“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
According to verse 55 the latter part of John 11 takes place just prior to the month of Nisan. This means that the events following the resurrection of Elazar happen four months further on (from Chanukah) [John 10:22] in the Biblical Jewish year and bring the text full circle to arrive at the month of Nisan just prior to Pesach. This is significant, given that the resurrection of Elazar (Lazarus) is a prefigure to the coming resurrection of the Messiah, and is the ultimate marker of a true prophet of God (e.g. (Elijah, 1 Kings 17:17-24; Elisha, 2 Kings 4:32-37).
This is now the third Pesach recorded in the gospel according to Yochanan, the focus on this festival is important to Yochanan’s identification of the “Lamb” of God, the King Messiah Yeshua. Later in the HaBrit Ha Chadashah the Rav Shaul (Paul) calls Yeshua “Messiah our Pesach (Lamb)” [1 Cor. 5:7].
1 Moreover a certain one [man] (tis[G]) was sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]), Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) of Beit-anya[A] (“house of answering”, Beit-hiyniy[H] “house of dates”, “house of misery”, “poor house”, Bethany), the village of Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) and her sister Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress). 2 It was the Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) who anointed the Lord (Kurios[G], Ha-Adon[H]) with perfumed resin (muron[G], probably myrrh), and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) was sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]).
Why did Yochanan (John the disciple) the author of this gospel, feel the need to identify Miryam with such precise detail? It’s true that there may have been several, if not hundreds of women named after the great woman of Israel (Miryam, Moses’ sister) among the residents of Judea, however it is unlikely that many, if any, had both a sister named Marta and a brother named Elazar (Lazarus).
We can be fairly sure Yochanan’s audience were almost a generation hence from the events being recorded, so it is most likely that he was using the now famous event of Miryam’s having anointed Yeshua as a way of illuminating both Miryam’s character and her relationship to the Messiah. It is interesting to note that the event Yochanan uses to clarify which Miryam he is speaking of is yet to occur in the chronology of his gospel (John 12:1-11.) From this some deduce that Yochanan assumes that his audience are familiar with the synoptic gospels.
The accounts of Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13 record the event taking place in the home of Shimon, making it likely that Shimon shared a home with Elazar and his sisters.
The village of Bethany was approximately half a day’s walk (100 km) from where Yeshua and His disciples were beyond the Jordan (John 10:40), and about 5 km east of Jerusalem.
3 So the sisters sent to Him (Yeshua), saying, “Lord (Kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), behold, now, pay attention (Hineih[H]) he whom You love as a dear friend (phileo[G], ahavta[H]) is sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]).”
Yochanan (author) only uses the phrasing, “whom You (Yeshua) love,” here and in relationship to himself as, “the disciple “whom Yeshua loved.” Primarily this indicates a special intimacy between Yeshua and those in question, a relationship which is set apart, different from the relationships He had with other disciples and family members. The point being that Elazar (Lazarus) was a very close friend of Yeshua, both Elazar’s death and the grief of his sisters would surely have been of paramount importance to Yeshua.
4 But when Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua) heard this, He said, “This sickness, infirmity, weakness (astheneia[G]) will not be to the advantage (pros[G]) of death (thanatos[G], a Greek god), but in behalf of, for the sake of (huper[G]) the glory, judgement (doxa[G], likh’vod[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]), in order that (hina[G]) the thoughts, glory, splendour (doxazo[G]) of the Son of the God (Ho-Uihos Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Ben Ha-Elohiym[H]) be throughout (dia[G]) [alt. made known by the means of it].”
Yeshua says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Firstly, Yeshua is indicating foreknowledge, secondly, He is expressing knowledge of purpose. He’s speaking not only of physical death (as alluded to in the following verses) but also of eternal death. This is why He goes on to speak in metaphor, likening physical death to a temporary sleep state. This event is intended to be a platform, not only for Elazar’s (Lazarus’s) physical resurrection but also for the resurrection of Messiah and the filling of God’s promise for a final resurrection of all humanity: some to eternal life and some to eternal death. This is the glory that Yeshua is ultimately alluding to. The glory of God the Father and Yeshua the Son which reconciles repentant humanity.
The Talmud Bavliy tells us that the majority of lesser illnesses result in life “l’chayiym”, and the majority of major illnesses end in death “l’meiytah” (Talmud Bavliy Kiddushin, fol. 71. 2.).
In other words, there is a first century religious cultural precedent for the belief that certain illnesses were likely to lead to death, the present illness of Elazar was obviously one such illness, and yet Yeshua was saying that Elazar’s illness would not be “l’meiytah” for death.
Note that the Greek text says “This sickness will not be to the advantage of death but is in behalf of the God…” Death is personified as being the opposite to God, Who is Life, living. This is consistent with Yeshua’s statement in verse 25, “I AM the resurrection and the life!” Not only will the illness of Elazar end in either temporal or eternal death, it will also note afford death itself to exercise fear against others. Put simply, Yeshua is about to give a sign that prophecies the death of death in His own death and resurrection. The Scripture explains it this way:
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared the same humanity—so that through death He might break the power of the one who had the power of death (that is, the devil).” -Hebrews 2:14-15 TLV
Therefore, “This sickness will not be to the advantage of death” means that Yeshua has come to break the power of Satan, who seeded death into the world through sin. And “but is in behalf of the God…” means that Yeshua has come at the command of God in order to free all who would receive Him from bondage to death.
5 Now Yeshua[H] loved entirely (agapao[G], aheiv[H]) Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) and her sister and Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus). 6 So when He heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, weak, powerless (astheneo[G]), He (Yeshua) then stayed two days in the place where He was.
The text tells us that it is because Yeshua loved them that He stayed two more days in the place where He was. For most of us this seems counterintuitive but unlike Yeshua, most of us have very little idea of our own purpose or what we are capable of. Ultimately, “Because He loved them” means, because He knew that the resurrection of Elazar would strengthen their faith and benefit their eternal state. Therefore, in this case love meant allowing a dear friend to die.
7 Then after this He said to the disciples (talmidim[H]), “Let us go to Yehudah (the region of Judea) again.” 8 The disciples (talmidim[H]) said to Him, “Rabbiy[H] (My Teacher, My Great One), the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?”
“Let’s go to Yehudah” means “Let’s travel from here on the east side of the Jordan [John 10:40] back to the territory of Judea where Bethany, the village of Elazar, Miriyam and Marta is…”
This decision of Yeshua’s is probably best likened to a situation where any Israeli-Jew today were to suggest that he and his friends make a trip to Bethany (currently under occupation by the Palestinian authority). In other words, “let’s go to a place where the authorities hate me and everything I represent and are willing to at very least attempt my murder.” Understanding it this way makes the disciples’ response seem more than justified. Some of the Judean religious leaders had only just attempted to stone Yeshua after His claim to deity in Jerusalem following the Chanukah celebrations recorded in John 10:22-42. From the disciples’ perspective there was a clear and present danger awaiting them throughout Judea. Not even love for a dear friend would have ordinarily compelled them to go into that region given the religious-political situation.
It’s important to note the use of the Greek transliteration rha-bbi for Rabbi. Later in this account Marta refers to Yeshua as ha Moreh the Teacher. Note just a Rabbi, but The Rabbi.
9 Yeshua[H] answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day (hemera[G], ba’yom[H])? If anyone walks in the day (hemera[G], ba’yom[H]), he does not strike against something (proskopto[G]), because he sees the all existing light (phos[G], nuhra[A], Or[H]) of this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]). 10 And if anyone walks (holeikh[H]) in the night (balaylah[H]), he strikes against something (proskopto[G]), because there is no flame (nahira[A]) [all existing light] (phos[G], Or[H]) in him.”
Numerous Jewish sources affirm Yeshua’s assessment of the hours of daylight (T. Bab Sanhedrin, fol. 88. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Vid. Philo. de Somniis, p. 1143.)
There are several meanings that can be gleaned from this statement. Relative to Yeshua’s own ministry He is insisting here that He has a mission to complete and it will be completed in the appropriate time regardless of any attempts to thwart it. In other words, “They will not be allowed to kill me until I say so (I being I AM, ‘I and the Father are echad’).”
We could also observe in this an allusion to Messiah as light of the world. He will soon be gone, returned to heaven leaving behind His Spirit (Ruach ha-Kodesh) and a choice we all must make, choosing either to walk in His light or to stumble in the darkness of this fallen world. The key here is that the day He is speaking of doesn’t shine upon us, rather it shines from within us. Yeshua is that day, that all existing light (Or). Notice that the text says, “But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” This is true of those who don’t accept their position as purchased children of God. They are said to be devoid of the flame/light of God/Messiah: just as Yeshua has said elsewhere, “If the light inside you is darkness, how great is the darkness?” (Mattitiyahu/Matthew 6:23).
May His light dwell in you richly as you choose to accept His atoning death and resurrection life, thus taking your place as a chosen child of God.
The Aramaic text makes a word play between nuhra (light) and nahira (flame), which is from the root nuhra (light). In other words the flame of Messiah has its origin in the all existing Light of God.
11 This He (Yeshua) said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend (philos[G], chaver[H]) Elazar[H] (Heb. “one whom God helps” Aram. Lazar “to help”, Lazarus) has fallen asleep (koimao[G]); but I go, so that I may awaken (exupnizo[G]) him.”
Yeshua now uses sleep as a metaphor for physical death. This is not without Scriptural precedence, the patriarchs of Israel are said to have, “slept with their fathers.” (1 Melakhim/Kings 2:10.), and the prophet Daniel uses sleep to describe those who have been dead and are resurrected at the latter day:
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake—some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt.” -Daniel 12:2 TLV
However, it was probably not a colloquial expression in common use at the time. What is important to understand is that Yeshua is not saying that Elazar (Lazarus) is sleeping because of the knowledge that He will soon raise him from the dead, rather He is saying that all physical death (that is death prior to the Judgment) is sleep, that is, temporary. Elazar is sleeping because he is in transition, neither alive in the world nor yet present in Gan Eden (Paradise).
It’s interesting to note that Yeshua begins by saying, “Our friend Lazarus,” but ends by saying, “I will awaken him from sleep.” Yeshua is obviously emphasizing the fact that only He is able to raise Elazar (Lazarus). He may also be giving the disciples’ permission to stay behind. As disciples of Messiah we all find ourselves in situations where we are given a choice to remain behind or to follow Him into a terrifying situation, perhaps even at the risk of our very lives. It is important to remember that He is not giving us an ultimatum, rather He remains our Lord and redeemer regardless of whether we stay or go. However, if we go we may see His glory now in ways we might have missed if we had stayed.
12 The disciples (talmidim[H]) then said to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), if he has fallen asleep (koimao[G]), he will recover (sozo[G]).” 13 Now Yeshua had spoken of his (Lazarus) death (thanatos[G], moto[H]) but they thought that He was speaking of reclining (koimesis[G]). 14 So Yeshua then said to them plainly, “Elazar[H] is dead (thanatos[G], meit[H]), 15 and I am (Aniy[H]) full of joy (sameach[H]) for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe, trust, be persuaded (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]); and now let’s go to him (Lazarus).” 16 Therefore Toma[H] (Tuma[A] “Thyme”, Thomas), who is called Didymus[G] (“a twin”, Ta’ama[A] “twin”), said to his fellow disciples (talmidim[H]), “Let’s also go, so that we may die (apothnesko[G]) with Him (Yeshua).”
How did Yeshua know Elazar (Lazarus) was dead? The messenger was sent with news of grave illness, not death. Clearly, despite the many commentaries to the contrary, Yeshua knew many things outside of time, either by intimate conversation with the Father or simply because He is God with us. Those who attempt to separate Yeshua’s deity and humanity have great difficulty explaining how Yeshua knew things only God could have known.
Yeshua is glad He did not rush to the aid of Elazar (Lazarus) because the coming miraculous sign will be a catalyst for the disciples’ belief, both in the witnessing of it and in the recollection of it, post Yeshua’s own resurrection. His comment “Elazar is dead and I am full of joy for your sakes…” may seem harsh at first but as we read on we can understand why Yeshua was glad. Many times, I’ve wondered at the seeming harshness of God, only to discover at a later date that what looked like cruelty within my situational experience is beheld as glory outside of time. Knowing this we can only ask that God grant us an unnatural ability in trusting Him beyond the grave, for there are some harsh realities for which we will not see a glorious end in this life.
Toma (Thomas) speaks from the heart here, the guy has some chuztpah that’s for sure and he’s not the doubting Thomas we all remember (take note, we’ve all doubted, there is no faith without doubt). Many have supposed a number of options for the, “him,” Thomas is referring to when he says “let’s go so that we might die with him.”: some say he is referring to Elazar (Lazarus) but I find that highly unlikely given that the context of this conversation relates to the danger threatening Yeshua upon His return to Judea.
The only realistic interpretation is that Yeshua is perceived to be taking His life in His hands by returning to Judea to comfort the mourning sisters and family of Elazar (Lazarus). If this is the correct interpretation then Thomas, far from doubting, has become a zealot for Yeshua and (perhaps caught up in the emotion of the moment) has decided to lay his life on the line alongside his Lord. Thomas doesn’t keep his passion to himself either, he excitedly invites all the disciples to do the same.
17 So when (Yeshua) came, He found that Elazar (he) had already been in the tomb/grave (mnemeion[G], bakaver[H]) four days.
It seems based on this time frame that Elazar (Lazarus) had died soon after the messenger had been sent to inform Yeshua and the disciples of Elazar’s illness.
The length of time that Elazar was in the grave is significant due to the fact that there was a first century Jewish belief (other religions like Zoroastrianism also have a similar superstition) that the spirit of a person stayed near the body for three days after death. After four days it was believed there was no chance of resuscitation or resurrection (Vayikra [Leviticus] Rabbah a. 18:1.)
At the four day point, given the lack of modern preservation techniques, the body of Elazar was already beginning to decay and would have stunk badly.
Yeshua raised other’s from the dead (Luke 7:11-17; 8:41-42, 49-56), and both Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead (Elijah, 1 Kings 17:17-24; Elisha, 2 Kings 4:32-37). There are numerous examples in extra Biblical Jewish literature of people being raised from the dead after three days (Midrash Raba Ruth 3:1; Semchos 8 ). Also, modern doctors bring people back from “clinical death”, minutes, sometimes hours after they are declared. However, neither in the Bible nor in all of human history has anyone other than Yeshua resurrected a person who has been dead for more than three days. The fact is that such a person has already begun to decay and is beyond the reach of medical science. What Yeshua was about to do was to bring back to life a four day old rotting corpse. This is why there was such an excited reaction from the people and the religious authorities following this miraculous sign. This kind of display of God’s manifest power was and is terrifying. It stands in opposition to the natural order of the sin affected creation, and that is precisely the point.
18 Now Beit-anya[A] (“house of answering”, Beit-hiyniy[H] house of dates, house of misery, poor house, Bethany) was near Yerushalayim (Downpour of peace, Jerusalem), about five kilometres away; 19 and many of the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) had come to Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) and Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary), to console them concerning their brother. 20 Marta[H] (Mistress of myrrh, bitter mistress) therefore, when she heard that Yeshua was coming, went to meet Him, but Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) was sitting (kathezomai[G]) in the house (babeit[H]).
Being a religious Jewish family, it is certain that Miriyam and Marta would have observed some form of sitting shivah (a seven-day period of mourning), one of the requirements being that the immediate family members of the dead were to remain inside the house without footwear, seated on low stools close to the floor in sombre remembrance. The community is tasked with bringing food and providing for the needs of the bereaved and various localized customs are enforced. The Greek text infers the sitting of shivah by using the Greek kathezomai, meaning to sit rather than the Greek katecho (detain, hold back) or epecho (hold, attend), which would make more sense if Miriyam were simply staying behind and not involved in a religious rite.
"the mourner the first week does not go out of the door of his house; the second he goes out, but does not sit, or continue in his place; the third he continues in his place, but does not speak; the fourth, lo, he is as every other man. R. Judah says, there is no need to say, the first week he does not go out of the door of his house, for behold, all come to his house, לנחמו, "to comfort him".'' -Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 23. 1.
"on the first day he (the mourner) did not wear his phylacteries; on the second, he put them on; on the third day, others come to comfort him.'' -Massech. Semachot, c. 6. fol. 14. 3.
Maimonides outlines the ancient tradition concerning the comforting of mourners as follows:
תנוחמו מן השמים Job 2:13 Job 2:13 Job 3:1 Job 4:1, and when he nods with his head, the comforters may not sit with him any longer, that they may not trouble him more than is necessary. If a man dies, and there are no mourners to be comforted, ten worthy men go and sit in his place all the seven days of mourning; and the rest of the people gather to them; and if there are not ten fixed every day, ten of the rest of the people gather together, and sit in his place:'' -Maimonides. in Mishnah. Peah, c. 1. sect. 1.
The fact that Marta left the house, thus breaking the extra-Biblical rabbinic law, perhaps shows how impacted she had been by Yeshua’s words to her during His previous visit to the home of Miriyam, Marta and Elazar (Luke 10:41-42). At that time Marta had been more concerned with formalities and tradition, now she is willing to disregard religious norms in order to seek out Yeshua.
The, “Therefore,” here refers to the fact that because there were some present who might seek to take hold of Yeshua, Marta would leave quickly and avoid being seen.
Why did Miryam stay in the house? Aside from the fact that she was keeping Jewish religious law regarding sitting shivah (seven days of mourning), the most probable answer is that she hadn’t heard that Yeshua had arrived, after all, the text says that “Marta heard,” and later we read that when Marta secretly told Miryam that the Teacher was there, Miryam got up in a rush to go to Him. It seems likely that Marta had heard of Yeshua’s arrival in secret, due to the fact that to tell of it openly might have endangered Yeshua. Therefore, as soon as Miriyam did know of Yeshua’s arrival she too sought Him out.
21 Marta then said to Yeshua, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]), God (Theos[G]) will give You.”
This seems a reasonable observation from a grieving family member upon the arrival of the physician who could have saved her beloved brother had He been on time (that is, according to human timing). Some read malice into this, I do not. At best I hear incredulity and desperation in Marta’s voice, perhaps confusion, not anger. I think the following line affirms this.
The Aramaic nukhama (arise, resurrect etc.) from the root nukh (rest) makes an intrinsic connection between resurrection and rest.
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of the God, God will give You.” Wow what faith, this is not the Marta we have been told about, she is not the control freak of church tradition (perhaps we all have our weaknesses nu!) Whatever her understanding was, and it clearly wasn’t full by any means, she believes in her Messiah, she desperately cleaves to what she knows her friend Yeshua can do, why? Because she has faith that God (Whom she worships) will give Yeshua (perhaps, in her current estimation merely a prophet but a much loved one) whatever He asks. I suspect that at very least she saw her friend and Rabbi Yeshua as a prophet like Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and believed in His ability to do mighty acts for the sake of Israel.
23 Yeshua said to her, “Your brother will rise, recover, be revived, rest (anistemi[G], kum yakum[H], nukhama[A]).” [Heb. reads kum yakum, “rise, has risen”]. 24 Marta said to Him (Yeshua), “I know (yodatiy[H]) that he will rise (yakum[H] Heb. has risen) in the rising [resurrection] (bat’kumah[H]) on the last day (bayom haacharon[H]).”
In hindsight we say, “How could she not know He was referring to the imminent resurrection of Lazarus?” We are all about the instant miracle in the body of believers (Church) today, “Now Lord,” we demand. Perhaps we need to learn the opposite lesson to Marta, perhaps we need to learn to believe again in the Olam Haba (world to come) and the physical, yes I said physical, resurrection of the dead. We will not float in the ether friends, we will be raised to life and given renewed physical bodies for the purpose of living on a new physical earth in the presence of God eternally.
In fact, Marta’s answer is a very good Jewish answer for the time. Other than the Sadducees, almost every Jewish sect believed in the Olam Habba (world to come), the last day (Judgment day), and the physical resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:2; ). Marta merely responded with the then current Jewish theological understanding (which was not a wrong understanding, it was just incomplete). It was missing the Haf-tarah (filling/completing of the Torah). Again, her proclamation shows great faith even though it lacks a full understanding.
The final resurrection is called "the days of consolation" by the 2nd Century Jewish writers (Targum Jon. in Gen i. 21. & in Hos. vi. 2.)
The P’rushiym (Pharisees) believed in the resurrection [Daniel 12:1-3; Antiquities of the Jews 18:1-4; 2 Maccabee 7:9]. The Saduciym (Sadducees) [Mark 12:18].
25 Yeshua said to her, “I Am (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the rising [resurrection] (hat’kumah[H]) and the life (hachayiym[H]) [Alt. Aramaic: Ena na nukhama w’khayeh, “I am the all existing resurrection, rest and the living”]; he who believes, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) in Me will live (zao[G], yichyeh[H]) even if he dies [Heb. gam kiy-yamut, “also because he has died”]. 26 and everyone who lives (zao[G], hachay[H]) and believes, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyniy[H]) in Me will never die (apothnesko[G]). Do you believe, trust (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) this?”
Yochanan (author) is again using the Greek language to affirm a living title for HaShem, “I AM that I AM.” This is an unmistakable reference to the Holy One of Israel. Yeshua is claiming to be God with us. In addition, He is identifying Himself to Marta as the past, present and future Resurrection. He is aware that the miraculous sign He is about to perform in the physical world will echo in eternity. The raising of Elazar (Lazarus) and the subsequent affect it has on the people of Judea will become the catalyst for the religious leaders plan to put Yeshua to death. This in turn will produce His resurrection, a resurrection that will take hold of the keys of hades and death and consume them with victory and life.
In addition to Yeshua’s “I AM” statements (John 4:26), Yochanan records seven qualified “I AM” statements:
1.)I AM the bread of life (6:35)
2.)I AM the light of the world (8:12, 9:5)
3.)I AM the gate (10:7)
4.)I AM the good shepherd (10:11, 14)
5.)I AM the resurrection and the life (11:25)
6.)I AM the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6)
7.)I AM the real vine (15:1)
Following His resurrection and ascent to the right hand of the Father Yeshua spoke to Yochanan via His Angel naming Himself as Aleph and Tav (Alpha and Omega) [Rev.1:8], and as the beginning and the Goal (first and last) [Rev. 1:17]. All are unequivocal statements of deity.
When Yeshua says, “and the life,” He is speaking of eternal life: this is the juxtaposition to the temporary sleep of the present physical death (this is not to say that eternal life will not be physical, it will simply be a new kind of physical devoid of the effects of sin: metaphysical in the truest sense). Those who believe in Him then, even when they die in this present life are assured of eternal life beyond the grave, and those who believe in Him and live until His return will simply be transformed. As it is written elsewhere, “We will not all sleep but we will all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51.)
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]); I have believed, trusted (pisteuo[G], ya’amiyn[H]) that You are the Mashiyach[H] (Messiah, Christ, anointed one), the Son (Ho-Uihos[G], Ha-Ben[H]) of God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]), He Who comes into the world (ha-olam[H]).”
Marta doesn’t really answer the question. Yeshua is asking if she believes He is the Resurrection, Marta clearly doesn’t understand what He’s asking (and neither would we) so she answers with what she does know, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the One Moses and the prophets had promised to Israel. Again, this shows great faith, however she is yet to understand the all-encompassing reality of what it means for Yeshua to be the Messiah, the Resurrection, and the Living.
28 When she had said this, she went away and called Miriyam[H] (from rebellion, Mary) her sister, saying secretly, privately (lathra[G]), “The Teacher (ho-didaskalos[G], ha-moreh[H]) is here and is calling for you.”
Marta probably says this secretly so as to protect Yeshua from danger. It seems obvious that Miryam had not been aware that Yeshua had come. While Yeshua’s personal request for Miryam is not stated it is inferred by the text. Marta calls Yeshua, Ha Moreh “The Teacher,” using the Greek word didaskalos rather than the religious title rha-bbi (rabbi). Marta is making a confession of her belief that Yeshua is not merely a Jewish Rabbi, He is The Teacher, the One above all others; she leaves no room for confusion here. Perhaps, like Miryam, The Teacher is calling you, drawing you near in your hour of deep grief.
29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. 30 Now Yeshua had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Marta had met Him. 31 Then the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Miryam got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb/grave (kever[H]) to mourn (klaio[G]) there. 32 Therefore, when Miriyam came where Yeshua was, she saw Him (Yeshua), and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), if You had been here, my brother would not have died (apothnesko[G]).”
Miryam rushed to see Yeshua and in turn the other Judean mourners rushed to pursue her, thinking they were going to the grave site.
The, “therefore,” in the text tells us that it was as a result of Miryam’s rushing that she fell at Yeshua’s feet: exhausted from grief and the emotion fuelled exercise Miryam sees her close friend and Teacher Yeshua and falls at His feet, utterly spent. Miryam then repeats Marta’s question, probably for the same reasons but Yeshua, seeing her exhaustion from passionate grief does not enter into the same teaching dialogue He had shared previously with Marta, why? Because He connects with each person in the appropriate way to minister to their personality and position.
It is likely that given the lack of medical knowledge regarding the difference between the dead and the comatose, that first century Jews visited the grave for at least three days following the burial:
“We go out to the cemetery and examine the dead (to make sure they have not been buried while comatose etc.) for a period of three days, and do not fear being suspected of engaging in the ways of the Ammonites (witchcraft, necromancy and superstition regarding the dead). Once a man who had been buried was examined and found to be alive; he lived for twenty five years more and then died. Another such person lived and had five children and then died.” -S’machot 8:1
"they go to the graves and visit until three days.'' -Massech. Semachot, c. 8. fol. 15. 1.
2Ch 32:33, "they did him honour at his death"; that is, they made a sitting at his grave.” -Maimonides Hilchot Ebel. c. 14. sect. 25.
The post Talmudic tractate of S’machot means “joys” and is used in some sects of Judaism as a euphemism for mourning.
33 When Yeshua therefore saw her mourning, and the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) who came with her mourning, He was deeply moved in spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]) and was indignant, angry, anxious, agitated, distressed (tarasso[G]), 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), come and see.” 35 Yeshua wept. 36 So the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) were saying, “See what great (rabah[H]) love (phileo[G], ha-ahavah[H]) He (Yeshua) had for his dear friend!”
Some have suggested that Yeshua was angry due to the disbelief of Miryam and those with her, and that He was also angered by the professional mourners’ present (something that is presumed by scholars but not stated in the Scripture account). This seems ludicrous at best, an idea perpetuated by scholars who have never met the merciful and compassionate Messiah of our faith. How could Yeshua be angry with Miryam, who had merely implored Him with the appropriate question of grief? A woman whom the Scripture says, “He loved,” grieving with her friends for the tragic loss of her brother.
Some refer to the conversation with Marta saying that Marta angered Yeshua with her failure to understand: what nonsense, Yeshua is not angered by our inability to understand but rather by our arrogant resistance in the face of understanding. Even if this was the case, Marta is not mentioned here directly.
In fact, the text tells us what Yeshua is angry toward. It says, “Therefore,” that is, having seen what had come before, Miryam’s desperate rushing toward Him in hope of a miracle and “seeing her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was moved in spirit and was indignant, angry, anxious, agitated, distressed.” Yeshua was angry at the work of death itself, at the resulting suffering that death (born of sin, that is of the evil one) had brought to God’s children, and subsequently to Yeshua Himself. He would soon subject Himself to death on a cross for all our sakes.
The Greek word used to describe the weeping (klaio) of the Judeans means a loud wailing however the word used to denote Yeshua’s weeping (dakruo) refers to a quiet, intimate and intense form of weeping. It was this contrasting and authentic grief that those around Yeshua witnessed, therefore causing them to say, “See how He loved him.”
37 But some of them said, “Could not this man (Yeshua), who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying (apothnesko[G])?”
It is important to note that this statement does not have to be interpreted as being malicious. This is simply the valid public expression of the same question both Miryam and Marta had already asked. In addition, this was only spoken by some of those present.
38 So Yeshua, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb/grave (kever[H]). Now it was a cave, and a bolder was lying against it. 39 Yeshua said, “Remove the bolder.” Marta, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
After four days a body is already aggressively decaying, the skin takes on a grey pallor and is devoid of the natural oils that would normally moisten it. In addition, the stench of decaying biological matter can cause those around the body to reach (vomit). This is compounded by that fact that modern techniques for preserving bodies were not available to the people of first century C.E. Therefore, Marta’s statement is perfectly valid (something that was on the mind of all who heard Yeshua). There is no reason to read anything more than incredulity and confusion into her query, those who do are looking to place blame are missing the point entirely.
Maimonides writes concerning the use of a cave for burial:
"he that sells a place to his friend to make in it a grave or that receives from his friend a place to make in it a grave, עושה מערה, "must make a cave", and open in it eight graves, three on one side and three on another, and two over against the entrance "into the cave": the measure of "the cave" is four cubits by six, and every grave is four cubits long, and six hands broad, and seven high; and there is a space between every grave, on the sides a cubit and a half, and between the two in the middle two cubits.'' -Hilchot Mecira, c. 21. sect. 6.
As explained earlier some religious Jews of the first century probably held an eastern esoteric and superstitious belief, that the soul stayed near the body for three days following death.
Job 14:22.'' -Bereshit Rabba, sect. 100. fol. 88. 2. & T. Hieros. Moed Katon, fol. 82. 2
One Jewish interpretation of Jonah’s time in the whale reads as follows:
"these are the three days a man is in the grave, and his bowels burst; and after three days that defilement is turned upon his face.'' -Zohar in Exod. fol. 78. 2.
Therefore, in first century Jewish terms one is considered to have been properly dead only after three days.
40 Yeshua said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ta’amiyniy[H]), you will see the judgement, glory (doxa[G], k’vod[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H])?”
What is the glory of God? Certainly, the miracle He is about to perform will bring glory to God and to Yeshua, but is this the ultimate form of the glory that will result from this event? Given that this event is the cause for the inception of the plan to put Yeshua to death I believe that Yeshua is looking past this event to His own death and resurrection. This is the fulfilling of the plan and glory of God relative to humanity.
41 So they removed the bolder. Then Yeshua lifted up (airo[G]) His eyes, and said, “My Father (Aviy[H]), I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I see, perceive (eido[G]) that You always hear Me; but because of the crowd (ochlos[G]) standing around I said it, so that they may believe, trust, be persuaded (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) that You sent Me.”
“Lifted up His eyes” means He prayed with His eyes open, something that Jews continue to do today. Traditionally Jews pray standing and with eyes open.
Put in other words Yeshua is saying, “I could simply think this into being without any outward manifestation of power, but I want all these present to understand the relationship You and I have, so I’m going to say it all out loud for their sake.” Yeshua and the Father have been taking about this from before the birth of Moses, this whole event is a performance of grace and redemption, witnessed by the people of Judea.
43 When He (Yeshua) had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Elazar, arise, come out (kum tzei[H]).” 44 The man who had died came out, bound from head to toe with wrappings, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. Yeshua said to them, “loose him, and let him go.”
I see Yeshua here fierce with love for Elazar (Lazarus), screaming to His friend, ignoring death (which is desperately trying to hang on to Lazarus) and with the power of His own coming resurrection His words reach into the transitional grave (kever, NOT Sheol) like a hand wrenching Elazar (Lazarus) up into His light. Elazar (Lazarus), stumbles out of the tomb pulling at the grave cloth around his eyes, trying to see what’s going on, probably dazed and confused as a result of the experience, and perhaps thinking of heading to the mikveh to wash the stink off.
It’s here that I see the culmination of this wonderful miracle. Practically speaking Yeshua is asking that those present help Elazar (Lazarus) out of his grave clothes but there’s more: Yeshua, having raged against death itself is again speaking to death with final resolve, His voice brimming with fierce power, “Unbind my dearly loved friend and let him go!” He demands it. Yeshua speaks these same words on our behalf.
I am reminded of the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953):
“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
From the poem “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night,”by Dylan Thomas, written for his dying father.
45 Therefore many of the Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) who came to Miriyam, and saw what He (Yeshua) had done, believed, trusted (he’emiynu[H]) in Him. 46 But some of them went to the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) and told them the things which Yeshua had done.
We note that among the Judeans that believed there were many who were religious leaders. We note further that there were also those who did not believe and reported the matter to the P’rushiym. However, we might just as well interpret that those who reported this miraculous sign to the P’rushiym (Pharisees) did so in order to convince them of Yeshua’s Messiahship. After all, the P’rushiym believed in the resurrection, while the Saduciym (Sadducees, many of whom were part of the priesthood) did not believe in the resurrection.
47 Therefore the heads of the priests (archiereus[G], rasheiy hakoheniym[H]) and the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs (otot[H]). 48 If we let Him go on like this, all the people will believe, trust (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place (in the land) and our ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews).”
The council may have been a meeting of the Sanhedrin (70 Elders, Religious rulers of Israel).
The concern of the religious leaders was primarily to do with the fact that they foresaw a genocide of the Jewish people if a Messianic figure arose. In fact, first century Israeli Jews witnessed an attempted genocide of the Jewish people when the Romans responded to a later Jewish rebellion in 70 C.E. Therefore, practically speaking their concerns were valid.
49 But one of them, Kayafa[H] (for beauty, Caiaphas), who was high priest (Kohen ha-gadol[H]) that year, said to them, “You see, perceive (eido[G]) nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die on behalf of the tribe (laos[G]), lest the whole (holos[G]) ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews) perish.” 51 That thing moreover separated (apo[G]) him not to speak except as high priest (kohen ha-gadol[H]) that year, he prophesied that Yeshua was going to die for the ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews), 52 and not for the ethnicity (ethnos[G], Israel, Jews) only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the offspring (teknon[G]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohiym[H]) who are dispersed (diaskorpizo[G]).
“who was high priest that year” denotes political intrigue in the mixed bloodline priesthood of the first century. Kayafa was high priest between 18 – 36 C.E. (Antiquities of the Jews 18:90-95). However, God honoured the position of high priest regardless of the moral character of that priest, and thus, Kayafa, intending his words to refer to the literal physical benefit to the people of Israel, none the less was prophesying unbeknownst to him, a spiritual truth that reflected the goal of God’s redemptive plan for Israel and the nations.
“We all like sheep have gone astray.
Each of us turned to his own way.
So Adonai has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” -Isaiah 53:6 TLV
53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him (Yeshua). 54 Therefore Yeshua no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), but went away from there to the region near the wilderness, in the village Ephrayim[H] (double fruitfulness); and there He stayed with the disciples (Talmidim[H]).
This is a significant shift in the religious political leadership. The Sadducees (priests) and Pharisees were diametrically opposed and yet their fear of the potentially imminent annihilation of the Jewish people drove them to join forces in order to kill the man Whom they saw as the spark that would ignite the fury of Rome against them.
The village of Ephraim was located approximately 30 km northeast of Jerusalem.
55 Now the Pesach (Passover) of the religious Jews, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) was near, and many went up to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) out of the country before the Pesach (Passover) in order to ritually purify (hagnizo[G]) themselves.
We are now four months further on in the Biblical Jewish year and have come full circle to arrive at the month of Nisan just prior to Pesach.
Ritual purification prior to Pesach concerns those who may have become ritually unclean in regard to touching dead bodies. This has direct relevance in regard to the recent death and resurrection of Elazar. After all, were those who touched his dead body ritually unclean?
The Torah requires immersion for the purification of those who have touched dead bodies (Numbers 9:10, 13). In some cases purification took seven days (Numbers 31:19-20), which means the festival itself was probably still at least a week away.
56 Consequently they were seeking for Yeshua, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple (hieron[G], hamikdash[H]), “What do you think; that He will not come to the festival (ha-chag[H]) at all?”
The crowds of Jews who had made aliyah from all over Israel and the known world to observe the festival of Pesach (Passover), were all asking after the man who had raised a man from the dead. Why? Because resurrecting the dead was the ultimate sign of a prophet of God and potentially proof that Yeshua was the promised King Messiah and Redeemer of Israel (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37).
Essentially they were asking, “Is this miracle worker going to obey the Torah and make aliyah for this going up festival (Passover), or will He hide in fear rather than keep the Torah requirement?”
The answer is of course, “The Author of the Torah does not break the Torah!” Yeshua would soon be in Jerusalem attending Pesach.
57 Now the head priests (rosheiy hakoheniym[H]) and the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees, chaste ones) had given orders that if anyone knew where He (Yeshua) was, that one was to report it, so that they might seize Him (Yeshua).
Those in power in the religious leadership had made it known to all that Yeshua was a wanted man. The religious Jewish public were therefore obligated to report Him. However, given the many thousands that believed already and the many times they had assisted Yeshua in escaping the religious leaders, it seems likely that many would have refused to inform on Yeshua. What is certain is that as a result of His most recent miraculous sign (witnessed by numerous religious Judeans, both leaders and commoners) had caused great excitement and expectation among the people of Israel.
© Yaakov Brown 2020
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,