[H]) them, even as You have entirely loved Me (ahavtaniy[H]).
Our oneness is being perfected within the fallen world so that we might reach the goal of that perfection in Messiah and thus give this sin affected world an opportunity for redemption and renewal.
We can take great comfort in the knowledge that the Father has loved us entirely just as He has entirely loved the Son. This, when it is manifested to the fallen world will bring many to faith.
24 My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]), I desire that they also, whom You have given Me (n’tatam liy[H)), be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory, opinion, judgement, view, splendour, brightness (doxa[G], b’k’vodiy[H]) which You have given Me (didomi[G], natat liy[H]), for You entirely loved Me (agapao[G], ahavtaniy[H]) before the face of (lifneiy[H]) the foundation, establishment (mosdot[H]) of the world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]).
Yeshua desires that His followers dwell in the eternal present and behold His glory, opinion, judgement, brightness. This is not a narcissistic desire to be honoured by the subjugated masses, but a desire to share honour with family. Yeshua desires that we dwell in the mind of Messiah and thus the mind of God.
This is a further illumination of Yeshua’s eternal existence and the love relationship of the family of the Godhead.
“Before the face of the foundation of the establishment of the world…” This conveys the perfect relationship of the Godhead prior to the creation of this world, “world” being synonymous with universe, cosmos etc. God did not create us in order to meet a need, He was not lonely prior to creating us, to the contrary, he created us to meet our need, affording us the opportunity to experience true relationship and perpetual, abundant, perfected living in Him.
25 “O My Father, the righteous One (Aviy Hatzadiyk[H]), although this world (hokosmos[G], haolam[H]) has not known (y’da’acha[H]) You, yet I have known (y’da’tiycha[H]) You; and these (disciples) have known that You sent Me (sh’lachtaniy[H]);
“Yeshua responded, “Why do you call Me good? Only God is good!” (Mark 10:18)
The Hebrew text says “My Father The Righteous!” God defines righteousness and purity, which is an emanation of His Holiness. Yeshua acknowledges this fact before His disciples and in doing so identifies Himself as Imanu (with us) El (God).
“This world has not known you” This sin affected world lacks the ability in and of itself to gain the knowledge of and in God. The Hebrew “yadat” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse and denotes intimacy and the union of being. Both God’s marriage to Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical), and Yeshua’s marriage to the bride (body of believers) are made possible through the bride price in Yeshua’s blood and the invitation to engagement offered by Yeshua at the Father’s choosing. Therefore, the sin affected world and its rejection of Yeshua is the cause of its own demise. It lacks knowledge of God because it has refused God’s invitation for it to be known.
“Yet I have known You” Yeshua is present in the fallen world as the One Who has known God in the most intimate relational sense and is therefore the only One qualified to bring others into the knowledge of God.
26 and I have made known to them (hoda’tiym[H]) Your Name, identity, nature, person, character (et shimcha[H]), and will make it known (l’hodiyam[H]), so that the all-encompassing love (agapao[G], ha’ahavah[H]) with which You loved (ahavataniy[H]) Me may be in them, and I in them.”
15 [a]He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For [b]by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He [c]is before all things, and in Him all things [d]hold together.18 He is also head of the body, the body of beleivers; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” -Colossians 1:15-18
Not only has Yeshua made known to His disciples the Name and nature of God, He also continues to make God’s Name known to all who believe, and He does so for a purpose: “so that the all-encompassing love with which” God has loved Yeshua might be in us and that Yeshua Himself might be in/among us.
It’s overly simplistic, even superstitious to say as some do, that Yeshua is speaking about the Divine proper Noun YHVH and its correct pronunciation. We Jews know that the pronunciation of the Holy Name has been lost to us but as Jewish followers of Yeshua we understand that the character and nature of God is accessible to us through the King Messiah.
Those who claim that no one can be saved unless they properly pronounce the Name YHVH are not only wrong, they are in danger of damnation. No one knows the correct pronunciation of the Holy Name YHVH because the vowel markings indicating its pronunciation in ancient texts were representative of the Hebrew Adonai (Lord) and do not reflect the actual vowel markings for the Holy Name. The best scholarship guess to date is Yahweh, but this is not more than our best “guess”. Therefore, we are incapable of correctly pronouncing the Name YHVH, leaving us all damned if we are to believe the false teaching of the so called “Holy Name Movement”.
The Shaliach (Apostle) Kefa (Peter) speaks concerning the Name of Yeshua saying “There is no other Name under the heavens by which a person can be saved!” (Acts 4:12). God has intentionally kept the pronunciation of the Holy Name from us in order to protect us (Exodus 20:7; Deut. 5:11) and has given His Son the King Messiah the Name by which we can be saved. Therefore, when the prophet says “Those who call upon the Name of YHVH will be saved” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13) he intends that we will understand that the Name of Yeshua HaMashiach represents the Divine Name on earth and affords us the opportunity to call on YHVH through the Messiah and be saved.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Therefore, out of love for them He tells them what they are about to do. Not to cause them distress but in order to let them know that knowing their betrayal beforehand He nonetheless loves them past present and future.
Verses 14-15 read:
“14 He (The Holy Spirit) will glorify, cause to think, be of the opinion of (doxazo[G]) Me, for He will carry (lambano[G]) of Mine and will announce it, make it known (anaggello[G]) to you. 15 All individual and collective things (pas) as far as they extend (hosos[G]) and are held (echo[G]) by the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) are Mine; therefore I said that He carries (lambano[G]) of Mine and will announce it, make it known (anaggello[G]) to you.”
16 “In a little (mikron[G]) while, indeed you will no longer see, look at, behold, be a spectator of (theoreo[G], tironiy[H]) Me; and anew (palin[G]) in a little (mikron[G]) while, indeed I will allow Myself to be seen (optanomai[G], techezoniy[H]).”
Yeshua explains that His death is imminent, thus “In a little while”. His disciples will no longer look upon Him in the flesh because He will be in the tomb. This may be seen as a progression in that the majority of the disciples desert Him at Gan Shemenim (Gethsemane) while Peter and John remain, until Peter flees after being identified as one of Yeshua’s followers, leaving John to observe the remaining parts of Yeshua’s trial. Therefore, some of the disciples would not see Yeshua for a longer period of time than others. Ultimately, as I have already stated, Yeshua is referring to His death and interment and further His ascension following His resurrection.
The Hebrew “me’at” meaning “in a short time, a little while” etc. denotes immediacy, as is seen by its use in Haggai 2:6 and elsewhere.
The Greek palin can be translated “again” but is better translated here as “anew”, which denotes both a return and a rebirth (not reincarnation but born anew in this world). This refers to His resurrection and to His transformed body. Therefore, He is the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5) and the first of many children (Rom. 8:29). His body which was perishable is made imperishable. He is not remade but made anew. This is consistent with Jewish belief in the resurrection of the body. We believe according to the Tanakh that we will rise physically at the last day and that the righteous will be transformed as metaphysical and everlasting beings. Our bodies do not cease to be material in the Olam Haba (World to come) rather they are sinless, body, mind, soul, physical and transcendent.
While the standard English translation “and again in a little while you will see me” is technically correct because by making Himself seen Yeshua is providing the disciples the opportunity to see Him, it is nonetheless more accurate to translate “I will allow Myself to be seen”. This means that Yeshua will reveal the authority He has been given by the Father to both lay down His life and take it up again. Additionally, He will impart true sight to His disciples, allowing them to see Him for Who He really is in all His resurrected glory.
Concerning the Messiah’s death and resurrection the prophet Hosea prophecies the perspective of the people who benefit from the redemptive act of God saying:
“After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” -Hosea 6:2 KJV
Therefore, Yeshua’s death and resurrection will also result in the resurrection of Israel, both physical and spiritual and will begin with His immediate disciples. Note that the text of Hosea says “we shall live in His sight” rather than “we will see Him”. This is consistent with Yeshua saying “I will allow Myself to be seen.”
17 Therefore, His talmidim[H] (mathetes[G], disciples, pupils) then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little (mikron[G], umik’tzat[H]) while, indeed you will not see, look at, behold, be a spectator of (theoreo[G], tironiy[H]) Me; and anew (palin[G]) in a little (mikron[G]) while, indeed I will allow Myself to be seen (optanomai[G], techezoniy[H])’; indeed, ‘because I go to the Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Av[H])’?”
The questioning of the disciples tells us that they were still unsure of the timeframe of the coming events and considered Yeshua’s words to be figurative and thus they were trying to understand Him figuratively and were coming up empty.
The added phrase “because I go to the Father” refers to verse 10 and the work of the Holy Spirit that will result from Yeshua returning to the Father. This is not a reference to Yeshua’s location during death but to His ascension to the Father following the resurrection and the forty days of appearances to His wider body of disciples. Therefore, the disciples seem to be trying to understand the timeline. “Will He go to the Father first? Is He talking about dying? How does this all work out?” and so on.
18 Therefore, they were asking, “What is this that He says, ‘A little (mikron[G], k’tzat[H]) while’? We don’t see, perceive (eido[G]) what He’s talking about.” 19 Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Joshua, YHVH Saves, Jesus) knew, had knowledge (ginosko[G], vayeida[H]) of what they wished to question Him about, and He said to them, “Are you discussing this together, that I said, ‘A little (mikron[G], k’tzat[H]) while, and you will not see, look at, behold, be a spectator of (theoreo[G], tironiy[H]) Me, and anew (palin[G]) in a little (mikron[G], k’tzat[H]) while, indeed I will allow Myself to be seen (optanomai[G], techezoniy[H])’?
Yeshua is said to have knowledge of what the disciples were discussing among themselves. While it is possible He overheard them the inference of the text is that He knew this by way of Divine knowledge rather than by practical means.
We note that the vision of the disciples is limited because it is based on physical sight (eido[G]), whereas the vision of Yeshua is metaphysical, transcendent and is an expression of Divine knowledge (ginosko[G], yeda[H]).
The Talmud Bavliy Sanhedrin 93:2 says that the Messiah will have a discerning spirit concerning both men and things, according to Isaiah 11:3.
20 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, that you will mourn (klaio[G]) and wail (threneo[G]), but this world (ho de kosmos[G], ha olam[H]) will rejoice, be glad (chairo[G], yismach[H]); you will be made sorrowful (lupeo[G]), but your sorrow (lupe[G]) will become, receive being, begin to be (ginomai[G]) joy, gladness (chara[G], lesason[H]). 21 Whenever a woman is in labour she has sorrow, pain (lupe[G]), because her certain definite time, hour (hora[G]) has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the pressing together, pressure, anguish, distress, travail (thlipsis[G]) because of the joy, gladness (chara[G], s’meichah[H]) that a child has been born into this world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]).
The familiar “Amen, amen” reminds us that what follows has been firmly established. The promise given is one of mourning, sorrow, and suffering while the fallen world rejoices. Nonetheless while this was specifically said concerning the immediate struggles of the disciples it is in principal a certain reality for all true believers. The good news is that the sorrow of the disciples will be turned into temporal joy (sasson[H]) and subsequently, following the travail of their labour for the Kingdom within the fallen world, into transcendent joy (simchah[H]). All this based on the foundation of the travail experienced by the Father in the Son as He gives birth to the true B’nay Elohim (Children of God).
We note that the same Greek word used to convey the sorrow/pain of labour during the birth process also express the sorrow that the disciples will experience (lupe[G]). Yeshua is using a living mashal (example) to convey the metaphysical rebirth intrinsic to His resurrection. This is a complex teaching. The plain meaning likens the coming sorrow of the disciples to that of a woman giving birth and promises a joyous outcome of sound birth and new life that will cause them to forget their temporal sorrow/pain. At a deeper level the sorrow/pain of Yeshua, and indeed of the Father, in rebirthing the disciples, and by succession every believer, will inevitably lead to the greatest of joys in producing everlasting children of life. Put crassly, the womb of God will suffer the pain of birthing His predestined children through the blood of Messiah, and the outcome will be children of transcendent joy (simchah[H]) living eternal lives in God.
22 Therefore you too at the present time (nun[G]) have sorrow, pain, grief (lupe[G]); but anew, and returning (palin[G], ashuv[H]) I will allow Myself to be seen by you (optomai[G]), and your heart, inner being (kardia[G], leiv[H]) will rejoice exceedingly (chairo[G], sas[H]), and no one will carry away (airo[G]) or separate (apo[G]) your joy (chara[G], simchatchem[H]) from you.
Yeshua acknowledges the present sorrow being experienced by the disciples as they struggle to understand while knowing deep down that all this is leading to His death and their disillusion.
As is so often the case in Yeshua’s ministry He disregards His own anguish in order to minister to the anguish of others with selfless perfection. In the soil of their sorrow He plants the seed of hope. He is promising to return to them anew, revealing His true nature to them and filling their inner beings with exceedingly great and transcendent joy. Additionally He affirms that the joy He will impart to them will be immutably secure, no one in all creation under any circumstance will be able to take the joy of Yeshua in God from them.
23 In that day (hemera[G], vayom[H]) you will not question, request of, entreat, beg of (erotao[G]) Me concerning anything. Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, if you ask the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]) for anything in My name (bishmiy[H]), He will give (yitein[H]) it to you.
This is the culmination of the teaching begun in John 14:13. “In My Name” means “In My Character”, “In My Will”, “In My Identity”, “In My Purposes”, “In My eternal perspective” and so on. The prerequisite to receiving anything asked for in Yeshua’s Name is that the thing asked for is “In His will”, “According to His purposes” etc.
The double amen denotes established truth and what follows affirms Yeshua’s teaching concerning prayer. We are to speak directly to the Father through the Son. This does not mean that we must tag “In Yeshua’s Name Amen” onto every prayer we pray as if the repetition of a mantra validates prayer. Rather, it means that in Yeshua and according to the Holy Spirit we are to pray to the Father God as sons and daughters. In this Yeshua is indicating the fact that He will be seated at the right hand of the Father and will no longer be present in material body on earth, until that day when He returns to reign.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have [a]before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
-1 John 5:13-15 NASB
24 Until just this moment (arti[G]) you have asked, desired, begged (aiteo[G]) for nothing in My name (bishmiy[H]); ask, desire, beg (aiteo[G]) and you will receive, so that your joy (chara[G], simchat’chem[H]) may be made full (pleroo[G]).
The disciples had not thought to ask things of Yeshua perhaps because they were constantly seeing Him work miraculous signs that they might have otherwise asked for but need not request because they were witnessing them as an outworking of Yeshua’s ministry. Therefore, now that Yeshua is about to leave He is instructing them to desire, ask, plead for the things of Him, so that they might continue to work as sent ones of the Kingdom and that in the receiving of the good things of God might see the salvation of many, that their joy might be made full.
25 “These things I have spoken to you using mashaliym [H] figurative, unusual language, parables (paroimia[G]); a certain definite time, hour (hora[G]) is coming when I will no longer speak to you in mashaliym [H] figurative, unusual language, parables (paroimia[G]), but will tell you frankly, plainly, devoid of ambiguity, fearlessly, unreservedly (parrhesia[G]) of the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]).
Yeshua has taught in mashalim (parables) for a reason. All that Yeshua revealed was conveyed in a progression so as to bring understanding to its fullness at the right time according to God’s redemptive purpose. Had Yeshua spoken plainly from the beginning His work might have been impeded. This would have been a form of disobedience toward God, something that the Messiah is incapable of. Now the definite time is at hand when He will reveal the Father to the disciples and ultimately to all who receive Yeshua as the King Messiah.
26 In that day (hemera[G], bayom[H]) you will ask, desire, beg (aiteo[G]) in My name (bishmiy[H]), and I do not say to you that I will request (erotao[G]) of the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]) on your behalf;
This is important, Yeshua is clear to teach that we are to pray in His Name to the Father. He emphatically states “I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf”. While it is true that Yeshua is One with the Father, and that He intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34), it is also true that Yeshua instructs us to pray to the Father. I do not pass judgement on those who pray “Jesus, please…” but I do ask, where does Yeshua instruct us to pray to Him?
27 for the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]) Himself has familial love (phileo[G], Oheiv[H]) for you, because you have had familial love (phileo[G], ahav’tuniy[H]) for Me and have believed, trusted, been persuaded (pisteuo[G], v’he’eman’tem[H]) that I came forth from, beside, near (para[G]) the God (Ho Theos[H], kiy-meieit Elohiym[H]).
It is hear that the disciples and all believers begin to understand just how awesome the work of Yeshua is. Through His life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension Yeshua has made it possible for each one of us who receives Him and is reconciled to God to become part of God’s family. The text says that God has familial love (phileo[G]) for the disciples (and all who believe) because they (we) have chosen to have familial love (phileo[G]) for Yeshua and have trusted that He has come from the Father God.
Therefore, with the Spirit of Messiah in us we cry “Abba, Father!”
28 I came forth from the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]) and have come into the world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]); anew (palin[G]) I am leaving the world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]) and going to the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]).”
Yeshua had come into the world from the Father in order to perform the ultimate act of sacrificial love by shedding His blood for us. He was then anew to leave the fallen world and go to the Father so that His Spirit could be poured out on all who believe and thus spread the good news of God’s redemptive love throughout the world giving all an opportunity to receive salvation and eternal life.
29 His talmidim[H] (mathetes[G], disciples, pupils) responded saying, “We see, perceive (eido[G]) now You are speaking freely, plainly, frankly, without ambiguity (parrhesia[G]) and are not using a mashal[H] figure of speech (paroimia[G]).
At this point the disciples claim to see and perceive what Yeshua is telling them. To them “leaving the world” meant death. Yeshua was plainly telling them that He was about to die, however what He meant by “going to the Father” was that He would ascend to the Father’s right hand following His resurrection from the dead.
30 Now we see, perceive (eido[G]) that You see, perceive (eido[G]) all things, each individually (pas[G]), and have no need for anyone to question You; because of this we believe, trust, are persuaded (pisteuo[G], na’amiyn[H]) that You came from God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]).”
In part this seems to have been triggered by Yeshua’s supernatural knowledge of their dilemma and the subsequent explanation concerning His having come from the Father and His need to return to the Father. However, what follows causes one to question how deep the disciples’ understanding was when they made this claim.
31 Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Joshua, YHVH Saves, Jesus) answered them, “Do you just now at this moment (arti[G]) believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H])?
Yeshua’s question, is intentionally ambiguous, it asks, “Is your faith simply in the moment or is it perpetual?” and, “After all you’ve seen and heard you just now worked it out?”. As is often the case when He addresses issues of faith and discipleship, Yeshua invokes sober self-examination in the hearts of His beloved disciples. There is a note of mild incredulity here, or is it sadness. With all they have seen and experienced of Him are they just now coming to true faith? Will their professed faith hold? The truth is that the fullness of their faith does not come until after His resurrection.
32 Behold, now, pay attention (Hineih[H]) a certain definite hour (hora[G]) is coming, and has come, for you to be scattered, each to his own, and to leave Me alone; and I am not alone, because the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]) is with Me.
Yeshua is alluding to the prophet Zechariah:
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” -Zechariah 13:7 KJV
Yeshua knows that the disciples genuinely mean what they have said, He also knows the frailty of humanity and that they will act in an entirely contrary way when He is arrested tried and crucified. Therefore, out of love for them He tells them what they are about to do. Not to cause them distress but in order to let them know that knowing their betrayal beforehand He nonetheless loves them past present and future. In other words:
“I know you mean what you say, that you have believed in the father and have received me in faith, and I know that your frailty will cause you to abandon me. But don’t fall into utter disappear when that happens, remember what I’ve said, that I knew you would do these things and have loved you knowing it. I will not be alone, the Father is with Me.”
33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace, wholeness, wellbeing (shalom[H]). In this world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]) you have pressing together, travail, distress, troubles (thlipis[G]), nevertheless, be of good courage (tharseo[G]); I have conquered (nikao[G]) this world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]).”
Note that He informed His disciples of their coming abandoning of Him in order that they might have peace.
The Greek thlipis links the pressing troubles that the disciples endure in this sin affected world to the birthing process described by way of mashal (figure) earlier in the chapter. Therefore, we read “In this world you will have temporary troubles, nevertheless, be of godly courage (only God is good); I have conquered this sin affected world.”
Note the past tense “have conquered”. That which Yeshua is about to do He has already done outside of time and space. He will die and be raised transcendent and therefore transcends His temporal earthly life and ministry being God with God before the creation of the world (John 1). Thus, “I have conquered this world”. Note also that in conquering the fallen world He has defeated and conquered its temporal ruler Satan (Prince of the world) just as He said He had done earlier in this extended section of teaching and dialogue with His disciples (John 12:31). This means that the hold of Satanic power and the fallen nature is broken for all who would receive Yeshua and be reconciled to God. Therefore, in Messiah we sin when we forget who we are. For the child of God in Yeshua sin is the act (be it in thought or deed) of being who we are not.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
“Because you are children, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our core being (heart), from where He is perpetually crying, “Abba! Father!”” -Galatians 4:6 (Author’s paraphrase)
As in the case of the former chapters, this chapter continues the discourse that was begun in chapter 13 and follows the words of Yeshua, “and you will testify, bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning, origin, head.” Meaning that the disciples will bear witness as a result of the receipt of the Holy Spirit Who is coming to empower them and that they are qualified to bear witness of the factual events of Yeshua’s ministry because they have literally been with Him from the beginning of His three year ministry throughout the land of (Roman occupied) first century C.E Israel. It is worth considering that the disciples are qualified by their relationship in Yeshua and not by the works they have done. They qualify based on their willingness to follow and their belief in Yeshua, and ultimately because He first chose them.
1“These utterances (laleo[G]) I have spoken to you so that there is not the least stumbling block (skandalizo[G]) before you. 2You will be made to be excluded from sacred assemblies (aposunagogos[G]), nevertheless coming is a certain definite season, hour (hora[G]) when everyone who kills you will think, be convinced (dokeo[G]) that he is doing a service in worship (latreia[G]) to the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H]).
What utterances? The utterances of the previous chapters, all of the things: the warning of their coming denial of Yeshua, His coming death, the fact that one from among them will betray Him, the need to honour one another as priests and the washing of feet, the cost of obedience and the guarding of the miztvot (commandments) of both the Father and the Son, the need to entirely love one another just as Yeshua has loved them, the need to abide in Yeshua Who is the Vine and receive the living spiritual waters that flow from Him, the knowledge that when the Vinedresser (the Father) cleans/prunes He does so for the purpose of increasing fruit, the promise that those who have hated Yeshua will also pursue the disciples with hatred but those who have honoured Yeshua will also honour the disciples, and the promise of a Helper like Yeshua (the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit) Who will come along side and remind them of the things of Yeshua bearing witness to and testifying of Yeshua for the purpose of giving glory to the Father God as His Kingdom is outworked through the disciples.
We notice that Yeshua has imparted these words to the disciples so that they might not stumble in delusion, disbelief or become convinced of conspiracy theories and misdirection. Sadly many ancient first century Jews were lied to by their religious leaders concerning Yeshua’s resurrection, being told that His body was stolen from the tomb etc. The Talmud Bavliy goes to great lengths to discredit Yeshua, but in spite of this hundreds of thousands of Jews from the land and throughout the known world came to faith in Yeshua following His resurrection as a result of the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and the testimony of the disciples.
The Greek text does not use the specific noun “Synagogue” but rather the Greek for public or sacred corporate assembly “aposunagogos”. It is therefore technically incorrect to translate “Synagogue” because it is understood in the modern world to refer to a building used for localized Jewish worship. This exclusion from sacred assembly is an escalation in the weight or degree of excommunication from the religious Jewish community of first century Israel. Earlier in John’s Gospel the parents of the man born blind are afraid of a lesser form of separation from the religious community [Niduiy](9:22; 12:42), but here the very real threat of being disallowed access to the Aliyot or Regalim (going up festivals of God)[Cherem, Shamata], which are specifically commanded to Israel, is the intended meaning. This would be received as horrific news to the observant disciples of Yeshua who saw how Yeshua also had venerated the Torah and the festival practices of Israel’s religious community, even to the extent of keeping many of the customs of the Mishnah (Oral Law).
“nevertheless coming is a certain definite season, hour when everyone who kills you will think, be convinced that he is doing a service in worship to the God.” Stephen the first Messianic Jewish martyr was killed by men believing they were honouring God through their actions (Acts 7). Rav Shaul (Paul) prior to meeting Yeshua in a vision and repenting, made it his life’s work to seek out and put to death the Messianic Jewish “Heretics” (so called) [Acts 22:3-5].
3 And these things they will do because they have not known, come to know (ginosko[G], loyodau[H]) the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) or Me. 4 Nevertheless these utterances (laleo[G]) I have spoken to you, so that when their certain definite season, hour (hora[G]) comes, you may remember, call to mind, be mindful (mnemoneuo[G]) that I told you of them. I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning, origin, head (arche[G], umeirosh[H]), because I was with you.
Yeshua has given all this knowledge to the disciples in order to properly prepare them for what is ahead. Like a truthful diagnosis regarding the results of testing in the case of a terminal illness, the words of the doctor who is both forthright and hopeful are the most effective in giving the patient the best hope of recovery. Yeshua’s words afford the disciples the opportunity to practice a hopeful realism that finds its foundation in the love of God through Yeshua. They have been promised a Helper, and will not be abandoned in the struggle that is to come.
Yeshua did not tell them all these outcomes at the beginning because He was present to comfort them as His ministry unfolded. Now because He is going to the Father and there will be an interim period before the Ruach HaKodesh is poured out, He gives them full knowledge of what is to take place so as to tide them over. When the events take place the disciples will remember that Yeshua had imparted them knowledge of what was to take place and that they could trust that He spoke as One who speaks the end from the beginning and that therefore, the promises of fullness of Joy and everlasting life could also be trusted. Thus they would be comforted in the midst of their suffering.
“The certain definite hour” is both the hour of their opponents’ rising against them (Luke 22:53) and the hour of apparent defeat (Yeshua’s crucifixion), which is in fact an hour of victory.
5 “Now moreover I am leading under, withdrawing, going (hupago[G]) to the advantage of, toward, near to (pros[G]) Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have spoken these utterances (laleo[G]) to you, sorrow (lupe[G]) has filled your heart, inner being (kardia[G], levav’chem[H]).
The disciples, having a very real sense of Yeshua’s coming death are afraid to ask where He is going because they presume the answer is “Sheol”. Therefore, they are filled with sorrow at the prospect of loosing their beloved Rabbi and friend.
7 Nonetheless I tell you the immutable truth (ho aletheia[G], ha emet[H]), it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper, One Who comes along side, Who pleads another’s cause, intercedes (parakletos[G]) would not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict, refute, bring to light (elegcho[G]) the world (ho kosmos[G], ha olam[H]) concerning sin, missing the mark of God’s holiness, rebellion (hamartia[G], hacheit’[H]) and righteousness, acceptable condition before God (dikaiosune[G], v’hatzedek[H]) and concerning a separating, trial, selection, judgment (krisis[G], v’hamishpat[H]);
The Ruach HaKodesh cannot come unless Yeshua goes away for at least two clear reasons. First, without Yeshua’s vicarious sacrifice the Ruach HaKodesh cannot dwell in the believer because uncovered sin is abhorrent to God and the manifestation of His holiness in the human being within the fallen world would mean instant death (as is the case with Ananias and Saphira [NT] and many others [OT]) and second, the Ruach HaKodesh is the Spirit of the father and the Son present within the believer. Thus the Father and the Son pour out the Spirit and He is received by the believer who has been purchased by the blood of the King Messiah. Therefore, the Son must be present with the Father in order to impart the Spirit to redeemed human beings.
The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and reveal righteousness, pointing out the coming judgement against sin. This is why Yeshua said “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven human beings, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man (Yeshua) will be forgiven, but whoever speaks continually against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come.” (Matt. 12:31-32) Why? Because once Yeshua has ascended to the Father it will be the Ruach HaKodesh that ministers and convicts of sin as the Gospel is preached throughout the world and those who perpetually refuse Him (Holy Spirit) have no other means of redemption. Therefore, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the perpetual choice to refuse God’s redemptive offer of love through Yeshua the King Messiah as presented to the human heart (core being) by the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son.
9 concerning sin, missing the mark of God’s holiness, rebellion (hamartia[G], hacheit’[H]), because they do not believe, trust, have faith (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, acceptable condition before God (dikaiosune[G], hatzedek[H]), because I go to the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) and you will no longer be able to observe, see (theoreo[G]) Me; 11 and concerning a separating, trial, selection, judgment (krisis[G], hamishpat[H]), because the ruler, prince of this world (sar haolam[G]) has been separated, judged (krino[G]).
The Ruach HaKodesh will expose our disbelief in Yeshua. He will expose our lack of righteousness because the Righteous One will no longer be walking the earth but will be seated at the right hand of the Father. He will expose the defeat of Satan and the judgement of God concerning the eternal destiny of the Devil and his minions through the death, resurrection, and the glorious victory of Yeshua’s life giving Spirit.
“Concerning sin, because they (fallen human beings) do not believe in Me” The mind of fallen humanity seeks to reduce sin to an excusable process of trial and error meant to train the life path of a human being. This lie is perpetuated in many esoteric eastern religions and new age western spiritual theosophy. Wilfully proud humanity hates the idea that we are guilty, wrong, self-harming in our actions and have therefore alienated ourselves from the Holy God. Of course, we have excelled in the belief that there is no God in spite of the evidence all around us. Thus we have rejected Yeshua, Who came to establish God’s loving redemptive plan for all who would receive Him. This is why the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) has come, to expose the foolish delusion of the prideful human consciousness.
“concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me” Meaning that the Holy Spirit will reveal the means of redemption and accessibility to righteousness through Yeshua Who will then be unseen in terms of His earthly ministry, being seated at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes on behalf of the redeemed (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25;1 John 2:1)
“concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” The Holy Spirit will reveal the fact that Satan has already been judged and found wanting and that his just punishment is imminent. This also means that because Satan is defeated as temporal ruler of the fallen world, the Holy Spirit has access to the very hearts of humanity in order to give everyone past, present and future (because the Spirit of God transcends time and space) the opportunity to either receive or reject God’s redemptive offer through Yeshua the King Messiah and Son of God.
12 “Still I (eti[G]) have much more (polus[G]) for you to hold (echo[G]), nevertheless you do not have the ability (power) to take it up with your hands, carry (bastazo[G]) it now. 13 But when He, the Spirit (ho pneuma[G], haRuach[H]) of the immutable truth (ho aletheia[G], ha emet[H]), comes, He will guide you into all the truth (ho aletheia[G], ha emet[H]); for He will not utter (laleo[G]) on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will announce, make known (anaggello[G]) to you what is to come.
We note that Yeshua speaks to His disciples only so much as they can receive and comprehend at this point in their faith journey. There is a lesson here for every believer. Messiah in us brings us step by step through the journey of repentance and sanctification as He reveals to us daily the purposes of God in us.
We are informed of yet another aspect of the Spirit’s nature and practice in relationship to us. He is the Spirit of Truth, just as Yeshua is the Truth. The Spirit speaks of the Father and the Son that which He hears from them and imparts the truth of God to the disciple (believer). What He discloses to the disciple concerns what is to come. This is exactly what an effective comforter and guide does in order to pre-empt panic that results from a lack of knowledge, the Spirit imparts spiritual knowledge and practical advice that will enable the disciple (believer) to cope with the hardships ahead.
By explaining that the Ruach HaKodesh is the Spirit of Truth and thus intrinsically linking both Himself and the Father to the Spirit, and further asserting that the Spirit will guide the disciples in all truth and utter the very words which He hears from the Father and the Son, Yeshua is validating the then yet to be penned HaBrit HaChadashah (NT) which would be written by those to whom the Spirit of Truth would announced the word of the Living Word of God.
Notice that the Holy Spirit does not “initiate” but that He conveys that which He hears. Just as the wind from a person’s mouth does not initiate the blowing out of a flame, so too the Holy Spirit does not initiate but rather proceeds from the mouth of God.
Our rabbis have this to say concerning the guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh:
"Rav Phinehas says, the Holy Spirit rested upon Joseph from his youth to the day of his death, and "guided him into all wisdom", as a shepherd leads his flock, according to Psalm 80:1” -Pirke Eliezer, c. 39.
14 He will glorify, cause to think, be of the opinion of (doxazo[G]) Me, for He will carry (lambano[G]) of Mine and will announce it, make it known (anaggello[G]) to you. 15 All individual and collective things (pas) as far as they extend (hosos[G]) and are held (echo[G]) by the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) are Mine; therefore I said that He carries (lambano[G]) of Mine and will announce it, make it known (anaggello[G]) to you.
The “He” in question is the Ruach HaKodesh. We now learn that the Holy Spirit’s role is to glorify Yeshua and to take from that which belongs to Yeshua and reveal it to the disciple (believer). Further, all that belongs to Yeshua He has received from the Father. Therefore, that which the Spirit conveys from Yeshua has also come from the Father. Thus, God is echad, HaAv, HaBen v’Ruach HaKodesh. The Father sends the Son and the Father and the Son send the Spirit and the Spirit cries out from within the believer back to the Father saying “Abba, Daddy, Av sheliy, My Father”.
“Because you are children, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our core being (heart), from where He is perpetually crying, “Abba! Father!”” -Galatians 4:6 (Author’s paraphrase)
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
"The messenger of a man is as himself" - Talmud Bavliy. Beracot
What follows is an extension of Yeshua’s teaching regarding Him being the all existing Light in which a disciple should walk (practice faith: halakhah). This is worth remembering in light of the ritual washing of feet (means of walking, halakhah) Yeshua now performs for His disciples.
1Moreover, before the Festival (chag[H]) of the Passover (ha-Pesach[H]:to pass over), Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua), seeing, perceiving (eido[G]) that His certain definite time, fixed season, hour (hora[G]) had come, in which He would pass over (metabaino[G]) from this world (ho kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]) to the advantage of (pros[G]) the Father (ho Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]), having entirely loved (agapao[G], ahav[H]) those belonging to Him who were in the world (ho kosmos[G], ba-olam[H]), He entirely loved (agapao[G], aheivam[H]) them toward (eis[G]) the taxing goal (telos[G]).
These events appear to take place the evening prior to Pesach (Passover) during the first of two possible Seders (ritual Passover meals) practiced by post exilic Jews in the first century CE. If this is not a Seder then the Seder accounts of the other Gospels must fit between the current passage and the arrest of Yeshua which soon follows. Regardless, the Greek text calls this a formal (deipnon[G]) meal, which seems to fit with the Seder theory.
It is no coincidence that the Greek metabaino[G] means to “pass over”. Thus, Yeshua is about to become the figurative Pesach Lamb of Israel and pass over from this world into death and resurrection “to the advantage of the Father”, meaning in order to provide the means by which the Father might be reconciled to His children (humanity).
In the case of Messiah “entirely loving” His disciples, His people ethnic Israel, He would now pretext the fulfilment of that love (death on a cross) by acting the role of the lowliest servant of the household. Thus, He entirely loved them with the taxing goal of their redemption in mind (His death and resurrection).
2 During the formal (evening) meal (deipnon[G]: probably one of two Passover Seders in the post exilic returned Jewish community of first century occupied [Roman] Israel), the devil (ho diabolos[G], ha Satan[H]: accuser, slanderer) having already put into the inner being, heart (ho kardia[G], ha-leiv[H]) of Yehudah[H] (Judah: praise) Ish Kariot[H] (a man of Keriot[H], A town in the south of Judah: Joshua 15:25), the son of Shimon[H] (heard), to betray Him (Yeshua), 3 Seeing, perceiving (eido[G]) that the Father (ho Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]) had given (natan[H]) all things (et ha-kol[H]) into His hands (b’yado[H]), and that He had originated (apo[G]) from God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) and was going back to God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]),
“The Father had given all things into His hands” tells us that Yeshua was completely free to choose whether He would go through with His mission. Elsewhere we read:
“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, breath, soul existence so that I may take it up again. No one, nothing has taken it away from Me or separated Me from it, but I lay it down on My own initiative, in My Own power, by My Own choice. I have authority, power, choice to lay it down, and to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” -Yochanan 10:17-18
4 He rose from the formal (evening) meal (deipnon[G]: probably one of two Passover Seders in the post exilic returned Jewish community of first century occupied [Roman] Israel), and put aside His garments, outer clothing (himation[G]); and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) into the basin (nipter[G]), and began to ritually wash (nipto[G]) the disciples’ (talmidim[H]) feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
In John’s Gospel Yeshua acts out the teaching that He is recorded as having given in the Gospel according to Mark 10:43-44.
The Greek text uses the word nipto[G] which can refer to ritual washing. In the present context Yeshua rises from the dining table in order to wash the feet of His disciples. This means that the practical feet washing performed for guests entering the home had already occurred prior to the meal upon the arrival of Yeshua and His disciples. In short, their feet were already clean (of the dust of the road). Therefore, the correct translation is “began to ritually wash the disciples’ feet”.
It is not by accident that the water is poured into a basin and Yeshua strips down to His undergarment, a seamless white garment like that of the priesthood of Israel.
“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Yeshua, took his garments and divided them into four pieces; and they also took his undergarment (chiton) which was seamless, woven from top to bottom entirely. Therefore they said among themselves, ‘Let’s not tear it, but instead cast dice to decide who gets it’.” -Yochanan 19:23
“17 Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 18 “You will also make a basin of bronze with a bronze stand for washing. You are to place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and their feet there. 20 Whenever they go into the Tent of Meeting or come near to the altar to minister, to present an offering made by fire in smoke to Adonai, they are to wash with water so that they do not die. 21 They are to wash their hands and their feet, so that they do not die. It is to be an eternal statute for them, to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.” -Shemot (Exodus) 30:17-21 TLV
Yeshua is not only taking on the role of the lowliest servant of the household, as the Priest like Melkiy-tzedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5 through 7), He ritually washes the priests whom He has chosen to administer His Gospel when He ascends to the Father. Therefore, as is necessary before the priests approach the altar where His death will take place, He washes their feet as a symbol of their identity in Him and the role that they are to play in the events that follow. The text of Exodus 30:17-21 tells us that the ritual washing of the priests cleanses them for approaching the Holy God of Israel. This is one of the reasons for Yeshua’s dialogue with Kefa (Peter).
6 So He came to Shimon Kefa[H] (Simon: hears; Peter: Rock) who said to Him, “Adonay[H] (Kurios[G], Lord), do You wash my feet?” 7 Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) answered and said to him, “What I do you do not see, perceive, recognize (eido[G]) now, in this moment (arti[G]) but you will know it intimately (ginosko[G], yodeia[H]) hereafter.”
It is interesting to note that Simon Peter’s name essentially means “He hears the Rock”. HaShem is the Rock of Israel, her place of strength and shelter, and His Son Yeshua is the physical manifestation of God as Rock.
“The Ruach Adonai has spoken through me
and His word is on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel has said,
the Rock of Israel has spoken to me,
‘He who rules over men righteously,
he who rules in the fear of God--
4 he is like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
a cloudless morning of glistening
as grass springs from the earth.’” -2 Samuel 23:2-4 TLV
Yeshua responds to Shimon Kefa by placing a marker in his mind that he is to recall later at such a time as is important for him to perceive of what Yeshua has done and the role that Simon Peter has been given in the outworking of God’s kingdom through Messiah Yeshua.
8 Kefa[H] (Peter: Rock) said to Him, “You will never wash my feet!” Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Shimon Kefa[H] (Simon: hears; Peter: Rock) said to Him, “Adonay[H] (Kurios[G], Lord), then wash not only my feet (rag’lay[H]), but also my hands (yaday[H]) and my head (roshiy[H]).”
Kefa (Peter) protests because he does not want the Rabbi Whom he venerates, respects, and adores to lower himself to a place of dishonour and servitude. He may be brash but his heart is in the right place. However, Yeshua is focused on the time that is at hand and has no time for playacting Kefa’s misplaced zeal. Therefore, Yeshua is harsh with Kefa because of His deep love for this disciple. “Snap out of it son, this is for your good!” Kefa’s response is incredible, rather than be deterred he doesn’t skip a beat but says “Okay, I’m in boots and all!”
Yeshua is washing feet because He has recently explained that those who desire to serve Him must become His disciples and walk (using their spiritual feet) in His Light.
Kefa adds the symbolism of hands (actions) and head (leader, governor of the body), and Yeshua responds…
10 Yeshua[H A] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) said to him, “He who has bathed, washed the whole body (louo[G]) needs only to ritually wash (nipto[G]) his feet, moreover he is completely clean, pure (katharos[G]); and you are clean, pure (katharos[G]), but not all of you.” 11 For He saw (eido[G]) the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean, pure (katharos[G]).”
Yeshua explains that in Him His disciples are entirely clean and need only be reminded of the fact that in their transcendent state of salvation in Him they must, at least for a while, continue to walk their faith in the sin affected world as ones who have been redeemed (past, present, future) and are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). This mysterious tension between certain salvation and continued sanctification is explained further in Yochanan’s first letter:
“5 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you—that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with Him and keep walking in the darkness, we are lying and do not practice the truth. [a] 7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of His Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [b] 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” -1 John 1:5-10 TLV
“But not all” refers to Yehudah (Judas), who has clearly not placed his trust in Yeshua as King Messiah and is therefore intent on following the desires of his baser nature and has been enticed by the lies of the father of lies Satan.
12 So when He had ritually washed (nipto[G]) their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know (ginosko[G], hay’da’tem[H]) what I have done to you? 13 You call Me the Teacher (Moreh[H]) and the Lord (ho Kurios[G], Adon[H]); and [b]you are right, for I am (eimi[G]). 14 If I then, the Teacher (Moreh[H]) the lord (ho Kurios[G], Adon[H]), ritually washed (nipto[G]) your feet, you also ought to ritually wash (nipto[G]) one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
Here Yeshua says “Do you ginosko (know)” rather than “Do you eido (perceive, see)”. This is because He is asking them if they have gained knowledge that will result in practice.
The message is that as disciples of Yeshua they are to follow His example of service and to affirm one another in the priesthood they share in Him. This is pretexted by the Torah which says that the ethnic, religious, empirical Jewish people have been chosen as a nation of priests. Therefore, the Gospel and priesthood of Messiah continues to be first for the Jew. Yeshua is saying that the gifts and calling of God upon the ethnic Jewish people are irrevocable (Romans 1:16; 11:29).
“and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” -Shemot (Exodus) 19:6 NASB
Only then is the offer of priesthood in Messiah extended to the nations, not as usurpers of Israel’s rightful place but as participants in the faith (a spiritual relationship) of Abraham. The later does not negate the former, nor does it cause the former to cease.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;” -1 Peter 2:9 NASB
16 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, a bond servant (doulos[G]) is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you see, perceive, recognize (eido[G]) these things, you are blessed (well off) if you do them.
The double amein reminds us once again of the firmly established truth of what follows. Yeshua admonishes His disciples to accept the sight He has imparted to them and see with spiritual clarity the King Messiah as their ever present Servant King and the Father as the Originator of Israel’s relationship to Himself. Yeshua’s disciples must remember that He is greater than they and has submitted Himself to His Master YHVH. Therefore, they should emulate their Master Yeshua for God’s glory. In doing so Yeshua promises them that they will experience true blessing as a result of their right actions in emulating Him.
"R. Meir says, who is greatest, he that keeps, or he that is kept? from what is written in Psalm 91:11, he that is kept, is greater than he that keeps: says R. Judah, which is greatest, he that carries, or he that is carried? from what is written in Psalm 91:12, he that is carried, is greater than he that carries: says R. Simeon, from what is written, in Isaiah 6:8, הוי המשלח גדול מן המשתלח, "he that sends, is greater than he that is sent".'' - Bereshit Rabba, fol. 68. 1.
“If you recognise these things blessed are you if you do them.”
"he that learns but not to do", it would have been better for him, if he had never been created; and says R. Yochanan, he that learns but not to do, it would have been better for him if his placenta/membrane (secundine) had been turned upon his face, and he had never come into the world.'' - Hieros. Beracot, fol. 3. 2.
18 I don’t speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but that the Writing (graphe[G], ketviy[H]) may be fully filled, ‘He who eats My bread (lachmiy[H]) has lifted up his heel (akeiv[H]) upon Me.[Psalm 41:10(9)]’
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.
10 But You, O Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up,
That I may repay them.
11 By this I know that You are pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.
12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
And You set me in Your presence forever.
13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
From everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.” -Psalm 41:9-13 NASB
We note that the fullness which the Gospel writer is alluding to begins with betrayal but ends with the betrayed one held up in His integrity and set before God’s presence forever.
“Lifted up his heel” is a Jewish idiom that means “He was inspired by his pride to do harm”.
19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe, trust, be persuaded (pisteuo[G], v’he’emantem[H]) that I am (ego eimi[G]).
“From now on” is an indication that Yeshua will no longer teach them in mashaliym (parables) but will speak in clear terms.
Yet again the Greek phrase ego eimi reflects the Divine title “I AM”.
Yeshua is placing yet another mental marker in the minds of the disciples so that when they see what is to come (His death, resurrection, and ascension), they might be certain of His Deity.
20 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, the one who receives whomever I send receives Me; and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
Again, the double amein establishes the truth of what follows.
Those who receive the disciples and their message of Yeshua’s Gospel are, in a spiritual and transcendent way, receiving Yeshua Who will dwell in them by His Spirit, that is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Subsequently those who will receive the messengers (disciples) sent by Yeshua will receive Yeshua Himself and in doing so will receive God the Father in perfect reconciliation and preordained eternal relationship. Of course, the opposite is also true. Those who reject those sent by Yeshua (His disciples, including modern believers) reject Yeshua and in turn reject the Father. This is especially true of those who reject Jewish believers who bring the message of the King Messiah Yeshua.
של אדם כמותו ששלוחו
"the messenger of a man is as himself".
- Talmud Bavliy. Beracot, fol. 34. 2. Kiddushin, fol. 41. 9. & 42. 1. & 43. 1. Bava Metzia, fol. 96. 1.
“Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Yeshua did!” -1 Yochanan (John) 2:6
© Yaakov Brown 2020
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
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
Yeshua is the Lamb, the Sheep Gate, and the Shepherd...
The text that follows is a continuation of the dialogue begun in the previous chapter. The nearest subjects are the Pharisees and crowd gathered following the healing of the man born blind. Therefore, the dialogue of verses 1-21 of chapter 10 occurs in Jerusalem and given the subject matter is a conversation that was probably held near to the sheep gate on the north side of the Temple complex on Mt Moriah (The Temple Mount).
Verse 21 brings to conclusion the events surrounding the healing of the man born blind and there is a significant gap in time between verse 21 and verse 22 which records a unique set of events that take place several months later during winter, at the time of Chanukah (Dedication).
In the interest of continuity, we should begin this chapter by repeating the last few verses of the previous chapter:
“39 And Yeshua said, “For a decree, judgment (krima[G]) I came into this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), so that those who do not see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may see with their eyes (blepo[G]), and that those who see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may become blind (tuphlos[H]).” 40 Those of the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind (tuphlos[H]) too, are we?” 41 Yeshua said to them, “If you were blind (tuphlos[H]), you would have no sin (hamartia[G]); but since you say, ‘We see with our eyes (blepo[G]),’ your sin (hamartia[G]) remains (meno[G]).” (John 9:39-41)
1 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you (all) (lechem[H]), the one [it] (ekeinos[G]) who does not enter (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) through (dia[G]) the (ho[G]) way (derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H], tara[A]) into the uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G], latyara[A]) of the sheep (probaton[G]), but ascends, climbs up (anabaino[G]) from another place (allachothen[G]), that one [it] (ekeinos[G]) is a thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and a robber, plunderer, brigand [by nature] (lestes[G]). 2 But he who enters (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) by the way (b’derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H], tara[A]) is a shepherd (poimen[G], roeih[H]) of the sheep (probaton[G], hatzon[H]).
It seems likely, given the details concerning the events of the previous chapter and the subject matter of the dialogue that continues on from that chapter, that the present teaching is taking place somewhere in the vicinity of the sheep gate at the north entrance to the first century Temple complex in Jerusalem.
Yeshua continues to make a clear distinction between Himself and the accuser Satan. He is further illuminating the ideas of lineage, legitimacy, occupation, service, and authority. Some of those listening had already heard Him accuse the religious leaders of being children of the Devil. Here, Yeshua adds to the distinction between the children of God and the children of the fallen nature by using the shepherd and sheep analogy. The sheep are the children of Israel and from verse 16 onward by extension the believing children of humanity as a whole. The Good Shepherd is God, manifest as God with us the King Messiah Yeshua, Who has entered humanity and the people of Israel legitimately. The thief and robber is the “original murderer… the father of lies”, Satan, the Devil, Accuser of the people of Israel and of all humanity. The Shepherd seeks to save His sheep, whereas the robber seeks only to steel and destroy. Therefore, Satan is not the Shepherd of the sheep, but he is a false shepherd, like the many false shepherds he has influenced throughout the history of humanity and of Israel.
Yeshua has entered both the sin affected world and the tribe of Judah from God and through Miriyam (Mary), a daughter of Eve and of Israel. He has also been obedient to the Torah and its requirements in every way and has entered the courts of the Temple according to the appropriate protocol, speaking, working wonders and teaching in public where all can access his message and make a reasoned assessment of His authenticity. Therefore, Yeshua, born of a woman, has entered humanity and the Jewish people legitimately, through the appropriate gate as Shepherd (and Lamb for slaughter).
Satan, on the other hand, “a murderer from the beginning… the father of lies” and “a thief and robber”, seeks to deceive the sheep, God’s people Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). Satan works in darkness, spreads lies, works lesser signs to seek his own glory rather than God’s. Satan does not keep Torah, nor does he follow religious protocol. Ultimately, Satan cannot be born of a woman because he has no creative authority, nor can the angelic mate with humanity (Matt.23:30, which also puts to death the foolish notion that the Nephilim are the progeny of angels and humans). The best he can hope for is to manipulate one born of a woman. Therefore, Satan has not entered through the door/gate of the human womb and has no legitimate right to exert authority as one who has entered through that gate.
It is interesting to note that the Greek kleptes which is used here to describe Satan, is the root for the modern English word kleptomania. Kleptes-mainesthai meaning “mad thief”. This word denotes a nature of theft that is beyond the thief’s ability to perceive the error of it. In other words, Satan is incapable of doing anything other than to steel, murder, lie and destroy, because it has become his nature. In addition, the Devil is here called a “thief… robber”, rather than one who has committed a theft or robbery. The former denotes nature, the latter an act of sin. Therefore, those who refuse Yeshua are children of the Devil by nature, whereas those who receive Yeshua become righteous in His nature and whilst we occasionally commit sin acts, it is no longer our nature to do so. This is why the Scripture says, “Through one sacrifice Messiah has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb.10:14)
1 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain,” The doubling of this firm agreement is a Hebraism that denotes a matter firmly established.
“…the one [it] (ekeinos[G]) who does not enter (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) through (dia[G]) the (ho[G]) way (derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H])” The one who doesn’t enter legitimately is the enemy of God and the accuser of humanity, the Devil. The gate is both literal and metaphorical.
These words are likely spoken near to the sheep gate, the gate through which the sacrificial animals were brought into the Temple complex. Yeshua, Who the Gospel writer calls “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world” has probably entered through this gate many times in observance of the sacrificial rite and is perhaps even entering as He speaks these words, or has just entered and has begun to speak these words. Thus, “the Lamb” of God literally enters the sheep gate as a figure for what is to come, that is, His being led as a lamb to slaughter, sacrificed (crucified) for the sins of Israel and all humanity.
In the Hebrew text we read “the way of the gate”, making the way an intrinsic part of both the entering and the gate itself. In short, how one enters is as significant as the gate through which one enters. This is to do not only with action but also with the nature that fuels that action.
“…into the uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G]), of the sheep (probaton[G])” The Greek text here is fascinating. Note that the word used to refer to the sheep fold relates specifically to a walled area surrounding a house. Yeshua has probably just entered through the literal sheep gate, that gate being one of the entrances to the outer walled area that surrounds the House of God (the Temple). In fact, one of the Hebrew names for the Temple mount is “Har Beit” literally “Mountain House”.
The Aramaic text is also interesting “Men tara latyara” is a word play combing the like sounds of the Aramaic tara (gate) and tyara (sheepfold), literally “in a gate to the sheepfold”.
The false shepherds and teachers of Israel, like their father (Satan) were not willing to sacrifice themselves for the people. They preferred to enter through the more prestigious gates where they might be afforded honour and acclamation. Yeshua on the other hand was entering as a humble Galilean lamb through the gate that would lead to His slaughter, knowing that He would be despised and rejected.
“…but ascends, climbs up (anabaino[G]) from another place (allachothen[G]),” Notice that the evil one “ascends from another place”. Meaning that he [it] has not descended from above but has ascended from below. The thief and plunderer invades the city by scaling the walls.
“…that one [it] (ekeinos[G]) is a thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and a robber, plunderer, brigand [by nature] (lestes[G]).” This describes not only the actions of theft and plunder but also the nature of these things which denotes that they are attributes of the individual. The Devil, a murderer and a liar from the beginning, the father of lies, the language of lying being his native tongue. The thief is also a figure for false teachers.
According to our rabbis the difference between a thief and a robber was that the former stole a person’s property in secret while the latter stole a person’s property publicly (Maimon. Hilchot Genuba, c. 1. sect. 3.)
Therefore, in a world where secret theft is no longer frowned upon, public theft slowly becomes acceptable. We are seeing this very thing unfold in our time.
“…But he who enters (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) by the way (b’derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H]) is a shepherd (poimen[G], roeih[H]) of the sheep (probaton[G], hatzon[H]).” What beautiful redemptive irony. The Lamb Who enters the gate legitimately as a willing sacrifice is also the Shepherd Who seeks to protect and save His flock.
For further study regarding Yeshua as the Good Shepherd: John 21:15-17; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; Exodus 3:1; 2 Sam. 5:2; Ezekiel 34:23, 37:24, Also compare Psalm 23, where God the Father (YHVH) is seen as the Shepherd. In addition compare the false shepherds of Israel Ezekiel 34:1-22; Acts 5:36-37.
3 To this one (touto[G]) the doorkeeper, gatekeeper (thuroros[G]) opens, and the sheep (probaton[G]) hear (tishmanah[H]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]), and he calls His own sheep (probaton[G]) by name (onoma[G]) and leads them out (exago[G]). 4 When He sends out (ekballo[G]) all his own (individually), He goes ahead, leading (poreuomai[G]) them, and the sheep (probaton[G]) follow, join themselves to (akoloutheo[G]) Him because they see, perceive (eido[G]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]).
“To this one (touto[G]) the doorkeeper, gatekeeper (thuroros[G]) opens” The ultimate Gatekeeper HaShem opens the gate to allow the true Shepherd Yeshua entry. Also, the watchmen assigned by HaShem upon the walls and at the gates of the city of Jerusalem, give entry to the legitimate Shepherd.
In particular the watchman assigned to the spiritual sheep gate, that being Yochanan (John) the immerser (Baptist), who, being born of the priestly line through his father Zechariah, may well have also come from the lineage of priests who were gatekeepers of the sheep gate, opens the gate to Yeshua and proclaims “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!”
“and the sheep (probaton[G]) hear (tishmanah[H]) his voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H])” The sheep are Israel, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen and from verse 16 onward by extension, all who might receive Yeshua the Lamb and Shepherd. Note that “hearing” in Hebrew tishmanah, denotes receipt of sound, voice. It is an act rather than a passive ability to hear. Therefore, to hear means to receive and perceive the voice of the Shepherd (Yeshua). The sheep in question are those who God knows will receive their Shepherd.
“and he calls His own sheep (probaton[G]) by name (onoma[G])” To “call His own sheep by name” has great significance in Hebrew thought. The Biblical narrative observes the Hebrew naming practice in relationship to the birthing process. A Hebrew child is often named based on the circumstances of his or her gestation, birth or early childhood, as this process reveals figuratively the prophetic implications for the child’s life. Thus, Moses is named for his being “drawn out” of the deadly waters of the Nile river, and Yaakov is named for the gripping of his brother’s heel as he came forth from the birth canal, and so on. Therefore, calling His own sheep by name denotes a birth and prophetic calling on the lives of every one of those sheep. God, Who sees the end from the beginning has chosen the names of each sheep in the flock for the purposes of His glory, thus each sheep is “born from above”(John 3:3, 7).
“and leads them out (exago[G]). When He sends out (ekballo[G]) all his own (individually), He goes ahead, leading (poreuomai[G]) them,” The Shepherd does not send the sheep out vulnerable to the conditions outside the safety of the sheepfold, rather He leads them out. He is first to go out through the gate. He does not ask the sheep to do what He has been unwilling to do.
“and the sheep (probaton[G]) follow, join themselves to (akoloutheo[G]) Him because they see, perceive (eido[G]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]).” Note that the sheep join themselves to the Shepherd, they don’t simply follow, they follow closely. The sheep “see”, that is they “perceive” the Shepherds voice, sound. This is outside of the reach of mere human intellect, it is a transcendent perception born of God because eyes can’t see sound, ears hear it. In first century Judaism “sight” relates to what is seen with the eyes both practically and spiritually and hearing to what is heard with the ears and spiritually speaking, that which is heard in the spirit. Therefore, when the writer of John’s gospel chooses the Greek eido to convey the idea of seeing the Shepherd’s voice, He is intentionally showing the sight in question to be a transcendent ability gifted of God and not achievable through human effort or natural ability.
5 Therefore, one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]) they will not follow, not in the lest, but will flee (pheugo[G]) separating (apo[G]) themselves from that one [it] (autos[G]), because they do not see, perceive (eido[G]) the voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]) of one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]).” 6 This parable, figure of speech (paroimia[G], mashal[H]) Yeshua spoke to them, but they did not understand, comprehend, learn [intellectually] (ginosko[G]) who it was that He had been speaking of.
“Therefore, one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]) they will not follow not in the lest, but will flee (pheugo[G]) separating (apo[G]) themselves from that one [it] (autos[G])” Here the false one who climbs over the wall illegitimately seeking entry is said to belong to another, meaning that the intruder is not a Shepherd of God but of Satan. This speaks of a secondary figure, one who might seek to fool the sheep, a man (anti-Messiah: 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The sheep perceive the voice of the true Shepherd and are therefore unable to receive the false voice of the intruder. Stranger means not only a non-Jew but also one who holds to strange teaching, a Hebrew idiom denoting idolatry. We note the “strange fire” brought by the sons of Aaron and the punishment they received (Lev.10:1-2).It is important to note that at the time of this teaching there were certain illegitimate priests who had come from the Hasmonean dynasty and were not descendants of Zadok. In other words, there were priests at the time that were not descendants of Levi and therefore quit literally “belonged to another”, strangers from another tribe, some even being of mixed bloodlines.
“This parable, figure of speech (paroimia[G], mashal[H]) Yeshua spoke to them, but they did not understand, comprehend, learn [intellectually] (ginosko[G]) who it was that He had been speaking of.” Yeshua was using a familiar rabbinical method of teaching by using an everyday vocation as a mashal (teaching story) to illuminate a spiritual principal. The fact that some of those listening did not comprehend it intellectually shows that they were not seeking to perceive His words spiritually. It seems that they had already decided to assign Yeshua’s words to the domain of rambling nonsense. Therefore, they were unable to learn and could not perceive that the parable concerned Yeshua as Shepherd.
7 So Yeshua said to them again, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, I am (ena[A]) the door, opening, passage (ho thura[G], petach[H]) of the sheep, flock (probaton[G], ana[A]).
Seeing that many listening were not comprehending, perceiving, Yeshua returns to the Hebraic modus operandi of repetition and affirmation.
“I am the door” in the Greek is “I am the opening” in Hebrew. Yeshua has now identified Himself as the Lamb entering through the sheep gate as a willing unblemished sacrifice, the Shepherd entering the sheepfold with Divine authority by legitimate means, and now as the door/gate/opening itself, the means of entry into that walled space that surrounds the house (Temple) and protects the sheep. That same door/opening is also the means by which the sheep go out. Therefore, through Yeshua the Lamb and Shepherd, the chosen sheep come in and go out. They come in through Him and under His protection and they go out through Him and under His protection. He is speaking of His vicarious sacrifice which makes it possible for the sheep of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) to enter God’s everlasting Kingdom.
In the Aramaic text there is a word play using ena (I) and ana (flock) to denote Yeshua’s intrinsic connection to the flock for whom He is the gate (means of entry to God’s Kingdom).
8 All (individually) who came before Me are thieves, embezzlers [fig. false teachers] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and robbers, plunderers, brigands [by nature] (lestes[G]), but the sheep (probaton[G]) did not hear, receive, accept (lo shamu[H]) them.
“All” means all who have come before Him claiming to be the Messiah. They were clearly not the Messiah but were false messiah’s manipulated by the evil one for the purpose of leading Israel astray. There were numerous would be messiah’s in the first century who lead failed revolts against the Roman occupation.
The text of Zechariah 11 alludes in part to the treatment of Yeshua the Shepherd at the hands of false shepherds:
“So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter.” -Zechariah 11:7-13 ESV
9 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G]) the door, opening (ho thura[G], ha-patach[H]); if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved (sozo[G]), and will go in and out and find pasture.
“I AM” is yet another statement of divinity. Yeshua is God with us.
Entering the sheepfold of God’s everlasting kingdom is only possible through the opening made through Yeshua’s blood. Thus the sheep who enter through Yeshua will never again be threatened by the wolf of sin or the lion of death.
The coming in and going out expresses the freedom afforded to every believer in God’s kingdom and speaks prophetically of that time yet future when the heavens and the earth will be renewed and God and the Lamb will dwell with humanity. At that time there will be no need for the sheep to remain behind walls of protection because they will never be threatened again.
At this point Yeshua is speaking specifically to the sheep of the sheepfold of ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel, the Jewish people. It is only later that He will widen His message to include the sheep that are not of the sheepfold of Israel (the Gentiles)[v.16].
10 The thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]), and have it abundantly (perissos[G]).
Here, Yeshua shows the stark contrast between Himself and the enemy of Israel Satan. The Devil, a murderer and liar from the beginning, comes only to steal, kill and destroy. To steal what is good by tempting us to defile it, to kill what is living through the fruit of sin, and to destroy and put an end to our hope through deception. On the other hand, Yeshua has come to give perpetual living in place of temporal death, a life devoid of the fruit of sin, overflowing with abundant and transcendent joy.
11 “I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the good, commendable, surpassing, excellent (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]); the good (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]) lays down His life breath, soul (psuche[G], et-nafsho[H]) for the sheep (probaton[G], ha-tzon[H]).
Once again Yeshua premises His words with a statement of His all existing nature. In Hebrew ha-tov (the good) expresses a state of unmitigated purity, wholesomeness, surpassing excellence, unparalleled goodness, perfection. This is why Yeshua says elsewhere, “Why do you call me tov, there is none tov but Elohiym (God).” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). When Yeshua says that He is the good Shepherd, He is in fact once again claiming to be God with us, because only God qualifies as the Good Shepherd. Therefore, where Yeshua says elsewhere, “Why do you call me tov, there is none good but God” He means to say, “Ask yourself why you called me good and you will see that none is good but God”.
The Good Shepherd is no ordinary Shepherd, He is the ultimate Shepherd, unmatched in purity, faithfulness, dedication and love for His sheep. Although He is already the rightful owner of the sheep, He none the less gives His life (Hebrew nafsho – soul existence) as the price for their protection from death (fig. eternal death).
Genesis speaks of Joseph as a figure for the future King Messiah, Yeshua the Shepherd of Israel:
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),” -Genesis 49:22-24
12 The hired hand, who is not a shepherd (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]), and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]) and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The wolf, like the thief, seeks only to steel, kill and destroy. A hired person has nothing to loose by saving his own skin when the wolf comes, whereas the owner has a vested interest in saving the sheep. In the case of this mashal (parable), the Owner lays down His life for the sheep, allowing the wolf to take His life so that the sheep can go free.
“The hired hand” is a figurative allusion to the false shepherds and misguided religious and political leaders of Israel.
“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to [a]those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord [b]God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been [c]feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds [d]feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without [e]feeding the flock. 4 Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the [f]diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. 5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’” 7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My [g]sheep [h]from them and make them cease from feeding [i]sheep. So the shepherds will not [j]feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’” -Ezekiel 34:1-10 NASB
Jewish commentary speaks of Satan, as, הוא הזאב, "he is the wolf" and by extension he is said to influence all false prophets, and teachers, who are ravenous wolves (sometimes in sheep's clothing). So too are tyrants, oppressors, and persecutors of Israel.
“a shepherd that feeds his flock, and leaves it, and goes to the city, and a wolf comes and ravines, and the lion comes and tears in pieces, he is free; but if he leaves by it his staff and his scrip, he is guilty.'' - Talmud. Bavliy. Bava Metzia, fol. 41. 1. & 93. 2. & 106. 1.
“a shepherd who can deliver that which is torn, and that which is carried captive, with other shepherds, and with staves, and does not call the other shepherds, nor bring the staves to deliver them, he is guilty: one that keeps freely, and one that keeps for hire; he that keeps freely, calls the shepherds, and brings the staves freely; and if he does not find them, he is not guilty; but he that keeps for hire, is obliged to hire shepherds and staves, in order to deliver them.'' -Maimonides, Hilchot Shechirut c. 3. sect. 6.
13 He (hired person) flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]). 14 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the good, commendable, surpassing, excellent (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]), and I know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) My own and My own know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) Me, 15 even as the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) knows (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) Me and I know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]); and I lay down My life breath, soul (psuche[G], et-nafsho[H]) for the sheep (probaton[G], ha-tzon[H]).
“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and His arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before him. He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” -Isaiah 40:10-11 ESV
""He shall feed his flock like a shepherd"; not as he that feeds the flock of others, for the hire they give him, but as a shepherd that feeds his own flock; who has compassion more abundantly on it, because it is his own flock; and therefore he says, "behold his reward is with him", for he does not seek a reward from another; "and his work is before him"; for he feeds what is his own, and therefore his eyes and his heart are there.'' -Abarbinel, Mashmia Yeshua, fol. 20. 4.
Therefore, “His reward is with Him” in the form of that which He brings as a reward to the faithful sheep and in terms of the sheep themselves who are His reward, inheritance, joy. HaShem is the perfect Father, Yeshua, the perfect Son.
When Yeshua says He “knows” His sheep and that they “know” Him, He is not speaking of the intellectual knowledge of humanity but of the transcendent knowledge of God. This is made clear by the affirmation in the Father, “Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.” In Hebrew the word yada (know), infers an intimate soul tie. This is why it is used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse. In other words, the knowledge Yeshua speaks of denotes an inseparable relational connection.
16 I have other (allos[G]) sheep (probaton[G], tzon[H]), which are not of this uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G], latyara[A]); I must bring them also, and they will hear (tishmanah[H]) My voice, sound (phone[G], koliy[H]); and they will become one, a complex, unified (heis[G], echad[H]) flock (poimne[G]) with one, complex, unified (heis[G], echad[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], roeh[H]).
Up to this point the sheep Yeshua has been referring to are the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel (the Jewish people), and the sheepfold of God’s Kingdom as it is outworked through Israel upon the throne of David in the greater Son of David the King Messiah Yeshua. Now He alludes to sheep who are not from the tribes (sheepfold) of Israel.
The Tanakh (OT) alludes to the salvation of Gentiles on numerous occasions (Gen.12:3, 18:14, 22:18, 26:4; Isaiah 11:10, 19:6, 54:1-3, 60:1-3; Hosea 1:10; Amos 9:11; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 72, 87.
The “Aleinu” prayed daily by observant Jews acknowledges God’s rule over all the earth and the future unity of His rule and Kingdom and Name according to the prophet Zechariah:
“And HaShem will be King over all the earth; on that day HaShem will be one and His Name one.” (Zechariah 14:9).
It is important to note that the one flock will be housed in the sheepfold of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen). With reference to the Gentile sheep not of the sheepfold Yeshua says He will “bring them”, that is, they will be afforded a concession to come into the commonwealth of Israel. Note carefully that Ezekiel the prophet speaks God’s word identifying ethnic Israel as His chosen sheep and the greater Son of David (the King Messiah Yeshua) as the Shepherd:
“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” -Ezekiel 34:22-24 ESV
“They will become one” Note that they are not yet one but will become one. The present manifestation of the body of believers is truly a complex unity in that it continues to await the fullness of these words of Yeshua. Those Jews who are presently Messiah followers remain Jews, while those of the nations who are presently Messiah followers are not Jews but are one with their Jewish brothers and sisters. The body of believers awaits the inclusion of all of the remaining Jewish people through Yeshua (Romans 11:25-36). There is a convergent aspect to the present state of the body of believers (Ecclesia) where Jewish believers meet the circle of the wider body, which includes Gentiles. This does not mean that the Church is a continuation of the Jewish people, rather, it means (according to Romans) that the body of believers is yet to see its fullness. That fullness being revealed at the end of the age when the entire remnant of the ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen people of Israel (the Jewish people) will be saved through Yeshua and we will truly be one, complex and unified people in God. Complex because we will not be robbed of our uniqueness, and unified because in Messiah we will delight in the diversity of the body.
The Ecclesia (Body of believers, Church) is made up of Jews (Sheepfold of God) and Gentiles (Not of the sheepfold of God but brought in through Yeshua), while the chosen people of God, ethnic, religious, empirical Israel (the Jewish people) continue in their unique role as a sign pointing toward the fullness of God’s redemptive plan for humanity, that being the salvation of all ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel (the Jewish people) at the end of the age after all who will come in from the nations (Gentiles) have come. Thus, those not of the sheepfold of Israel are afforded through Yeshua the opportunity to become part of the commonwealth of Israel in the similar way to that of people of other tribes and nations becoming part of the commonwealth of Great Britain, or some other such collective. Therefore, no tribe or nation loses their unique identity, rather in Messiah all are made a complex unity of diverse expression, just as the body has many parts but functions as one entity reliant on all its parts, guided by the head and powered by the heart and lungs.
Therefore, the Church is not a continuation of Israel, nor is it the continuation of the faith of Abraham. Rather, it is the living organism that having been born of the Jews in Yeshua seeks its fullness in the redemption of ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel through Yeshua at the end of the age and into the Olam Haba, world to come.
The primary flaw in misunderstanding this truth is born of the pride of the Gentile Church, which has come to see itself as the rightful heir. To the contrary, the Gentiles are afforded an opportunity to come into the sheepfold of Israel as a concession and not as a right.
The redemptive plan of God comes through and from the Jews and draws others inward, it does not progress outward with the intention of making the Jews obsolete. This is made abundantly clear by Yeshua when He says “I must bring them (Gentiles) also…” Therefore, the Gentiles are brought in but the place of the chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious) does not change. After all, it is the sheepfold of Israel that the believing Gentiles are being welcomed into.
Rav Shaul writes using the wall that separates Gentiles from the courts of the woman and of Israel saying:
“For He (Yeshua) is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” -Ephesians 2:14
We note that the breaking down of this wall is intended to bring the Gentiles in to the worship practices of Israel and is not taken down in order to have the Gentiles leave behind the Jewish roots of their faith. And yet, that is exactly what the Gentile Church has done. For centuries it has turned its back on the people and worship practice from which it was born and in doing so has directly opposed the words of both Rav Shaul and Yeshua.
17 For this reason the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) loves (oheiv[H]) Me, because I lay down My life, breath, soul existence (et-nafshiy[H]) so that I may take it up again. 18 No one, nothing (oudeis[G]) has taken it away from Me or separated (apo[G]) Me from it, but I lay it down on My own initiative, in My Own power, by My Own choice (exousia[G]). I have authority, power, choice (exousia[G]) to lay it down, and to take it up again. This commandment (entole[G]) I received from My Father (Pater mou[G], Aviy[H]).”
The Messiah was prophesied to lay down His life for the people of Israel (Isaiah 53:1-12; Psalm 16:8-11).
Note that Yeshua lays down His life of His own fruition and power. Neither the thief, nor the wolf, nor any other power is able to take the life of the Messiah except that He allows it. The giving of His life is entirely His decision.
Notice the relational language and convergence of authority, freewill and command. Yeshua has been given full authority from the Father and in turn submits His will by His own choosing to the Father in obedience to the Father’s instruction. After all, God cannot refuse to act according to His Own character and nature.
19 A tear, division (schisma[G]) occurred again among the Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]]) because of these words, essences, substances (logos[G], d’variym[H]). 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) and is meshuggah[H] out of his mind, insane. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) can’t open the eyes of the blind, can it?”
Again Yeshua is accused by some of being insane. The use of the word “demon” as it is understood by the modern reader is misleading in many respects. In modern terms they were accusing Yeshua of being schizophrenic, bipolar, severally mentally ill, and yes, at times these conditions may be exacerbated by demonic forces, but the point here is to discredit Yeshua as a mentally ill fool who talks nonsense.
Jewish tradition speaks of a spirit which called Tazazit, which is an evil spirit that takes away the understanding of human beings (R. David Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad.).
Also note that once more the religious leaders are divided in their opinions of Yeshua. The word schisma suggests an even division, meaning that at least half the leaders were in favour of Yeshua after hearing His words. It is utter nonsense to make “Pharisee” or “Jew” synonymous with “disbeliever”. This kind of antisemitism has been far too prevalent in the common theological language of the Gentile Christian Church for too long.
“A demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) can’t open the eyes of the blind, can it?” In fact, in the latter days those manipulated by demonic forces will produce miracles like the giving of sight to the blind in order to fool people into following a false god. The One Who is of God is proved by His pointing people to God. Therefore, as I’ve said previously, miraculous signs in and of themselves are not evidence of a true prophet.
“[a]If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has [b]counseled [c]rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of [d]slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.” -Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NASB
“For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will [n]show great [o]signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the [p]elect.” -Matthew 24:24 NASB
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Ha-Sefer shel Yochanan John 9: Here’s Mud in Your Eye (Recently Healed Beggar Schools a Group of Religious Leaders)
It’s important to note that Yeshua utilized miraculous signs, He did not venerate them. Every miracle He performed was done to point people to salvation through Him. Any miracle that does not point people to Yeshua and reconciliation to God is not of God.
This miracle (sign), found only in John’s gospel, is unique in many ways: the young man has been blind from birth, Yeshua uses inanimate matter (earth) in the healing process, and the healing generates a wide range of responses from observers and an argument over halakhah (application of Torah principles) that involves the parents of the recipient and the religious leaders--P’rushiym (Pharisees). John is concerned with revealing the Davar[H], logos[G] (Word, essence, substance) of Adonai made flesh, and also uses terms like light, dark, day and night, to show the stark contrast of the Messiah’s light against the dark night of this world (figurative of blindness and hidden deeds of evil). Thus, conveying the deeper meaning in the metaphor of light and its relationship to sight and revelation (lifting of a veil) throughout his gospel. John is clearly intending to make the Deity of Messiah plain for all to see. He wants us to understand what it truly means to behold Immanuel (God with us), literally “Imanu (He is with us) El (God)”. All this happens following Yeshua’s last words in John 8: “Before Avraham was born, I AM!”
There are also aspects of this miraculous sign that affirm the cultural and spiritual miss beliefs of some of the first century Jewish people and their leaders. However, before we become too critical we should remind ourselves that we continue to hold many of the same miss beliefs in the modern Christian Ecclesia (Church) to this day. In our text the disciples suggest by inference that personal or parental sin is the cause of the young man’s blindness, some of the Pharisees again accuse Yeshua of working on the Sabbath (the added action of mud making helps to fuel their zeal), excommunication (possibly cherem, indefinite cutting off from the community) is threatened against the young man’s parents and so the list goes on.
Yochanan (John, the writer of this gospel) tackles a wide range of issues in this concise but diverse account. If we are to understand it well, we will need to ask both the obvious questions regarding the healing itself and the deeper questions of religious culture and colloquial presumption. My hope is, that having studied this passage, we will be able to avoid the conclusion, “It’s clear as mud.” Though on second thought, perhaps in this case at least, the idiom denotes significant clarity.
1 As He (Yeshua) passed by, He saw (eido[G], va’yare[H]) a man blind, sightless (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]) from the day of (miyom[H]) his birth (genete[G], hivaldo[H]). 2 And His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) asked Him, “Rabbi[H] (My Great One, Pastor, Teacher), who is the sinner (hamartano[G], ha’chote[H], missed the mark set by God), this man or his parents, in order (hina[G]) that he would be fathered (gennao[G]) blind, sightless (tuphlos[G], iveir[H])?”
“He (Yeshua) saw…” Note that this account begins by stating that Yeshua “sees, perceives”. This in contrast to the one born blind, sightless. The figurative meaning is that Yeshua, Whose origin is from above, sees and imparts sight, whereas the man (human being) is born of the earth, into a sin affected creation and is therefore blind, sightless from birth (Psalm 51:5). The opening verse essentially conveys the core premise for the Gospel’s purpose, to give sight to the spiritually blind and set them free from bondage to the deeds of darkness.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua:
25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believe in Yeshua.” -Romans 3:23-26
“Blind from birth.” This statement is significant, as testified to by the healed man himself in verse 32 of this same chapter. This is intended to set up the many Messianic overtones of the healing. For years prior Israel had been awaiting a Messiah for Whom one of the significant signs of His validity would be the giving of sight to the blind (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 29:18, 35:5, 42:7).
“On that day the deaf will hear d’variy My word, essence, substance, a sepher scroll, book, and out of their gloom and choshek darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” -Isaiah 29:18 (Author’s translation)
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” -Isaiah 35:5 NASB
Notice that Isaiah uses the Hebrew word “Davar”, the same word Yochanan uses to describe Yeshua (John 1).
“To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” -Isaiah 42:7 NASB
“Who sinned?” This question is not without foundation. There are clear examples both in Scripture and in life, of personal sin that results in illness. In the case of humanity’s fall, sin entered the world and death with it, therefore sin can be linked to all sickness to some degree. However, this does not always mean that personal sin has caused illness. Therefore, the disciples’ question can be seen as presumptuous, given that not all cases of illness are the direct result of personal sin.
There is substantial evidence indicating that the commonly held perception at that time, regarding illness, was that those who were severely ill had committed some great sin or had parents who had sinned and therefore were reaping the curse of the four generations as outlined in the Torah. To this the rabbis added arguments such as those regarding the ante-natal behaviour of Esau and Jacob (these rabbinical conversations are found in extra-Biblical texts which record the oral traditions and debates of the first century CE, e.g. Bereishit Rabbah 63:6 on Gen 25:22), some suggesting Esau’s sin in the womb as being the reason for his later loss of birth-rite. Needless to say, the question of the disciples was not unwarranted, given the social and religious connotations associated with severe sickness as understood by the Judaism of the first century CE.
“…fathered (gennao[G]) blind” This phrase infers something different from simply having been born (genete[G]) blind. To be “fathered blind” denotes blindness passed on by the father. In short, the disciples were inferring that the father (parents) were responsible.
Therefore, in this context “fathered blind” denotes that the “sins of the father” have been “visited on the son” (Exodus 20:4-6). The Torah text that explains this idea is associated to idolatry and therefore, infers that the one suffering under generational sin is reaping the fruit of an idolatrous forebear.
However, the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18), speaking the Word (Davar) of the Lord (YHVH) explains that each person is judged according to their own actions. This is consistent with the Torah because the Torah explains (Exodus 20:6) that the one who loves God and obeys His Instruction will see perpetual (everlasting) blessing (the number 1000 is a figurative Hebraism meaning “everlasting”). Therefore, at any point in the generations of the wicked a son might turn to God in repentance and reap blessing, thus cancelling out the curse of the four generations and redeeming the family line. Ezekiel’s words do not oppose the words of Exodus, rather they illuminate them. Yeshua has come to illuminate them further, and to add the need for discernment in all such situations so as to leave room for the redemptive works of God.
3 Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves: Iesous[G], Joshua, Jesus) answered, “Neither this man sinned (hamartano[G], chata[H], missed the mark set by God), nor his parents; this has occurred (but) in order to manifest, display, make visible (phaneroo[G]) in him the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of the God (ho Theos[G], El[H]). 4 We must labour in (ergazomai[G]) the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of Him who sent Me (pempo[G]) as long as it is day (hemera[G], yom[H]); night (nux[G], halaylah[H]) is coming when no one can labour (ergazomai[G]). 5 While I am in the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), I am the uncreated Light (phos[G], Or[H]) of the world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]).”
Yeshua illuminates the small view of His disciples and shows them the big picture, the meta-narrative of redemption. He is explaining that individual sin is a symptom of the sin affected creation, and that God has made a way for all, parents and children to be delivered from their inherent blindness. “The works of God” which Yeshua is displaying are intended to point all to the King Messiah and redemption through His vicarious sacrifice.
Yeshua never performed a miracle (sign) simply for the sake of healing a person or as a display of His prowess. After all, what good is temporal healing if that same person fails to receive Yeshua and thus ends up in perpetual torment for all eternity? Yeshua is no magician, He’s not a doctor, nor any other kind of crass performer of temporal cures. He is God with us. He need not gain an audience.
“Neither… but this happened so that the works/signs of God might be displayed in him.” Yeshua is not saying that it’s impossible for personal sin to result in severe sickness. He is simply saying that it’s not the only option, that there are times when people get sick for other reasons. In this case the reason is that the purpose of God be made manifest. That is, a sign, work, action, that reveals the true identity of the Messiah as one who causes the blind to see—in fulfilment of the afore mentioned Messianic passages of Isaiah.
“As long as it is day…” It is here that John begins to juxtapose concepts of light and darkness, right action and sin, day and night. These themes become a metaphor for the stark contrast between blindness and sight. The conclusion will be that spiritual blindness is the greater danger. Only Messiah can act in this world to bring sight to that kind of blindness, and only those who are willing to accept that they are blind are able to receive sight. While Yeshua is with them, He is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5).
“The occupation of God..” mirrors the language in Yeshua’s accusation against the religious leaders regarding the fact that they claimed to be children of Avraham and yet did not walk in the occupation, business of Avraham (John 8:39).
6 When He (Yeshua) had said this, He spat on the ground (chamai[G], ha-aretz[H]), and made clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]) of the spittle, and applied, spread (epichrio[G]) the clay on his eyes (ophthalmos[G]), 7 and said to him, “Go, wash, ritually purify yourself, bathe (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H]) in the pool of Shiloach[H] (Siloam[G])” [which is translated, Sent]. So he went away and washed (nipto[G], ashiyg[A]), and came back seeing.
“He spit on the ground and made mud and put it on the blind man’s eyes.” If, as is clear from Scripture (Mark 10:51-52; Luke 18:41-43; John 4:50 etc), Messiah Yeshua did not need to use anything other than the word of His mouth or the intention of His will to heal, why did He make mud? Was He emulating an occult practice as some foolishly claim? Certainly not, He’s the Author of the Torah, which forbids such practice. Was He using a microbial herbal healing technique, perhaps knowing that the mud and saliva somehow combined to become a natural healing balm? Extremely unlikely. It is noteworthy that Yeshayahu/Isaiah—the prophet Yeshua quotes most—healed Hezekiah with a fig poultice, however there is no real correlation here, except to validate the authenticity of Yeshua as a prophet of God. Why then, did Yeshua act out this show of ritual in full view of those observing the miraculous sign? The most obvious answer is that it was intended as a living parable, like those performed by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:9-12).
So, what exactly is Yeshua saying through this action? Firstly, we should ask, “What is the gospel writer’s agenda in writing?” John is concerned essentially with the theme of God’s coming down and dwelling among us. John uses the terms, Word and Light to describe Immanuel (God with us), the King Messiah Yeshua. He begins his gospel with the words, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” He goes on to emphasise that, “The Word (God’s very essence/intention/breathe/saliva) became flesh (Adam) and dwelt among us.” Yeshua (God with us) is the person who embodies the very intention/essence/saliva of God, He is a physical symbol of the issued mouth essence of God (Ruach—breath), combining this essence with the soil (adamah—earth, ha’aretz—ground, land) is a recreation (a figure) reflecting the creation of the first Adam (human-being), and pointing to the last Adam (Yeshua). After sinning and allowing sin to enter into the world, the first Adam was unable to heal in this way but Yeshua is not the first Adam. We are told by Rabbi Shaul (Paul the Apostle) that Yeshua is the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). This physical parable then is most likely meant as a sign/work of Divine creative power and a figure alluding to the Messiah, a representation of His physical being and His status as God with us. He is the Shiloach (Sent One) Who Yeshayahu/Isaiah prophesied would open the eyes of the blind. He has come down as the essence (Saliva) of God and has been joined to the adamah (earth/soil) and has become the last Adam (Fully God and fully man), God with us, Immanuel. Only He is capable of a miracle of such significance.
“‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (Shiloach),’ (this word means “Sent”). So, the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” In order to fully understand this statement of Yeshua we must first gain an understanding of the Hebrew word Shiloach, which John chooses to transliterate into Greek as Siloam, explaining that it means sent. This is the same pool from which the water was drawn for the ritual libation offering of Sukkot (see my previous article on John 7:25-53).
This pool gains its name from the Hebrew Shalach (go or send) and is closely related to the Hebrew Shiloh meaning sent one. Hebrew readers will recognize this word from the title to the Torah portion B’shalach (In going forth). We should begin with the term Shiloh because it was known in ancient Judaism to represent the Mashiyach (Messiah). We find the first reference to this term (which is a Proper Noun/name) in Bereishit/Genesis 49:10:
“The sceptre shall not depart from Y’hudah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet (that is from his issue, children’s children) until Shiloh (the sent one) comes: and the people will be obedient to Him. (Shiloh)”
Without knowledge of the proper noun/name Shiloh, this account (John 9) is difficult to understand.
The meaning then is grounded in the fact that Shiloh, the One Genesis 49:10 speaks of is the Sent One, the Mashiyach/Messiah, Yeshua. Once we understand this we move to the next key text, this text mentions the derivative term shiloach (Siloam), Yeshayahu/Isaiah 8:9
“This people have refused the softly flowing waters of Shiloach (the sent one) and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son. (Meaning the false ruler and his false deities)”
Israel are seen here as both presently and prophetically rejecting the cleansing (waters) of the Sent One (Shiloach) Who is the Messiah Yeshua (God with us).
With this understanding as our foundation we now look at the present text and the rich meaning displayed in Yeshua’s command for the blind man to wash in the waters of Siloam (Shiloach). Yeshua is effectively saying:
“Go, wash in the gently flowing waters of the Sent One.” Yeshua is Shiloh, He is Shiloach and He is sending the blind man to the waters of the Sent One so that he might gain his sight (A sure sign of the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah [see previous Isaiah passages]). Thus, the blind man, in obedience, does the opposite of the people of Yeshayahu/Isaiah 8:6 and so, he receives sight, both physical and, spiritual. The blind man himself is sent by the Sent One to be a tributary, a little sent one. Why? Because “while it is day we must do the works of Him who sent us. Night is coming when no one can work”, unless, the Light of the World lives in us, so that we might become light in the night.
The once blind man now returns home as a sent one who will shine his light in the darkness. This is God’s desire for each of us, we have all been blind and need the Sent One (Yeshua) and His cleansing, so that we might receive true spiritual sight, thus avoiding the deeds of darkness and disbelief. Some see tevilah (baptism) or mikveh in the washing of the blind man, but it is more likely that he simply washed his eyes clean of the mud. Needless to say, rabbinical teaching would have seen the very act of washing as a defilement of the Sabbath (this of course is not a Torah understanding, it is simply a law of men).
It’s important to note that Yeshua utilized miraculous signs, He did not venerate them. Every miracle He performed was done to point people to salvation through Him. Any miracle that does not point people to Yeshua and reconciliation to God is not of God. Many blind guides in the body of believers today place great emphasis on the miraculous. They decontextualize Scripture saying “We’re able to do greater things than Yeshua…” as a basis for their witchcraft, manipulations, invocations and celebrated manifestations. They lack the discernment required to distinguish between manifestation of the Spirit and the manifestation of the demonic and thus place the body of believers in grave danger. The Scripture they often refer to in defence of their idolatry (John 14:12), when read in context, teaches that by the Spirit of the Father and the Son (“because I am going to the Father”), those who believe in Yeshua will enact something greater than the miracles Yeshua performed during His earthly ministry, in that the greater purpose of those miracles was always to point people to salvation through Him. Therefore, our doing “greater than these” (What is greater than raising a person from the dead?) is us working to spread the gospel throughout the known world, something that Yeshua did not physically carry out during His earthly ministry because He had come “only for the lost sheep of Israel”(Matt. 10:6; 15:24). In conclusion, to pursue miracles is idolatry, whereas to focus on the Miracle Maker (Yeshua) is righteousness.
Interestingly, the extra-Biblical teaching of the Mishnah (Oral Law) lists making mud or clay as one of the thirty nine kinds of work that is unlawful (according to the rabbis) on the Shabbat (Mishnah Shabbat 7:2;).
8 Consequently the neighbours (of the man born blind), and those who previously observed (theoreo[G]) him as a beggar, were saying, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He (the once blind man) kept saying, “I am the one (who was born blind).” 10 So they were saying to him (who was born blind), “How then were your eyes opened?”
In religious Jewish thought giving tzedakah “Charity” should produce and opportunity for self-worth. A sitting beggar of the first century would probably have been considered an unworthy recipient because of the appearance that he was not willing to further himself. In addition, if his blindness were considered the result of sin he would have earned very little from begging. This shows the depth of desperation of this man prior to his healing.
When the blind man came home seeing, he was met with a divided response from those who knew him. Some were so confused by this miraculous event that they doubted he was the same man who had been born blind. Others were certain it was the ex-blind beggar they had known for so long. The man himself was adamant, “I am the man!” The people respond, “How were you healed then?” If this was that blind guy, something pretty amazing was happening and they genuinely wanted to know what that was.
11 He answered, “The man who is called Yeshua made clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]), and applied, spread (epichrio[G]) it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Shiloach[H] (Siloam[G]: sent) and wash, ritually purify yourself, bathe (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H])’; so I went away and washed, ritually purified myself, bathed (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H]), and I looked up (anablepo[G]), received sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He (Yeshua)?” He said, “I don’t know.” 13 They brought to the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) the man who was formerly blind.
“The man they call Yeshua made some mud and put it on my eyes and sent me to wash in the pool of Shiloach, as soon as I had done this I could see.” This is the first in a progression of chronological statements that show the man’s journey to salvation (John, the writer of this gospel, is rightly called the Evangelist by early Church fathers).
Here, the man has not yet seen Yeshua, he barely even knows Who He (Yeshua) is, so he says, “the man they call Yeshua.” This statement shows the relational distance between the man and Yeshua directly after his healing. He is referring to Yeshua, not as an acquaintance but rather as someone that others talk about. This is step one in the man’s journey to identifying and understanding who Yeshua is.
“Where is this man?” The now seeing beggar responds, “I don’t know.” Yeshua has obviously left the location of the healing (the place where the clay was applied). The man upon receiving his sight, is so excited that he goes straight home to show everybody what a wonderful miracle has happened to him. He has not yet seen Yeshua.
“They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees.” There is no need to see this as an act of malice. The people were socially and religiously accustomed to seeking the advice and opinions of the P’rushiym (Pharisees), who were entrusted as leaders of their synagogues and as spiritual shepherds of Israel.
14 Now it was a Shabbat[H] (Sabbath) on the day when Yeshua made the clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]) and opened his eyes. 15 Then the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay (pelos[G], tiyt[H]) to my eyes, and I washed, ritually purified myself, bathed (nipto[G], ashiyg[A], ur’chatz[H]) and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees: chased ones) were saying, “This man is not from God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), because He does not keep the Shabbat[H] (Sabbath).” But others were saying, “How can a man who is devoted to sin (hamartolos[G]) perform such signs (otot[H])?” And there was a rent, tear, division (schisma[G]) among them.
“The day on which Yeshua made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.” This Sabbath is either the eighth day celebration Shmini Atzeret which follows the Sukkot week, or it is the weekly Sabbath following Sukkot.
This is obviously important to the discussion that follows. Throughout His ministry Yeshua is criticized by the Pharisees for His actions on the Sabbath (Yeshua keeps the Torah but He does not bow to the wider added traditions of the rabbis’ concerning the Sabbath). The making of the mud in addition to the actual healing was of particular concern to them in light of rabbinic oral tradition (Mishnah Shabbat 7:2).
"it is forbidden to put fasting spittle even on the eyelid on a sabbath day.''
-T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 14. 4. & Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. & T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 108. 2. & Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 25.
The Pharisees asked how the man had been healed and upon finding out, they were divided in their opinions of Yeshua and the event itself. Some of them felt that He had broken the Sabbath laws (of course He had only broken their man-made laws), others were convinced that because Yeshua had worked such a great miracle that they should not be so hasty to condemn Him. Neither argument was valid, the Torah warns that false prophets may work great miracles, so the fact that this healing was miraculous was not proof of Yeshua’s standing as a prophet of God.
The working of miraculous signs does not qualify a prophet of God. Rather, miraculous signs that point to salvation (the spiritually blind being given sight) are the fruit of a godly prophet.
“21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” -Mattitiyahu (Matthew) 7:21-23 TLV
It’s worth noting that what follows is a spontaneous and unlawful trial, conducted against both the once blind man and Yeshua.
Our rabbis explicitly forbid courts (trials) to be in session on the Sabbath (y. Sanh. 4:6).
17 So they said to the blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]) man again, “What is your opinion of Him (Yeshua), since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet (prophetes[G], navi[H]).”
As is the proper thing to do they turn to the man who had been healed and ask him, “What do you have to say about Him?” To which the man replies, “He is a prophet.” This is the second stage in the development of the man’s relationship to Yeshua. Here he has progressed from speaking of Yeshua as one Whom others speak of, to naming him a prophet. The full impact of what has happened to him is beginning to sink in and he is starting to see glimpses of who Yeshua really is.
18 The religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym) then did not believe, trust, were not persuaded (pisteuo[G]) of him, that he had been blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]) and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and they questioned his parents, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H])? Then how is it that he now sees?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born, fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]); 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not see, perceive (eido[G]). Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaio[G]s, Yehudiym[H]); for the religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Messiah, he was to be cast (ekballo[G]) out of the synagogue (meeting place). 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
Finding it too hard to accept that the man was ever blind, the Pharisees send for his parents to get confirmation.
“Is this your son, who you say was fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H])? This is a tacit accusation inferring that the father of this man is an idolater.
The parents acknowledge that their son has been blind from birth but they are as confused as everybody else as to how he can now see. They are not willing to enter the debate, sighting his being of age (that is older than thirteen and showing the signs of puberty [Maimon. Hilchot Eduth, c. 9. sect. 7.]) as reason for questioning him and allowing his testimony to stand for itself. His parents were scared of being kicked out of the synagogue. In the first century it was more common to refer to being cast out of the “Congregation of Israel” when referring to full excommunication from the people and religion of Judaism. The rabbinical equivalent exercised against the messianic Jewish community of the early body of believers was called “cherem” (lit. devote to destruction) The threat of the present text does not necessarily refer to cherem, a form of complete excommunication from the congregation of Israel, meaning they would shunned by the community but not refused entry to the Temple precinct (there was no Great Synagogue at the time because the Temple was the central place of Jewish Worship until 70 CE). However, regardless of the specific intent, it was a significant threat, given that the local synagogue acted as a type of community centre, as well as a subsidiary place of worship and Torah study, and that those who were “cherem” (if this was the implied threat) were only to enter through the mourners (and the excommunicated) gate of the Temple and move to the left contrary to the practice of others, proclaiming the state of their excommunication.
"all that go into the temple, go in, in the right hand way, and go round, and come out in the left, except such an one to whom anything has befallen him, and he goes about to the left; (and when asked) why dost thou go to the left? (he answers) because I am a mourner; (to whom it is replied) he that dwells in this house comfort thee: (or) שאני מנודה, "because I am excommunicated"; (to whom they say) he that dwells in this house put it into thy heart (that thou mayest hearken to the words of thy friends, as it is afterwards explained) and they may receive thee.'' -Mishnah. Middot, c. 2. sect. 2.
24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]), and said to him, “Give (didomi[G], tein[H]) glory, judgement (doxa[G], kavod[H]) to the God (ho Theos[G], leiElohiym[H]) ; we know that this man is devoted to sin (hamartolos[G], chotei[H], has missed the mark set by God) .” 25 He then answered, “Whether He is devoted to sin (hamartolos[G], chotei[H], has missed the mark set by God), I do not see, perceive (eido[G]); one thing I do see, perceive (eido[G]), that though I was blind (tuphlos[G], iveir[H]), now I see with my own eyes (blepo[G]).” 26 So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open (anoigo[G]) your eyes (ophthalmos[G], eiyneycha[H])?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already and you didn’t listen, hear, recieve (sh’matem[H]); why do you want to hear (lishmoa[H]) again? You do not want to become His disciples (talmiydayv[H]) too, do you?” 28 They heaped abuse (loidoreo[G]) on him and said, “You are His disciple (mathetes[G], talmid[H]), but we are disciples (talmidiym[H]) of Moshe[H] (Moses: drawn out).
“Give (didomi[G], tein[H]) glory, judgement (doxa[G], kavod[H]) to the God (ho Theos[G], leiElohiym[H]) ; we know that this man is devoted to sin…” There is an interesting juxtaposition here. The “cherem” excommunication possibly referred to in the previous verses literally means “devoted to destruction”. Here, the religious leaders accuse the improperly tried Yeshua of being “devoted to sin”.
The Pharisees, beside themselves with frustration, send for the man a second time (at this point they were conducting what was effectively an illegal trial of both Yeshua and the healed man).
The use of the idiom, “Give glory to HaShem!”—which means tell the truth or in modern terms “swear on the Bible”), literally translates as “Give a judgement of God”. Today we say something similar in Hebrew upon hearing of the death of a Jewish person, “Baruch dayan ha-emet” Blessed is the judge of the truth. It’s a reference to the fact that God is the ultimate judge. Some of the Pharisees are essentially saying, “Stop lying and admit you weren’t blind in the first place and that this Yeshua is a fraud,” or “Admit that this Yeshua is a false prophet!” They (that is the group among them that didn’t accept the miracle) had already decided that Yeshua was a Sabbath breaking sinner despite the lack of real evidence.
It’s here that the once blind man begins to truly find his vision and shine the light he has been given by Yeshua, and not without a good dose of Jewish chutzpah to boot.
“One thing I do know, I was blind and now I see.” In other words, “When you guys are able to exhibit the kind of power and authority that Yeshua does, I might pay more attention to you!” The Pharisees are looking for ammunition so (having just called him a liar to his face) they ask again how it all took place. The once blind man responds, “I told you already, weren’t you listening? Why do you want to know more? Do you want to become his Talmidiym (disciples)?” It’s safe to say that this enraged them. They react by saying, “You are this man’s disciple, we are Moses disciples.” I don’t think the man would have been at all offended by being called a disciple of Yeshua at this stage (though he was not, not quite). What is unusual is the claim by the Pharisees that they were Moses’ disciples. This designation was not common at the time and denotes a desperate scratching at straws on their part. It’s one of those, “No! you are!” type arguments usually used by people who have no idea what to say next.
“Whether He is devoted to sin, I do not see, perceive; one thing I do see, perceive, that though I was blind, now I see with my own eyes.” The use of Greek here is important. Those English translations that translate “eido” as “know” do so without considering the writer’s obvious allusion to perception based on sight. In fact, the more accurate translation of “eido” is “see, perceive”. The context better supports my translation.
“How did He open your eyes?” The Hebrew “Ayin” meaning “eye” is also used to refer to the opening in the earth where a spring of water comes forth. This is interesting given Yeshua’s offer of living water (during the water drawing ceremony of Sukkot) in chapter 7 and the use of water in the healing process of the once blind man. Siloam is feed by the Gihon (Great Bursting Forth) spring.
29 We see, perceive (eido[G]) that the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) has spoken to Moses (Moshe[H]), but as for this man, we do not see, perceive (eido[G]) where He is from.”
“We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where He comes from.” What they mean by this is that the Messiah is prophesied to come from Bethlehem and as far as they knew Yeshua was from Nazareth. Of course the truth is that they knew where He came from (the Galilee) they had very little respect for the am ha-aretz (common people of the land, that is, uneducated farmers and fishermen). As I’ve stated previously they probably considered Yeshua to be somewhat of a hillbilly.
30 The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing, wonderful, marvellous (thaumastos[G]) thing, that you do not see, perceive (eido[G]) where He is from, and yet He opened (anoigo[G]) my eyes (ophthalmos[G], eiynayi[H]). 31 We perceive (eido[G]) that the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) does not hear those devoted to sin (hamartolos[G]); but if anyone is a worshipper (theosebes[G]) of God and does His will (thelema[G]), He hears him. 32 Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened (anoigo[G]) the eyes (ophthalmos[G], eiyneiy[H]) of a person fathered (gennao[G]) blind (tuphlos[G]) . 33 If this man were not from God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), He could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were fathered (gennao[G]) entirely in sins (hamartia[G]), and do you presume to teach us?” So they cast (ekballo[G]) him out.
The sardonic rebuke of the man is a delight to read, perhaps being born blind and suffering all his life had birthed in him an immunity to the fears and obligations of Israel concerning her hypocritical religious leaders. On the other hand, maybe he was just a sarcastic guy? If so, he probably had some kiwi (New Zealand) blood in him from the diaspora.
The healed man draws their attention to the catalyst for understanding the Messianic significance of this miracle, he says, “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of one born blind. If this man were not from HaShem He could do nothing.” This is a pointed observation that reveals the sign of God regarding the opening of the eyes of the blind, something that would alert Israel to the Messiah’s presence (as prophesied by Yeshayahu/Isaiah: see verse 1 and note). This is also the third step in the man’s journey into relationship with Yeshua. Here, he says Yeshua is, “from God.”
The disbelieving group among the Pharisees, who are not used to being disagreed with by commoners, are more than insulted by the man and resort to name calling, “You were born from sin and are soaked in it, how dare you lecture us!” Actually the man had been following proper halakhic protocol with his well-argued rebuttal, they were just sore because his argument was more convincing than theirs. Had this been recorded in the Talmud, the man’s argument would have been sighted by future rabbis as the dominant view. Seeing that they were not going to win this argument the Pharisees cast him out (probably out of the synagogue, the threat under which all religious Jews of the first century lived in order for the false shepherds to keep people in line). I’m not sure that this would have worried him too much, he had been spending a lot of time on the streets begging for food up till now and may not have found much solace in the synagogue at any rate.
35 Yeshua heard that they had cast (ekballo[G]) him (the once blind man) out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe, trust, are you persuaded, confident (pisteuo[G], hata’amiyn[H]) in the Son of Man (B’ven-haAdam[H])?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Adoniy[H] (Lord: kurios[G]), that I may believe, trust, be persuaded, confident (pisteuo[G], ve’a’amiyn[H]) in Him?”
After hearing that the man had been thrown out Yeshua found him (this means Yeshua had sought him out, an intimate and thoughtful gesture). The man’s father and mother had forsaken him and he had been kicked out of the local synagogue, this is a pivotal occasion in his journey into God’s light. Yeshua asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man (a Messianic title).” The man responds, “Who is he Lord, tell me so that I may believe in him.” This is the fourth stage in the journey of relationship, the man calls Yeshua (Whom he is seeing for the first time) Adoniy, My Lord, Master, a term of respect and ownership. The Greek Kyrios is used and can be translated lord or L-RD, there is no Greek equivalent for YHVH—L-RD, so the same Greek word is sometimes used to denote the Holy Name. Here however, “Adoniy, Lord, Master” is the correct translation, given the context.
37 Yeshua said to him, “You have both seen (horao[G]) Him with your own eyes, and He is the One Who is speaking with you.” 38 And he (the once blind man) said, “Adoniy[H] (Lord: kurios[G]), I believe, trust, am persuaded, confident (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyn[H]).” And he worshiped, prostrated himself before (proskuneo[G]) Him (Yeshua).
“Yeshua said, ‘You have now seen Him, in fact, He is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘L-RD I believe.’ And he worshipped Him.” Remember, the man is seeing Yeshua for the first time, both physically and spiritually. This is the final stage of the man’s journey into saving relationship. He has been blind, he has been washed in the life-giving water of the Sent One, he has known of Yeshua, he has identified Him as a prophet, he has realized that Yeshua was sent from God, he has respectfully called Him Lord and now he sees Him for who He really is, “L-RD”. The Greek word kyrios is used here by John (a Jew) to represent YHVH. We must not put more weight on the Greek language than we do upon the cultural religious psyche of the writers of the gospels. The fact that the Greek language is unable to convey the nuances of the Hebrew designations for God does not mean the deeper meaning was not intended by the writer (inspired by God). A beautiful picture of what has just occurred between Yeshua and the healed man appears in the words of the Psalmist:
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the L-RD will receive me.” Tehillim/Psalm 28:10
39 And Yeshua said, “For a decree, judgment (krima[G]) I came into this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), so that those who do not see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may see with their eyes (blepo[G]), and that those who see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may become blind (tuphlos[H]).”
Yeshua sums up this living parable of healing by clarifying for those present that He has come to fulfil the words of Yeshayahu/Isaiah (Isaiah 6:10, 42:19). This is an opportunity for those studied in the Tanakh (Old Testament) to recognize His claim to Messianic authority and repent, but He knows that they will remain blind, while those who realize their blindness will receive their sight through Messiah just as God had prophesied through the prophet.
40 Those of the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind (tuphlos[H]) too, are we?” 41 Yeshua said to them, “If you were blind (tuphlos[H]), you would have no sin (hamartia[G]); but since you say, ‘We see with our eyes (blepo[G]),’ your sin (hamartia[G]) remains (meno[G]).
It continues to be made clear by the gospel of John that some Pharisees were following Yeshua (not necessarily the same ones that interrogated the healed man). They realized He was warning them of spiritual blindness and in pride wanted to show themselves spiritually insightful, so they asked, “Are we blind to?” Yeshua’s response is a harsh rebuke, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin; but because you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” Yeshua is saying that only those who admit their blindness/sin can be freed from it and given spiritual sight. Those, who in pride, claim that they can see are in fact still blind and are unable to receive sight from Yeshua. Without humility no one can come to God.
We live in a world that Messiah Himself has called night. While He was here physically He was the light, now He is here metaphysically by the power of Gods Holy Spirit, living in every believer. The Sent One has filled those of us who believe, in order that we might be sent ones who shine His light in this dark world. If we claim we have not been blind, then we, like the Pharisees are unable to see. However, when we admit our blindness the Sent One will restore our sight by coming to us and then sending us out to be the softly flowing waters of Shiloach to a parched and hopeless world. May He bare light in us, that we might be light to others, shining our light in order to reveal the path that leads to Him.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Either Yeshua is both God with us and the promised King Messiah of Israel, or He is a liar and a heretic. You choose. The truth will not be changed by your decision, but you could be.
John 8:31-59 is thematically similar to Galatians 4, where Rav Shaul illuminates and differentiates between Isaac the son of promise born of faith and Ishmael the illegitimate son born of disbelief. Note that both sons are sons of Avraham. Yeshua is not asserting that Jews are illegitimate sons but that human beings who choose to reject God’s redemptive plan are sons and daughters of Satan until such a time as they repent and receive the King Messiah and His vicarious sacrifice and resurrected life.
Keep in mind that many of those listening were Jewish believers in Yeshua (v.30) and that those who later violently oppose Him are specifically qualified as a group who “want to kill” Yeshua, by definition, a subset of the whole. Note that they do not succeed in stoning Yeshua because He was able to slip away in the crowd. Meaning that a large portion of the crowd of Jewish worshippers gathered in the court of the women were in favor of Yeshua and helped Him elude capture.
31 Therefore, Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua, Jesus) said (yomer[H], lego[G]) to those Judeans, Jews, (Ha-Yehudiym[H]) who had believed, were persuaded by, put their trust (hama’amiyniym[H], pisteuo[G]) in Him, “If you continue, remain, abide (meno[G]) in the word, essence, substance (vid’variy[H], ho logos[G]) of Me, truly, in truth (be’emet[H], alethos[G]) you are disciples (mathetes[G]) of Mine (talmiydiym atem liy[H]); 32 and you will know intimately (viyda’tem[H], ginosko[G]) the truth (et ha-emet[H], ho aletheia[G]), and the truth (ha-emet[H], ho aletheia[G]) will make, engrave, imprint you with freedom, [alt. let you go, set you free] (totziyachem l’cheirut[H], eleutheroo[G]).”
“Therefore” refers to the woman caught in adultery, the proclamation of Yeshua concerning His being the light of the world, and the belief of those mentioned in verse 30.
“Those Jews who believed” were made up of Jews from every tribe and every religious sect of first century Jewry, who had come up to Jerusalem for the festival of Sukkot. Therefore, what Yeshua says next is spoken to thousands of observant Jews, including believing Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Priests, and common Israelis.
We note that Yeshua was not content with their belief. He had come to set them free from slavery to sin and to give them the tools of discipleship, that is, the means to live an ongoing life of freedom in Him. Seeing their belief and approval of Him and His words, Yeshua did not push His advantage by blowing smoke up their skirts, rather He sought their advantage by challenging the depth of their belief and offering them the means by which they might continue to believe and be truly and eternally set free from sin.
"The truth will set you free" is perhaps the most decontextualized, misapplied, and philosophically misappropriated part verse of the entire New Testament. Those who use this phrase today as a type of all in one "Truth Coach" are in fact proliferating a lie. In order for this phrase to have any true meaning one must first define the truth it’s speaking of. Most modern speakers understand the truth as a collection of facts, or the subjective centre of some religion or philosophy, truth being defined by the individual rather than having its origin outside of the sphere of human intellect and spirituality. In fact the verses in question (John 8:31-32) identify truth as a person, that is, as an attribute of a person, and not just any person, but the King Messiah Yeshua, God with us (Imanu El).
Therefore, in order to understand what is meant by “The Truth” we must read the phrase in context:
“If you continue to remain in My word, essence, substance in truth you are My disciples, followers, students; and you will intimately know the truth, and the truth will imprint you with freedom, set you free.”
Note that there is a prerequisite for the freedom that truth makes possible: “If you continue to remain in My word, essence, substance”. In short, unless one remains in the message and person of Yeshua (the Speaker), one cannot know the truth or the freedom that knowing the truth affords a person.
Note that the second requirement for being set free is to “Intimately know the truth”. In fact, as I’ve said, the Truth is not an it but a Person, and that Person defines truth. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “Aniy Ha-Derekh, v’Ha-Emet, v’Ha-Chayiym, I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Living, no one can come to the Father (God) except through, Me.”(John 14:6). Therefore, truth, like direction (way), and living, is an attribute of the Messiah, Who is God with us (Imanu El) [prophesied by Isaiah (7:10-16) 700 years before the birth of Yeshua].
Do you want to intimately know the Truth and be truly set free from all that keeps you in bondage? Then remain in the Word and Substance of Yeshua (Jesus), becoming His devout follower, and you will come to know the Truth Himself, and He will set you free.
Notice that this second half of chapter 8 begins with the theme of freedom from bondage. A theme that is ingrained in the Jewish soul from Egypt and up to the Roman occupation and beyond. Yeshua speaks of a freedom that transcends temporal life, to a people who are at the time tacitly enslaved by the Roman Empire.
Yeshua’s challenge to those listening, both believers and unbelievers, is intended to thresh the wheat and sift out the chaff. By the end of this dialogue the belief of some will be strengthened, while the belief of others will grow cold. Yeshua came to make disciples, not converts. We should be careful to emulate Him.
33 They answered Him, “We are Avraham’s (Father of many tribes) descendants and no one has enslaved us (douleuo[G]) at any time (popote[G]); how is it that You say, ‘You will become freeborn (eleutheros[G])’?”
“They answered Him” The nearest subjects are the thousands of observant Jews, including believing Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Priests, and common Israelis, who were in the court of woman in the Temple complex. A mixed crowd of those who now believed in Him and those who did not.
בני חורין, (noblemen), that are fallen from their substance, because they are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;'' -Mishnah. Bava Kama, c. 8. sect. 6. & Talmud Bavliy Bava Kama, fol. 86. 1. & 91. 1.
“We are Avraham’s descendants (Gen.12; Deut.14:1) and no one has enslaved us at any time…” They did not mean that the Jewish people had never been physically enslaved. After all, freedom from slavery in Egypt is part of our journey as a people, not to mention our time in Babylon and subsequent freedom. What they meant was that those Jewish people who were true worshippers of God had never been made spiritual slaves to other gods (Jer.2:10-14), nor were they, the generation to whom Yeshua spoke, slaves to the Romans.
The Jews of the land of Israel in the first century were under occupation but were not living lives of slavery as they had done in Egypt. The Roman Empire had a history of gleaning slaves from its conquests, thus the reality of one being born into slavery was a concern to all of those living in the Empire. However, those debating with Yeshua were freeborn people, meaning that they were not born into households already bound to indentured servitude or slavery. This is why they are incredulous and ask Yeshua, “How is it that You say, ‘You will become freeborn?”
“Freeborn” (eleutheros[G]) Is an important distinction. Ultimately Yeshua is saying that even the freeborn (eleutheros[G]) of the Roman Empire need to be set free (eleutheroo[G]), and become spiritually freeborn (eleutheros[G]).
34 Yeshua[H] answered them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, everyone who commits sin (misses the mark set by God) is the slave (doulos[G]) of sin (hamartia[G]).
“Everyone who commits sin (misses the mark set by God) is the slave of sin.” Yeshua makes it clear that He is talking about spiritual bondage, slavery to sin.
Rav Shaul the Shaliach (Paul the Apostle), writes an exposition on this idea:
“14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that to whatever you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to what you obey—whether to sin resulting in death, or to obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching under which you were placed; 18 and after you were set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you yielded your body parts as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness, so now yield your body parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. 21 So then, what outcome did you have that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, having been set free from sin and having become enslaved to God, you have your fruit resulting in holiness. And the outcome is eternal life. 23 For sin’s payment[a] is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 6:14-23 TLV
35 Moreover, the slave, bondservant (doulos[G]) does not remain in the house (babayit[H], ho oikia[G]) forever; the son (ha-bein[H], uihos[G]) does remain forever.
This phrasing is qualified by the proceeding verse. Those listening were born into the slavery of sin affected humanity and therefore, in their present state, cannot remain in the house of life. Whereas, the Last Adam (Yeshua) [1 Cor. 15:22-45], the Son of God and therefore Son of the house of creation, being the perfect sinless example of humanity (God with us), is able to set free those who have been enslaved and offer them life everlasting as heirs with Him, sons and daughters of the renewed house of creation ordered by the Creator (YHVH).
With regard to Torah the exception to this idea applies to the slave who willing chooses to become a member of the family and an indentured servant for life (Exodus 21:6). This does not however negate the right of the son of the household to set that slave free. Although, in this case the slave is usually treated as a member of the family.
Our rabbis agree that irrespective of the “forever” clause in Exodus 21:6, that freedom is eventually mandatory according to the Torah law of Jubilee (Lev.25:10).
"one that is bored (through the ear) is obtained by boring (through the ear), and he possesses himself (becomes free) by the year of jubilee, and by the death of his master.''- Yarchi, Iben Ezra, & ben Gershom in Exod. xxi. 6.
"he that has served six years, and will not go out, lo, this is bored, and he serves until the year of jubilee, or until his master dies; and although he leaves a son, he that is bored does not serve the son; which may be learned from the letter of the words, "he shall serve him", not his son, "for ever", until the jubilee: from whence it appears, that he that is bored does not possess himself (or is free) but by the jubilee, and by the death of his master.'' – Maimonides Hilchot Abadim, c. 3. sect. 6, 7.
36 Therefore, if the Son (ha-bein[H], ho uihos[G]) makes you free (eleutheroo[G]), you will in reality, as a point of fact, be truly (be’emet[H], ontos[G]) freeborn (eleutheros[G]).
The Son of God, Yeshua, sets those enslaved to sin free (eleutheroo[G]) by causing them to be born from above (John 3:3-7). Thus, through Him they are freeborn (eleutheros[G]). Not freeborn in the Roman Empire, or at any point in human history within the sin affected world, but transcendently freeborn of God and children of God’s Kingdom, no longer subject to the temporal kingdoms of the sin affected world.
The use of Greek language as it pertains to the idea of freedom is exceptional. The writer of this Gospel shows in the language used that Yeshua is placing the concept of being freeborn (eleutheros) as superior to simply being freed from indentured servitude (doulos). If one is freed (eleuthero) by Yeshua, that one will be truly freeborn (eleutheros).
37 I know (yadatiy[H]) that you are Avraham’s (Father of many tribes) descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word, essence, substance (devariy[H], logos[G]) has not been given space, room, place, occupation, yield (choreo[G]) in you (each individually).
NB: From here on to the end of the chapter Yeshua is specifically speaking to those who “seek to kill” Him, and not to those who have believed (v.30).
Keep in mind that Yeshua is also a descendant of Avraham and the substance of the Creator Who placed faith within Avraham. Therefore, as is the case with His saying “Your Torah”(John 8:17), He is not distancing Himself from Avraham, rather He is exposing the misuse of Avraham’s identity by those who claim connection to Avraham through pride of bloodline rather than through adherence to true faith. This does not discount the value of ethnic bloodline, which remains, given Yeshua’s zeal for the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel (Matt. 15:24). Rather, Yeshua is seeking to cleanse and sanctify the people, so that both their bloodline and spirituality might be unified in the freedom of Messiah.
“Yet you seek to kill Me” Cannot refer to those who have believed in Him (v.30), nor to the crowd in general, many of whom were undecided on the Person of Yeshua. Therefore, it is clear that He is now speaking directly to a subgroup of those who do not believe in Him and are seeking a way to put Him to death.
“because My word, essence, substance has not been given space, room, place, occupation, yield in you…” There are those in the crowd who have not believed and therefore have not allowed room within themselves for the Word essence of Yeshua to reside in them. In short, they seek to kill Him because they have refused to listen to Him. It is in our nature as human beings to ignore the contrary opinions of others while devising a rebuttal to their words. Our opponent may be speaking but we are not listening. Thus, we fail to hear another person in the throes of debate making us unable to properly entertain their point of view and measure it to determine its value.
Notice that one of the meanings of the Greek choreo is “yield”. Belief that is born of true faith will yield fruit but disbelief or false belief, even surface approval, does not allow sufficient depth of spiritual soil for the fruit of practical faith to be produced. Another meaning of the Greek choreo is “occupation”. Meaning in this context, “You have not allowed belief to perpetually occupy your life”. Therefore, belief of this sort alone is not sufficient for salvation.
“You believe that God is One. Excellent! Even the false deities, demons, evil spirits believe that—and are terrified.” -Yaakov (James) 2:19 Author’s translation
38 I speak the things which I have seen (horao[G]) from, beside, with, near (para[G]) The (My) Father (Aviy[H], ho Pater[G]); and you also do the things which you heard (akouo[G]) from, beside, with, near (para[G]) the father (ho Pater[G]) you acquired (poieo[G]) [Alt. Heb. Aviychem your (plural) father].”
NB: It’s important to remember that this is not being spoken to all present but specifically to those who are seeking to kill Him (v.37).
Yeshua explains that both He and His opponents are directed by their respective father’s. Yeshua “speaks” of what He has “seen” from being in, with and near the Father God. Whereas His opponents “do” the things which they have “heard” from the father they have acquired. That is to say, they have chosen a father other than God. In this context “speak” refers to the truth of God’s word made manifest based on literal “sight”, an actual true experience of the Person of God, and “do” is a reference to human effort based on hearsay “hearing” from a second-hand source (Satan).
39 They answered and said to Him, “Avraham is our father.” Yeshua[H] replied to them, “If you are Avraham’s children, accomplish the occupation (ho ergon Abraam poieo[G]) of Avraham. [Alt. in the business of Abraham work, make, fashion etc.]
“They” Those who are seeking to kill Yeshua (v.37) while claiming a connection to Avraham as their qualification, are in fact contradicting the faith practice of Avraham. Thus, Yeshua calls them on it. If you’re going to claim the tzadik (righteous) one Avraham as your father, then act righteously as he did. Believe God (accept His Messiah), and it will be credited to you as righteousness.
The rabbis of the Talmud agree with Yeshua’s assertion:
“whoever is merciful to the creature (man), it is evident that he is of the seed of Abraham, our father; but whoever has not mercy on the creature, it is a clear case that he is not of the seed of Abraham our father.'' - Talmud Bavliy Betza, fol. 82. 2.
40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the objective truth of the matter (ha-emet[H], aletheia[G]), which I heard from the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]); a thing Avraham could not do.
Yeshua heard the truth in the unveiled presence of God the Father as one with the Father and has imparted that same truth to His hearers, fellow descendants of Avraham. Though Avraham heard from God, he was not one with God, nor did he see and hear from God in the fullness of God’s glory. Therefore, Avraham could not reveal the fullness of God’s redemptive plan to his descendants in the way that Yeshua has. Avraham has relationship with God through Yeshua, as one who has had the truth revealed to him, whereas Yeshua being one with the Father, reveals the truth.
“which I heard from the God” Yeshua’s hearing, unlike that of His opponents, is unaffected by disbelief.
41 You are doing, fashioning, accomplishing (poieo[G]) the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of your father (av[H], pater[G]).” They said to Him, “We were not born of illicit sexual intercourse (fig. we are not idolaters); we have one Father (Av[H], Pater[G]): the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]).”
Yeshua’s opponents (not all present but those who are specifically seeking to kill Him), understand that by making a distinction between God as father, Avraham as a father and yet another father, the father they are obeying, Yeshua is inferring that their claim on Avraham and his faith is a false one and that they are acting on the faith of a false father. Therefore, as one might expect, they take offense and proclaim, “We are not the children of whores (idolaters), we have one Father, Elohiym!” In short, “You’re no better than us, we are sons and daughters of God!” Some may even have been inferring that Yeshua was of illegitimate origin, while they were not.
42 Yeshua[H] said to them, “If the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) were your Father (Av[H], Pater[G]), you would love (ahavtem[H], agapao[G]) Me dearly, for I come out of the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) and go forth, not for the purpose of separating (apo[G]) Myself, but that of He Who sent Me (shelachaniy[H], apostello[G]).
Yeshua’s message is simple, “If you were truly sons and daughters of God you would recognise the present manifestation of God standing in front of you and would love Him.”
Note the progression. First they claim Avraham, and Yeshua refutes their claim. Then they claim God, and Yeshua exposes their inadequacy.
“I come out of the God and go forth, not for the purpose of separating Myself, but that of He Who sent Me.” Note the familiar use of the counter separation phrasing. Yeshua is very clear in saying “Neither I nor my purpose is in any way separate from God Who sent Me.” This becomes the pre-emptive counterpoint to the separation of the accuser Satan, who is separated from the beginning (v.44).
43 Why do you not understand (ginosko[G]) what I am saying? Because you are unable (dunamai[G]) to hear, perceive, comprehend (lishmo[H]) My word, essence, substance (et devariy[H], logos[G]).
They neither properly hear nor do they understand because they have wilfully resisted Yeshua and His message and are therefore incapable of comprehending His word, substance, essence. Again, “they” are specifically those who were “seeking to kill Him” (v.37, 40), and not all present (v.30)
44 You are of your father (aviychem[H], ho pater[G]) the Devil (ha-Satan[H], ho Diabolos[G]), and you have in mind (ethelo[G]) to do the lusts (epithumia[G]) of your father (aviychem[H], pater[G]). He was a murderer, human slayer (anthropoktonos[G]) separated (apo[G]) from the beginning (arche[G]), and in the absolute truth (emet[H], aletheia[G]) he does not stand because there is no truth (emet[G]) in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father (ha-av[H], ho pater[G]) of lies.
Note that while Yeshua speaks often of the fact that He has not come as one separate from the will of the Father, here, Satan is described as one who has been separate from the truth of God from the beginning of creation. Therefore, the battle between truth and lie is one of great imbalance. The Creator from Whom Truth comes, created a being that decided to reject the love of God, and His absolute Truth and seek to poison creation. Therefore, the liar is subject to the Truth, in fact his very existence relies on the truth.
We note that lying and murder are intrinsically linked. The enemy of our souls is by nature a liar and a murderer, the father of lies.
The Genesis account explains that Satan deceived Adam and Eve with a lie (Gen. 3:4; 2:17) and that as a result sin and death entered the world. Subsequently the first murder followed when Abel was murdered by Cain. Therefore, the father of lies is also the father of sin, and those that are bound by sin serve him.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” -Genesis 3:15 (ESV)
Thus, Yeshua’s opponents prove themselves children of Satan by their accusations aimed at Yeshua and their denial of the Truth in Him. A liar will always call the truth a lie.
45 But because I speak (dab’riy[H]) absolute truth (ha-emet[H], aletheia[G]), you do not believe, trust (ta’amiynu[H], pisteuo[G]) Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak with absolute truth (emet[H], aletheia[G]), why do you not believe, trust (pisteuo[G]) Me?
Yeshua’s opponents had been trying and failing to trap Him in a sin from the moment they first began to hate Him. The phrase “why do you not believe Me…” further emphasises the fact that He is speaking specifically to that subgroup who have not believed, and want to kill Him.
47 He who is of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) hears that which is spoken of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]); for this reason you do not hear, because you are not of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]).”
Here, He is clearly speaking to those who do not believe, and not to all present, many of whom have already believed.
48 The Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]]) answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Shomroniy[H] (Samaritan) and have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G])?” 49 Yeshua answered, “I do not have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G]); but I honour, esteem, revere (kabeid[H], timao[G]) My Father (Aviy[H]), and you dishonour, insult (atimazo[G]) Me.
I have translated Ioudaios as Judean Religious leaders here because the context shows clearly that only those who opposed Yeshua are speaking.
“Do we not say rightly that You are a Shomroniy[H] (Samaritan) and have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity?” This accusation explicitly vocalizes the tacit accusation of illegitimacy inferred in verse 41.
“Yeshua answered, “I do not have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity; but I honour, esteem, revere My Father, and you dishonour, insult Me.” Put simply, “By dishonouring Me you dishonour the God Whom you claim as your Father.”
Elsewhere when accused of having an evil spirit Yeshua warns His accusers that if they determine to continue to believe this of Yeshua that they will have no hope of salvation (Mark 3:23; Luke 12:10).
50 But I do not seek (zeteo[G]) My glory, judgement, view, opinion (kevodiy[H], doxa[G]); there is One who seeks and separates, selects, chooses (krino[G]).
We note that again a correlation can be made between glory and judgement. Yeshua submits His glory and judgement to the One to Whom it belongs, God the Father.
51 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, speech, essence, substance (devariy[H], logos[G]) that one will never see, attend to, remain in (tereo[G]) the death of the body (mavet[H], thanatos[G]).”
Further illuminating the practical outworking of the freedom He has previously spoken of, Yeshua explains that through intimacy with God in Him a person can be free from slavery to sin and death and instead will not remain or abide in death. Elsewhere Yeshua explains this in another way saying:
“‘I am the resurrection and the living. The one who believes in Me will live, even though that one dies;” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
“And as it is appointed unto human beings once to die, and then the judgment:” -Hebrews 9:27
The key here is that the one who keeps the message of Messiah Yeshua will not “remain” in the death that results from temporal life in the sin affected world.
52 The Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]) said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G]). Avraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, speech, essence, substance (logos[G]), that one will not taste (geuomai[G]) of the death of the body (meit[H], thanatos[G]) into the unbroken age (aion[G]).’
This is the ancient equivalent of “You’re a total psycho, Abraham and the prophets died years ago, which proves that what you’re saying about your words having the ability to give a person life over death is a lot of garbage!”
53 Not in the least are You greater (ha’gadol[H]) than our father Avraham, who died? The prophets (han’viyiym[H]) died too; who are You making Yourself out to be?”
Yeshua’s opponents accuse Him of delusions of grandeur. The height of irony. Added to this is the interesting fact that the Samaritan woman asked something similar when she challenged Yeshua’s authority with the rhetorical question “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:12).
It’s clear to we Messiah following Jews that those who challenged Him with these words did not represent the whole. One of our ancient commentators writes:
""Behold my servant shall deal prudently", this is the King Messiah; "he shall be exalted" above Abraham, as it is written, (Gen.14:22) "and extolled" above Moses, as it is written, (Num.11:12) and he shall be higher than the ministering angels, as it is written, (Eze.1:26) for he shall be גדול מן אבות, "greater than the fathers".'' - Tachuma apud Huls. p. 321
54 Yeshua answered, “If I glorify, extol, honour, prefer (chabeid[H], doxazo) Myself, My glory, judgement, view, opinion (k’vodiy[H], doxa[G]) is nothing; it is My Father (Aviy[H], Pater[G]) Who glorifies, extols, honours, prefers (chabeid[H], doxazo[G]) Me, of Whom you say, ‘He is our God (Eloheiynu[H], Theos[G])’;
Yeshua responds, “I’m not making Myself out to be anything, to the contrary, it’s My Father, Who honours Me, the same Father Whom you claim as your God.”
“For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” -2 Corinthians 10:18 (ESV)
55 and you have not come to know (y’datem[H], ginosko[G]) Him, but I see, perceive (eido[G]) Him; and if I say that I do not see, perceive (eido[G]) Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do see, perceive (eido[G]) Him and keep, guard, carefully attend to (tereo[G]) His word (d’varo[H], logos[G]).
The Greek text here is important. Yeshua explains that His opponents have not come to know (ginsoko) Him, and that Yeshua sees (eido) God. Note the present continuous tense of the text, not that Yeshua has seen God but that He continues to exist in and see God. Therefore, even if He wanted to acquiesce to the incredulity of His opponents He could not because being the very definition of Truth He is unable to lie and say that He is someone else.
Notice that Yeshua “guards carefully and attends to God’s word (davar[H], logos[G]). Yeshua is the Word (John 1). Therefore, He is instructing those who believe to follow His example (v. 31-32).
56 Your father Avraham rejoiced exceedingly (sas[H], agalliao[G]) to see perceive (eido[G]) My day (yomiy[H]), and he saw (eido[G]) it and was glad, hailed it, thrived in it (yis’mach[H], chairo[G]).”
In the order (Seder) of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) it is written:
“Abraham rejoiced with the rejoicing of the law, he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law; Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, rejoiced with the joy of the law; he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law.'' -Seder Tephillot, fol. 309. 1. Ed. Basil.
Yeshua is quite literally saying that Avraham saw Yeshua and His day (time) [past tense]. Moses also knew the Messiah, which is the reason for his giving up life in Pharaoh’s palace in order to live among his Jewish people (Heb. 11:26).
NB: First century Jewish tradition (Testament of Abraham) records a story of Avraham being taken by the Arch Angel Michael on a tour of the heavens and the inhabited world, the idea being that on this tour he saw the coming judgement and the mercy and grace of God made manifest. However, it does not specify the revelation of the Messiah and is therefore unlikely to apply to the present text in any meaningful way.
57 Therefore, the Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]) said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Avraham?”
They focused on the wrong subject. They were still fixated on how Yeshua measured up against Avraham when they should have considered how Yeshua might have been revealed in the faith of Avraham. It was not that Yeshua had seen Avraham that was important, rather it was that Avraham had seen Yeshua. God is the focus of our prayer, not the vehicle for our desires. Clear sight begets right conclusions and right conclusions beget clear sight.
The reference to the age of fifty years has significance in ancient Judaism. Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21. Says that at the age of fifty a Jewish man becomes fit to give counsel (as an elder of the community). This is said to be why the Levites were dismissed from service at that age.
A Jewish man could not be chosen as a Meturgeman (interpreter) in a kehilah (congregation), until he reached fifty years of age. (Talmud Bavliy Chagigah, fol. 14. 1. Yuchasin, fol. 44. 2.)
If a Jewish man died before fifty years of age it was considered a death of “cutting off”, inferring a curse for a sinful life of disobedience to the Torah. (T. Hieros. Biccurim, fol. 64. 3. Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. Macsecheth Semachot, c. 3. sect. 9.)
58 Yeshua[H] said to them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, before Avraham was born, I am, exist (Aniy[H], ego eimi[G]).”
Any fool who says that Yeshua never claimed to be God (with us) need look no further than this verse to see that Yeshua claimed to pre-exist Abraham as the great I AM. This is quite literally the meaning of verse 58.
“And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” -Exodus 3:14 KJV
59 Therefore they picked up stones to drop on Him, but Yeshua[H] hid Himself and went out of the temple (hieron[G], hamikdash[H]).
Believing Yeshua to have committed the gravest of blasphemies his opponents (not the majority of the crowd but the few who were already seeking a reason to kill Him) picked up heavy stones to drop on Him. They did this contrary to the sanctity of the Temple precinct in the court of the women, and contrary to the Torah instruction concerning the Sabbaths of God (although one commentator claims that the Torah allows for stoning on the Sabbath under exceptional circumstances. T. Hieros. Yom Tob, fol. 63. 2. ). But, Yeshua’s time had not come and Yeshua hid Himself in the crowd and made His way safely out of the Temple complex. It is highly likely that the crowd aided His escape, given that many believed and that those who were unsure did not consider Him worthy of stoning.
At this juncture the reader of the New Testament is faced once more with a major decision. Is Yeshua Who He says He is, that being God with us, or is He a blasphemer and heretic to be completely rejected? These are the only two choices. You may not call Him both a good teacher and a heretic, that is a contradiction. You may not call Him a devout Jew and a blasphemer, that would be a contradiction. According to the prophet Isaiah you may not call Him the Messiah and at the same time say that He is not God with us (Imanu El), that would be a contradiction. Either Yeshua is both God with us and the promised King Messiah of Israel, or He is a liar and a heretic. You choose. The truth will not be changed by your decision, but you could be.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,