Being unprepared when we have been warned is sin. Neither culture nor personality are an excuse for laziness, inaction.
Amos 4 (Author’s translation)
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance, you cows of the Bashan (a fruitful place) who are on the mountain of Samaria (Guardians), you are the oppressors of the poor, weak, vulnerable, the crushers of the needy; the speech to their lords (masters) is, “Enter, and drink!” 2 This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) in His holiness, “For behold, now, pay attention, days are coming upon you all, and you will be lifted up on spears (piercing things), and your posterity (issue, children) in fish pots. 3 And bursting forth you will go out, a woman conspicuous, and you will be thrown out to the Harmon (alt. the flat topped mountain),” declares YHVH (Mercy ) the Lord. 4 “Enter Bethel (House of God, Judge) and rebel; at the Gilgal (the wheel) make great your rebellion! And bring to the morning, your blood sacrifices, after three days from tithes (pl. tenth part). 5 And offer a sacrifice of smoke from yeast, a thanksgiving, and proclaim freewill offerings, making them heard. For this you all love, children of Israel,” declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy). 6 “And also I gifted to you clean teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 7 “And also, I withheld from you the particular rain continually for the three months before harvest. And I caused it to rain upon one city, but on another city I did not cause it to rain; a portion of one was rained on, and another portion not rained on would wither. 8 And staggering, two or three cities go to another city to drink water, and are not sated; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 9 “I struck you all with blight and mildew which increases in your orchards, and vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees, which have been devoured by worms/locusts; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 10 “I sent among you a plague in the way of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and the stench of your camps rose up in your nostrils; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 11 “I overturned you all, like when as Elohim as God/Judge I overthrew Sodom (burning) and Gomorrah (submersion), and you were like a log snatched from burning; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.12 “Therefore this I will do to you, Yisrael; as a consequence for it, I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Yisrael.” 13 For behold, now, pay attention, He who forms mountains and creates breath, spirit, wind, and tells to a person what he is thinking, He who fashions dawn, hovering/covering, and treads upon the high places of earth, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring is His name.
Amos 4 (Line Upon Line)
1 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey hadavar hazeh this particular Word, essence, substance, you parot cows habashan of the Bashan (fruitful) asher who behar are on the mountain Shomeron of Samaria (Guardians), you are ha’oshekot the oppressors daliym of the poor, weak, vulnerable, harotzetzot the crushers evyoniym of the needy; ha’omerot the speech la’adoneiyhem to their lords (masters) is, “Haviyah Enter, venishtah and drink!”
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance, you cows of the Bashan (a fruitful place) who are on the mountain of Samaria (Guardians), you are the oppressors of the poor, weak, vulnerable, the crushers of the needy; the speech to their lords (masters) is, “Enter, and drink!”
Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey hadavar hazeh this particular Word, essence, substance…
Once again the word “shema (shimu)” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience. This is a call not only to repentance but to discipleship. It is the very essence of the Good News of our King Messiah.
What follows is the phrase “hadavar hazeh”, meaning, “the word, this specific thing”. Where the former chapter speaks of “et hadavar” the specific Word of God (Yeshua) in terms of His person, the words that follow here are a specific warning emanating from the specific Word [Person] (logos: Yeshua [John 1]). The Creator of the universe speaks through the essence of creation to the created, and in particular to the unique and chosen people of Israel.
You cows habashan of the Bashan (fruitful) asher who behar are on the mountain Shomeron of Samaria (Guardians)…
Bashan is an area in the north of Israel located east of the Jordan river, and spans the tribal allotments of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Manasheh. Bashan was known for its fertile soil and fruitful pasture land.
The cows (easily enticed wayward people of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Manasheh) had been herded southward to the idolatrous centre in Samaria. The city of Samaria was the capital of Ephraim’s territory (Isa. 7:9), and a centre where all the northern tribes gathered at times. The northern kings held court in Samaria. Ahab is called “King of Samaria” (1 Kings 21:1).
This metaphor speaks to the docile behaviour of the people in allowing themselves to be so easily led into idolatry and the resulting injustice. More specifically the feminine noun “Parot” (cows, not bulls) denotes well feed women, in this case the elite women of the half tribe of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Manasheh, and of the northern tribes in general.
The Targum paraphrases this metaphor to read:
“You rich of substance”
In one of his Messianic Psalms, king David uses a similar metaphor in reference to those rich and powerful men (bulls) who have come against him. He calls them “the strong of Bashan” (Psalm 22:12). Therefore, Bashan is synonymous with fat cattle, who, lacking no good thing, are easily led into making poor decisions.
You are the oppressors daliym of the poor, weak, vulnerable, harotzetzot the crushers evyoniym of the needy…
The upper class women in particular and the people of the north in general, are being indicted for their intentional oppressing of the poor and their cruelty toward the vulnerable. This sin is inflated by the fact that they are harming fellow Israelis. They are not being accused of simply neglecting the poor, rather they are being called out on their intentional abuse of the poor and vulnerable. This kind of social injustice destroys the perpetrator as well as the victim. Failure to strengthen the weakest portion of the community results in weakening the whole community, making it vulnerable to destruction. Therefore, the punishment that is coming upon Israel at this point in her history is the natural outworking of her sin. By her actions she has essentially punished herself. We would do well to consider this in light of our own conduct. God offers to deliver us from self-harm.
“A merciful person does himself good,
But the cruel person does himself harm.” -Mishlei (Proverbs) 11:17 NASB
the speech la’adoneiyhem to their lords (masters) is, “Haviyah Enter, venishtah and drink!”
This is an intentionally ambiguous reference that likens the speech of the elite women to their husbands (adoneiyhem [lords]) to the speech of Israel to her false gods (adoneiyhem [lords]).
The Targum further illuminates the meaning by rendering the speech as:
“give us power, that we may spoil it.”
2 Nishba This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) bekadesho in His holiness, “Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yamiym days baiym are coming aleiychem upon you all, venisa etchem and you will be lifted up betzinot on spears (piercing things), ve’acharitechen and your posterity (issue, children) besirot dugah in fish pots.
2 This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) in His holiness, “For behold, now, pay attention, days are coming upon you all, and you will be lifted up on spears (piercing things), and your posterity (issue, children) in fish pots.
This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) bekadesho in His holiness,
God is Named Adonay “Lord” over adoneiyhem “their lords”, referred to in the previous verse, and in spite of the fact that He has every right as a jilted Husband to judge without mercy, He is nonetheless Named YHVH, the unpronounceable Name which denotes mercy.
There is no greater expression of a vow than this. When God swears He swears by Himself and His holiness from which His character is expressed. Like the word “hineih” that follows, this is an awesome call to attention.
“Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yamiym days baiym are coming aleiychem upon you all…
The use of “hineih” following the vow of God emphasises the immediacy of the warning and the certainty of the coming punishment.
The text does not say that the days of discipline might come, but that they are coming.
you will be lifted up betzinot on spears (piercing things), ve’acharitechen and your posterity (issue, children) besirot dugah in fish pots.
There are numerous variations in the English translation of these phrases, however the Hebrew is fairly simple and is using an idiomatic turn of phrase that indicates the impaling of the adults of Israel and the consumption of their progeny and achievements.
It is an allusion to the king of Assyria and his invading force, who by the hand of God will enact the just punishment of God against the people of Israel.
The impaling of captives on tall spears reflects a form of torturous death employed by the ancient Egyptians and thus points back to past oppression and suffering.
There is also a connection to this imagery in the prophecy of Jeremiah recorded later in Israel’s history (Jer. 16:16).
The Targum reads:
“That people shall take you away on their shields, and your daughters in fishermen's boats;”
3 Uferatziym And bursting forth teitzenah you will go out ishah a woman negdah conspicuous, vehishlachtenah and you will be thrown out to haharmonah the Harmon (alt. the flat topped mountain),” neum declares YHVH (Mercy ) the Lord.
3 And bursting forth you will go out, a woman conspicuous, and you will be thrown out to the Harmon (alt. the flat topped mountain),” declares YHVH (Mercy ) the Lord.
This continues the metaphorical language describing the coming exile. Like a woman conspicuously escaping through a breech in a city wall Israel will be exposed while trying to escape the invading Assyrians and will be easily captured and exiled.
We note that it is YHVH, Mercy Who speaks these words of judgement, and are reminded yet again that His Mercy both precedes and is the result of His judgement.
4 “Bo’u Enter Bayt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) ufishu and rebel; hagilgal at the Gilgal (the wheel) harbu make great lifshoa your rebellion! Vehaviyu And bring laboker to the morning, zivcheiychem your blood sacrifices, lishloshet after three yamiym days ma’seroteiycham from tithes (pl. tenth part).
4 “Enter Bethel (House of God, Judge) and rebel; at the Gilgal (the wheel) make great your rebellion! And bring to the morning, your blood sacrifices, after three days from tithes (pl. tenth part).
Enter Bayt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) ufishu and rebel; hagilgal at the Gilgal (the wheel) harbu make great lifshoa your rebellion!
Bayt-El (Bethel) had become a centre of idolatrous worship in the north and is named here with palpable irony. The tribes of the north enter a place once honoured by God in connection to the patriarch Jacob and now, at this point in Israel’s history, dishonoured by syncretistic worship and unbiblical sacrifices. Israel enters the “House of God/Judge” with the intention of rebelling. Thus, the northern tribes are judged and found wanting by their own actions. Their apostacy is no accident.
“Ufishu” from “pasha” the Hebrew root meaning rebellion is used again to show the intrinsic connection between idolatry (the root of all sin) and its fruit rebellion. Rebellion being the father of the many subsequent manifestations of sin.
Gilgal was an Israelite camp west of the Jordan river and east of Jericho. It was a location where Samuel the prophet judged Israel and where Saul the first king of Israel was ordained, and It was yet another main centre of idolatrous worship for the northern tribes (5:5, 27; 6:7; 7:11, 17 cf. Hos. 4:15). Israel’s former request for a king like the other nations was itself an act of idolatry and a root for the national sin manifest during the days of the prophecy of Amos.
The doubling up of the word “pasha” rebellion, and the references to multiple locations of idolatrous worship firmly establish the indictment concerning the sin of the people.
And bring laboker to the morning, zivcheiychem your blood sacrifices, lishloshet after three yamiym days ma’seroteiycham from tithes (pl. tenth part).
This is to say:
“Bring your apostate blood sacrifices to your counterfeit altar on high places not approved by God, go about your superstitious three day rituals and bring your tithes, which should have instead been brought to Jerusalem. By all means pretend to follow some small aspect of what’s commanded in the Torah by syncretising it with the practices of idol worship. Go ahead, practice your sin, see what happens…”
“After three days from tithes” can be understood to mean that the tithes that should have been brought to Jerusalem are instead being used in sacrificial rites at an apostate location in the north (Samaria, Bethel etc.).
5 Ve’kateir And offer a sacrifice of smoke mechameitz from yeast todah a thanksgiving, vekiru and proclaim nedavot freewill offerings, hashmiyu making them heard, known. Kiy For kein this ahavtem you all love, beneiy children Yisrael of Israel (Overcome in God, Judge),” neum declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy).
5 And offer a sacrifice of smoke from yeast, a thanksgiving, and proclaim freewill offerings, making them heard. For this you all love, children of Israel,” declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy).
And offer a sacrifice of smoke mechameitz from yeast todah a thanksgiving…
The sarcasm continues regarding Israel’s apostate practices. God commands in the Torah that yeast not be offered with a burnt offering:
“‘No grain offering, which you bring to YHVH, shall be made with yeast, for you shall not offer up in smoke any yeast or any honey as an offering by fire to YHVH.’” -Vayikra (Leviticus) 2:11 (Author’s translation)
Yeast represents sin. To offer a symbol of sin to God as a gift is abhorrent. Ironically, the actions of the northern tribes in syncretising heathen worship are well represented in an offering of a symbol of sin. They have at this point in history, been repaying God’s love with sin filled rebellion.
Modern Christians are in no position to pass judgement. It has been taught among Christians for millennia that Yeshua’s parable of the yeast permeating the dough likens the Gospel’s spread in relationship to the kingdom of God, to yeast that spreads through the world (Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20-21). Thus, the message of the Gospel is compared to an established (throughout the TaNaKh [OT]) symbol for sin. Like the offering of yeast by the northern tribes, the comparing of the Gospel to yeast is abhorrent.
and proclaim nedavot freewill offerings, hashmiyu making them heard, known.
Not only are the sacrifices and offerings apostate they are also being practiced as nothing more than a show of piety, an act of spiritual pride performed for others to see.
Yeshua the King Messiah later addresses the hypocrisy of performance based religion:
“5 And they do all their deeds to be noticed by other people; for they broaden their [a]phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the seats of honor in the synagogues, 7 and personal greetings in the marketplaces, and being called [b]Rabbi by the people.” -Matthew 23:5-7 NASB
Are we guilty of performance based religion? How might we seek the strength of Messiah in order to change our behaviour to meet God’s standard of holiness?
For kein this ahavtem you all love, beneiy children Yisrael of Israel (Overcome in God, Judge),” neum declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy).
At this time in our history our modus operandi was to seek glory for ourselves at the expense of the vulnerable and in direct opposition to the commandments of God. Ironically the things we loved to do were acts of hatred not only against the poor but also toward ourselves. The same is true today. Only the true love of God can deliver us from our self-destructive behaviours.
6 “Vegam And also Aniy I nataiy lachem gifted to you nikyon clean shinayim teeth behkol in all areiychem your cities, vechoser and lack of lechem bread behkol in all mekomoteiychem your places; velo-shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
6 “And also I gifted to you clean teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
And also Aniy I nataiy lachem gifted to you My nikyon clean shinayim teeth behkol in all areiychem your cities…
The “cleanness of teeth” may be a euphemism for famine as some suggest, or it may refer to God bearing His teeth at Israel in an act of anger. The later seems most likely given the prophesied invasion of the cities. We note that the discipline of famine and physical harm is considered a gift.
and lack of lechem bread behkol in all mekomoteiychem your places…
This is clearly a metaphor for famine (2 kings 8:1). The phrase “in all your places” indicates nationwide famine. Israel is being given these physical warnings of famine and invasion as a call to repentance. Again, famine is “gifted” to Israel. Suffering that leads to repentance is a redemptive gift of God.
velo-shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
This phrase appears five times in this chapter. It is a heart breaking observation that indicates Israel’s constant turning away from God in spite of the many warnings and the physical discipline God has given in order to provide an opportunity for repentance.
The Hebrew does not simply say “you have not returned to me” but “you continually choose not to return to me”. This is a description of a way of life rather than the addressing of a singular act of rebellion. At this point in our history we were wilfully and continually turning our backs on God.
7 “Vegam And also, Anochiy I manatiy withheld mikem from you et-hageshem the particular rain be’od continually for the sheloshah three chadashiym months lakatyir before harvest. Ve’himtartiy And I caused it to rain al-iyr echat upon one city, ve’al-iyr achat lo amtiyr but on another city I did not cause it to rain; chelkah a portion achat of one timateir was rained on, ve’chelkah asher-lo timateir and another portion not rained aleyah on tiyvash would wither.
7 “And also, I withheld from you the particular rain continually for the three months before harvest. And I caused it to rain upon one city, but on another city I did not cause it to rain; a portion of one was rained on, and another portion not rained on would wither.
The withholding of the timely rains that precede the harvest is a kind of shock and awe campaign. Without these rains the harvest would be meagre and famine perpetuated due to poor seed return. We note that as a counterpoint to Israel’s perpetual turning away the rains are perpetually withheld. When one rejects the supplier of water, water is withheld. Therefore, our sinful actions are self-harm.
In addition to this God had brought about erratic rainfall within smaller locations so that on one side of a city rain fell and on the other the land dried up. As a result there would have been in fighting among the inhabitants of the city and a tendency for those who benefited from rainfall to hoard supplies. All of this accentuates the rebellious modus operandi of the people at that time.
8 Ve’nau And staggering shtayim two or shalosh three ariym cities el-iyr achat go to another city lishtot to drink mayim water, ve’lo and are not yisbau sated; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
8 And staggering, two or three cities go to another city to drink water, and are not sated; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
A lack of food from grain and fruiting trees was one thing, but a lack of drinking water is another thing altogether. Water is primary to human survival, without it we die.
In spite of Israel experiencing these hardships she had not turned toward God. This repetition of the phrasing “yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord” becomes weightier when we realise that Israel had sought help during the famine and drought that resulted from God’s discipline, but they had not sought it from God. This means that false deities were being sought and or syncretised worship practices employed in order to invoke demonic spiritual support for Israel’s practical problems.
9 “Hikeiytiy I struck etchem you all bashidafon with blight uvayeirakon and mildew harbot ganoteiychem which increases in your orchards, vecharmeiychem and vineyards ute’eineiychem and your fig trees vezeiyteiychem and your olive trees, yochal which have been devoured hagazam by worms/locusts; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
9 “I struck you all with blight and mildew which increases in your orchards, and vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees, which have been devoured by worms/locusts; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Every time a discipling action is alluded to the phrase “yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord” follows. And each time the heart condition of the people is exposed.
The fruiting trees described represent prosperity and celebration (wine, figs), healing and spiritual strength (olives). The metaphor exposes the spiritual and physical decay of the souls of the people.
10 “Shilachtiy I sent vachem among you dever a plague bederekh in the way Mitzrayim of Egypt; haragtiy vacherev bachureiychem I killed your young men with the sword, im sheviy suseiychem along with your captured horses, va’a’aleh be’osh machaneiychem and the stench of your camps rose up uveapechem in your nostrils; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
10 “I sent among you a plague in the way of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and the stench of your camps rose up in your nostrils; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
I sent vachem among you dever a plague bederekh in the way Mitzrayim of Egypt…
This can be understood to be likening the punishment of God against Israel during the time of Amos to the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 7-12), or to the plague Israel experienced on her way out of Egypt on her journey in the desert (Num. 16:46). The later seems more likely given that the Hebrew reads bederekh “in the way”, rather than “in Egypt”.
11 “Hafachtiy I overturned vachem you all, kemahpeichat like when as Elohim as God/Judge I overthrew et-sidom ve’et-amorah Sodom (burning) and Gomorrah (submersion), vatihyu keod and you were like a log mutzal snatched misereifah from burning; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
11 “I overturned you all, like when as Elohim as God/Judge I overthrew Sodom (burning) and Gomorrah (submersion), and you were like a log snatched from burning; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
The list of literal and metaphorical calamities reaches its crescendo with this reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. This allusion is multifaceted in that it infers that Israel’s sins have caused her to descend to depths of depravity equal to those of Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction therefore will be similar, however God in His mercy reached in and grabbed Israel from the burning fire (a reference to the fiery sulphur that rained on Sodom and Gomorrah) like a log pulled out before it can be consumed, charred but in one piece. We note that the metaphor puts the hand of the one who delivers the log at risk of harm. God has given of Himself in order to deliver Israel.
“Yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.”
12 “Lachein Therefore koh this e’eseh-lekha I will do to you, Yisrael; ekev as a consequence kiy for zot it, a’eseh-lakh I will do this to you, hikon likrat-Eloheiykha Yisrael prepare to meet your God, Israel.”
12 “Therefore this I will do to you, Yisrael; as a consequence for it, I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Yisrael.”
This draws together all the imagery of the previous verses and denotes both terrifying punishment and reconciliatory promise.
Therefore koh this e’eseh-lekha I will do to you, Yisrael; ekev as a consequence kiy for zot it, a’eseh-lakh I will do this to you…
I will punish you in a terrible way as a consequence of your sinful actions.
prepare to meet your God, Israel.
The way the reader receives this phrasing determines the outcome. A refusal to prepare will result in meeting God the Judge of Israel, while choosing to prepare through returning to YHVH (Mercy) in repentance will mean suffering the consequence of sinful actions in the physical world, but also being given an opportunity to meet YHVH in the desert of exile on a journey that returns Israel to the land of promise.
The principle can be applied by all believers. Are we ignoring God’s admonishment of preparation and thus reaping self-destruction, or are we walking in repentance and receiving God in an intimate meeting between Creator and creation.
The repentant prepare and receive mercy from the Judge, while the unprepared are condemned. Being unprepared when we have been warned is sin. Neither culture nor personality are an excuse for laziness, inaction.
13 Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yotzeir He who forms hariym mountains uvorei and creates ruach breath, spirit, wind, umagiyd and tells leadam to a person mah-sheicho what he is thinking, oseh He who fashions shachar dawn eiyfah, hovering/covering vedorekh and treads al upon bamoteiy aretz the high places of earth, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring Shemo is His name.
13 For behold, now, pay attention, He who forms mountains and creates breath, spirit, wind, and tells to a person what he is thinking, He who fashions dawn, hovering/covering and treads upon the high places of earth, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring is His name.
For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yotzeir He who forms hariym mountains uvorei and creates ruach breath, spirit, wind…
The Lord reminds Israel that He is the Creator. That He both forms that which is created and creates life, the human spirit (ruach) from nothing.
The ruach (wind), created from nothing, moves the dust of the earth. The ruach (breath) of God gives neshama (eternal convergent existence) to the dust, forming humanity. The ruach (spirit) of human beings is created by HaRuach (The Spirit) Elohiym of God.
and tells leadam to a person mah-sheicho what he is thinking…
The ambiguity seems intentional. God is the nearest subject but the person is the nearest object. Therefore, God both knows every thought of a human being before it is thought and speaks His divine thoughts to human beings according to their ability to receive His Word.
He who fashions shachar dawn eiyfah, hovering/covering vedorekh and treads al upon bamoteiy aretz the high places of earth,
This is an allusion to the creation account of Genesis 1. The Spirit of God hovers over the deep and forms the earth. He is Creator and Ruler over all things.
Additionally and with regard to the apostate worship which was being performed at the time of the prophecy of Amos, God treads on the highest places used by the wicked as shrines to false gods. He grinds all idols to dust beneath His feet. By necessity all that is made has a beginning. The God of Israel has no beginning or end, He is all existing and therefore has no maker.
Throughout Scripture the names of persons are used as a summation of their character attributes. When Israel is lost in rebellion what is the Name of her God?
YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring Shemo is His name.
His Name is “Mercy the Righteous Judge Who goes warring to save His people”.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2022
Through His shed blood Yeshua gives defiled human beings access to undefiled heavenly things.
Hebrews 9:1-14 reminds the reader of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) it’s serving priests and its articles, showing them to be replicas that point to the original Mishkan in the heavens. The mercy seat of the heavens being the place where Yeshua the Great High Priest has sprinkled His blood in order to affect eternal atonement for all who receive Him and His saving work. The writer points out that if the blood of goats and bulls (Num. 16), and the ashes of the heifer could affect temporary outward cleansing of the body, then how much more can the blood of Messiah (which is everlasting) purge the soul of a human being, removing the decaying deeds of the sinful nature (yetzer hara).
The “goats and bulls” relate to the High Priest’s duties on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) relating to both his cleansing and the cleansing of the community of Israel from sin. The ashes of the red heifer mixed with water and applied with hyssop relate to the ritual cleansing of one who has touched a dead body. In both cases death, which is the fruit of sin, is associated to the rites. The writer of Hebrews is intentionally using these examples in order to solidify his point that the physical practices of the earthly sacrificial system cannot save the inner person from the just consequences of sin.
With regard to the ashes of the red heifer it is worth noting that the ashes mixed with water for the ritual cleansing of those who touch the dead (a metaphor for touching the fruit of sin), is called “water of separation” (Num. 19:13) because it cleanses ritually cleanses the person from that which “separates” them from God. The writer of the Book to the Hebrews inspired by the Holy Spirit uses this temporal earthly example to point to the fact that Yeshua’s sacrificial death and the sprinkling of His blood (ashes) mixed with water (life) truly and eternally cleanse the inner person of those who receive Him. This has been accomplished and is now offered to all until His return, at which time “separation from sin” (Heb. 9:28) will not be the subject of His coming but to reign in fullness over Judah, Israel and all the nations (those who have received Him).
In our previous study we noted that the ark of the covenant (Aron Ha-Briyt) was not present in the holy of holies during the earthly ministry of Messiah in the first century C.E. And that Yeshua never entered the holy of holies on earth but the holy of holies, or the holiest place in the heavens. We also learned that the book of Revelation tells us where the original Aron Ha-Briyt of God is located and that the vein pursuit of the earthly ark that can never affect redemption is an act of idolatry.
“Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant appeared in His Temple. And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail.” -Revelation 11:19 TLV
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have become defiled, unclean, sanctify as a means of purifying, cleansing the carnal form, flesh, body, 14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered, presented, sacrificed His soul without blemish, mark, spot to God; purge, cleanse, purify your conscience, moral consciousness, heart, core being, inner person from dead, necrotic works, deeds, doing, in order to serve the living God?
Before we continue we note again that while Yeshua’s unique priesthood is “like” that of Melki Tzedek (the mortal king and priest of ancient Salem), Yeshua’s practice of atonement is likened to that of the high priest of the Levitical priesthood. Therefore, as previously stated, Yeshua’s priesthood over all peoples presents a convergent likeness that combines elements of both earthly temporal priesthoods. We thus glean understanding from both.
BOOK TO THE HEBREWS Chapter 9:15-28 (Author’s translation)
15 And through this He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate of a new covenant, so that, by means of His death we are found redeemed, atoned, purged of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”] 16 For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary. 17 For a covenant is valid upon death, because it has no strength while the one who made it lives. 18 Nor was the first covenant consecrated, dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment to all the people individually and collectively according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, he received/took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Scroll itself and all the people individually and collectively, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 Likewise he sprinkled, threw the blood on both the Tent of Meeting and all the vessels, utensils, implements of the service. 22 And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom. 23 Therefore it was necessary, right for the copies, patterns, warnings of the things in the heavens to be purged, cleansed, purified with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices than these. 24 For the Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands, a copy, representation, figure of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us; 25 nor must He offer His soul often, repeatedly, many times like the high priest who enters the Holy place, sanctuary year after year with blood of others. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the beginning, foundation, conception of the world; but now once at the goal of the ages, generations, the world, forever He has been revealed, manifest to put away, cancel, abolish sin [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice of His soul. 27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment, 28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear, carry the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin, to those who look for, eagerly await Him.
HEBREWS 9:15-28 (line upon line)
15 And through this (dia touto[G], zot[H]) He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate (mesitēs[G], malakh meiliytz[H]) of a new covenant (kainos diathēkē[G], labriyt hachadashah[H]), so that, by means of His death (Thanatos[G], umoto[H]) we are (nimtza[H]) found redeemed, atoned, purged (apolutrōsis[G], lechaparat[H]) of the violations (parabasis[G], haposhiym tachat[H]) that were committed under the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]), so that those who have been called (kaleō[G]) may receive (lambanō[G]) the promise (epaggelia[G], et-havtachat[H]) of the eternal (aiōnios[G], olam[H]) inheritance (klēronomia[G], nachalat[H]). [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
15 And through this He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate of a new covenant, so that, by means of His death we are found redeemed, atoned, purged of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
“And through this…” Through His blood, the sacrifice of His unblemished soul, the eternal Spirit of God (v. 14).
“He is the mediator of a new covenant” In one sense Moses was mediator of the former covenant, but ultimately Yeshua is mediator of both covenants. However, only Yeshua could mediate the new covenant because it is a covenant that requires eternal blood atonement, something that Moses could never have provided.
The Greek diathēkē is equivalent to the Hebrew briyt. However, while the Greek diathēkē can mean “covenant” or “testament”, the Hebrew briyt does not carry both meanings in the same sense. There are other Hebrew words like edut (witness, testimony) that better convey the Greco-Roman idea of “testament”. This being said, one of the names of the ark of the covenant is Aron Edut “Ark of Testimony” (Ex. 25:22). Therefore, both meanings are valid.
However, the context of the present text denotes a covenant purchased by blood atonement and not a “will” or “testament” signed in anticipation of the death of the other party. Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) makes a similar drash in his writing to the Galatian believers (Gal. 3:15-18). The Jewish recipients of the Book to the Hebrews understand “covenant” and not “testament” as in “last will and testament”.
Sadly the majority of Christian scholars and commentators (and some Messianics) miss the point entirely by reading into the text a Greco-Roman or modern western understanding of the word diathēkē, seeing it (in spite of the context) as referring to “last will and testament” rather than “Blood Covenant”. Which, based on context, is the intended meaning of the Hebrew writer of this work.
Messiah Yeshua is Mediator of the new covenant:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and people, the man Messiah Yeshua; Who gave himself as a ransom for all, this has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” -1 Timothy 2:5-6 (Author’s Translation)
NB: These verses and many others refute the modern scholarship lie that says Messiah’s sacrifice is not a substitution. It clearly is, one who pays with his life a ransom for someone else, is by definition a substitute.
Messiah Yeshua’s blood inaugurated and perpetuates the new covenant:
“For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” -Matthew 26:28 (Author’s Translation)
Messiah Yeshua’s sacrificial, substitutionary death purges those who believe from all that the Mosaic covenant could not:
“Let it be known unto all of you therefore, both people, and Jewish brothers and sisters, that through this man (Yeshua) is preached unto all of you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him (Yeshua) all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Torah of Moses.” -Acts 13:38-39 (Author’s Translation)
“so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” In order to properly understand the impact of this statement we must understand the Biblical historic weight of it. The Hebrew translation of this same statement reads:
“that the elect (chosen) might receive the promised eternal land”.
While it is true that all who believe both of the Jews and the nations, are given access to the eternal promise of inheritance in the family of God, it is nonetheless a secondary understanding. First and foremost, as understood by the first century Jewish recipients of this work, the “promise of eternal inheritance” relates to the fulfilment of the covenant promise made by God to Avraham and conferred upon Isaac and Jacob and thus the descendants of Jacob, Israel, the Jewish people. That eternal promise being for the inheritance of the land.
The word "inherit" (leishtah[H] [to inherit], from the root yarash, yaresh)is first used in the Tanakh (OT) in connection with the promise concerning the land:
“He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to inherit (leishtah[H]).” -Genesis 15:7
The covenant for the land was made by God while Avram (soon to be Avraham) was unconscious. Therefore, the fulfilment of the promise for the land is entirely incumbent upon God, Who in faithfulness will bring about its eternal outworking.
“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him… When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land,” -Genesis 15”12, 17-18 NIV
The fact that God’s giving of the land to Israel (through Avraham) is eternal is testified to by Scripture:
“The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” -Genesis 17:8 NIV
Therefore, reading the present text (Heb. 9:15b) as a first century Jewish believer, we understand the meaning as “that the elect (descendants of Jacob who are in right standing with God through faith) might receive the promised eternal land”.
We must keep in mind that the terms “elect” and “chosen” when used by the new covenant Jewish writers, are understood to be speaking first and foremost of the chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen). This is not an act of pride on the part of the writers but a matter of Biblical fact. While it remains true that all regardless of ethnicity are welcomed into the eternal inheritance of God through Messiah Yeshua, that is not what is first being said here. It is often the case that our election and stubbornness as Jews is used by God to protect us from apostasy, as is alluded to by Messiah in Matthew 24:24.
Rabbi Shaul’s (Paul) letter to the Galatian believers (Galatians 3-4), both Jewish and Gentile, is a superb commentary on Torah, election and faith as observed through the lens of the writer of the Book to the Hebrews. It illuminates the application of these ethno-religious promises to all believers providing the order of the promises are respected and access to them is understood as a privilege in Messiah Yeshua and not an opportunity to do away with the chosen (elect) descendants of Jacob to whom they were first given and continue to be first offered (Rom. 1:16).
16 For where there is a covenant (diathēkē[G], briyt[H]), the death (thanatos[G], mot[H]) of the one who made it (diatithemai[G]) is necessary (anagkē[G]). 17 For a covenant (diathēkē[G], briyt[H]) is valid upon death (epi nekros[G], hamavet[H]), because it has no strength (ischuō mepote[G]) while the one who made it (diatithemai[G]) lives (zaō[G], bechayeiy[H]). 18 Nor was the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]) consecrated, dedicated (egkainizō[G], chanukat[H]) without blood (aima[G], dam[H]).
16 For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary.
“For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary.” The death of the one who made it refers to the death purchased on behalf of the one who made it. There is no instance in the Torah where a person entering a covenant with God is required to give their own blood (life) in order to affect that covenant. Even Isaac received a substitutionary reprieve (Gen 22).
The covenants of the Tanakh (OT) with few exceptions (and then by inference) are ratified in blood. The blood shed is shed on behalf of the life of the one who is entering the covenant. Therefore, “where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary”, means, the vicarious death of another (an animal) on behalf of the one (a human being) entering the covenant.
This verse does not refer to a “last will and testament” or covenant in the sense of “Testament” as so many conclude in error. It cannot, because the preceding and proceeding verses speak specifically of a blood covenant ratified according to the practices outlined in Torah and according to those covenants entered into by our forebears from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Israel. To misunderstand this covenant as referring to a last will and testament is to entirely misunderstand the meaning of the text.
17 For a covenant is valid upon death, because it has no strength while the one who made it lives.
“a covenant is valid upon death” The death of a substitutionary animal is required in order for a covenant to be ratified (Gen. 8:20; 9:9; 15:9, 17-18; 17:11; Ex. 24:1-8). That animal dies on behalf of the one entering the covenant. Therefore, it is as if that one has died. In the case of the new covenant Messiah Yeshua is the substitutionary sacrifice, and His blood causes the one who enters this new covenant to become dead to sin and alive in Messiah.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” -Leviticus 17:11
“it has no strength while the one who made it lives.” No covenant is binding without a substitutionary sacrifice of blood made on behalf of the one entering it. It is the vicarious death of another that gives a covenant strength (according to Torah).
18 Nor was the first covenant consecrated, dedicated without blood.
This verse shows that a Biblical covenant is being referred to by the writer and not a Greco-Roman “last will and testament”.
The “first covenant” refers to the Mosaic covenant, which was, like the new covenant, ratified with blood. Did Moses die in order for the Mosaic covenant to become of affect? Of course not. Was it the blood of the people of Israel that was shed in order for the Mosaic covenant to be ratified? Of course not. But it was the blood of animals that was shed in their place, so that the covenant might be ratified through the vicarious death of animals representing the death of the people who entered the covenant (Exodus 24:1-8). Therefore, the same is true of the new covenant which is established through the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua, whose blood is of everlasting affect.
19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment (entolē[G], mitzvah[H]) to all the people individually and collectively (pas ho laos[G], kol ha’am[H]) according to the Torah, Instruction, Law (ho nomos[G], haTorah[H]), he received/took (lambanō[G]) the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) of the calves (moschos[G], va’agaliym[H]) and the goats (tragos[G], se’iyriym[H]), with water (hudōr[G]) and scarlet (Kokkinos[G]) wool (erion[G]) and hyssop (hussōpos[G]), and sprinkled (rhantizō[G]) both the Scroll (biblion[G]) itself and all the people individually and collectively (pas ho laos[G], kol ha’am[H]), 20 saying, “This is the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) of the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]) which God (Theos[G], Elohiym[G]) commanded (entellomai[G], tzivah[H]) you.”
19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment to all the people individually and collectively according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, he received/took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Scroll itself and all the people individually and collectively, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.”
“3 So Moses came and told the people all the words of Adonai as well as all the ordinances. All the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which Adonai has spoken, we will do.” 4 So Moses wrote down all the words of Adonai, then rose up early in the morning, and built an altar below the mountain, along with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He then sent out young men of Bnei-Yisrael, who sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings of oxen to Adonai. 6 Then Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins and the other half he poured out against the altar. 7 He took the Scroll of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. Again they said, “All that Adonai has spoken, we will do and obey.” 8 Then Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which Adonai has cut with you, in agreement with all these words.” -Exodus 24:3-8 TLV
Moses sprinkled the scroll of the Torah in order to acknowledge its requirement for blood atonement (Lev. 17:11). He sprinkled blood on the people to show that blood had been shed on their behalf so that they had died symbolically according to the vicarious blood of the animal sacrifices. We note that the blood is of the covenant, meaning that blood shed is an intrinsic and necessary part of binding covenant. This is attested to throughout the Tanakh (OT).
While it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture that Moses sprinkled the Torah scroll, it is nonetheless mentioned here. Objections to the truth of the present text are a rejection of its inspiration and therefore a rejection of God’s Word.
21 Likewise (homoiōs[G]) he sprinkled, threw the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) on (rhantizō[G], zarak[H]) both the Tent of Meeting (skēnē[G], ha-Mishkan[H]) and all the vessels, utensils, implements (skeuos[G], keleiy hashareit[H]) of the service (leitourgia[G]). 22 And with few exceptions (schedon[G]) all things (hakol[H]) individually and collectively (pas[G]) are purged, cleansed, purified (katharizō[G], yithar[H]) with blood (aima[G], badam[H]), according to the Torah, Instruction, Law (ho nomos[G], haTorah[H]), and without the shedding of blood (aima[G], dam[H]) there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom (aphesis[G], eiyn slichah[H]). 23 Therefore it was necessary, right (anagkē[G], nachom[H]) for the copies, patterns, warnings (hupodeigma[G]) of the things in the heavens (ho Ouranos[G], hashamayim[H]) to be purged, cleansed, purified (katharizō[G], letaheir[H]) with these things, but the heavenly (epouranios[G]) things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices (thusia[G], toviym mei’eileh[H]) than these.
21 Likewise he sprinkled, threw the blood on both the Tent of Meeting and all the vessels, utensils, implements of the service.
While it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture that Moses sprinkled the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), Leviticus 18:15, 19 speak of sprinkling blood on both the altar and Aaron the high priest, and thus infer the sprinkling of the Tent and utensils. Additionally Josephus the first century C.E. historian writes that consecration was made upon “the Tent and the vessels which belonged to it, both with oil that had first been incensed, and with the blood of bulls and rams." (Antiquities of the Jews 3:8:6)
22 And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.
“And with few exceptions” Some things were purged by water and some by fire (Numbers 31:23). The exceptions relate to ritual uncleanness and not to the atonement of sin committed either in ignorance or by wilful intention. Therefore, the exceptions do not relate to the remission of sin. This is why the writer makes clear that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission (forgiveness) of sin (Exodus 29-30; Leviticus 1-9, 14-17).
“all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law” The Torah states explicitly, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” -Leviticus 17:11
“without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.” The life is in the blood, whereas sin entered the world and brought death with it. In order to remove death, life is required. But the blood of animals could never do more than temporarily and symbolically cover sin. What is needed is not a temporary picture of redemption through blood but an eternal blood transfusion of the life blood of God. Sin cannot be removed any other way. There is no forgiveness or the freedom it brings without the shedding of blood.
Jewish tradition agrees, saying “eiyn kaparah alay badam” (no atonement except that made in blood) [Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 5. 1. Zebachim, fol. 6. 1. & Menachot, fol. 93. 2.].
“Does the placing of hands atone for one’s sins? Isn’t atonement accomplished only by the sprinkling of the blood, as it is stated: “For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life” (Leviticus 17:11)?” -Talmud Bavliy Yoma 5a. 2. Sefaria translation
In light of modern medical research the transfusion analogy is poignant. It has been observed that in cases where leukaemia patients receive bone marrow transplants, that their blood DNA changes to replicate the donor’s blood DNA. In the case of Messiah we receive a spiritual transfusion in His blood that purges our DNA of sin and causes us to take on, in a spiritual and transcendent sense, His genomic DNA, thus, becoming brothers and sisters who share in His sinless humanity.
23 Therefore it was necessary, right for the copies, patterns, warnings of the things in the heavens to be purged, cleansed, purified with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices than these.
The earthly copies of the heavenly things required cleansing, but the heavenly things themselves are made accessible to sin affected humanity by more excellent sacrifices than those of animals.
"and thou shalt take the anointing oil, and thou shalt anoint the tabernacle, and all that is in it; and thou shall sanctify it, because of the crown of the kingdom of the house of Judah, and the King Messiah, who shall redeem Israel in the latter days.'' -Targum Yonatan Exodus 40:9
The heavenly things did not need purging or purifying, rather through His shed blood Yeshua gives defiled human beings access to undefiled heavenly things.
24 For the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) did not enter a holy place/sanctuary (hagion[G]) made by human hands (cheiropoiētos[G], biydeiy adam[H]), a copy, representation, figure (antitupon[G]) of the true one (ho alēthinos[G]), but into heaven itself (ouranos[G], hashamayim[H]), now (nun[G]) to appear before the face (prosōpon[G], peneiy[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) for us; 25 nor must (hina[G]) He offer (prospherō[G], lehak’riyv[H]) His soul (et nafsho[H]) often, repeatedly, many times (pollakis[G]) like the high priest (ho archiereus[G], Kohen hagadol[H]) who enters the Holy place, sanctuary (ho hagion[G], el-hakodesh[H]) year after year with blood (aima[G], dam[H]) of others (allotrios[G], acheiriym[H]).
24 For the Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands, a copy, representation, figure of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us;
“Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands” Yeshua never entered the holy of holies of the second temple. Rather He entered the Holiest Place of which the earthly Mishkan (Tent) and Mikdash (Temple) were temporal replicas.
“now to appear before the face of God for us” Yeshua is “now” before the face of God for us. This is an eternally present statement that gives us assurance of everlasting security in Him. This statement was true for the first century C.E. recipients and remains true for all who receive Yeshua.
“My children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Intercessor with the Father—the righteous Messiah Yeshua. 2 He is the atonement for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” -1 John 2:1-12 TLV
25 nor must He offer His soul often, repeatedly, many times like the high priest who enters the Holy place, sanctuary year after year with blood of others.
Messiah’s sacrifice is of eternal affect. Unlike the high priests of the Levitical priesthood He need not offer sacrifices for Himself because He is sinless, without blemish. Therefore, He has died once for all and stands perpetually before the face of God to intercede on behalf of those who have received His vicarious sacrifice.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer (paschō[G]) often since the beginning, foundation, conception (katabolē[G], meireishiyt[H]) of the world (kosmos[G], haolam[H]); but now (nun[G]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]) at the goal (sunteleia[G]) of the ages, generations, the world, forever (aiōn[G], hadorot[H]) He has been revealed, manifest (phaneroō[G]) to put away, cancel, abolish (eis athetēsis[G]) sin (hamartia[G], et hacheite[H]) [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice (thusia[G], bezevach[H]) of His soul (nafsho[H]). 27 And just as it is appointed (apokeimai[G]) for people (beneiy adam[H]) to die (apothnēskō[G], lamot[H]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]), and after this, the judgment (krisis[G], hamishpat[H]), 28 so Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) also, having been offered (prospherō[G]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]) to bear, carry (anapherō[G]) the sins (hamartia[G], cheite[H]) of many, will appear (optanomai[G]) a second (deuteros[G], sheiniyt[H]) time for salvation (sōtēria[G], liyeshuah[H]) without reference to, separation from (chōris[G]) sin (hamartia[G], cheite[H]), to those who look for, eagerly await (apekdechomai[G], yeiraeh[H]) Him.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the beginning, foundation, conception of the world; but now once at the goal of the ages, generations, the world, forever He has been revealed, manifest to put away, cancel, abolish sin [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice of His soul.
Because of His perfect sacrifice Messiah need not die many times, over and over again. Nor has He need of somehow retrospectively atoning for the righteous ones of our past. Yeshua the Messiah is resurrected and transcendent unbound by time and space and is therefore able to save all (from Adam to the last human born into time and space) through His blood.
“19 but with precious blood like that of a lamb without defect or spot, the blood of Messiah. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” - 1 Peter 1:19-20 TLV
“8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” -Revelation 13:8 NIV
“but now once at the goal of the ages, He has been revealed, to abolish sin by the sacrifice of His soul.” Now (in the first century C.E.) and now (in the present), Yeshua is manifest as the Goal of the Torah (Rom. 10:4), the mediator of a better covenant in His blood, one that brings eternal atonement and everlasting life for all who receive Him. So that both those who “now” received Him in the first century C.E. and those who “now” receive Him in our time, have already passed from death into His eternal life. Our spiritual DNA has changed.
27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment,
This verse puts death to the false claims of those who say they have died and literally been to heaven and have come back to shared their experiences. While according to Scripture (2 Cor. 12:2-4) one can claim to have experienced a vision of paradise (Gan Eden, Bosom of Abraham ref. Luke 16:19-31) as convergent with the third heaven (not heaven but a part of Sheol), one cannot legitimately claim to have actually, physically or metaphysically entered the heaven of heavens (John 3:13; Heb. 9:27; Luke 23:43)[note that Elijah was taken into “hashamayim” the heavens pl. and not into the heaven of heavens in particular (2 Kings 2). Also in the case of Enoch who “was not”, heaven is not mentioned (Gen 5:24).
The Scripture does not say “it is appointed to human beings to die and spend time in heaven and then come back for a while and die again etc…” But, “It is appointed to human beings to die once and then the judgement”, not “and then some other things and then the judgement”, but “and then the judgement” which by necessity precedes what Christians mistakenly call “heaven”, but is actually the Olam haba (world to come). Only following the judgement do we dwell forever in the Olam Haba (World to come), prior to that the redeemed await the judgement in Paradise (Bosom of Abraham, Gan Eden). Those Scriptures used to support the counterfeit experiences of those who have “passed” and been revived, when examined closely, affirm the present text rather than being divergent in their meaning.
This verse also puts to death the false idea of the ghosts of human souls, which in reality are demonic spirits (false elohim [gods]) masquerading as departed human souls. This is extremely important in light of the many foolish misinterpretations of Hebrews 12:1 and 1 Samuel 28:3-21.
According to this verse there are two steps between the present temporal life and the Olam Haba (world to come) [mis referred to by Christians as “heaven”]:
1. The death of the human being as a result of the sin affected world
There are no intermediary stages mentioned, nor does the wealth of Scripture support such stages. Those who teach otherwise teach apostasy.
***For Additional Study***
An explanation of the verses commonly used in an attempt to circumvent the truth of Hebrews 9:27.
My commentary on 1 Samuel 28:3-21
The allusion to the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 is referring back to the list of those witnesses to God’s faithfulness who are listed in Hebrews 11, commonly known as the Faith Chapter. These witnesses, as can be seen from Hebrews 11, are the now deceased patriarchs and heroes of the Jewish faith. The writer of Hebrews, a Jew and a Kohen (Priest), knows that the witnesses he is referring to are deceased and that many of them are buried throughout the land of Israel, and that they are therefore uncontactable according to the teaching of Scripture regarding the dead (Hebrews 9:27).
In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16) Yeshua explains that while the dead are conscious, they are not able either to traverse the chasm between Gehinnom (torment) and Gan Eden (Paradise) nor (re: Lazarus etc. once they are finally deceased [Hebrews 9:27]) are they able to traverse the distance between Sheol and the present world. In my article on Saul, Samuel and the Witch of Eyndor, I explain why the events of 1 Samuel 28:3-21 are not describing the dead spirit of Samuel called up but rather an evil spirit that fools both the witch and Saul, and is subsequently used by God to condemn Saul (ref. see link above).
The writer of the book of Hebrews is using the deceased Jewish witnesses of Hebrews 11 as a figurative example. When he says:
“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses lying around us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2a
He is making a drash (inquiry/comparative teaching) regarding how we should act in light of the figurative (not literal) cloud of witnesses that are buried throughout the land of Israel. We must remember that the writer is probably writing from the perspective of a priest living in the Land of Israel prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E (A.D). He then qualifies this teaching by instructing us, not to focus on the cloud of witnesses, but on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of our faith (The faith that our Jewish forebears shared in the coming Messiah Yeshua).
We cannot engage with this cloud of witnesses because they are deceased and according to Scripture (Hebrews 9:27) they are uncontactable. Those who do seek to speak to the dead are in fact speaking with demonic forces rather than the spirits of dead people (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” –Deuteronomy 18:10-12
Therefore, not only are we unable to engage with the dead witnesses of Hebrews 11-12, we are also commanded by God not to attempt to speak with the dead.
1 Peter 3:14-21
“If you suffer for righteousness' sake, be glad: and don’t be afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify (Kiddush) HaShem (Merciful) Elohiym (Judge) in your core being (heart): and be ready always to give an answer to every human being that asks you the reason for the hope that is in you with humility and reverent awe: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conduct in Messiah. For it’s better if God’s will is that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil. For Messiah also at one time suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Ruach (Spirit). By Whom (The Spirit) He also went and made proclamation to the ruachiym (spirits) in prison (phulake: foo-lak-ay). Who were formerly disobedient, when at one time the longsuffering God waited in the days of Noach (Comfort), while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls (nefesh) were saved by water (mikveh: gathering of water). This figurative likeness being a representation of the immersion (baptism) that now also saves us (not the washing of the flesh but the earnest seeking of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah.”
–1 Peter 3:17-21
In the context of Peter’s letter, the community of believers is being encouraged to share their faith with anyone who asks, and not to shy away from suffering if that is what God’s will entails. Peter then offers Yeshua as an example of One Who suffered and shared His message in the Spirit of God. It is explained that Yeshua’s suffering puts to death the sinful practices of the flesh and resurrects each believer in the life giving Spirit of God. It is by this same Spirit that the resurrected Messiah (not in Sheol) transcends time and space, and thus traverses time and space by the Spirit, to proclaim His saving work to those spirits of human beings who were still living in the flesh at the time of Noah prior to the flood. The text explains that during the time of Noah only eight imprisoned spirits heard Yeshua’s message received it and were delivered through the figurative tevilah immersion (baptism) of the flood, which the author shows to be a prefigure of the same tevilah immersion (baptism) that believers in Messiah have received unto salvation.
From the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text and the subsequent, remez (hint), drash (comparative) and sod (mystery), we see that it does not place Yeshua in Sheol in relation to His proclamation but shows that it is by the Spirit of God following His resurrection that He spoke to the imprisoned spirits of humanity past. This text is not teaching anything even remotely to do with communicating with imprisoned dead people or angelic spirits. To the contrary, it simply teaches that God is just and that all humanity from Adam to the end of days has and will have an opportunity to either reject or receive the message of Messiah. This text shows how in the Spirit (of God), the resurrected Messiah transcends time and space and manifests the supernatural reality that He was both literally and figuratively slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
2 Corinthians 12:1-5
Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. -2 Corinthians 12:1-4 NASB
V.1 Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord.
What Rav Shaul (Paul) is about to speak of is a “vision”, a “revelation” and not a physical or metaphysical event. Therefore, based on the very nature of either a vision or a revelation, the events described are already presumed unreal, not actual, neither physical nor metaphysical, but instead, something seen in the imagination, mind’s eye or spirit.
V2. I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
Rav Shaul is possibly speaking of himself in the guise of apologetic self-promoting rhetoric like that employed elsewhere in his works. Alternatively he is relaying the vision experience of a trusted fellow believer, perhaps one of his brothers among the Jewish Church fathers.
He states clearly “whether in the body I don’t know, or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…” He is describing the experience of a vision. Those who experience visions have all kinds of feelings and sensory adventures but are not literally in the places they are visioning. Rav Shaul is not espousing “out of body experience”, which is an occult practice connected with Gnosticism, transcendental meditation and other false religious beliefs. To the contrary, Biblical Judaism abhors this idea viewing it as a form of witchcraft. Instead, Rav Shaul is alluding to the difference between experiencing a vision as if it were inside us verses experiencing a vision as if we are looking outwardly at it (both occurring within the mind’s eye or consciousness but neither occurring outside the body). In neither case does the spirit leave the body. Biblical Judaism teaches that the human soul (Body, mind, spirit etc.) is a unity unseparated until death when the spirit leaves and goes to Sheol.
The Greek harpaso is poorly translated here by the NASB. In the context of this vision it means “caught away” and not caught up.
Rav Shaul is right to give the interpretation to God, saying “God Knows”. Yes, God does know, in fact, so as to avoid confusion God has authored His word to say, “No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.” (John 3:13), and “it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment…” (Heb. 9:27).
V.3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows..”
He repeats, “whether in the body I don’t know, or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…” because he is bewildered by the vision experience he is referring to and rightly understands that it was not a tangible, literal experience. Neither a physical or metaphysical reality. In Biblical Hebrew thought and interpretation something repeated is firmly established. Therefore, Rav Shaul has firmly established that he doesn’t know where the “man” was. As explained, the Scripture tells us where he was not.
V.4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
The Greek harpaso is again poorly translated here by the NASB. In the context of this vision it means “caught away” and not caught up. We know this because the Jewish writer refers to paradise (Gan Eden, the Bosom of Abraham), which is a part of Sheol, meaning that the qualification of heaven, written as “third heaven” refers to the convergent presence of the Messiah in both the heavens and paradise simultaneously, following His resurrection. Following His resurrection the King Messiah being unbound by time, space, situational and locational being etc. In short, regardless of the issue of traversing the heavens as believers, this text is referring to a convergent form of paradise (in Sheol) and not to the heaven of heavens.
Therefore, the text of 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 does not teach that a person (perhaps Paul) ascended to the heaven of heavens, something that would contradict the words of Yeshua and the teaching of Hebrews 9:27.
Regarding the Resurrections of Lazarus, the Son of the widow of Nain etc.
All (those temporally resurrected) had not yet passed into Sheol but were in transition sleep. Meaning unconscious but the spirit had not left the body according to ancient Jewish tradition (3 to 4 day period of unconscious sleep, the first stage of death/passing). This means that the person cannot communicate with the living, nor are they yet in Sheol (When Yeshua says "Today you will be with me in paradise" to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) I believe the word "today" is used in an eternally present sense. Alternatively, some pass over more quickly than others, although with regard to time and space how could we even begin to determine the measure by which we could access such a process?)
In all these cases of temporal resurrections (they are exceptions, and include Elijah raising the woman's son) the resurrected are resurrected within four days of death, and their spirits have not entered death finally with regard to entering Sheol.
"Appointed unto man once to die" regards the spirit's entry into Sheol and not the transition period of soul sleep (a euphemism used by Yeshua [John 11:11]). No one in transition sleep (first stage of separation) can communicate to the living. Therefore, the point I made regarding ghosts being demons remains the same, ghosts are not wandering human spirits.
Additionally, Hebrews 9:27 makes both Karma and Reincarnation untenable concepts:
Hebrews 9:27 of course also refutes the false beliefs of karma and reincarnation. Those who claim “sowing and reaping” to be the same concept as “karma” do so by ignoring the Scriptures that qualify sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping applies to the temporal actions and outcomes of this life and to the cumulative actions of this life and their eternal outcome following judgement. It does not seek to solve the problem of injustice by perpetuating injustice, as is the case with karma and reincarnation. Karma attempts to provide a solution for evil by offering a cycle of lives that provide an opportunity to act rightly in order to become perfect, divine. The flaw in this delusion is that an inherently sinful person can never act perfectly, not in any life, nor can an evil act which has already been done, be undone by a good act. Ample evidence against the delusion of karma is recorded throughout human history for all to see. What’s more, karma says that a suffering destitute person (of a lower class) should be left to suffer in order to perfect their karma for a better reincarnation, this in direct opposition to the teaching of Scripture, which admonishes us to help the destitute and suffering.
There is no justice in karma. It offers nothing more than a perpetual prison of impossible restitution and the false promise of (counterfeit) divinity. Whereas the God of justice has made restitution on behalf of all who will receive His loving sacrifice through Yeshua, and promises eternal life in Him (the Divine One).
28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear, carry the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin [ref. Num. 19:13], to those who look for, eagerly await Him.
“Messiah also, having been offered once” Just as the life of a human being ends in death (of the body) once, so too the death of Messiah occurs once in order to carry upon Himself the sin and death of many, and produces eternal life as a result.
“to carry the sins of many” This is a quote from Isaiah 53:12, and is part of a Messianic prophecy spanning Isaiah 52:13-53:12. It is also alluded to in Mark 10:45 and a different portion of it is quoted in Acts 8:32-35.
Notice that Messiah carries the sins of many, not all. God Who is all-knowing seeing the end from the beginning, sent Messiah to atone for all who would receive Him. The sins of the willfully unrepentant remain unatoned and thus, they will suffer the just punishment for their sins eternally as the antithesis to eternal living (Hebrews 6:2; Daniel 12:2; Mark 9:44-48; John 5:29; Matthew 25:41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:10).
“will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin [ref. Num. 19:13],” His second coming does not address the issue of sin, which has already been solved in His death and resurrection. Rather His second coming brings the fullness of the promise of eternal life made manifest in the new heavens and new earth for all who have received Him and been reconciled to God in right relationship.
That Messiah will return is certain (Mark 13:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
“to those who look for, eagerly await Him.” With regard to the first century Jewish believers who are the recipients of this work, they are to await Yeshua just as the people of Israel awaited the return of the high priest from the holy of holies on Yom Kippur. The distinction of “those who look for and eagerly await Him” is important. The writer has already addressed the issue of disobedience and those Israelites who failed to enter God’s rest (Heb. 4), now he gives a gentle reminder to his hearers, admonishing them to remain focussed on Yeshua and His promised return.
Rav Shaul teaches rightly that not all ethnic-religious Jews are truly Jewish in soul, that is, not all ethnic-religious Jews have chosen to receive Yeshua’s redemptive work (Romans 9:6). Rav Shaul’s writing on this matter specifically refers to Jews (ethnic) and does not refer to the spiritual condition of non-Jews (as some foolishly misinterpret). As I’ve said on many occasions, the context of Romans 9 relates to Jews who are Messiah followers (true Israelites), and Jews who are ethnically Israel but are not Messiah followers. All examples given in Romans 9 relate to Jews, Gentiles are not mentioned in relation to the inward spiritual condition of a Jew. Therefore, it is utter nonsense for a Gentile to call himself a “spiritual Jew”. The only “Spiritual Jew” is an “ethnic Jew”, given that “Jew”, and “Israel” are ethnic nouns describing the descendants of Jacob (they are never used in Scripture to describe Gentiles, physically, spiritually or otherwise). As I have said many times, a Gentile calling himself a “Spiritual Jew” is comparable to a Briton calling himself a “Spiritual Navajo”. The same applies to a Church that claims to be Spiritual Israel. That Church is apostate.
By way of Hebrews 9:28 being applied as a universal principle, applicable to all who truly believe: as disciples of Yeshua our faith is an ongoing walk of looking to Him, hoping in Him, eagerly awaiting Him. He is present and returning, and in Him we have returned to the eternal present.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
The fact that God is in control of both good and evil is an assurance that He will silence evil forever and that the goodness of this present life will one day be eclipsed by the all surpassing goodness of God’s character. Evil is subject to God but God is not subject to evil!
Isa 31:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, to hayrediym those descending to Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress) for help, relying on horses for support, vayivtechu and trusting in rechev chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they look not unto the Kedosh Holy One of Yisrael (Overcomes in God), neither do they darashu seek, enquire of, resort to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy)!
“but they stay not themselves upon the Word of the Holy One of Israel, neither seek instruction from the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan Isaiah 31:1b (2nd Century CE/AD)
Rashi interprets this verse of Hoshea and the ten tribes, who sent emissaries down to Egypt (2 Kings 17). However, this doesn’t fit with the context and geographical language of the prophet’s rebuke, which is focused on Judah and the Holy Mountain in Zion.
The main theme of this chapter is a continuation of the previous one, and emphasizes the folly of Judah’s trusting in human strength rather than in God.
The phrase “those descending” finds its counterpart in God’s descent upon mount Zion (v.4). Judah descends into distress and God descends to deliver her.
The prophet warns of the natural outcome of trusting in fallible human beings and the strength of the fallen world rather than in God Who is infallible and all sufficient (Shadday). The horse and chariot were the armoured vehicles and tanks of their time. The Biblical Hebrew word rechev meaning chariot is also the modern Hebrew word for an armoured vehicle. Not only has Judah put her trust in armament, she has also relied on the great numbers of chariots, and has mis-concluded that numbers equate to true strength.
The heartbreak of God for His wayward people comes through strongly in the latter part of the first verse, “but they look not unto the Kedosh Holy One of Yisrael, neither do they darashu seek, enquire of, resort to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy)!” We could read, “They don’t look to the holiness of Israel, neither do they diligently seek Mercy.” Israel’s set apart status, her holiness, her very identity is in God (El).
Isa 31:2 And also He is chacham wise, skilful, and will bring ra injury (evil), and will not call back His devarrayu words, things, essence, but will arise against the house of the mereiiym (from ra: evil) evil-ones, and against the help of those who make trouble.
The understatement, “And also He is wise” which refers to HaShem, is intended as a stark contrast to the wisdom of the wise ones of Egypt.
HaShem is in control of all things, He directs the forces of evil and allows the consequences of fallen actions to unfold. We read elsewhere that God “sent an evil spirit to torment Saul” (1 Sam. 16:14-15 see also Judges 9:23 re: the men of Shechem and Avimelekh). Therefore, it is unwise to presume that the enemy (Ha-Satan) has independent power to do evil. If evil is not under God’s control the alternative is a dualistic view of good and evil that offers only a fifty fifty chance of good overcoming evil. The fact that God is in control of both good and evil is an assurance that He will silence evil forever and that the goodness of this present life will one day be eclipsed by the all surpassing goodness of God’s character. Evil is subject to God but God is not subject to evil!
Deuteronomy 28:58-68 details the consequences for Israel if she fails to obey the Torah. The end to those consequences is the promise that she will return again to Egypt and bondage. These words of the Torah are not “called back”, to the contrary, Judah has in fact pursued the very punishment promised her in the Torah. All this as a result of refusing to listen to and obey the “words, essence, things” of God. In terms of both remez (hint) and sod (mystery) this equates to a refusal to accept God’s Davar Word (Messiah: John 1).
Notice that God brings evil against evil-ones. This is another way of saying He has given them over to the consequences of their own sinful actions.
Isa 31:3 Now the Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress) are adam human, and not El God (a god); and their horses are bashar flesh, and not ruach spirit, wind: and HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will stretch out His hand, and he that helps will stumble, and he that is helped will fall, and they will all be consumed together.
The Egyptian culture was saturated with spiritual views that allowed for the deification of human beings. In particular the ancient belief that their Pharaohs were gods. Thus, the reminder to Israel that she had already seen the defeat of these so called gods when she was delivered from them during Pesach (Passover). The Egyptians were human, of the fallen sin affected creation and not gods: their horses were flesh, vulnerable to death and not spirit (eternal).
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -Yeshua (John 4:24 NASB)
With an ironic turn of phrase Isaiah drives home the message, “God (Who is spirit) will stretch out His hand”. Both Judah and those in whom she has sought security will fall together. Historically this came about when the king of Assyria destroyed Egypt as part of his larger campaign which included his unsuccessful besieging of Jerusalem. Thus, Ben Melekh interprets “spirit” to refer to the Angel of The Lord (Who decimated the Assyrian army overnight as they camped against Jerusalem [2 Kings 19:35]).
Isa 31:4 For thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) to me, “As the lion and the young lion growling over his prey, if a multitude of shepherds are called against him, he will not be afraid at their voices, nor be occupied with the noise of them: descending HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Goes warring) of hosts litzbo will go to war upon Har-Tziyon mount Zion, and upon her hill.
God is likened to both a seasoned older lion and a young lion that growls over its prey. The shepherds are the wicked leaders of both the Judeans and the Egyptians, and further, the Assyrian invaders. God will go to war on, not against (as some foolish Christian scholars suggest) mount Zion in order to destroy the wicked and protect the holy remnant among the ethnic-religious children of Israel. HaShem descends to deliver the righteous from the descent of the wicked.
Isa 31:5 As birds afot hovering (lighting upon), so will HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Goes warring) of hosts be upon Yerushalayim to defend and deliver her, pasakh He will pass over and affect her escape.
First like a roaring lion HaShem fiercely consumes the wicked, and now as a constant guardian He looks down upon, rests upon and keeps lookout over His people (ethnic-religious Israel) for her defence and security. He has purposed to deliver her and will once again pasakh pass over her in protection. That same passing over will be terror to Israel’s enemies just as it was to the Egyptians in the past. Thus, the destruction of the Assyrians by the Angel of The Lord almost certainly occurred during Pesach Passover (2 Kings 19:35).
Isa 31:6 Shuvu Turn to Him from Whom you have deeply sarah withdrawn, b’nei children of Yisrael (Overcome in God).
In the familiar pattern of his scroll Isaiah speaks an opportunity for returning, deliverance, and reconciliation. Judah and Israel have deeply withdrawn from right relationship with God, in Whom they find their identity. The message is simple, “Return!”
Isa 31:7 For bayom in the day hahu that one (the he) they will cast away everyone his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made bringing you guilt.
This speaks of that yet future day when Israel will cast away her idolatry and return to HaShem (Isaiah 30:22; 27:9; 17:8; 2:20).
Isa 31:8 And cast down will be the Ashur Assyrian becherev by the sword, lo isyh not of a man; vecherev lo adam and the sword, not of a human, will tochalenu devour him (Assyria), burn him up; and he will flee mipeneiy from the face of a cherev sword, and his young men shall become forced labourers.
Only a short time (historically speaking) after Isaiah prophesied these words they literally came to pass (2 Kings 19:35).
HaShem did not use a sword of human origin but a sword of the spirit, a sword wielded by His Angel.
Sennacherib king of Assyria fled from the face of the sword of the Angel of Hashem and was himself cut down by Adrammelech and Sharezer in Nineveh in the temple of his god Nisroch (2 Kings 19:37).
Isa 31:9 vesaleo And his rock mimagor from terror will pass away, and his princes will be shattered mineis by the miracle, sign, banner,” says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Whose Or Light (fire) betziyon is in Zion, vetanur and His furnace (stove, cooking pot) is in Yerushalayim (Down pour of Peace).
“His rock” means that the strength of Assyria and of all subsequent enemies of God and Israel, will pass away before the terror of Hashem. We note that the princes of Assyria and therefore, symbolically, all future enemies of God and His people, will be shattered by the “neis” miracle whose light is in Zion (Isaiah 30:17).
Translating “Or” as fire is more figurative than literal. In fact this same word is used to describe the light of the beginning that issues from the mouth of God prior to the existence of the sun and moon (Genesis 1:3). This light is distinguished as being set apart and is intrinsically connected to our Messiah, Who is the Davar (word essence) of God (John 1). It is no coincidence that the city Ur, the origin of Abram, is spelled with the same Hebrew characters and means “Light”. Thus, figuratively speaking, Abram is born again as Abraham through the same Light that was present at the beginning of creation.
Therefore, both the Neis miracle and the Or Light are the manifest work of Messiah Yeshua, Who through the miraculous redeeming work of His death and resurrection, has become a beacon, a standard, a miracle of Israel’s deliverance, not only from physical enemies (yet to be fully filled) but more importantly from the enemy of our souls, Ha-Satan. This miracle of Yeshua has shattered the princes of darkness and has illuminated to all who have walked in darkness the reality that the Or Light of Messiah Yeshua, God with us, has been in Zion all along.
The heat of the furnace of God’s wrath is fearful punishment to the enemies of God but it is the warmth of deliverance to His children, purchased with the blood of His Son, our King Yeshua the Messiah. As a result, we receive the Downpour of Peace, the unification of both the Heavenly and earthly Jerusalem. Echad ve’echad asah echad ad olam, one and one made one until forever.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Babylon falls so that Israel can rise
Following destruction of Babylon, God will show mercy to His chosen people ethno-religious Israel and return her to her land, prospering her in peace and subduing her oppressors so that Israel will rule over those who had taken her captive.
This chapter contains prophecies of the restoration of the Jews, of the fall of the king of Babylon, and the destruction of the Assyrian empire, and the ruin of the Pilishtiym (immigrants). Proselytes will join the dispersed Jews and even aid their return to the land of Israel. Subsequently those who join themselves to Israel will serve her in the land and in many cases they will be the descendants of her oppressors. Thus Israel will rule over her captors. Israel will find rest in God and freedom from the fear and suffering she experienced under bondage.
As a result of her redemption and security in God, Israel will take up a song, share a parable, make a proclamation; concerning the fall of the king of Babylon. Israel’s song will echo throughout the nations and others will rejoice at hearing it. For the tyrant that once oppressed Israel and the nations will be brought down to Sheol, the holding place of the departed.
Following the parable spoken against the king of Babylon, prophecies of destruction are issued against Assyria and the Pilishtiym (immigrants) who have come against the people of Israel and their land. It is as if, with the seat of confusion (Babylon) destroyed, the progeny of her wickedness (Assyria and Philistia) are without sustenance from the root of confusion and therefore, perish.
Finally, those who ask how all this has come about are given the answer, “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.”
Isa 14:1 For yeracheim mercy born of love HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will show to Yaakov (Follower), u-vachar and will decide for, elect, choose od (perpetually going round) be’Yisrael on Israel (Overcomes in God), ve-hiniycham and rest them upon their own ad’matah soil: and join to them ha-geir (foreigners in Israel) the sojourners, and they shall cleave (attach themselves) to the house of Yaakov (Follower).
Mercy will show loving mercy to the follower and will choose him perpetually, living in the one who overcomes through God: the follower will rest securely in his own land and people from other tribes will join themselves to his tribe because of what Mercy has done.
The Holy Name denotes mercy. Therefore, it is Mercy Himself Who shows mercy to Yaakov the follower. The text doesn’t just say that God will “choose Yaakov” but that He will “perpetually choose Yaakov”. Rather than replace or supersede Yaakov, God will continually choose him throughout time and if other nations wish to be delivered by being chosen, they must attach themselves to Yaakov. It is attachment to and not replacement of Israel, that is the essence of the writings of Rav Shaul in his letter to the Roman believers of the first century CE.
Numerous English translations render the Hebrew “od” as “again”, which conveys only a derivative attribute of the word. In fact the Hebrew “od” literally means to go round continually. In short, it is best represented in English by the word “perpetually”. Therefore, while it is true that God chooses Israel again, the greater illumination of that truth is that He consistently and perpetually chooses her.
The Hebrew “geir” refers specifically to resident aliens. Meaning those who choose to live peacefully in the land among the community of Israel. Many of the instructions of the Torah make allowances for those who are not ethnically Jewish but live among the Jewish people. There is an important distinction to be made here between those who favour Israel from afar and those who live in the land as aliens who love and support her. The present text is referring to the latter.
Jewish commentators such as Kimchi and Ben Melech apply these verses to the times of the Messiah; and Yarchi to the Olam Haba (world to come), when Israel is to be redeemed with a perfect redemption.
Isa 14:2 And the amiym peoples shall take hold of them, ve-heviyum and enter together to mekomam their place: and the house of Yisrael (Overcomes in God) will possess them in adamat the land of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) for servants and handmaids: and it comes to pass that the captives will capture their captors; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
In this verse Isaiah further illuminates his former prophecy regarding the Messianic age when people from the nations will flock to the mountain of the Lord in order to learn to walk in His ways (Isa. 2:2-4).
Note that it is “amiym” rather than “goyim” that take hold of Yaakov and help him return to enter into the land of Israel and go up to “mekomam” their place. It is tribal groups from within the nations rather than the nation, who will cleave to Yaakov. More specifically, given the present context of the prophecy, these peoples are residents of Babylon who will help Jews escape and return to the land of Israel. A comparative edict from Cyrus of Persia was later made in fulfilment of what Jeremiah had spoken:
“And whosoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” -Ezra 1:4
“Mekomam” their place, is a reference to the Temple mount “Makoom”.
This aspect of the prophecy has never been fully realized politically speaking. However, it is intrinsically linked to the Messianic theme of Isaiah and the other prophets of the Tanakh (Isa. 2:2-4; 52:10; 54:2-5; 55:5; Mic. 4:1-4; Zech. 8:2-23).
In the present chapter we see a concise revelation of what is prophesied in chapters 46-66. That is, “Babylon falls, that Israel may rise!” -Delitzsch
Isa 14:3 And it comes to pass beyom in that day, ha-niyach the rest (comfort) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) lecha will come to you meiatz’becha from your sorrow (pain, idol), and from ha-avdah your labour and hard bondage under which you were made to work.
The hard bondage of the Babylonian exile is likened to that of the bondage Israel suffered in Egypt. Once again the deliverance and rest of Israel rests on Hashem.
Notice that the comfort of Hashem will come to Israel both in compensation for and as a result of her bondage and suffering. The text says that the rest and mercy of Hashem will come to Israel “From” her suffering.
“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” -Romans 5:3
Our rest is born of Messiah’s suffering.
Isa 14:4 And all of you will nasa take up, carry, bear ha-mashal the parable, proverb, poem against the king of Bavel (Babylon: confusion), and say, “How has the oppressor ceased? Ceasing Madheivah his boisterous rage!
The Hebrew “nasa” carry or take up, is related to “neis” banner, miraculous sign. Thus, Israel is to take up and publically display this parable (mashal) of God’s goodness and redemption in His destruction of Babylon (figuratively, the seat of Satan’s power).
Though the text may refer to a specific Babylonian king (possibly Belshazzar), it none the less speaks against any and all satanic rulers of empire in history past, present and future. It is the seat of satanic power that is ultimately being spoken against.
We note that in a remez (hint) concerning the name of Bavel, that we read “And all of Israel will take up and proclaim this parable against the king of confusion.”
The rhetorical question, “How has the oppressor ceased?” is answered in the power and majesty of God Himself.
Isa 14:5 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has broken in pieces mateih the staff, branch, tribe of the wicked ones, and sheivet the root, sceptre, tribe, rod of the rulers.
God will break the staff of the wicked and their oppressive rule (Specifically Babylon), the branch of their direct progeny and the entire tribe associated to them. He will also remove kingly authority from the seat of Satan’s power, never to allow rulers to come forth from it again.
Isa 14:6 He who struck the amiym peoples (tribes) in wrath with a continual striking, he that ruled the goyim nations in anger, is persecuted, and no one prevents it.
This verse describes the wicked actions of the king of Babylon and his open hatred for all the tribes (peoples) of the earth. He struck down tribes within nations and continued to strike nations in his unfounded anger. He persecuted many and few had the courage to stop him, nor were the courageous able to. This, though specific to the king of Babylon, is a description of every evil tyrant the world has or will know. It is ultimately a figure for Satan.
Isa 14:7 Nachah restful (comforting) shaktah tranquillity (quietness) is over all ha-aretz the land/earth: he breaks out with a ringing cry.
“Ha-aretz” can be translated either “Land” or “earth” here.” Land is acceptable because in the context of Israel’s parable against the king of Babylon it makes sense that they are thoughtful of their own land. On the other hand, tribes and nations are mentioned and the reign of the Babylonian Empire engulfed the entire middle east, therefore, it might just as well be translated “earth”.
Ultimately, the rest, peace, comfort, tranquillity and quietness over the earth, is the direct result of God’s destruction of the king of Babylon and his empire, both literally and figuratively.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” -revelation 19:20
Thus, the land/earth breaks out in song. This personification denotes the redemption and reconciliation of all things.
“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” -Romans 8:19
Isa 14:8 Also , the fir trees rejoice at you, the cedars of Le’vanon (witness) saying, “Since you are asleep (have been laid down), no one has ascended to cut us down to the ground.”
Since the destruction of Babylon and its allies, no armies have entered the land of Israel to besiege its cities. Therefore, the trees of Lebanon to the north have not been cut down for use as siege towers and battering rams etc.
Figuratively the towering trees unfelled represent abundance and health in the land. They prosper in times of peace and in personified form they rejoice at the coming redemption of all things. Isaiah is very fond of personifying trees and seems to have had a special love for creation (Isa. 1:29, 30; 2:13; 6:13; 9:10; 10:18; 17:7; 32:15; 41:19; 55:13).
The euphemism “laid down” refers to temporal death. Yeshua used this same euphemism to refer to death of the body.
“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” -Yochanan (John) 11:11
Isa 14:9 Sheol (Holding place of the departed) from beneath quakes for you to meet you as you enter: it stirs up for you the raphaiym spirits, all the he goats (chief ones) of the aretz earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the goyim nations. Isa 14:10 All of them will speak and say to you, “Have you also become as weak as we are? Have you become like us?
The next three verses are an excellent example for distinguishing between the holding place of the departed and the grave, which in Hebrew are two entirely different things. Sheol, the holding place of the departed is far beneath, and is a spiritual place that is cut off from all ties to this world. Ha-kever, the grave, on the other hand is the physical resting place of the body, devoid of but intrinsically linked to, the spirit/soul. Ancient Jews, and in fact many Jewish communities still to this day, inter the bodies of their dead in above ground mausoleums and or box like stone or concrete coverings. There are many examples of this in Scripture, including the interment of Avraham in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 50:13) and the interment of the bones of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21).
In ancient times kings were met by the royalty of the cities they entered, usually with celebration of alliance in the case of allies and with humility and subservience in the case of the conquered. Here however, the king of Babylon will be met in Sheol by the spirits of departed kings who he once ruled over as a tyrant. They will greet him with taunting and mock his mortal frailty.
The phrase “He goats” is a metaphor for a chief or tribal ruler, in the sense that the strongest male is usually head of the flock.
“Raphayim”, means “feeble ones” or “spirits” as in departed spirits who are no longer inhabiting their earthly bodies. These spirits are bound to the realm of Sheol. Thus, “raised up” is written in the context of Sheol. They are raised up within Sheol from their fallen thrones.
Isa 14:11 Descending to Sheol (not the grave [Kever] but the place of the dead) is your majesty, the noise of your nevaleycha skin bag, pitcher, instrument: beneath you is a bed of maggots, and covering you are scarlet female worms.
“For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.” -Tehillim (Psalm) 49:17
Isa 14:12 How have you fallen from the heavens, heiyleil Shinning one, self-praising one, ben shachar son of the dawn? Cut down la’aretz to the ground, earth, land: choleish prostrated in weakness al-goyim upon the nations!
In a literary sense this verse refers to the king of Babylon. The text is figurative and alludes to his pompous pride and arrogant claims. The Babylonians worshipped numerous gods, chief among them being in the heavens. The morning star, that is the brightest star in the morning sky (Venus) was an enviable position for the king of Babylon and in his pride he likened himself to it. However, in the figurative language of the text he is said to be brought down from his high horse and laid prostrate in weakness before the nations he had once ruled over.
There are some who see a remez (hint) in this text and make a comparison to Satan being like an angel of light. While this is not the p’shat (plain meaning), it does have some weight to it. Yeshua may be alluding to this text when He says:
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” -Luke 10:18
Isa 14:13 For you have said vile’vavecha in your inner being, heart, “Into the heavens I will ascend, I will exalt my throne above the stars of El (God: Judge): I will sit also upon the mount of the moeid appointed place (place of convocation and gathering), in the sides of the north:
Once again with dramatic hyperbole the proud ranting of the king of Babylon sees him exalting himself even above the stars (symbolic of angels) of the Supreme God El-Elyon, the God of all things. The Har-moeid mount of appointed gatherings, is a reference to the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Thus the king of Babylon boasts with the vilest of blasphemes, that he is greater than the God of Israel, Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Pride is the fruit of self-deification. Idolatry is the root of all sin. The boast of the king of Babylon is a satanic one. It is the very definition of anti-Messiah. Thus, figuratively speaking this text is alluding to the man of perdition, the anti-Messiah who will come in the latter days.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for except there comes a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:5
In the Targum of Yonatan the last part of the verse reads:
"over the people of God I will put the throne of my kingdom;''
Isa 14:14 I will ascend upon the high place of the av dark clouds; I will be like le’Elyon the most High.
“I will ascend above all people… I will be higher than them all.” -Targum Yonatan
Isa 14:15 Surely to Sheol you will descend, to the extremity of the pit.
The plain meaning again refers to the king of Babylon and his literal death. The figure continues to show the demise of satanic power. In which case Sheol becomes a precursor to the second death.
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” -Revelation 19:20
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” -Revelation 20:10
Isa 14:16 They that see you will gaze sharply at you, and with discernment say, “Is this ha-iysh the man that made ha-aretz the land, earth to tremble, that shook kingdoms?
The man is literally the king of Babylon and figuratively the anti-Messiah (man of perdition).
Isa 14:17 Who made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities within; refusing to open the house of his prisoners?”
This describes the horrific nature of the destruction that the king of Babylon brought to the cities of the earth. Those he imprisoned suffered a fate worse than death, never to see the light of day again.
Isa 14:18 All the kings of the goyim nations, all of them together, lie in glory, each one in his own house.
This means that the kings of these nations remained interred in their original burial places within their homelands awaiting the resurrection. “Glory” refers to their memory and their graves being honoured.
Isa 14:19 But you are cast out of your kever grave like a weed, and like the clothing of the slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
We notice that the king of Babylon is cast out of his grave (kever), not out of Sheol (Holding place of the departed). This means that his enemies will dig up his grave and desecrate his remains, treading him under foot. This is the ultimate act of desecration over the dead.
Isa 14:20 You will not be teichad joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, slain your people: do not recite the seed of evildoers.
The king of Babylon will not join the kings of the earth in honourable burial because unlike them he did not honour his own people. Thus his subjects took part in desecrating his body. One is reminded of modern history and the mockery and torture of Gadhafi when he was captured and subsequently killed and his body desecrated, all caught on film for the world to see.
The phrase, “Do not recite the seed of the evildoers” means, “Don’t recount the lineage of the wicked”.
Isa 14:21 Firmly established is the children’s matbeiach slaughtering place because of the iniquity of their fathers; they will not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
This is an instruction to the Medes and Persians to prepare themselves for the slaughter of the whole royal family, Belshazzar and all his children.
In a figurative sense it means the slaughter of all wickedness born of the seat of Satan’s temporal earthly power.
Isa 14:22 “For I will rise up against them”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts), “and cut off from Bavel (Babylon: confusion) the name, and remnant, and offspring, and posterity”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy). Isa 14:23 “I will also appoint it a possession for the porcupine, ve-agmei mayim and troubled pools of water: and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts).
Here it is not the Medes who rise against Babylon but God Himself. This strengthens the figurative message that HaShem Tzevaot will go to war against evil and annihilate it, removing it forever from the eternal world of the righteous.
Isa 14:24 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts) has sworn, saying, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”:
What God has firmly established cannot be thwarted.
Isa 14:25 “I will break Ashur (a step) the Assyrian in be’artziy My land, and upon My mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders”.
Now, having destroyed the root, Hashem turns to the fruit of the seat of evil, the other nations who have come against Israel and her God. The Assyrians who have invaded Israel and sought her destruction will be stamped out on the very mountains they presumed to occupy and as a result the burden of oppression suffered by the Jewish people will be removed.
The “yoke” can also refer to false teaching or the yoke of the teaching of foreign religions and spirituality. Thus, false gods and beliefs will be removed from Israel when Assyria is destroyed.
Isa 14:26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon col-ha-aretz the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all ha-goyim the nations.
All nations who act as Assyria has against Israel and against God will perish in like manner.
Isa 14:27 For HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts) has purposed, and who shall frustrate it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
HaShem has perpetually purposed the redemption of Israel and the destruction of her enemies. No one can prevent what He has firmly established outside of time and space.
Isa 14:28 In the year that king Achaz (He has grasped) died was ha-masa this burden.
Achaz died approximately 715 BCE. The burden is the word against Philistia (immigrants) who dwell in the land of Israel.
Isa 14:29 Do not rejoice, you whole Peleshet (Land of immigrants), because the rod of him that struck you is broken: for out of the root of the nachash serpent shall come forth tzepa an adder, and his fruit saraph a fiery flying serpent.
The Pilishtiym, according to Genesis 10:14 (1 Chronicles 1:12) were a Hamitic people. Sometime during the second millennium BCE they came into Canaan from Caphtor (Crete) and settled along the southwestern coast of Israel below the territory of Judah.
Both historically and because this follows directly after the prophecy against Assyria, it is possible that the “rod of him that struck you” refers to the Assyrians. Another possibility is that it refers to Babylon, which makes more sense in light of the figurative language used regarding the serpent.
Whomever the enemy of the Pilishtiym may have been, the point is that from the remnant of that enemy an even deadlier foe will come against them and finally the deadliest of foes, as the progression of snake types shows.
Isa 14:30 And the firstborn of the poor will feed, and the needy will lie down in safety: and I will kill your root with famine, and he will slay your remnant.
The poor among the Jews who Philistia persecuted will receive food and Israel will lie down in peace while HaShem brings famine on the Pilishtiym and will wipe them out through the fiery serpent of the previous verse.
Isa 14:31 Heiliyliy Howl, O gate; cry, O city; you, whole Peleshet (Land of immigrants), dissolved: for there will come from the north a smoke, and there will be no straggler in his appointed times.
The confederacy of Philistia was made up of Ekron, Gath, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza. Thus “the whole of Philistia” will be dissolved. The enemy coming from the north is unknown, but the description is similar to that of the Assyrian army as it approached to invade Israel (Isa. 5:26-27).
The Pilishtiym are mentioned for the last time by Zechariah (9:6). Thus Isaiah’s prophecy of their disappearance from history without a trace became a reality.
Isa 14:32 What answer will be given to malachiy-goy the messengers of the nation? That HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.
Nations will seek answers for the miraculous deliverance and prosperity of Israel. One answer will be given:
“HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has yesad founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.”
The Hebrew “yesad” is from the root “yasad”, meaning founded, fixed, established, foundation. It is used in numerous scriptures in reference to the establishing/founding of the earth itself (Psalm 78:69; 119:90; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15).
“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;” -Proverbs 3:19
The founding of Zion (The Holy mountain, Land and people of Israel) rests in YHVH the LORD. The answer is, that the least of peoples (Israel) have been established and find refuge due to the pre-ordained and sacred choice of God. We are who we are because He has loved us with an everlasting love. The answer is that we always have a place of shelter and refuge to return to, He is the Rock of our refuge, the fierce warrior of our protection, the humble King of sacrifice and the resurrection of the dead.
But be warned, only “the humble among his people seek refuge in mount Zion”.
Without humility, no one can come to God.
Copyright 2018 Yaakov Brown
And it has come to pass in that day, that He will turn aside his burden from upon your shoulder and his yoke from upon your neck, and will bind, make a pledge from My face oil, anointing.
Is.10:1 Alas, woe! To ha-khok’kiym the cutters, inscribers who decree wickedness and record amal wearisome mischief which they have kiteivu written. Is.10:2 Le’hatot To extend, perverted midiyn judgement against the poor and tear away mishpat justice from the humble afflicted of amiy my people, causing the widows to become their plunder so that they can rob the fatherless.
The first four verses of Isaiah 10 conclude the quadruple rebuking of the people begun in chapter 9. Isaiah rebukes the law makers who are passing wicked laws that are depriving the poor, the helpless, and the needy of justice, in order to gain riches for themselves.
The use of the Hebrew kiteivu meaning he has written, is an ironical counterpoint to the Ketvi Written Devar Word of God. The Writing of God brings mishpat justice, but the writings of wicked men produce injustice.
Notice that the prophet, speaking from the heart of HaShem says, “My people”.
Is.10:3 And what will you accomplish on the day of pekudah accounting, visitation and devastation from a far country entering upon you? To whom will you escape for help? And where will you leave your kevodechem glories, honours, abundance, and dignity? Is.10:4 Without Me they will bow beneath the prisoners and fall under the murderer. For all this His anger is not turned away but His hand is stretched out still.
The probing questions of the prophet illuminate the depths of Israel’s ignorance and wilful disobedience. A devastating invasion is about to come in the form of the expanding Assyrian Empire.
Tragically the prophet asks, “To whom will you escape for help”. In other words, “Your rejection of HaShem has left you without the basic common sense to call upon Him in the face of disaster. This is a picture of a nation scraping the very bottom of the barrel. Israel is so far from faith in Hashem that they seem unable to turn and be delivered. However, His hand is outstretched still.
Is.10:5 Alas, woe! Ashur (Assyrian), sheivet rod of my aphi flaring nostril umateh and he is a branch in the hand of my anger.
Before we go further we should seek to understand the Semitic blood line of Ashur. Ashur the nation is born of Ashur the first born son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). Ashur was the founder of Nineveh, Rehobot and Calah in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10-11). Ashur was situated on the banks of the upper Tigris and its tributaries, in ancient Northern Mesopotamia. It is important to note that the Assyrians were Semites, while the Babylonians with whom they shared their language, religion and history, were Hamites (Genesis 10:6-10). The Assyrians were warlike and merciless in their conquests, committing atrocities and relying on abject terror in order to subdue their enemies.
Some have suggested that the Assyrians were one of the first nations in history to use psychological warfare, approaching city walls and speaking to the defenders in their own tongue in order to provoke a response of fearful surrender. One such incident is described in Isaiah 36:4-12.
It is known that when the Assyrians had conquered a population they would march their captives before them with the defeated king or ruler at the forefront. The majority of the captives, men, women and children were killed in inhumane ways: burned alive as sacrifices to the chief Assyrian deity, blinded, flayed alive and decapitated, their heads being placed on sharp stakes. Those who survived the massacre were usually dragged into captivity, pulled along by hooks that were attached to their noses.
At first subject to the Babylonians, the Assyrians eventually carved out their own kingdom which, during the reign of Tiglat-Pileser I, reached from the valley of the Tigris to the Mediterranean Ocean (1115-1077 BCE). However, following the death of Tiglat-Pileser I the Assyrian Empire went into decline and became busy defending its territory from tribal rebels within. It was during this period that Israel under the reigns of David and Solomon, experienced its golden years of expansion and prosperity.
During the ninth century BCE under Ashurnasirpal (885-860 BCE) Assyria begin a resurgence. Her great ambition being to create a vast Empire that would encompass all the territories between the Persian Gulf and the Nile valley. Thus the tiny nations of Israel and Judah were caught between the warring Empires of Assyria and Egypt. The prophets Isaiah, Nahum, Micah and Jeremiah all reflect these events.
With the accession of Tiglat-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) the Assyrian conquest reached Samaria and Judah, aided by the foolish decision of Ahaz, who had invited Assyria to help him fight against the coalition of Damascus and Samaria. The messages of Isaiah convey a first-hand knowledge of the Assyrian invading force and reflect the observations of one who observed the panic of the people and the plight of Judah’s refugees who fled from plundered towns and villages to find shelter in Jerusalem. From his vantage point in Jerusalem Isaiah would have witnessed this tragedy as it began to unfold.
However, Isaiah was also given insight from HaShem regarding the downfall of the Assyrians. In 612 BCE Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Assyria’s destruction was fulfilled. The Babylonians, Medes and Scythians captured Nineveh, the Assyrian capitol, causing it to become a desolate ruin just as Israel’s prophets had said it would long before it came to pass.
Three years later in 609 BCE the Babylonians and Medes attacked what was left of the once mighty Assyrian Empire and divided it up among themselves. The prophet Nahum, a contemporary of Isaiah writes of Assyria’s demise (Nahum 2:12-13; 3:1, 7). In less than a century the prophecies of Israel’s prophets concerning Assyria were completely fulfilled and by 609 BCE Assyria was no more.
Is.10:6 Be-goy Against the nation of hypocrites he will be sent and upon am a people evratiy of my overflowing fury, I will give him charge, to take prey and to seize plunder, and to appoint them for trampling like chomer cement, clay, mire, khutzot going outward, outside, on the street.
The prophet describes Israel as a nation of hypocrites and Ashur as nothing more than a disciplining rod wielded in the hand of God in order to redeem His people.
Is.10:7 And he doesn’t consider what he is doing in his levavu inner person, nor therefore does he think at all because to destroy, exterminate, is bi’levavu in his inner person, and to cut off, kill, (cut covenants with) goyim nations: not just a few.
The arrogant Assyrian invader is unaware that he is a tool in the hand of God. His core being is full of hatred and destruction. His only desire to kill, steal, humiliate and destroy. And for a time, God will allow him to do this to many smaller nations, Israel and Judah included.
Is.10:8 Because he says “Are not sa’ariy my princes yachdav together melakhiym kings?”
During this period in history the kings of Assyria are known to have given themselves the title “King of kings”.
“I am powerful, I am all powerful, I am gigantic, I am colossal, I am honoured, I am magnificent, I am without an equal among all the kings.”
–Esarhaddon ruler of Assyria (681-669)
By claiming to be a King of kings, the Assyrian ruler was prefiguring the anti-Messiah. Anyone who sets himself up on earth as the King of kings is spitting in the face of God’s Messiah.
Is.10:9 “Is not Kecharkemiysh (fortress of chemosh) as Calnu (Fortress of Anu)? Is not Khamat (fortress: city upper Syria) as Arpad (Spread out: city in northern Syria)? Is not Shomeron (Samaria: watch mountain) as Damesek (Damascus: silent sackcloth weaver)?”
The cities mention in this verse help us establish an approximate date for Isaiah’s message. Damascus fell to Assyria in 732 BCE, Samaria in 722, and Carchemish was captured by Sargon in 717 BCE. Since Isaiah delivered his message prior to Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem in 701 BCE (v.28-34), this must have occurred sometime between 717-701 BCE. Probably at the end of the reign of Ahaz (735-715 BCE).
Is.10:10 “As my hand has attained the kingdoms ha-eliyl and nothing gods, worthless u’pesileiyhem idols from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and from Shomeron (Samaria).” Is.10:11 “Shall I not do as I have done to Shomeron (Samaria: watch mountain) and her eliyleyah nothing gods, to Yerushalayim and her image, idol?”
By comparing the pagan idols and none gods of the other kingdoms with the God of Israel, the Assyrian blasphemed the living God. He lumps YHVH in with the gods of other nations which he calls Eliliym (none entities) and Pesiliym (graven images). In fact this was exactly the reasoning Sennacherib used when he demanded that the inhabitants of Jerusalem surrender to him (2 Kings 19:8-13; 2 Chronicles 32:17-19; Isaiah 36:14-21).
Is.10:12 And it has come to pass, Adonai finished all His work be-har Tziyon in the mountain of Zion (parched land), ube’yerushalayim and in Jerusalem (Pouring out of Peace), epekod He will visit, reckon, bring punishment upon periy the fruit of godel great pride from the levav inner person of the king of Ashur (Assyria), and upon the splendour of his rum haughty, elevated eiynayv eye.
HaShem will only allow the wicked Assyrian nation to succeed for as long as the disciplining of Israel and Judah is necessary. There will be a reckoning for the vile Empire of the Assyrians. Their arrogant scoffing against HaShem will be silenced.
Is.10:13 Because he said, “By the strength of my hand have I done this, and by my own wisdom, for I am discerning: and I have removed the borders of amiym peoples and have stolen their treasures, and have descended as a Kabiyr mighty, valiant man to dwell.” Is.10:14 “And attaining a nest my hand is strengthened, ha-amiym the peoples: and I have gathered the eggs that are left in all ha-atretz the land. I have gathered and none has lifted a wing or set free a mouth to chirp.”
The Assyrian king arrogantly presumes he has been successful in conquest due to his own efforts and the might of his army. As always, HaShem brings down the proud and lifts up the humble. God is just and no injustice will go unpunished.
The Psalmist reminds us:
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the HaShem YHVH: Mercy our Elohim (God, Judge).” –Psalm 20:7
“Through You we push back our enemies. Through Your Name we trample those rising up against us. For I do not trust in my bow, nor can my sword save me. For You saved us from our oppressors and put to shame those who hated us.” –Psalm 44:6-8
Is.10:15 Will an axe boast of itself against He Who swings it? Or will a saw magnify itself against He Who uses it? As if sheivet a rod would raise itself to threaten the One Who welds it, or as if the mateh branch would rise up, as if it were not eitz part of a tree.
The rhetorical questions of the prophet have a clear meaning. The Assyrian is nothing more than an axe in the hand of God. The pride of Assyria is as ludicrous as the idea of a tool speaking against the one who uses it, or of a branch severed from a tree being able to sustain itself.
Is.10:16 Therefore, sending out, ha-Adonai the lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies, goes to war, into fatness, wasting, and instead of kevodo glory yeikad kindled, yekod kindling kiykod burning eish fire.
The “Therefore” returns the reader to the plight of Israel in her disciplining.
The phrase “Yeikad, yekod kiykod” emulates the sound of crackling fire. This crackling of fire will find its ultimate fulfillment in the fire unleashed by the Messiah.
Is.10:17 And it has come to pass Or Light of Yisrael (Overcome in God) le’eish for fire ukedosho and his holiness le-lehavah for a flame that will burn ve-achlah and devour his thorns and his briers be’yom echad in one day.
The fire born of the Light of Israel (The Messiah), will burn up the thorns and briers, meaning the wicked who cause her to sin. “In one day” refers to a major event that will result in the purging of the nation.
Is.10:18 U’kevod And the glory of the forest and plantation from nephesh soul and as far as basar flesh, consumed, and it has come to pass it is melted in sickness.
All the glory derived from plantations of trees and the souls of the inhabitants of those forests will be consumed by this fire.
Is.10:19 And the shear remnant eitz branch (of a tree) of his forest, will be few, so that a child might record them.
Sadly the remnant branch of Israel will be few. So few that a young child could record their number. This is a heart breaking message that weighs down the heart of the prophet with grief and mourning over his people.
Is.10:20 And it has come to pass be’yom in that day ha-hu that he not yosef added to: od a perpetual shear remnant of Yisrael Israel will escape, beit Yaakov the house of Jacob will no longer trust on the one striking him and will trust on HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) kedosh holy One of Yisrael Israel be-emet in the truth.
In this section from verse 20-22 the Hebrew shear (Remnant) is used four times, either in combination with Israel (v.20) or with Jacob (v.21), and once in regard to the survivors of the house of Jacob: emphasizing the physical nature of her survival.
Isaiah uses the term Shear-yashub (Remnant returns) twice: this is the name of Isaiah’s first born son.
What is clear from the use of Israel and Jacob, is that the remnant will be of the fullness of Israel and not of Judah alone.
Is.10:21 The shear remnant will shuva return, the remnant of Yaakov Jacob (All Israel) to El Gibor God Almighty.
El Gibor is the name which the Messiah is called in Isaiah 9:6. The corresponding name Kadosh Yisrael (Holy One of Israel) is used in verse 20.
The remnant shall return to El Gibor the Father and through El Gibor the Son, Who is also called Kadosh Yisrael.
Is.10:22 For having become Your people Yisrael Israel, like the sand of the sea, a shear remnant will yashuv return, the destruction that cut will be rinsed, washed, overflowing with tzedakah righteousness.
Sadly, though Israel had become like the sand of the sea, only a remnant would return. It is this remnant that Rav Shaul refers to in Romans 11:26.
The nation that was once disciplined harshly will be washed clean with overflowing righteousness. This is a description of the shed blood of the Mashiyach (Messiah) and its cleansing and restorative power. Israel’s remnant will be tevilah immersed and cleansed in the mikveh gathering waters of her Messiah King.
Is.10:23 For the full end and decree of Adonai HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies will be accomplished in the midst of all ha-aretz the land.
It is true that all the earth will hear of these things, however, it is the Land of Israel that is being referred to here. Israel is the subject of both the disciplining and redemption prophesied. Thus it is in Eretz Yisrael (The land of Israel) that these events will be seen, and it is from the land of Israel that this redemptive message will go out into all the earth.
Is.10:24 Therefore says Adonai HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies “Don’t be afraid amiy My people dwelling in Tziyon Zion (Parched land), of Ashur (a step) be’sheivet in his rod striking and his staff lifted up against you in like manner to Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt.
In comforting His people (amiy: My people) Hashem reminds them that the Egyptians were equally fierce and oppressive, however, HaShem silenced them and freed His chosen people Israel. He would also do the same for them before the face of the Assyrian army.
Is.10:25 For continuing only a small amount, will cease all My anger and the aphiy flaring of My nostril on their destruction.
With regard to the greater passage of time HaShem’s anger and disciplining against Israel will be for only a short period.
Is.10:26 And awakening upon him, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies will bring a scourge for him like that of the slaughter of Midiyan (strife) at the cliff of Oreiv (raven), umateihu and His staff upon ha-yam the sea, so He will lift it up as be-derek in the path of Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt.
This is now the second time that the prophet has referenced the defeat of Midian at the hand of God through Gideon and his three hundred men (Judges 7:16-25). This places emphasis on the fact that the 300 men of Gideon were like the remnant of Israel: completely reliant on God in order to have victory over their enemies and become reunited as a nation drawn together through the fire born of God’s Light.
Added to this is an allusion to Egypt’s demise at the Red Sea. Where by God’s hand Moses performed a great miracle of deliverance as a pre-figure of the coming Messiah. Thus Assyria is to be doubly defeated, a two stage path to utter desolation 1.) 612 BCE 2.) 609 BCE.
The Assyrian rod of oppression will be silence with the staff of God’s redemption.
Is.10:27 And it has come to pass in that day, that He will turn aside his burden from upon your shoulder and his yoke from upon your neck, ve-chubal and will bind, make a pledge mip’neiy from My face shamen oil, anointing.
The burden of God’s discipline will be lifted at the appropriate time and in its place an easy binding (marriage) and pledge will produce an intimate relationship between God and Israel. Thus it will be from the countenance of God’s face that the oil of His Spirit will be poured out on a redeemed people.
Is.10:28 He is come upon Ayat (heap of ruins), to pass over in Migron (precipice), to Mikhmash (hidden) to muster the keilayv implement (for war, hunting). Is.10:29 They have passed over the ford to Geva (Gibeah, hill) for lodging: trembling ha-Ramah (height), Givat (hill) of Shaul (inquirer, desire) has fled. Is.10:30 Lift up your voice daughter of Galeem (springs) cause it to be heard in Layish (lion), poor, afflicted Anatot (answers). Is.10:31 Madmenah (dung hill) is removed, those dwelling in Gebiym (cisterns) take refuge.
The prophet now speaks of the progression of conquest in a figurative way that denotes the conquest of the entire land of Judah beginning with the uppermost city Ayat. In reality Sennacherib approached Jerusalem from the south in 701 BCE having taken the fortress of Lachish and numerous other fortified locals. None the less, the prophet’s intention here is to show the all-encompassing nature of the Lord’s disciplining of Judah and not the literal progression of the invading force.
Ayat was about 68 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem and was the first city within Judah’s borders.
Is.10:32 Od going round perpetually, ha-yom the day at Nob (fruit, a high place): he will shake his hand against the mountain of the daughter of Tziyon Zion (parched land), gevat (hill) of Yerushalayim (Flood of peace).
Nob, a hillside town north of Jerusalem, within sight of the holy city is the final stop on the approach to Jerusalem. It’s at this point of impending doom that HaShem Tzevaot intervenes to deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrian army that shakes its fist against the Holy Mountain of God. It is for the sake of His own great Name that HaShem allows the Assyrian to go no further.
Is.10:33 Hineh Behold, now, see! Ha-Adon the lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies going to war, shall cut the purah ornamental branch with awful terror: and high ones of stature shall be chopped down, and the haughty shall be brought low.
The Hebrew Hineh calls the reader to pay careful attention. The threefold title Ha-Adon HaShem Tzevaot denotes absolute sovereignty over all things.
The Hebrew text utterly renounces the pride of the Assyrian blasphemer. He is nothing more than an ornamental branch and in recompense for the vile cutting he has perpetuated against the people of God he will receive a cutting of terror, being chopped down and brought so low as to be completely annihilated.
Is.10:34 He will strike the thicket of the forest with iron: ve-ha-levanon and the Lebanon (witness) before a majestic one, will be cast down.
The Lebanon, known for its mighty cedars is used figuratively to describe the Assyrian army. Just as cedars are cut down, so too the Assyrian army.
Some Jewish commentators understand the phrase “a majestic One” to refer to the Malakh YHVH (Angel of HaShem) Who destroyed the armies of Sennacherib at the walls of Jerusalem.
“Then the Malakh HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Messenger of the LORD went forth, and struck a hundred and eighty five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, all the corpses of the slain.”
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,