Messiah is come to reveal a greater priesthood, an eternal priesthood that has existed in Him before the foundations of the world (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:17).
23 Then the Roman soldiers, when they had crucified [driven stakes into] (stauroo[G]) Yeshua[H], took His outer garments and divided them into four shares, a share to each soldier and the undergarment (chiton[G], ketonet[H]) remained; now the undergarment (chiton[G], ketonet[H]) was seamless, woven as one piece.
First it is important to recognize something we will rarely if ever see in an artistic representation of Messiah on the cross. All His clothing was removed including His underwear. Part of the suffering experienced by the crucified was the inherent and all-encompassing humiliation. Yeshua was crucified naked.
The outer garments were of lesser value and were divided among the Roman soldiers four ways, thus four items of outer clothing. The seamless undergarment was unique, the work of a skilled seamstress and a rare priestly item. The Roman soldiers recognized this, so rather than tear it they chose to gamble for it.
The seamless priestly undergarment (ketonet[H]) connects Yeshua to numerous prefigures for Messiah which are found in the Tanakh (OT).
We recall that Yeshua had washed the feet of His disciples as a sign of their preparation as priests in the order of His resurrected and transcendent eternal priesthood (Hebrews 7:11-28). Yeshua was wearing only the seamless garment mentioned here as He washed the feet of His disciples (John 13:4). Thus, Yeshua the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) prepared His priests (disciples) to minister the good news of His present and coming Kingdom to the Jewish people first perpetually and also to the nations (all humanity) [Romans 1:16].
The Katenot (fem. plural of ketonet) as Atoning Garments of Skin (A Pre-figure for Messiah’s Sacrifice):
“For Adam and his wife YHVH Elohim made katenot (undergarments) of skins (animal hide) to cloth them.” - Bereishit (Genesis) 3:21
The Ketonet of Joseph (As a Pre-figure for the Priestly Garment of Messiah):
“Now Israel (Jacob) loved Yoseph more than any of his other children because he was the son of his old age, so he made for him an ketonet (undergarment) of pasiym [palms] (plural form of the palm of the hand or base of the foot).” - Bereishit (Genesis) 37:23
*Note that the Hebrew text of Genesis 37:23 does not say that Joseph’s coat (ketonet) was “of many colours” as numerous English translations convey, rather the Hebrew pasiym is a plural form of the word pas meaning palm of the hand or base of the foot. Thus the proper reading in English would be:
“he made him (Joseph) a long sleeved tunic that reached to his feet”.
“And they took Yoseph’s ketonet (undergarment) and slaughtered a kid goat and dipped the ketonet (undergarment) in the blood.” -Bereishit (Genesis) 37:31
The Ketonet of Aaron & Sons - Priests (As Pre-figures For Messiah):
“And these are the garments they shall make; a breastplate and an ephod and a robe, and a woven ketonet (undergarment)…” -Shemot (Exodus) 28:4 (Ex. 28:39, 40; 29:5, 8; 39:27; Lev. 8:7, 13; 10:5; 16:4)
Some may ask “Why is the connection between the priesthood of Israel and Yeshua so important?”
It is important because Messiah is come to reveal a greater priesthood, an eternal priesthood that has existed in Him before the foundations of the world (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:17). This greater priesthood must transition within time and space from the Aaronic priesthood of Israel, not so as to make the Levitical priesthood redundant but so as to cause the Levitical priesthood to fully fill its purpose and reveal the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) and Messiah Yeshua as the ultimate intermediary.
Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) the Son of Zechariah was a true Levite and a legitimate priest, unlike the illegitimate (bought off by the Roman authorities) priests Annas and Caiaphas. For all intents and purposes Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) was a rightful heir to the priesthood of Israel. Therefore, Yochanan the Immerser was given authority by God to transfer the priesthood of Aaron onto the King Messiah. Only in this way could the roles of King of Judah (in the line of David) and High Priest be combined in One Man. The act of transference was symbolically performed by Yochanan the Immerser at the tevilah (immersion/baptism) of Yeshua.
All High Priests of Israel throughout the generations must prepare themselves by washing in order to approach the Lord God to make atonement for the sins of Israel. Yeshua Who is sinless need not be immersed (baptised) for repentance, washing clean, or for any other sin related reason, thus when Yeshua said of His immersion (baptism) “Let it happen now, for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matt 3:15), what He meant by “All righteousness” was to ritually wash Him as Priest of priests and make way for His sacrificial death and life giving resurrection and the means by which all who receive Him can be made righteous through His blood”. This symbolic act of washing (baptism) revealed Yeshua as rightful and eternal Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) and Melekh HaY’hudiym (King of the Jews), Melekh Hamelekhiym (King of kings). Thus, Yeshua united the priesthood and kingship of Israel and showed Himself to be the King Messiah.
Therefore, it was right that Yeshua had been given a priestly undergarment [ketonet] (probably made for Him by Yochanan’s mother Elisheva [Elisabeth: My God blesses sevenfold/makes an oath], a wife of a Levitical priest [Zechariah John the Baptist’s father]).
The King’s Ketonet in Song of Songs (Prophetic of Messiah’s Crucifixion):
“I have put off my ketonet (undergarment); how shall I put it on, I have washed my feet how shall I defile them?” -Shir HaShiriym (Song of Songs) 5:3
Eliyakiym [My God Raises Up] Clothed with the Priestly Garment Ketonet (As Pre-figure for Messiah)
“20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliyakiym (My God Raises Up) the son of Hilkiyah (My Portion is YHVH): 21 And I will clothe him with your ketonet (undergarment) [kutanetecha], and strengthen him with thy belt, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open (ref. Rev.3:8).
23 And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. 24 And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. 25 In that day, says YHVH Tzevaot (Who goes warring), shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it.” -Yishayahu (Isaiah) 22:20-25
24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots (throw dice) for it, to decide whose it will be”; this was to fulfil the Writing (Graphe[G], Ketuv[H]: specifically a book from the Ketuvim/Writings of the TaNaKH [Hebrew bible]) “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots [Psalm 22:18(19)].”
Yochanan (John) explains that by dividing Yeshua’s priestly undergarment the Roman soldiers fulfilled Psalm 22. In Mark’s gospel 15:34 Yeshua quotes the beginning of this same Psalm, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Psalm 22 is quoted directly and implicitly alluded to throughout the New Testament making it one of the most important Messianic Psalms.
1“For the music director, on “The Doe of the Dawn,” a psalm of David.
2 My God, my God,
why have You forsaken me?
Distant from my salvation
are the words of my groaning.[a]
3 O my God, I cried out by day, but You did not answer,
by night, but there was no rest for me.
4 Yet You are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
5 In You our fathers put their trust.
They trusted, and You delivered them.
6 They cried to you and were delivered.
In You they trusted, and were not disappointed.
7 Am I a worm, and not a man?
Am I a scorn of men, despised by people?
8 All who see me mock me.
They curl their lips, shaking their heads:
9 “Rely on Adonai! Let Him deliver him!
Let Him rescue him—since he delights in Him!”[b]
10 Yet You brought me out of the womb,
made me secure at my mother’s breasts.
11 From the womb I was cast on You--
from my mother’s womb You have been my God.
12 Be not far from me!
For trouble is near--
there is no one to help.
13 Many bulls have surrounded me.
Strong bulls of Bashan encircled me.
14 They open wide their mouths against me,
like a tearing, roaring lion.
15 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are disjointed.
My heart is like wax--
melting within my innards.
16 My strength is dried up like a clay pot,
my tongue clings to my jaws.
You lay me in the dust of death.
17 For dogs have surrounded me.
A band of evildoers has closed in on me.
They pierced[c] my hands and my feet.
18 I can count all my bones.
They stare, they gape at me.
19 They divide my clothes among them,
and cast lots for my garment.[d]
20 But You, Adonai, be not far off!
O my strength! Come quickly to my aid!
21 Deliver my soul from the sword--
my only one from the power of the dog.
22 Save me from the lion’s mouth.
From the horns of the wild oxen rescue me.
23 I will declare Your Name to my brothers.
I will praise You amid the congregation.[e]
24 You who fear Adonai, praise Him!
All Jacob’s descendants, glorify Him!
Revere Him, all you seed of Israel.
25 For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the lowly one.
Nor has He hidden His face from him,
but when he cried to Him, He heard.
26 From You is my praise in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear Him.
27 Let the poor eat and be satisfied.
Let them who seek after Him praise Adonai.
May your hearts live forever!
28 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to Adonai.
All the families of the nations will bow down before You.
29 For the kingdom belongs to Adonai,
and He rules over the nations.
30 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship.
Everyone who goes down to the dust will kneel before Him--
even the one who could not keep his own soul alive.
31 His posterity will serve him, telling
the next generation about my Lord.
32 They will come and declare His righteousness
to a people yet to be born--
because He has done it!”
a. Psalm 22:2 cf. Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34.
b. Psalm 22:9 cf. Matt. 27:43.
c. Psalm 22:17 Or, is like a lion.
d. Psalm 22:19 cf. Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24.
e. Psalm 22:23 cf. Heb. 2:12.
-Tehillim (Psalms) 22 TLV
25 Therefore the Roman soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Yeshua[H] were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Miriyam[H] (rebellion, Mary) the wife of Chelphiy[H] (Klopas[G], exchange), and Miriyam[H] (rebellion, Mary) of Magdala[A] (a tower). 26 When Yeshua[H] then saw His mother, and the disciple (talmid[H]) [John the author] whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Dear Woman, behold, now, look (hineih[H]), your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple (talmid[H])[John the author], “Behold, now, look (hineih[H]), your mother!” From that hour the disciple (talmid[H])[John the author] took her into his own household.
This interaction between the dying Yeshua and His mother and beloved disciple is recorded only in the gospel of John. It is a heart wrenching and beautiful account of unfathomable sacrificial love. The example set here by Yeshua transcends all others with regard to the practical outworking of self-sacrificing love for others. Yeshua’s mother unnamed and His disciple unnamed are named in Him mother and son. Their suffering and joy would birth the body of faith which has now spread globally to the nations and is about to return to bring redemption to the entire remnant of ethnic, religious Israel, the Jewish people (Romans 11:25).
The gospel can be seen in the names of those mentioned: In exchange (Klopas) for rebellion (Miriyam) a shepherd of Migdal (Magdala, tower).
Yeshua’s mother is not named in Yochanan’s gospel (cf. 2:1). This corresponds to the author’s descriptions of himself as a disciple whom Yeshua loved. The author’s focus is on the Divine Word (Yeshua) rather than His earthly familial and friendship connections which are well observed in the synoptic gospels.
“Standing by the cross” is also rightly translated “standing near the cross”. This in no way contradicts the description of the women standing at a distance (mark 15:40) in the synoptic gospels as the terms “near” and “distance” are subjective contextual variables cited by different eye witnesses.
28 After this, Yeshua[H], knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to make perfect the Writing (Graphe[G], Ketuv[H]: specifically a book from the Ketuvim/Writings of the TaNaKH [Hebrew bible]) [Psalm 69:22(21)], said, “I am thirsty.”
“Knowing that all things had already been accomplished” means that Yeshua was aware of all these things having been completed by Him before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).
Pause for a minute to consider the enormity of the love of God in Messiah. Yeshua (the Living Word essence of creation in Whom all things hold together and have their being) entered time and space to give His life knowing exactly how horrific His suffering would be and being aware that no other could pay the price, He choose it willingly.
In one sense, given the eternal nature of God and Messiah’s Divinity, we could say that the all existing Messiah having seen the end from the beginning was crucified before He was crucified and resurrected before He was born (into time and space) and thus being transcendent remains for us both our suffering Servant and victorious King Who is able to comfort us in every circumstance given His own experience and to deliver us from evil given His authority over all things according to the Father’s will.
“1For the music director, on “Lilies,” of David.
2 Save me, O God,
for the waters
have reached my soul.
3 I have sunk in deep mud,
and there is no footing,
I have come into deep waters,
and a flood sweeps over me.
4 I am worn out by my crying,
my throat is parched,
my eyes fail, waiting for my God.
5 Those who hate me without a cause[a] outnumber the hairs of my head.
Powerful are my enemies who would destroy me with lies.
What I did not steal, must I restore?
6 O God, You know my folly,
nor are my trespasses hidden from You.
7 May those who hope in You
not be ashamed because of me,
my Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot.
May those who seek You
not be disgraced because of me,
O God of Israel.
8 For I have endured scorn for Your sake.
Disgrace has covered my face.
9 I have become a stranger to my brothers,
a foreigner to my mother’s children.
10 For zeal for Your House consumed me--
the insults of those who insulted You have fallen on me.[b]
11 When I wept and fasted--
that became a reproach to me.
12 When I put on sackcloth,
I became a joke to them.
13 Those who sit at the gate chatter about me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.
14 But as for me, my prayer to You, Adonai, is for a time of favor.
O God, in Your great love, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.
15 Deliver me from the mire--
do not let me sink.
Deliver me from those who hate me,
out of the deep waters.
16 Do not let floodwaters sweep over me,
nor the deep swallow me up,
nor the Pit shut its mouth over me.
17 Answer me, Adonai, for good is Your mercy.
With Your great compassion, turn to me.
18 Hide not Your face from Your servant.
For I am in distress—answer me quickly.
19 Draw near to my soul and redeem it.
Ransom me because of my foes.
20 You know my reproach, my shame, my disgrace.
All my adversaries are before You.
21 Scorn has broken my heart, so I am sick.
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but found none.
22 They put gall in my food,
and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.[c]
23 Let their table before them be a snare,
and what should have been for their well-being,
let it be a trap.
24 Let their eyes be darkened so they cannot see
and their backs be bent forever.[d]
25 Pour out Your indignation on them.
Let Your fierce anger overtake them.
26 Let their encampment be deserted.
Let none dwell in their tents.
27 For they persecute the one You have smitten,
so they tell of the pain
of those You have wounded.
28 Add guilt to their guilt--
may they not come into Your righteousness.
29 May they be wiped out of the book of life
and not be recorded with the righteous.[e]
30 But I—I am afflicted and in pain.
Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.
31 I will praise God’s Name with a song,
and magnify Him with praise.
32 It will please Adonai better than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
33 The humble will see it and be glad.
You who seek God, let your hearts revive.
34 For Adonai hears the needy
and does not despise His captive people.
35 Let heaven and earth praise Him,
the seas and everything moving in them.
36 For God will save Zion,
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then they will dwell there and possess it.
37 The children of His servants will inherit it
and those who love His Name will dwell there.
a. Psalm 69:5 cf. John 15:25.
b. Psalm 69:10 Cf. John 2:17; Rom. 15:3.
c. Psalm 69:22 cf. Matt. 27:34, 48; Mark 15:23, 36.
d. Psalm 69:24 cf. Rom. 11:9-10.
e. Psalm 69:29 cf. Rev. 3:5.
-Tehillim (Psalms) 69 TLV
29 A vessel full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth.
“Sour wine” (John 19:29) and “vinegar” (Matthew 27:48) are synonymous terms.
Yeshua had earlier been offered “bitter gall” a narcotic (Matt 27:34) but had refused it.
Yochanan is more precise than Matthew in his description of the “stick” on which the sponge was offered. He names the variety of plant the stick came from as “hyssop”, the same branch used by Israel to paint the blood of the Pesach Lamb onto their doorposts (Exodus 12:22). Yochanan (John) has already quoted Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) saying “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of this world” (John 1:29, 1:36). Yeshua’s identity as the Pesach (Passover) Lamb is another key element in Yochanan’s gospel record and is later illuminated by Rav Shaul Hashaliach (Rabbi Paul The Sent One) [1 Corinthians 5:11].
30 Therefore when Yeshua[H] had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished! (teleo[G])” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit, breath (pneuma[G], ruach[H]).
Note that Yeshua pronounced His atoning work on the cross “finished”. His eternal blood offers atonement for all sin, past, present, and future. There is no further sacrifice needed, His sacrifice both precedes and proceeds, it covers (atones for) all who will receive Him and His saving work.
Yeshua “Gave up His Ruach (Breath, Wind, Life, Spirit)”. He chose to give it up, it was not taken from Him (John 10:17-18). The giving up has a certain ambiguity: He gave up His life for us and He gave up His Spirit for us. Our lives are redeemed in the giving up of His life and strengthened in the giving up of His Spirit. Following His resurrection and ascension Yeshua in unity with the Father poured out His Spirit upon and within all who would receive Him.
31 Then the religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), because they were in preparation, in order that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Shabbat[H] [for that Sabbath was a high (megas[G]) day], asked Pilate (Pilatos[G]) that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
“because they were in preparation, in order that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Shabbat”
“22 “Suppose a man is guilty of a sin with a death sentence and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree. 23 His body is not to remain all night on the tree—instead you must certainly bury him the same day, for anyone hanged is a curse of God.[a] You must not defile your land that Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance.” -Devarim (Deut.) 21:22-23 TLV
re: High Sabbath Leviticus 23:6-7
This High Sabbath was the first day of unleavened bread as convergent with the 14th of Nisan which becomes the 15th of Nisan at sundown by Biblical Hebrew reckoning.
For more information on the death and resurrection time frame please read my article “Did Yeshua Die on a Friday?” link below:
32 So the Roman soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him (Yeshua); 33 but coming to Yeshua[H], when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the Roman soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
Blood separated from water has been testified to by doctors to be clear evidence of death resulting from major heart trauma. Therefore, the plan meaning intends to give the clear evidence that Yeshua was dead and had not simply fainted as some fools suggest.
The blood and water can also be seen as a prophetic precursor to the immersion commanded by Yeshua. All who believer are figuratively and spiritually washed in His blood and in obedience as disciples immersed in water as an identification with the death and resurrection of Yeshua.
35 And he who has seen [John the author] has testified, and his testimony is immutably true (alethinos[G], emet[H]); and he sees (eido[G]) that he is telling the absolute truth (ha emet[H]), so that you also may believe (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]).
As is the case with the gospels of Matthew and Mark the author is claiming to be a reliable first hand eye witness to these events, and his purpose in writing is to ensure that others will be made aware of the truth of these events and pass on that truth to future generations. The
Jewish Doctor Luke open’s his gospel with a similar testimony, though he does not claim to be an eyewitness but the recipient of information from eyewitnesses.
36 For these things came to pass to fulfil the Writing (Graphe[G], Ketuv[H]: specifically a book from the Ketuvim/Writings of the TaNaKH [Hebrew bible]), “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” [Psalm 34:20(21); cf. Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12] 37 And again another Writing (Graphe[G], Ketuv[H]: specifically a book from the Ketuvim/Writings of the TaNaKH [Hebrew bible]) says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.[Zechariah 12:10 cf. Rev. 1:7]”
1 Of David, when he feigned insanity before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.
2 I will bless Adonai at all times.
His praise is continually in my mouth.
3 My soul boasts in Adonai.
The humble ones hear of it and rejoice.
4 Magnify Adonai with me
and let us exalt His Name together.
5 I sought Adonai, and He answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
6 They who looked to Him were radiant,
and their faces will never be ashamed.
7 This poor man cried, and Adonai heard,
and saved him out of all his troubles.
8 The angel of Adonai encamps around those who fear Him,
and delivers them.
9 Taste and see how good Adonai is.
Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
10 Fear Adonai, His kedoshim,
For those who fear Him lack nothing.
11 Young lions may lack, and go hungry,
but those who seek Adonai want for no good thing.
12 Come, children, listen to me:
I will teach you the fear of Adonai.
13 Who is the one who delights in life,
and loves to see good days?
14 Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking treachery.
15 Depart from evil and do good.
Seek shalom and pursue it.[a]
16 The eyes of Adonai are on the righteous,
and His ears are attentive to their cry.
17 The face of Adonai is against evildoers,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
18 The righteous cry out and Adonai hears,
and delivers them from all their troubles.
19 Adonai is close to the brokenhearted,
and saves those crushed in spirit.
20 Many are the distresses of the righteous,
but Adonai delivers him out of them all.
21 He keeps all his bones--
not one of them is broken.[b]
22 Evil kills the wicked--
those who hate the righteous will be held guilty.
23 Adonai redeems the soul of His servants
—no one who takes refuge in Him will be held guilty.
a. Psalm 34:15 cf. 1 Pet. 3:10-12.
b. Psalm 34:21 cf. John 19:33-36.
-Tehillim (Psalms) 34 TLV
“1The burden of the word of Adonai concerning Israel. A declaration of Adonai, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundation of the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: 2 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the surrounding peoples when they besiege Jerusalem as well as Judah. 3 Moreover, in that day I will make Jerusalem a massive stone for all the people. All who try to lift it will be cut to pieces. Nevertheless, all the nations of the earth will be gathered together against her. 4 In that day”—it is a declaration of Adonai—“I will strike every horse with confusion and its rider with madness. I will keep My eyes on the house of Judah but will blind every horse of the peoples. 5 Then the leaders of Judah will say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength through Adonai-Tzva’ot their God.” 6 “In that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a burning torch among sheaves. They will devour on the right and on the left all the surrounding peoples, yet Jerusalem will remain in her place, in Jerusalem. 7 Adonai also will save the tents of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and the honor of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not exceed that of Judah. 8 In that day Adonai will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the weakest among them that day will be like David and the house of David will be like God—like the angel of Adonai before them. 9 It will happen in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 “Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced.[a] They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem, mourning like Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn clan by clan. The clan of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves, the clan of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves, 13 the clan of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves, the clan of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves. 14 Each of the remaining clans will mourn by itself and their wives by themselves.”
a. Zechariah 12:10 cf. John 19:34, 37; Rev. 1:7.
-Zachariyah (Zechariah) 12 TLV
38 After these things Yoseph[H] (YHVH adds) of Ramatayim[H], (Arimatea[A], heights, birthplace of Samuel Mt Ephraim), being a disciple (talmid[H]) of Yeshua[H], but a secret one for fear of the Jewish religious leaders (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), asked Pilate (Pilatos[G]) that he might take away the body of Yeshua[H]; and Pilate (Pilatos[G]) granted permission. So he came and took away His body.
Yoseph of Ramatayim (Joseph of Arimathea) shows great courage in this public act of care for Yeshua’s body (Matt. 27:57; Mark. 15:43; Luke. 23:50). Matthew’s gospel tells us that Yoseph placed Yeshua “in his own new tomb.”
“57 Now when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had also become a disciple of Yeshua. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. Then Pilate ordered it to be given up. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 And he laid it in his own new tomb,[a] which he had cut in the rock. Then he rolled a large stone up to the door of the tomb and went away.” -Matthew 27:57-60 TLV
The cost of the tomb Yoseph freely gave for Yeshua’s burial cannot be firmly established, but given the social and religious standing of Yoseph it is likely that it was worth a large sum of money by today’s standards costing millions of dollars (USD).
The Greek word “mnemeion” translated “tomb” in Matthew 27:60 can also be translated “Sepulchre”. Both “tomb” and “sepulchre” often refer to a large tomb with multiple rock-cut cubicles for interring a number of bodies.
A single Sepulchre complex of 63 rock cut tombs in Jerusalem dating to the first century C.E. received the name “Tombs of the Sanhedrin” from Rabbi Joseph Halevi in 1450 because of the large number of burial cubicles inside. While it’s unlikely that this particular Sepulchre is a Sanhedrin burial place, it is very likely that a Sepulchre like it with 70-72 cubicles may well have existed in the first century C.E. and it is therefore likely, given that Yoseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, that the tomb of Yoseph of Arimathea was one of the cubicles within the Sepulchre complex carved out specifically for members of the Sanhedrin and their families. If this is the case the classic notion of a single birth tomb is untenable. In fact, given that family tombs with multiple births dating to the first century have been found in Israel it seems that in most cases the first century Jewish dead were buried in multiple birth tombs, usually with family, and often among those of comparable social status.
Added to this is the fact that “no one had yet been laid” in the tomb (John 19:41): meaning that the generation of the Sanhedrin at that time had yet to utilize the tomb complex, making Yeshua the first to be interred there.
Tombs of the Sanhedrin (1st Century C.E.) Sanhedria, Jerusalem.
Yoseph’s faithful act fulfilled Isaiah 53:9:
“His grave was given with the wicked,
and by a rich man in His death,”
Both Yoseph and Nakdimon were members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 23:50-51; John 7:50-52). They may also have been brothers:
Some commentators believe that Joseph of Arimathea (his home town) is Yoseph ben Gorion, the brother of Nakdiymon (Nicodemous) ben Gorion, the same Nicodemus mentioned in the following verse. One traditional commentary [Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol 25. 1. & 27. 1.] suggests that Yoseph ben Gorion was a priest, and of the richest and most noble of the priests in Jerusalem; that he was a very wise, just, and upright man; and that three or four years before the destruction of Jerusalem, he was about sixty seven years of age (John Gill Commentary on the New Testament). Making Joseph of Arimathea approximately twenty seven years old when he helped to inter Yeshua.
39 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people)[cf. John 3], who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 45 kilograms. 40 So they took the body of Yeshua[H] and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jewish people (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]).
Likewise Nakdiymon acts courageously, though a member of the Sanhedrin he risks his status for Messiah.
Jewish tradition records Nakdiymon as a tzaddik (righteous one) who called down miracles and was extravagant in his gifts to the poor. However, it is later recorded in the Babylonian Talmud that Rav Yochanan ben Zaccai saw the daughter of Nakdiymon, having been reduced to extreme poverty, gleaning barley kernels from under the hooves of horses in the northern coastal city of Akko (T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 66. 2). This infers that Nakdiymon ended up impoverished because of his decision to follow Messiah Yeshua wholeheartedly and openly. What a courageous example of true devotion to the King Messiah Yeshua and obedience to the Father God.
The cost of the burial spices (myrrh and aloes) that Nakdiymon brought to prepare Yeshua’s body are estimated by today’s currency as being between $150,000 to $200,000 USD.
Both the wrapping in cloth and the use of spices for burial are alluded to by ancient Jewish commentary:
"let the dead be wrapped in his own linen" - T. Hieros. Ternmot, fol. 46. 2.
“They do not say a blessing over a lamp, nor… the spices of the dead…” - Mishnah. Berachot. c. 8. sect. 6.
The practice of using embalming spices has fallen by the wayside, however the wrapping of the body in a shroud continues to be the practise of observant Jews today. Today, as in ancient times [Talmud Bavli Menachos 41:A] Jewish men are often buried wrapped in a tallit (prayer shawl) as a sign of preparation for the bodily resurrection at the last day.
For more information concerning Nakdiymon please read my article on John 3.
41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore according to the preparation of the Jewish people (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), since the tomb was nearby, they laid Yeshua[H] there.
“In which no one had been laid” is said to make certain that the reader understands that only Yeshua was in the tomb when it was sealed by the large stone. This makes it clear that Yeshua alone was interred there and that Yeshua alone was resurrected from there.
Because of the High Sabbath (First day of unleavened bread), the need to bury the body within a day of death and the ritual uncleanness associated with handling the body, they laid Yeshua’s body to rest promptly.
"they may not dig pits… nor graves… on a solemn feast day.'' - Mishnah. Moed Katon, c. 1. sect. 6.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Yeshua and His disciples observed, at least in part, significant portions of the Oral Torah, which was later codified as the Mishnah (2nd Century CE).
The first half of this chapter concerned the clear redemptive messianic mandate of Yeshua and His unwillingness to abide the plans of fallen human beings. It continued with His faithful observance of the instruction to go up for the festival of Sukkot, and alludes to His public teaching in the Temple proper (an area Gentiles were excluded from) among His fellow Jews in the middle of the festival.
As I previously stated, a sound understanding of the festival of Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43; Num. 29:12-39; Deut. 16:13-16) and its first century customs (some of which are described in the Mishnah and Talmud) is key to a correct interpretation of John 7:37-39 and 8:12. The festival of Sukkot is the backdrop for John chapters 7 and 8.
Sukkot begins 5 days after Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on the 15th of Tishri (the Shabbat or seventh month of the Biblical lunar calendar). It is highly likely given Yeshua’s strict observance of the Torah, that He had gone up to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur and had returned to the Galilee for the 5 day interim period between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. He had every intention of going up for Sukkot, in His own timing (according to God’s timing).
Sukkot is the festival of the later harvest and is full of completions: seven days, seventy sacrificial bulls etc. It has a long standing connection to the nations, from the time of the giving of the Torah in the presence of seventy elders, to the time of the prophet Zechariyah, and in the Talmud of rabbinical Judaism, and beyond.
“16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the
Concerning the seventy bulls required by Numbers 29:12-34, which were to be sacrificed over the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, the Talmud Bavliy says:
“Rabbi El’azar said, ‘To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations…” (Sukkah 55b)
Based on the many correlations between the number seventy and the nations in the Torah, rabbinic tradition teaches that seventy is a number for the nations and that the seventy bulls sacrificed during Sukkot are meant as an atonement for the nations.
Jewish Tradition and Practice During First Century CE Sukkot Celebrations at the Temple in Jerusalem:
In addition to the continued Torah instructed practice of dwelling, sleeping, eating and drinking, in temporary shelters, first century Jews practiced various other rites during Sukkot in Jerusalem each year.
The waving of the four species or Lulav (still practiced today) made up of branches of palm tree, myrtle, and willow, bound up together in a bundle (Lev.23:40). These were carried in the right hand, with an etrog (citron native to Israel) in the left. The lulav is waved three times first toward the east, then south, east, north, toward the heavens and then toward the lower regions and brought back to rest over the heart of the worshipper. This signifies that God is Creator and sustains of all things.
In the first century the priests walked around the altar once for each of the first six days of Sukkot, with the lulav in their hands, saying the words "Hoshana Save now, I plead to You, O Lord, O Lord I plead to You, send now prosperity" (Psalm 118:25): and on the seventh day, they went around the altar seven times (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Maimon. Hilch. Lulab, c. 7. sect. 5, 6, 9, 23).
There were great Menorah-like four branched candles stands in the Temple precinct. At sundown on the first day of the feast, they went down to the court of the women where golden candlesticks had been erected, and at the head of them four golden basins, and four ladders to every candlestick, and four young priests had four pitchers of oil, that held a hundred and twenty logs (an ancient measure of oil), which they put into each basin. Wicks were made from the old breeches and girdles of the priests, and it was these oil soaked wicks that the priests would light. There was not a court in Jerusalem which was not lit up with that light, and religious men, and men of good works, danced before them, with lighted torches in their hands, singing songs and hymns of praise, which continued for the following six nights (Mishnah. Succah, c. 5. sect 2, 3, 4; Maimon. ib. c. 8. sect. 12.).
On every day of the festival water was drawn from the pool of Siloach (sent) [Situated approximately 2km south of the Temple Mount], and was poured along with wine at the base of the altar as a libation offering. This was celebrated with great rejoicing (simchateinu). During the illumination in the court of the women, many instruments were employed such as harps, psalteries, cymbals, and two priests with trumpets, who sounded them when they were given the signal, and on every day, as they brought water from the pool of Siloach to the altar, they sounded with trumpets, and shouted; the great "Hallel" (Psalms 136), was sung all the eight days (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 8, 9. & c. 5. 1, 4, 5. & Eracin, c. 2. sect. 3). The whole festival was one of great rejoicing, according to Leviticus 23:40.
With all this and more in mind, and ultimately, guided by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh Who imparts the teaching of Yeshua to all believers, we attempt to humbly, and contextually understand the text that follows.
25 So some of the people of Yerushalayim[H] (Jerusalem: Downpour of Peace) were saying, “Is this not the one whom they’re seeking to kill?
“Is this not the one whom they’re seeking to kill?” This is a reference to those religious leaders among the Judean sect that were moved to hatred by Yeshua’s making whole of the man at Beit Chasda (House of Kindness and practical love). As mentioned previously, John 5:18 says “they sought to kill Him…”
The fact that “some of the people of Jerusalem” (Jews who had made aliyah for the festival of Sukkot) use the determiner “they” to refer to the small group of leaders who wanted to kill Yeshua, shows a social distancing between the speakers and the group who hated Yeshua. To say “they” is to exclude self and or, the collective “we”.
26 See, behold, pay attention (eido[G], Hinei[H]), He is speaking unreservedly, frankly, without ambiguity (parrhesia[G], doveir[H]), publicly, among the masses (barabiym[H]), and they’re not saying anything to Him.
The same “they” of the previous verse have been witnessed by the crowd watching Yeshua and listening to His teaching without making a move to prevent Him or interrupt Him, even though He is doing all this publicly and with dynamic, articulate, awe inspiring success.
The rulers, leaders, magistrates, heads (archon[G], rasheiynu[H]) haven’t truly concluded, come to the knowledge, come to have faith, trust (ginosko[G], um’nam[H]), because (kiy[H]) in truth (be’emet[H]) this one (zeh[H]) He (Hu[H]) is the Messiah (ho Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]), have they?
“The rulers, leaders, magistrates, heads” Refers to the Spiritual leaders, certain adjudicators of Torah and early rabbinic Halakhah, and possibly to some of the leaders of various smaller synagogues from throughout the region who practiced a pharisaic form of Judean Jewish faith. It does not refer to the Pharisees or Priests who are named separately in verse 32.
“haven’t truly concluded, come to the knowledge, come to have faith, trust… have they?” This statement reads as either incredulity or sarcasm, possibly even as a rhetorical question. It is certainly not a genuine attempt to discern the thinking or faith of the religious Jewish leaders.
The Greek “ginosko”[G] which alludes to mental assent or knowledge gleaned from persuasion, is equivalent but not the same as the more holistic Hebrew concept of emunah[H], faith, trust, knowledge of the inner being. The Greek concept of consciousness requires the seat of consciousness to reside in the brain/mind, the Hebrew idea of consciousness does not, rather, for the Hebrew the seat of consciousness is at the centre of being where the mind, emotion, soul, spirit, intellect, action etc. converge. Thus the Hebrew concept of consciousness allows for a continued conscious state following the physical death of the brain, and finds a greater continuity with the meta-narrative of Scripture.
In the next verse the Greek “ginosko”[G] is juxtaposed against the idea of belief based on various forms of sight “eido”[G]. This is yet further evidence of the Hebraic thought of the author, who appropriates Greek language as a vehicle for relaying a more holistic Hebrew understanding of the redemptive work of God.
27 In addition (alla[G]), we see, perceive (eido[G]) this man’s place of origin (pothen[G]); but whenever the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach) comes, no one (oudeis[G]) knows (ginosko[G], yeida[H]) His place of origin (pothen[G]).”
“we see, perceive this man’s place of origin” This tells us that by far the majority of those who were listening to Yeshua were aware that He had been residing in K’far Nachum (Capernaum) in the Galilee and as testified to in John 6:42, others were aware of His parents Yosef and Miriyam and His connection to Nazareth. However, based on what follows it seems clear that few if any (other than His immediate family and close retinue) were aware that He had been born in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, the house of bread), the town of King David.
Note the Greek “eido” does not mean “to know”, as is translated in so many English versions. In fact the text makes a clear distinction between perception based on knowledge “ginosko” and perception based on the various forms of sight “eido”. Yeshua’s listeners claim to be speaking of “knowing” where Messiah will come from, but Yeshua rebukes them by saying (to paraphrase), “You see Me and see where I have come from, I haven’t separated Myself from God Who is Truth and sent Me, Him you don’t see or perceive of, in spite of the fact that you can most certainly see Me!”
“…but whenever the Messiah comes, no one knows His place of origin;” Among the many strands of thought regarding Jewish messianic expectation in the first century CE, was the tradition of the “Hidden Messiah”, which some associate with the apocryphal (Not Inspired) book of Chanoch (1 Enoch 46:1-3).
“Then I inquired of one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me every secret thing, concerning this Son of man; who he was; whence he was; and why he accompanied the Ancient of days.” -1 Enoch 46:1b
The point is that contrary to Scripture (Micah 5:1), the “Hidden Messiah” tradition of the first century CE was prevalent among observant Jews.
The reality is that Scripture makes clear that the King Messiah will be born in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem):
“But as for you, Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, house of bread) Efratah (Ephrathah, fruitful place). Insignificant among the clans of Y’hudah (Judah, Praise), from you One will go forth for Me to be Ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago,
from the days of eternity.” -Micah 5:1  Author’s translation
Note that our rabbis rightly conclude that this refers to the King Messiah the Greater Son of David, due to the fact that according to this text the individual being referred to is both of the lineage of Judah and of eternity past.
One might conclude that this belief in the “Hidden Messiah” tradition was one held by Am Ha-aretz (Commoners) unlearned in the Torah, Prophets and Writings. If this is the case the latter reference to these unlearned commoners and their ignorance by the religious rulers (v.49), denotes that the religious leaders, being aware of the prophet Micah and knowing the birthplace of the Messiah, were all the more accountable and therefore in a much worse position than that of the ignorant masses, whom were supposedly under God’s curse. This brings to mind the writing of Yeshua’s brother Yaakov (James):
“Not many of you should aspire to become teachers, my Jewish brothers and sisters, knowing that as such we teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” -Yaakov (James) 3:1 Author’s translation
28 Then Yeshua (YHVH Saves, Jesus) cried out like a raven, like a prayer for vengeance (krazo[G], kara[H]) in the Temple (hieron[G], ha-Mikdash[H]), teaching (didasko[G], vay’lameid[H]) and saying (lego[G], vayomer[H]), “You both see, perceive (eido[G]) Me and see, perceive (eido[G]) My place of origin (pothen[G]); and of separation (apo[G]) I have not come, but He Who is true, faithful, trustworthy (ne’eman[H]) did the sending, sent Me (ho pempo me[G], she’lachaniy[H]), Whom all of you don’t see, perceive (eido[G]).
The Greek “krazo” denotes a cry like that of a raven or a man screaming a prayer of vengeance. Such was the power of His voice, that the sound of it carried over the heads and into the ears of the thousands of worshippers gathered in the Temple complex.
As stated in my previous article “…in the Mikdash (Temple)” means inside the Temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the Gentiles which is not considered part of the Temple proper. In other words, at the time of these events Yeshua’s teaching was made available only to Jews.
“You both see, perceive Me and see, perceive My place of origin;” Yeshua acknowledges that with their physical sight and human intellect they have observed and heard of His then current physical place of origin. However, what follows is a rebuke regarding their inability to see His ultimate origin in God the Father and His manifest identity as the visible substance of the invisible God. We should be slow to judge these first century Jewish worshippers, after all, we who have seen Yeshua spiritually are prone to the same lack of discernment but are, unlike them, without an excuse.
“and of separation I have not come,” Yeshua’s physical and spiritual being are inseparable. Likewise He and the Father are inseparable. He has not come from just one physical location, nor has He ever been separate from His origin in the Father, rather, He has come in unity with the Father and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in unity with the Father’s will.
Therefore, Yeshua’s identity can only be fully understood in the unity of the Godhead and the Person of Yeshua as Imanu El “With us God”. Ironically, to see Him in any other way is to practice the compartmentalization of the Greco-Roman world, and yet, Yeshua’s listeners were doing that very thing. Sadly, many believers also misperceive Yeshua in the same way today.
“…but He Who is true, faithful, trustworthy did the sending, sent Me, Whom all of you don’t see, perceive.” Simply put, you don’t perceive of the true nature of God, Who sent me.
29 I (Aniy[H]) see, perceive (eido[G]) Him, because from Him likewise existing, present (eimi[G]), I am sent (apostello[G], she’lachaniy[H]).”
Yeshua is essential saying, “I am God with You, In Him and of Him, Sent from Him to dwell within Him in the created order…”
30 As a result they were seeking (zeteo[G]) to lay hold of (piazo[G]) Him; and no one could lay a hand (epiballo[G]) on Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour (hora[G]) for Him had not yet come (lo bai to[H]).
“As a result they were seeking to lay hold of Him” In almost every instance when the religious authorities sought to lay hold of, stone, throw of a cliff or kill Yeshua, it was because He was either directly or indirectly claiming to be Imanu El God with us. Not “A son of God” but “The Son of God”.
“…and no one could lay a hand on Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour for Him had not yet come…” Notice the repetition of this phrase which is used to illuminate the reason that Yeshua would not acquiesce to His brothers’ suggestion earlier in this chapter. It is Yeshua, within God’s will, Who both knows and decides when He will give up His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all who will believe.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” -John 10:17-19 (NASB)
31 From the crowd many (polus[G], rabiym[H]) believed, trusted, had faith, were persuaded, placed their confidence (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in Him; and they were saying, “When the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) comes, He will not perform more, superior or greater (pleion[G], har’beih[H]) signs, marks, wonders (semeion[G], otot[H]) than those which this man has, will He?”
Notice that “many” of the Jewish worshippers who heard Yeshua were “persuaded” (pisteuo[G]) and “trusted, chose faith in Him” (he’emiynu[H]). This is not, as some suggest, a limited or superficial faith. To the contrary, like the disciples of Yeshua’s inner circle many thousands of Jews of the first century began to have faith in Yeshua during His ministry and found a greater fullness in the progression of that same faith following His death and resurrection.
Long before the body of believers became predominantly Gentile, it was wholly Jewish. In fact, at the convergence of the Jewish and Gentile progression of faith in Yeshua, the body of believers (Ecclesia[G]) was called Ha-Derech (The Way), a “Jewish Sect”. Interestingly, today in modern rabbinical Judaism we have a prayer dedicated to God’s protection and blessing as we journey, called Tefiylat HaDerech, Prayer of the way.
32 Some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees) heard the crowd murmuring these things about Him (Yeshua), and the chief priests (archiereus[G], ha-kohaniym[H]) and some of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees) sent servants (huperetes[G]) to apprehend (piazo[G]) Him.
I have added the words “some of” for clarification because it is clear from Scripture that Nakdiymon (Nicodemus) and other Pharisees like Him, along with many of Yeshua’s own disciples, who were clearly of the Pharisaic sect, were not among the Pharisees who were seeking to seize Yeshua. For all intents and purposes Yeshua Himself was a Pharisee.
It is worth noting the P’rush means “Separate, distinct, set apart”. Therefore, the P’rushiym (ancient forerunners to rabbinical Judaism) were “Distinct, set apart ones”. In respect to God’s call on His people this is a wonderful name to carry, however, God’s Son our King Messiah comes to remind us that we are to be set apart unto God and not separated from Him by our fallen sense of self-righteousness.
At this juncture we need to be reminded once again that for all intents and purposes and with regard to theology and faith Yeshua was a Pharisee. Likewise Nakdiymon, Rav Shaul (Paul the sent one) and many others who chose faith in Yeshua. The Chief Priests and Pharisees mentioned here are a subgroup among those groups and do not represent the whole.
It’s important to clarify the distinction between the Pharisees and the Chief Priest, the majority of whom were Sadducees (forerunners of the modern Karaite Jews). Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees accepted the Torah alone as authoritive Scripture and would therefore have rejected Yeshua’s claims to Messiahship, a majority of which were based on the writings of the prophets, which the Sadducees considered uninspired. In addition, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (imagine their chagrin concerning the resurrection of Lazarus), angels, demons, miraculous healing (Oiy Vey) and so on. The Sadduciym were essentially moralists, making ethics out of sacred writings and seeing death as the absolute end of life. Not unlike numerous ethics lecturers in our modern western universities.
Therefore, the fact that Sadducees and Pharisees could have united in their dislike of Yeshua means that at least part of the reason was political rather than spiritual. Roman occupation hung on their minds and the repercussions they foresaw regarding a messianic uprising terrified them.
Pilate, the Roman Governor of the time is recorded in extra Biblical history as an insidious man who used provocations and tyranny to incite and murder Jews in Roman occupied Israel. Thus, the Pharisees and Sadducees had good reason to be fearful of what might result if Yeshua was allowed to be hailed as the King Messiah of Israel, a land known in the first century by the Roman names of occupation, Roman province of Judea, Roman province of Samaria, Roman province of Idumea. Later following the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 CE Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the land to Syria Palaestina, thus the present day illegitimate name of occupation “Palestine” used by Israel’s oppressors and those who would take God’s Name “El” out of the land of Yisra-El. To hear the name “Palestine” on the tongue of one who claims to be a follower of Yeshua (Jesus) is an appalling oxymoronic disgrace!
33 Therefore the Yeshua said, “Yet for a short time I am with you, then I withdraw Myself (hupago[G]) to Him Who sent (pempo[G], she’lachaniy[H]) Me. 34 Seeking (zeteo[G],) Me, you will not come upon (heurisko[G]) Me; and where I am, exist (eimi[G], aniy sham[H]) you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come.”
“the Yeshua” The Greek says “ho Iesous”. Not just any Joshua of the time but “the Joshua”. Remembering that Joshua was a very common name in the Jewish community of the first century CE and indeed continues to be popular today among Jewish families both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
In hindsight it is easy to see that Yeshua was referring to His death and resurrection and possibly to His subsequent ascension. However, given the theological dialogue and the first century worship environment, along with the messianic expectation and the physical need for deliverance from the Roman occupation: it seems reasonable that His hearers might conclude a literal interpretation of His words rather than a euphemistic one.
“…and where I am, exist you’re not able, nor do you have the power to come.” The use and tense of the language is illuminating. In one sense Yeshua is saying He is already where He is going to be (slain before the creation of the world [Rev.13:8]). Furthermore, He explains that where He is going (Gan Eden, the Bosom of Abraham, Paradise), they are presently unable to enter because they do not (in their present state of disbelief) qualify among the righteous of Israel’s departed. Nor have they yet received Yeshua and the means of redemption by which they might follow Him to Gan Eden, as the thief on the cross did (Luke 23:39-43). Therefore, even if they wanted to locate Yeshua, following this dialogue, they could not. Not yet. Keep in mind that it is highly likely that many of His opponents were among those who would soon come to faith at Shavuot (Pentecost) [Acts 2] following His resurrection.
35 Some of the the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to travel to the Diaspora (Jewish dispersion throughout the Greco-Roman world) among the Greeks (Hellen[G]), and teach (didasko[G]) the Greeks (Hellen[G]), is He? 36 What is this word, speech (logos[G]) that He said, ‘Seeking (zeteo[G],) Me, you will not come upon (heurisko[G]) Me; and where I am, exist (eimi[G], aniy sham[H]) you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come’?”
They ask if Yeshua will go into the Diaspora or where Jews are dispersed throughout the Greco-Roman world. While the text says specifically will He “teach the Greeks”, it may denote Jews living in the diaspora, who were looked down upon by the Jews of the land, in much the same way as Jews living outside of Israel today are looked down upon by some ultra-observant religious Jews in the land of Israel. It is worth noting that by far the majority of secular and less observant Israeli Jews are extremely friendly toward Jews from outside of the land and are welcoming and supportive of all new comers to Israel.
37 Now on the last day, Hoshanah Rabah[H] (the Great Save Now) the great day of the festival of Sukkot[H] (hagadol chag[H]), Yeshua stood and cried out like a raven, like a prayer for vengeance (krazo[G]), saying (lego[G]), “If anyone is suffering thirst (dipsao[G]) let that one come (erchomai[G]) to Me and drink (pino[G]). 38 He who believes, has faith, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G]) in Me, according to the speech of the Writing (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]), ‘A river (potamos[G]) coming out of the entire cavity of his inner being (koilia autos[G], leiv[H]) will flow (rheo[G]) with waters that are living (mayim chayiym[H]).’”
The last or seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshanah Rabah, which literally translates as “the save now that is great”. It is the climax of the seven-day festival during which the water libation offering of the first century period was conducted.
For seven days the people had watched the Cohen Hagadol (High Priest) pour out water at the base of the altar inside the Temple grounds. This water was collected from the pool of shiloach (Siloam, meaning “sent”), situated approximately 2km south of the Temple Mount not far from the place where the Hinnom and Kidron valleys converge. A specially selected priest collected the water each day and brought it up the hill and through the water gate into the Temple with singing, a variety of instruments and great rejoicing (the festival of Sukkot is closely associated to the word simchateinu “Our great rejoicing”). This was a kinetic form of ritual prayer petitioning God for rain. It also figuratively represents the out pouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on the people of Israel. Our rabbis make the connection between this first century practice and Isaiah 12:3:
“Collectively you will draw water in joy you will draw water
from the springs of the salvation” -Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 12:3 Authors Translation
Therefore, the Jewish worshippers of the first century have prayed for rain and that God would send the promised King Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression. And now, on the final day of the feast called Hoshanah Rabbah (The Great Save Now), the water is carried to the Temple accompanied by Cohaniym (priests) blowing gold trumpets and L’vi’iym (Levites) singing songs of praise and worship, surrounded by common Israelis waving lulaviym of the four species prescribed by Scripture (Lev.23:40), including the palm branch, and chanting the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which include in their final verses:
“I plead with You HaShem, Hoshana, save us!
I plead with You HaShem, send prosperity, I plead!
Barukh Haba b’sheim Adonai, Blessing is He who comes in the Name of HaShem!
We have blessed from the House of Hashem!
God HaShem and uncreated light to us!
Bind a festival sacrifice with cords against the horns of the altar.
My God, You I throw praise to You My God, exalting You!
Give thanks to HaShem for Good, forever, for His kindness, faithfulness, practical and transcendent love!” -Psalm 118:25-29 Author’s translation
This prayer is employed as a heralding of the Messiah during Yeshua’s later entry into Jerusalem (Matt.21:9; Mk.11:9-10). It was also a petition for salvation from sin.
The Encyclopedia Judaica notes:
“A connection between the possession of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh and ecstasy, or religious joy, is found in the ceremony of water drawing, Simchat Beit-HaSho’evah [“feast of water drawing”], on the festival of Sukkot. The Mishnah said that he who had never seen this ceremony, which was accompanied by dancing, singing and music (Sukkot 5:4), had never seen true joy (Sukkot 5:1). Yet this was also considered a ceremony in which the participants, as it were, drew inspiration from the Holy Spirit itself, which can only be possessed by those whose hearts are full of religious joy (Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5:1, 55a).” - Encyclopedia Judaica 14:365
Given the historical context of these events and Yeshua’s participation in and veneration of the practices associated with the festival, and the fact that these rites are extrabiblical, being recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud; we can determine that Yeshua and His disciples observed, at least in part, significant portions of the Oral Torah, which was later codified as the Mishnah (2nd Century CE). Therefore, it is foolish to discount the Mishnah in its entirety as “the traditions of men” (Mark 7:5-13), in light of the fact that Yeshua considered its traditions to be valid expressions of Jewish worship and further still, used these practices as a platform for revealing His identity and purpose.
Now, in the midst of the cacophony of rejoicing and spiritual ecstasy the Cohen Hagadol (High priest) pours the water out at the base of the altar for the final time and the energy of the crowd builds to a crescendo; a young rabbi from the Kinneret (Galilee) shouts out above the crowd who have gathered in great anticipation, and says:
“If anyone is suffering thirst let that one come to Me and drink, He who believes, has faith in Me, according to the speech of the Holy Writings, ‘A river coming out of the entire cavity of his inner being, will flow with waters that are living.’”
Yeshua was unifying the message of several passages from the prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah):
“‘For I will pour out water on him who is thirsty
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;” – Isaiah 44:3 (NASB)
“Ho, take notice, be awe struck! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.” -Isaiah 55:1 Author’s translation
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” -Isaiah 58:11 (NASB)
“The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” -Proverbs 18:4 (NASB)
Of course, the ultimate and everlasting fulfilment of these kinetic prayers is recorded in Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan:
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” -Revelation 22:17 (NASB)
39 But this He (Yeshua) spoke of the Spirit (Pneuma[G], Ha Ruach[H]), Whom those who believed (ha-ma’amiyniym[H]) in Him were to receive; for the Spirit (Pneuma[G], Ha Ruach[H]) was not yet given (nitan[H]), because Yeshua was not yet glorified.
“But this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive;” Yeshua speaks of the outpouring of water as a metaphor for the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh. This was something that all Israel was anticipating in association with the festival of Sukkot and its many spiritual implications. However, the author of John’s Gospel explains that the Ruach HaKodesh will be given in full measure at a later date and only to those who believe.
“…for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” Yeshua did breathe the Holy Spirit upon His disciples prior to His ascension (John 20:22), however, the Spirit was not given in full measure, that is, did not indwell the disciples and others who believed until the Shavuot (Pentecost) that occurred 50 days after His resurrection (Acts 2).
“Yeshua was not yet glorified” This refers to His resurrected glory. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son (Rom.8:9; Heb.9:14; Phil.1:19; 2 Pet.1:20-21; Gal.4:6), could not be poured out into the hearts of human beings until the death and resurrection of Yeshua had made possible the perpetual atonement that brings salvation and right standing before God. Therefore, it was after Yeshua’s ascension and from His position seated in and with the Father, that the Father and the Son began to pour out their unified Spirit into the hearts, the inner being, of every believer.
40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet (zeh hu ha-naviy[H]).”
“This is the prophet” God spoke to Moses of, “I will raise up a prophet like you…” (Deut.18:15-18; Acts 7:37).
41 Others were saying, “This is the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]).” Still others were saying, “Surely the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) is not going to come from the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]), is He? 42 Has not the Writing (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]) said that the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) comes from the descendants of David (Beloved), and from Beit Lechem[H] (House of Bread) Bethlehem, the village David came from?”
“Others were saying, ‘This is the Messiah’” As attested to in verse 31, many already believed Yeshua was the promised King Messiah.
“Surely the Messiah is not going to come from the Galilee, is He? 42 Has not the Writing said that comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village David came from?” Sadly human beings are prone to both proposing and making false choices. The Scriptures show that Messiah is from both Bethlehem and the Galilee. In fact, He is from Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth and the Galilee.
Ref. Matt. 2; 2 Sam. 7:12-13; Jer. 23:5-6; Micah 5:1 ; Psalm. 89:36-38 [35-37]; 132:11; 1 Chron. 7:11, 14).
The people were right to say that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem. Those who were in confusion and disbelief were clearly not aware that Yeshua had been born in Bethlehem. If they had been, many more may well have believed, but, this would not have allowed for the purposes of God to come about because they would have made of Yeshua a temporal King, and devoid of the sacrificial means of eternal redemption, would have died in their sin without the eternal Kingdom promised by God.
43 As a result a division, split, gap (schisma[G]) occurred in the crowd because of Him (Yeshua[H]).
There have and until His return will always be only two responses to the work of Yeshua: acceptance and life, rejection and death.
“For we are a fragrance of Messiah to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;to the one an aroma from death leading to death, to the other an aroma from life leading to life. And who is adequate for these things?” -2 Corinthians 2:15-16 Author’s translation
44 Some of them intended to apprehend (piazo[G]) Him, but no one laid hands on Him. 45 The servants (huperetes[G]) then came to the chief priests (archiereus[G], ha-kohaniym[H]) and some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees), and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?”
“No one laid hands on Him” because His time had not yet come.
46 The servants (huperetes[G]) answered, “Never has a human being (anthropos[G]) spoken in the manner this man speaks.”
In saying this the servants insulted the P’rushiym, who considered themselves well versed and well spoken in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. The servants were testifying to witnessing the reality of Yeshua’s own words: “My teaching is not Mine but His Who sent Me!” (v.16).
47 The P’rushiym[H] then answered them, “You haven’t also been led astray, have you?
The hubris of this small group of P’rushiym is palpable. They conclude that no one could speak in a manner that is superior their own ability, therefore, those who witnessed it must be deluded, lead astray.
48 No one among the leaders, magistrates, rulers, princes (archon[G], ha-sariym[H]) or P’rushiym[H] have believed, trusted, been persuaded (pisteuo[G]) in Him, have they?
In fact Nakdiymon is likely to have already become a disciple of Yeshua, and his subsequent rebuttal of the religious party’s unlawful judgement is further evidence of this (v.50-52). In addition to Nakdiymon, many others among the P’rushiym who had been among the crowd had also become followers of Yeshua (v.31).
49 But this crowd which does not know (yod’iym[H]) the Torah[H] (Instruction, ho nomos[G]) is under God’s curse (epikataratos[G]).”
Once again the pride of the learned religious leaders raises its ugly head. They’re essentially saying that all the common Israelis who have come up to attend the festival of Sukkot in obedience to the Torah, are ignorant of the Torah. Worse still, because many in the crowd have concluded that Yeshua speaks the truth, the religious leaders consider them under God’s curse. What a sad and ironic situation the religious leaders find themselves in, for, as the Scripture says “an undeserved curse cannot land”, in fact, it returns to rest upon the one who uttered it.
50 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) [the one who had come to Yeshua before, being one of the P’rushiym[H]) said to them, 51 “Our Torah[H] (Instruction, ho nomos[G]) does not separate, judge, access (krino[G]) a man unless it first hears (akouo[G]) from him and knows (ginosko[G]) what he is doing (poieo[G]), does it?”
Many among them knew and were thinking this but it was Nakdiymon alone who had the courage to speak up. A courage born of the Spirit of God. He is correct in his assertion. Deuteronomy 19:15-21 demands that a lawful gathering be held in order to hear from all parties involved in a matter of Torah law.
52 They answered him (Nakdiymon), “You’re not also from the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]), are you? Search, and see that prophets aren’t raised out of the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]).” 53 Each man journeyed to his house.
“You’re not also from the Galilee, are you?” Personal attacks are often the domain of those who have lost an argument or are found wanting in their ability to refute the truth. Therefore, knowing they’re in the wrong the religious leaders cover up their inadequacy with bigotry. They were essentially saying, “You’re not also one of those ignorant hicks from the Galilee are you?” This they said to a man honoured by the Talmud as a tzadik (righteous saint), well learned in the Torah and well-practiced in Halakhah, righteous living (see my article on John 3).
“Search, and see that prophets aren’t raised out of the Galilee” Usually, when one relies on emotion to further a point of disagreement, the result is untenable. Not only was Nakdiymon right concerning the Torah, he was also vindicated by the response of the religious leaders which proved them to be guilty of the ignorance they had presumed upon others. One need not look far to find that the prophet Yonah came from Gat-Hefer in the Galilee. What’s more, our own rabbis, men who are the progeny of Pharisaic Judaism, testify against the false information of the religious leaders:
“Rabbi Eli’ezer… said… ‘There was not a tribe in Israel which did not produce prophets…” (Sukkah 27b).
However, because the tense of the Greek text allows for the meaning “no future prophet comes from the Galilee”, we must give the religious leaders the benefit of the doubt on this matter.
“Each man journeyed to his house.” This does not mean that the people returned from the festival to their home villages but that those involved with the private meeting of the religious leaders and their servants returned to their homes in the city of Jerusalem. We know this because the eighth day Sh’mini Atzeret of Sukkot was yet to occur and the seventh day would not conclude until the following sundown according to the Biblical lunar calendar. Therefore, thousands remained in Jerusalem for the conclusion of the festival.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Therefore, the true tikun olam is impossible without the redeeming work of the King Messiah at His first coming and the renewing work of the King Messiah upon His return.
It’s not uncommon to hear Nicodemus being slighted by preachers, who claim he was a sneaky and cowardly Pharisee, ashamed to admit publicly that he believed in Yeshua. This is almost solely based on the present passage and the fact that Nicodemus came at night. Those same preachers, neglect to recognize the other instances in Scripture where Nicodemus proves himself to be more than willing to act on his faith in Yeshua (Yochanan/John 7:50-51, 19:49)
As we examine the text of Yochanan (John) 3 and in particular 3:1-21, we must put aside any bigoted view we may have of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the sect of Judaism that most identified with Yeshua’s teaching. They believed in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, demons, healing, signs and wonders. They hoped for a Great One—Rabbi, a Mashiyach—Messiah and King to redeem the people of Israel. It is far too easy (and anti-Semitic) to disregard all Pharisees as anti-Christs. With regard to their theological position, they were by far the closest of all the sects of first century Judaism to the teaching and actions of Messiah. So why did some of them oppose Him? Why does one preacher oppose another, though they both share the same message? It is because they sought glory for themselves rather than for the message. Nicodemus and his like-minded friends (Pharisees) sought the glory of God and found Messiah Yeshua. Next time you’re tempted to disparage the Pharisees, remember that you share their beliefs and take care.
Joh 3:1 There was a man of the (Ho[G]) Pharisees (Pharisaios[G], Perushiym[H], chaste, abstinent ones), named Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) a ruler, officer (archon[G], ketziyn[H]) of the (Ho[G]) Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]):
“Nakdiymon” The Pharisee with a Greek name meaning “Conqueror of the assembly”. The Talmudic etymology for his name is derived from a Hebrew root that suggests the meaning “One who holds back the sun”. Others see Nakdimon as a compound of two Hebrew words joined to mean “Innocent blood”. He was one of the ruling class of the Judean religious community, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin (John 7:50), and as such a teacher of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). As a leader of Israel—that is part of the
Sanhedrin (70 members, 70 being the Hebrew number for the nations)—he sought victory for his people from their physical and spiritual oppression. As a Jew he was a man of innocent blood. Thus there is a correlation to Yeshua’s description of Nathaniel, “a man in who there is no guile.”
It is likely that the Nikodemos mentioned here (John 3:1) is the same Nakdimon ben Gurion who was brother to Josephus ben Gurion the first century Jewish historian and writer of the Wars and Antiquities of the Jews (Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 19. 1). Josephus writes in the first century CE (AD) of the historical events taking place in the Roman provinces of the middle east and in particular Roman occupied Israel, name Philistia by the Romans as a means of psychological warfare against and subjugation of the Jewish people.
Nakdimon ben Gurion is also mentioned in the Talmud (a codified oral tradition of the Jewish religion). The Talmud, albeit codified much later in history, non the less offers its readers many viable historic accounts from the first century passed on as oral traditions, and later codified.
Nakdimon ben Gurion was a contemporary of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zaccai of the Talmud, who also lived in first century Roman occupied Israel, right up until the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 CE (AD); both men are recorded as having been at a first century feast together, a celebration of the brit milah (circumcision) of the son of a common friend [Pirke Eliezer, c. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 23. 2].
Nakdimon was known to be exceedingly rich: the Babylonian Talmud names him as one of the three richest men in Jerusalem (T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 56. 1), a man who was able to sustain and maintain a city for a period of ten years (Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 4). The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) confirms that Nakdimon was very rich, recording that at the burial of the King Messiah, Nikodemos brought a great weight in costly myrrh and aloes to consecrate Yeshua’s body (John 19:39). As well as being rich he was also known as a righteous man. The Talmud tells an account of Nakdimon who, “On his way to the temple (House of Study) in Jerusalem to pray, had carpets laid out on the path before him which were to be left behind and given to the poor” (Ket. 66.b).
Nakdimon ben Gurion, is said by historical Jewish tradition to have been an advisor/a counsellor in Jerusalem (Echa Rabbati, fol. 46. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 1). Which is clearly the case in John’s Gospel (John 7:32-50). Therefore, the Talmud is effectively confirming Nakdimon’s role as a member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish religious government).
He was also known by the name Boni (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1; Ta’an 20.a). Jewish tradition records that Boni was one of the talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua (Echa Rabbati, fol. 49. 3). This is consistent with his actions following Yeshua’s death where he openly identified with Joseph of Arimathea, another of Yeshua’s disciples from the rich ruling class. It seems that as a result of Nakdimon’s open profession of faith in Yeshua following the resurrection, that poverty came upon him and his family. The Babylonian Talmud records that Rav Yochanan ben Zaccai saw the daughter of Nakdimon, having been reduced to extreme poverty, gleaning barley kernels from under the hooves of horses in the northern coastal city of Akko (T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 66. 2). The name Boni may be related to the Greek Boanerges “Sons of Thunder”, or may simply mean “My son” or “The coming of me”, “My coming”.
Based on Jewish legend, the Hebrew meaning of Nakdimon’s name is derived from nakdah meaning to shine forth. The legend tells of an occasion (T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1.) when Nakdimon, needing water for pilgrims for the purpose of ritual cleansing prior to a feast, made an agreement with a certain man to use the water from twelve wells and replace it by a certain day, or pay 297 kilos of silver for the water used. When the day came, the man demanded he be compensated either with the water, or the money. Therefore, Nakdimon went and prayed, and there was a torrential rain fall that filled the wells with water. However, the owner of the wells insisted that by the time the rain had ended the sun had set, and the appointed day was passed, and therefore, the money was still owed him. Nakdimon went and prayed again in the temple, and as a result of his prayer the sun turned back from setting, meaning that the appointed day had not ended and that the money was no longer owed to the lender.
The Babylonian Talmud concludes the matter by saying:
“His name was not Nakdimon but Boni, and he was called Nakdimon because on his account the sun was held back. The rabbis taught: ‘For the sake of each of only three men the sun nakdimah (nkdmh) was prevented/held back, and they are Moses, Joshua (T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 25. 1), and Nakdimon ben Gurion.’” -Talmud Babylonia Ta’anith 3
Joh 3:2 The same (man) came to Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) by night (noox[G], laylah[H]) and said to Him (Yeshua), “Rabbi (Rhabbi[G], Rabiy[H]: my great one) we know that you are a teacher (didaskalos[G], moreh[H]) come from God (Theos[G], Elohim[H]): for no man can do these signs, miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) that you do, unless the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) is with him.”
“The same (man) came to Yeshua by night” Much has been made of these few simple words, almost all of it demeaning to Nakdimon. There are many possible answers as to why Nakdimon sought out Yeshua at night:
• He may have wanted to converse with Yeshua on a deeper level than was possible
among the crowds of Passover
• Perhaps he wanted to keep his position in the Sanhedrin secure so that he could
advocate for Yeshua along with the other Pharisees who believed in Him
• It is possible that he had Yeshua’s safety in mind
• Or that it was simply the coolest and most convenient time of the day in the Israeli
The least convincing possibility is that he was a coward and cared only for his own betterment in the Sanhedrin and the ruling class of Israel.
As I’ve explained, some have suggested that Nakdimon came by night so as not to be seen. While this is a possibility (John 12:42) but highly unlikely, it is equally possible and far more likely that Nakdimon had commitments during the day which included adjudicating disputes, teaching Torah and other practical tasks related to the rule of the Jewish community in Roman occupied Israel during the first century. Therefore, just as members of our own community must often arrange to meet after work hours in the evening, so too Nakdimon arranged to meet Yeshua at the end of the work day. When we assume the worst of righteous men, we prove ourselves unrighteous. It was also traditional for Jewish religious teachers to study Torah at night and in particular on the nights of the festivals of the Torah:
"Rav Aba (Rabbi Abba) rose in the middle of the night, as did the rest of the companions, in order to study in the Torah (Instruction).” -Zohar in Exod. fol. 84. 1.
“And it is often said of Rav Simeon ben Yoechal, and Ele’etzer his son, that they sat in the night and laboured in the Torah (Instruction); and it was reckoned very commendable so to do, and highly pleasing to God…” - Ib. fol. 8S. 2. in Lev. fol. 5. 3, 4. & 10. 1. & passim.
“Whoever studies in the Torah (Instruction) in the night, the holy blessed God draws a thread of mercy upon him in the day:'' - T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 12. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 3. sect. 13.
"Everyone that studies in the Torah (Instruction) in the night, the Shekinah (manifest glory of God) is over and with him.'' - T. Bab. Tamid. foi. 32. 2.
For two reasons we know that Nakdimon didn’t come to Yeshua alone:
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these signs, that you do, unless the God is with him.” Nakdimon begins his conversation with Yeshua by stating that he and his compatriots believe Yeshua is from God. This amounts to an open admission of Yeshua’s Messianic status. Nakdimon believes and is seeking the mechanism for his belief.
As evidence for their belief, Nakdimon calls to attention the signs (miracles) of Yeshua. He calls them signs because they are clear signs of the specific miraculous actions that the coming Messiah must perform as proof of His identity. Yeshua is about to preach to the choir here, only it’s a choir that has the sheet music but doesn’t know how to read it.
“And he shall send them a saviour, and a Great One—Rabbi, and he shall deliver them.” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 19:20
Nakdimon calls Yeshua “My Great One”, while some may employ this title in flattery, it is clearly not the case with Nakdimon. Rather than come publicly with other Jewish religious leaders and taunt Yeshua, Nakdimon has come at night to dialogue with Him in a more intimate setting, proving his righteous character. Thus, when he uses the title Rabbi he shows respect for Yeshua. This is quickly backed up by Nakdimon’s acknowledgement of the evidence that Yeshua is a man of God, Who has shown this in a manifest and powerful way. None of this denotes doubt or disrespect. Although Nakdimon is a religious ruler who carries great authority, he non the less approaches Yeshua with humility and genuine questioning. Nakdimon’s questions are from the good inclination (yetzer ha-tov) showing that he seeks the truth with a teachable heart.
The previous chapter concludes with mention of the many signs Yeshua did in Jerusalem during Passover (2:23). Some of the specific signs (miracles) He performed are recorded in the other Gospels, some are not. Regardless, it is to a wealth of signs in addition to the sign of water to wine and the destruction of the trading tables, that Nikodemos is referring.
“you are a teacher come from God” One of the first century Jewish expectations of the Messiah was that He would be a teacher like Moses.
“‘The teacher’, he is the King Messiah.'' - Maimon. Hilch. Melacim, c. 11. sect. 3.
"O you children of Tziyon (Zion), rejoice and be glad in the word of the Lord your God, for He will return ‘your teacher’ to you.’'' -Targum Yonatan Joel 2:23
“No man can do these signs, that you do, unless the God is with him.” Even more prominent in the first century Messianic expectations of the Jewish people was the belief that the King Messiah would perform miraculous signs like those of Moses and Elijah.
Joh 3:3 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered and said to him (Nikodemos), “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if (ean[G]) one (tis[G]) is not (me[G], lo[H]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) from above (anothen[G], milmalah[H]), he cannot (ou[G]) have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) see (eido[G], lirot[H]) the (Ho[G]) kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship (basileia[G], et-malchut[H]) of the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]).”
The repetition of the Amen is according to the Jewish literary devise an affirmation of that which has preceded and an assurance of that which is about to be revealed as something firmly established by God.
Notice that Yeshua agrees with the assessment of Nakdimon and his fellow Pharisees. “Amen—of course true! You got that right!” Nakdimon had rightly assessed the divine origin of Messiah, he knew that Yeshua was from above. What he didn’t realize was that Yeshua had come so that Nakdimon and his friends could also be born anew through Yeshua, from above.
“fathered, born from above” We note that the text is best translated “born from above” or “born anew”. The translation “born again” is misleading and can be easily misunderstood.
The concept of one being spiritually born is not foreign to Judaism:
“Shimon ben Lakish said, ‘…a proselyte (convert to Judaism) is like a newborn infant.’” - Talmud Babylonia. Yevamot 62 a. [Rabbi Yosi of the Talmud said the same (Yevamot 48 b.)]
“If one is not fathered, born from above, he cannot have power, permission, ability to see the kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship of the God.” There are many facets to this teaching. Yeshua is in essence saying that the Kingdom of God cannot be attained through Torah observance. He is also saying that being born physically into the sin affected world is a death sentence unless one is born anew from above. In addition, He is alluding to the power (Spirit) of God required for one to walk perpetually in righteousness and thus into the Olam Haba (World to come). The “sight” Yeshua refers to is spiritual sight that can only be received from God by His Spirit and through His Son the King Messiah. All of this teaching is a direct affront to the teaching that says that repentance, Torah observance, mitzvot, petitioning and prayer can earn one entry into the Olam Haba.
Therefore, unlike the rabbis of the Talmud, Yeshua does not teach that conversion to Judaism will birth one anew, but rather, that only salvation through the redemptive work of God will bring newness of life to the repentant.
“Kingdom of the God” The equivalent Hebrew term is Malkut Shamayim “Kingdom of the Heavens” (Dan. 4:3; 1 Chr. 29:10-12), and implies God’s divine reign over the present world made new (rid of sin, evil etc). This is a more correct understanding than the traditional and (extra Biblical) Christian concept of a heaven in the clouds. To the contrary, by the tikun olam (repairing of the world) of God through the atoning blood of His Son Yeshua, the present world will be cleansed, restored, and renewed, and will transition to become the Olam Haba (world to come). This is well supported by both the Tanakh (OT) and the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT).
Joh 3:4 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) said to Him (Yeshua), “How, in what way (pos[G]) can a man (adam[H]) have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) be fathered, born (gennao[G]) when he is old? He does not have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) enter, return to (lashuv[H]) the womb (koilia[G], el-beten[H]) of his mother (meter[G], Imo[H]) of himself (autos[G]) a second (deuteros[G]) time, and be fathered, born (gennao[G], yivaleid[H])?”
What surprises me most about this response from Nakdimon is that he hears a parable--mashal—from Yeshua, but instead of interpreting it as a parable he takes it literally. As “The teacher of Israel,” Nakdimon was familiar with using, listening to and interpreting metaphorical and allegorical parables and sayings. Why then did he jump straight passed the obvious metaphor and go with a literal interpretation of The Rabbi’s answer? I know in myself that I only do this when I am unable to absorb the consequences or perceived impossibility of what I know the answer to be. Perhaps Nakdimon could just not see how God might impart life renewal to Israel.
By his question Nakdimon shows a limited understanding of the coming Kingdom of the Heavens (something he himself teaches others). His understanding sees the Kingdom of the heavens only in physical terms. Therefore, rather than consider the spiritual implications he instead asks how it is possible for a man to be made righteous through a renewed birth from a human mother. This is certainly in keeping with the miraculous nature of the signs of God through the Messiah, however, it misses the point entirely. We may see these things in retrospect, but be assured, had we been in the position of Nakdimon we too would have entirely missed the point. He asked his question in order to understand what might be possible and not in order to refute Yeshua’s teaching.
Joh 3:5 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if (ean[G]) one (tis[G]) is not (me[G], lo[H]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) and of the Spirit, breath, wind (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]), he cannot have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) enter, return to (lashuv[H]) the (Ho[G]) kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship (basileia[G], et-malchut[H]) of the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]).
Again, Yeshua doesn’t tell Nakdimon that he’s got it all wrong. He simply points to the first instance, being physical birth and affirms that both it and a spiritual renewal are necessary. All are born through the breaking water of the mother but something more is needed if we are to enter God’s Kingdom. We must be born of God’s Spirit, born anew, from above. We can also find in the words “water” and “Spirit” the tevilot immersions (baptisms) of both Yochanan (John) the Immerser (Baptist) and Yeshua. Water represents the tevilah (baptism) of repentance and The Spirit the tevilah (baptism) of Spirit and Fire from above. Without Yeshua’s tevilah (baptism) of death and His resurrection we are unable to receive the Spirit. In Him we have access to the mechanism for our Salvation, His very own Spirit, and the Spirit of the Father in us. God’s Spirit births in us the desire to repent--tishuvah—turn around, turn back to God. Then only through Messiah are we able to receive the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit who births us anew from above into a life reconciled to God.
“Born out of water” As per the context denoted by the previous verse, born of water refers to the breaking of a mother’s waters at physical birth. It speaks of being born into this world (the sin affected creation).
“And of the Spirit” Refers to being born anew, fathered by God through His Spirit. In the same way that physical birth breaks water and through blood brings new life into the present world, so too spiritual birth breaks the living waters of Messiah and through His blood atonement births anew the soul of a human being into the Olam Haba (world to come). Meaning that one’s entry into the Olam Haba (world to come) begins at the moment of being born anew in the Spirit through Messiah and continues through physical death into everlasting living. This is why Yeshua says:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” -Yeshua [Yochanan (John) 11:15-16]
Joh 3:6 That which is fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) the flesh, meat, body, sensuous nature (sarx[G], basar[H]) is flesh (sarx[G], basar[H]); and that which is fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) the Spirit, breath, wind (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]), is spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]).
Nakdimon has an earthly understanding. Messiah wants to impart to him and his fellows an understanding from above.
“But the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” -1 Corinthians 2:14
Joh 3:7 Don’t marvel, be in wonder (thaumazo[G]) that I said to you, you must, it is necessary (dei[G]) you (humas[G]) be fathered, born (gennao[G]) from above (anothen[G], milmalah[H]). Joh 3:8 The Spirit, wind, breath (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]) blows where He (Hu[H]) intends, determines, desires, takes delight, sits (thelo[G], nosheiv[H]), Alt. Heb. [Yachepotz sham hu novsheiv[H], where the Spirit wants to blow there He sits], and you hear (akouo[G], tish’ma[H]) the sound, voice, language, of Him (phone[G], et-kolo[H]) of it, but cannot see, perceive, know, examine (eido[G], teida[H]) the place (pothen[G]) where (anah[H]) it He came from (ba[H]), and where it He (hu[H]) leads, goes (hupago[G], holeikh[H]): so it is with every individual (pas[G]) those the (ho[G]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of, from (ek[G], min[H]) the Spirit (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]).”
“You must be born anew from above” One born of the race of Ha-Adam the first man are born into the sin affected world due to the inherent nature of the sin choice of the first human beings. Therefore, to be born from above means to be delivered from the just consequences of the sin we commit as heirs to the sin affected world of the first man (Adam) and this redemption comes through the last Adam, that is, the King Messiah Yeshua:
“For as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive.” -1 Corinthians 15:22
“So it is written: ‘The first human Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” -1 Corinthians 15:45
Being born anew from above is the work of God, it is not achieved through human labour—as is the case in the physical effort of birthing a child. We are not able to work our way toward or earn new birth by our own efforts. We are born anew through the mechanism of Messiah’s death and resurrection in the Spirit of God.
In Greek the determiners regarding the Spirit are neuter but in Hebrew the Spirit is referred to as He.
The metaphor of the wind (spirit, breathe) shows how the Holy Spirit, Who comes from above, moves in such a way as to be unrecognised by the spiritually blind. He comes from a place unknown to human understanding and goes to that place where He intends to abide, rest, sit; that is, within the believer through the redemptive work of Yeshua. The unbeliever comprehends the Holy Spirit in the same way that human beings consider the wind. That is, the wind comes up at times we least expect and often blows from a place we cannot determine, coming to rest on a land we may not have considered. Therefore, the origin, destination, and movements of the Holy Spirit are ordered from above and transcend human understanding until such a time as Yeshua, through His death, resurrection, and ascension, together with the Father, pours out the Holy Spirit without measure or restriction.
Joh 3:9 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) answered and said to Him (Yeshua), “How, in what way (pos[G]) are these things (kazot[H]) possible, able to be (dunamai[G]), come to pass, come into existence (ginomai[G])?”
Nakdimon genuinely wants to know how these things can be made possible. As a righteous teacher of Israel he has desired her redemption and looked with great anticipation for the coming Kingdom of the Heavens. Once again, this is a question asked with a genuine desire to learn. As a teacher of such high standing, authority, and reputation, Nakdimon shows great humility in asking this of Yeshua.
Joh 3:10 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered and said to him (Nikodemos), “You, (su[G]) you are (ei[G]) the (ho[G]) teacher (didaskalos[G]) of the (Ho[G]) Yisrael[H] (Israel), Alt. Heb. [Rav be’Yisrael[H], Great one in Israel], and these things (tauta[G], zot[H]) you haven’t learned, don’t know, are not intimately familiar with (ginosko[G], yodata[H])?
Nakdimon still doesn’t understand and if we’re honest, neither do we. Fortunately it is not our own understanding that we are relying on, but rather, God’s understanding. Yeshua calls Nakdimon, “The teacher of Israel.” This indicates that Nakdimon had a very high position among the Rabbis of Israel. His coming to faith was strategic to the move of God through the leaders who later believed.
“You are the teacher, Great one of Israel” From Yeshua’s words we can deduce that Nikodemos must have been one of the highest authorities among the Torah teachers of Israel at that time. He was afforded this position through his association with the Judean religious leaders and the ruling body of the Sanhedrin and was therefore a powerful figure in the ruling religious class of first century Israelites under the Roman occupation. His position is likely the reason that he had come to see Yeshua at night when he would be less likely to be noticed by the other members of the religious ruling class.
Joh 3:11 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you (lakh[H] f.), We (hemon[G]) speak of that which we do know, see, perceive (eido[G]), and testify (martureo[G]) to that which we have seen with our eyes (horao[G]); and you won’t receive (lambano[G]) our testimony, witness (maturia[G]) Alt. Heb. [Kiy et asher-yodanu nedabeir ve’et asher-raiynu naiyd ve’atem lo tekabelu eiduteinu[H], For that which we know intimately we have spoken and that which we see we testify to, and you (plural) don’t accept us or that which we present].
“I say to you” Not just to Nikodemos but to all Israel: the Greek (you) is plural, and the Hebrew lakh (you) while singular is non the less feminine and infers the people of Israel rather than Nikodemos (who is male) alone. For this reason and because the plural “atem” (all of you) is used in the latter part of the verse, it seems likely that the disciples of Yeshua are included in this admonition. Therefore, “We” refers to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. After all, Yeshua speaks of things seen with the eyes that can only have been perceived by Him at this point in time. Those things being the things of the Spirit of God and not yet made known to human beings (including the disciples of Yeshua). Yeshua’s teaching (testimony, witness) concerning the need to be fathered from above acknowledges the Father God. His explanation of the need for this new birth to be accomplished by the Spirit, reveals the Holy Spirit of God. Finally, this teaching is being given to Israel (and humanity) by the King Messiah and true Teacher of Israel, the Son, Yeshua. The teaching of Yeshua in verse 3 through 10 expounds knowledge and personal experience that the disciples of Yeshua have not had, nor have they yet understood or seen these things.
“We speak of that which we know and that which our eyes have seen” Some believe the “we” Yeshua is referring to is the unity of the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some think He is referring to Himself and His disciples, still others believe He is referring to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel. However, He cannot be speaking of the disciples, whose eyes have not yet seen the new birth of the Spirit, nor do they yet know the fullness of God’s redemptive work through Yeshua, the means by which a human being can be fathered by God, born of His Spirit. Nor do the patriarchs and prophets of Israel qualify, given that they only prophesied in part and placed their hope in what is unseen. Therefore, Yeshua says “We” referring to the Godhead, or the Godhead and the malakhim (Angelic Messengers) of God.
Joh 3:12 If I have told you the (Ho[G]) earthly, terrestrial (epigeios[G], Ha-aretz[H]) things, and you don’t believe, trust, think them true (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyniym[H]), how will you believe, if I tell you of the (Ho[G]) things that exist in the heavens, that are of heavenly origin (epouranios[G], Ha-shamayim[H])?
Yeshua is simply saying, “I’ve spoken to you in earthly metaphors and you people don’t get it. How do you hope to understand the literal reality of the heavenly things I tell you about?”
The “earthly things” are explained in the previous verses and concern the progression from physical birth, through spiritual renewal and into the Olam Haba. Therefore, Yeshua does not make a separation between the physical and the spiritual as some suppose, rather the “earthly things” include spiritual things and are the explanation of a convergence between the present physical birth and the subsequent spiritual birth from above which Yeshua has spoken of.
The teaching of Yeshua reveals the ultimate form of tikun olam (repairing of the world). The Scriptures clearly teach a renewed heavens and earth and a descending New Jerusalem at the end of the age. Thus, through Yeshua, God empowers His children to begin the work that will be filled in the return of the Messiah and the dwelling of God with humanity. We are admonished to remember that without the perpetual indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are incapable of participating in the true tikun olam. The religion that teaches we can repair the world by our own efforts is a religion of anti-Christ. Therefore, the true tikun olam is impossible without the redeeming work of the King Messiah at His first coming and the renewing work of the King Messiah upon His return. The Bible clearly teaches that we will spend eternity with God on the renewed earth under a renewed heavens and not in some Greco-Roman gnostic inspired heavenly kingdom in the sky.
Joh 3:13 And no one, nothing, no man (oudeis[G], ve’iysh[H]) has ascended, gone up (anabaino[G], alah[H]) into (eis[G]) the (Ho[G]) heavens (ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]), but He that descended (katabaino[G]) from the heavens (ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]), the (Ho) Son (uihos[G], ben[H]) of the man, human being, humanity (Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-adam[H]) which came out from (ek[G]), is in the heavens (ba’shamayim[H]).
Wait a minute, didn’t Enoch and Elijah ascend into the heavens? In fact they ascended only into the second heaven, and now await their return and subsequent death, for “it is appointed unto human beings to die once, and then the judgement”. The Messiah has come with revelation of God Himself, from the third heaven outside of time and space, whereas Elijah and Enoch were born first of water—natural birth. Messiah has always been God and has come down to be united in flesh, fully God and fully man. Regardless of the possible solutions to this conundrum, the point is that Yeshua is the only begotten, singular in kind Son of God and His is a unique and all-encompassing revelation of God with us (Immanuel).
There is a correlation here between Yeshua’s words and the Torah. In fact it is likely that Yeshua is making a drash using the Torah:
11 “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 13 Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 14 No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.[a] 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess.” -Deuteronomy 30:11-18 TLV
This is consistent with what follows regarding both the redemption of the believer and the judgement and condemnation of those who refuse to believe.
“The words of Agur son of Jakeh--
an oracle this man declared to Ithiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal:
“Surely I am more stupid than any man
and do not have a man’s understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up into heaven, and come down?[a]
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of His hand?
Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name and what is the name of His son—if you know?” -Proverbs 30:1-4 TLV
Joh 3:14 And according to (kathosas[G]) Moses (Moshe[H]: drawn out one) lifting up the serpent (Ho-ophis[G], Ha-nachash[H]) in the wilderness, solitary, desolate place (eremos[G], bamidbar[H]: ba [in the] mi [from] dabar [word, essence]), in this same manner (houto[G]) it is necessary (dei[G]) that the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) of the man, human being, humanity (Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-adam[H]) be lifted up:
The snake (Ha-Satan) was the one who enticed humanity and Israel into disobedience and is also the constant accuser and tormentor of Israel and humanity. By looking to this symbol of sin, disobedience, fear and offence each Israelite was admitting their sin and recognizing that only God could save them from destruction. In the same way we must look upon Him who became sin for us (that is, took on the punishment we rightly deserve), in this simple action of turning--tishuvah—our heads to gaze upon the execution tree of the Messiah, upon His tortured body and unfathomable sacrifice, we are born anew in His Spirit, poured out without measure upon those who will simply acknowledge His Kingship. It is here, that in a very real sense, we are living both within and outside of time and space. There is a parallel universe, but it is not the sum of science fiction and quantum physics.
“Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the land: for I am God, and there is none other.” -Isaiah 45:22
The Targum Yonatan translation of Numbers 21:8 is incredible:
"and Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a high place; and it was, when a serpent had bitten any man, and he looked to the serpent of brass, and directed his heart, to the name of the word of the Lord, he lived.''
Jewish tradition attributes healing of both the body and spirit, the entire soul, to those who looked upon the seraph (serpent):
"as soon as they said, ‘we have sinned’, immediately their iniquity was expiated; and they had the good news brought them ‘of the healing of the soul’, as it is written, ‘make thee a seraph’; and he does not say a serpent; and this is it: ‘and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looked upon it, shall live’, ‘through the healing of the soul:'' - Tzeror Hammor, fol. 123. 2.
The Targum also likens the King Messiah to a flying serpent:
"the Messiah shall come forth from Jesse's children's children; and his works shall be among you as a "flying serpent.'' -Isaiah 14:29 (Targum)
As does the Zohar:
"other serpent of life" - Zohar in Gen fol. 36. 2.
"holy serpent" - Tikkun Zohar in Jetzira, p. 134.
Joh 3:15 That whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) believes, trusts in, is convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) Him should not perish (appolumi[G], lo yovad[H]), but have everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).”
The belief that receives Messiah has by receipt, already entered everlasting living and is assured of eternal security and redemption from the just destruction that awaits those who refuse God’s loving offer.
The Greek appolumi translated “perish, die” etc. means “be ruined, destroyed, lost” in perpetuity. Therefore, to continue to be ruined, to continue to be lost, to continue to be destroyed. It does not allow for the false teaching of Annihilationism, which is contradicted by a wealth of other Scripture including but not limited to:
“Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Go away from Me, you cursed ones, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” -Matthew 25:41 TLV
“Sinners in Zion are afraid. Trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can live with the consuming fire?” “Who among us can live with everlasting burnings?”
-Isaiah 33:14 TLV
“13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Sheol gave up the dead in them. Then they were each judged, each one of them, according to their deeds.14 Then death and Sheol were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Revelation 20:13-15 TLV
Joh 3:16 In this way (houto[G]) because (gar[G], kiy[H]) the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]) so morally, intimately and truly loved (agape[G], Ahavah[H]) the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]), Alt. Heb. [Kiy-ahavah rabah ahav ha-Elohim et Ha-olam[H], because with love that is great, all surpassing, the God loved the world], insomuch that (hoste[G]) He gave (didomi[G], natan[H]) His One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Yachiyd[H]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben), that whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) believes, trusts in, is convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) Him should not perish (apollumi[G], lo yovad[H]), but have, hold onto (echo[G]) everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).
Clearly God desires that every human being come into right relationship with Him. He is holy, loving, merciful, compassionate, self-sacrificing (literally sacrificing Himself in Messiah), and just. Elsewhere we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
The Gospel message is presented in a concise form within this verse and its subsequent counterpart:
Joh 3:17 For the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]) did not order, appoint, send (apostello[G], shalach[H]) His the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) into the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]) in order to (hinah[G]) separate, condemn, put asunder (krino[G]) the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]); but that the world through, by, in, with Him (the Son, Yeshua) might be saved, kept safe, rescued from destruction (sozo[G], yivasha[H]).
Through His redemptive plan God sought to reconcile Creation to Himself. He did not send the Messiah Yeshua in an attempt to punish His creation with punitive aforethought, rather, as a loving Father He sent Yeshua to save. Perpetual condemnation must result against those who refuse salvation as a logical outworking of the consequences of sin. God does not send people to everlasting torment, to the contrary, they choose to go there.
Joh 3:18 The believer (pisteuo[G], Ha-ma’amiyn[H]) in, on, toward, for (eis[G]) Him is not separated, condemned, put asunder (krino[G]): but the disbeliever, one who has chosen disbelief (me pisteuo[G], lo-ya’amiyn[H]) is separated, condemned, put asunder (krino[G]) already, because he has not believed, trusted in, become convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) the name (Ho onoma[G], Be’sheim[H]) of the One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Ha-Yachiyd[H]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) of the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]).
This means our belief in Him has put condemnation behind us, as it is written elsewhere:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
“Those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The statement “condemned already,” is qualified by, “because they have chosen not to believe in the name of the only Son of God.” Because God is just, all must be presented with the opportunity to receive redemption through the One True Son of God and His saving work, and must then wilfully choose to reject Him, only then does anyone stand condemned.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, separation, judgement, just decision (krisis[G]) Alt. Heb. [Ve’zeh hu hadiyn[H], And this is His judgement], it is because (hoti[G]) the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]) is come into the world (Ha-kosmos[G], el Ha-olam[H]), and people, the children of Adam (agapao[G], uv’neiy ha-adam[H]) preferred, loved (mallon[G], Ahavu[H]) the darkness (Ho-skotos[G], ha-choshekh[H]) over the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), because of their evil, (poneros[G], raiym[H]) actions, business, art, accomplishments (ergon[G], ma’asheiyhem[H]).
The judgment of God is just, because He has offered light to those living in darkness. Many, having seen the true light of God, Yeshua, have chosen to remain in darkness. Those who are determined to do what is wicked are unwilling to have their deeds exposed, though they are aware of their need the thought of dwelling in perpetual light is abhorrent to them, they have truly become sons and daughters of the evil one, children of darkness.
Joh 3:20 For every one, whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) does, practices (prasso[G]) what is evil, bad, wicked, mean, easy (phaulos[G]) hates, detests (miseo[G]) the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), nor do they come near to the light, so that they won’t be convicted (elegcho[G]) for their actions.
Those who act wickedly often do so in darkness and are ashamed for their deeds to be brought into the light.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” -Ephesians 5:11
It is interesting to note that the Greek phaulos which refers to wicked deeds can also be translated as easy deeds. It is easier to give in to the dark inclination than it is to repair the world. Therefore, God sent the King Messiah Yeshua so that we might be afforded the strength of His Spirit in order to do what is hard, and to live in the Light.
All that is hidden will be brought into the Light.
Joh 3:21 But he that does the truth (altheia[G], ha-emet[H]) comes to the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), so that his actions, business, art, accomplishments (ergon[G], ma’asheiyhem[H])
may be made manifest, visible (phaneroo[G]), because they are performed (ergazomai[G]) in God (en Theos[G], Bei-Elohim[H]).
Those who see their need for light have already been motivated by the Spirit of God to begin to do what is true, thus they welcome the opportunity to dwell in that light perpetually. Thus their deeds have been done in God. That is, their salvation comes, not by their works but through the work of the Spirit and the sacrifice of Messiah. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8). God chose us and in response, we have received Him. Condemnation is found in the simple act of refusing to be chosen.
Joh 3:22 After these things Yeshua[H] and His disciples (Talmidim[H]) came into the land of Judaea (Yehudah[H]); and there he remained with them, and immersed (baptizo[G], yitbol [H] [tevilah[H]]).
We known from John 4:2 that it was not Yeshua but His disciples who performed the immersions. The immersion attributed to Yeshua is the immersion he makes possible. Simply put, His immersion teaching was manifest in practical terms via the participation of His talmidim.
Joh 3:23 And Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist, YHVH gracious giver) was also immersing (baptizo[G], yitbol [H] [tevilah[H]]) in Aeiynon[H] (Ayin[H]eye, spring; Yonah[H], dove; Ain-Yon[A] “Spring/Eye of a Dove”) near to the Salim, because there was much (polus[G], le’rav[H]) water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) there: and they came, and were immersed (baptizo[G], yitaveilu[H] [tevilah[H]]).
“Aeiynon” The proposed location of Aenon is on the west side of the Jordan river close to a natural spring and near the ancient town of Salim (Not to be confused with Salem, a synonym for Jerusalem). Aenon is approximately 95 km north east of Jerusalem (20 hrs. walk). Being located near a natural spring meant an abundance of water and large pools suitable for ritual immersion known as tevilah. As explained in a previous article, the gathered waters used for immersion are known as mikveh.
This location is on the opposite side of the Jordan river from where Yochanan had been immersing. Both the Hebrew and Aramaic names for this location mean “Spring/Eye of a Dove”. This of course correlates to Yochanan identifying Yeshua as the One upon Whom the Spirit will descend like a dove (John.1:32-33). It is significant that there is a physical spring near to the location and that a spring is a source of mayim chayim (living waters from a pure source). Thus, the eye of the earth bears witness to the King Messiah and reveals Him and His living waters to the eye of the believer.
“and they came, and were immersed” The “they” consisted of Jews from many sects and regions, including those from the ruling Judean religious class, as alluded to in the following verse.
Joh 3:24 For Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) had not yet been cast into prison (Beit ha-sohar[H]).
The author’s initial Jewish audience would have been aware of the chronology of events and the imprisonment of Yochanan the Immerser, thus Yochanan the Gospel writer clarifies the chronology for the reader by showing that these events took place prior to Yochanan the Immerser’s imprisonment.
This is an illuminating portion because John’s Gospel is the only Gospel that shows Yeshua and Yochanan the Immerser’s ministries overlapping.
Joh 3:25 Then a debate (zetesis[G]) arose between some of Yochanan’s[H] (John the Baptist) disciples (mathetes[G] , talmidim[H]) and some Judeans Alt. Aram. [a Judean[A]] (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H], Yihudaya[A]) about purifying, ritual cleansing (katharismos[H], ha-taharah[H]).
“Some Judeans/A Judean” While other English translations misrepresent both the Greek and Hebrew text, I have chosen not to render “the Jews” or “the Judeans” because neither the Greek or Hebrew texts use the definite article “The”. Therefore, “a debate arose between some of Yochanan’s disciples and some Judeans” or, as the Aramaic text renders, “a question had arisen between one of Yochanan’s disciples and a Judean”.
There were differences in the ritual washing practices of various sects of first century Judaism. Added to this was the focus that Yochanan placed on immersion as an act of repentance and the further teaching of Yeshua that would eventually identify immersion with death and resurrection in addition to its many other facets. The debate that arose in this case must have initially related to the emphasis Yochanan had placed on repentance, and then progressed to a dialogue over the aspects of Yeshua’s immersion teaching that seemed to add to the teaching of Yochanan (The Immerser) [v.26].
The fact that this debate was concerning “ritual purification”, a concept that has its roots in Torah observance (Lev.14:8), tells us that the immersion of Yeshua given to the disciples (Matt. 28:19) is firmly rooted in a Torah instructed practice. The immersion of Yeshua is a reframing of that immersion which already existed within Biblical Judaism and not an entirely new immersion (Christian Baptism). Therefore, so called “Christian Baptism” is the progeny of the marriage between Torah and Living Word (Yeshua).
Joh 3:26 And they came to Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist), and said to him, “Rabbi (Rav, great one, teacher) He (Yeshua) that was with you beyond the Yarden (Jordan, descender), the one you bore witness to, behold, the same man immerses, performs tevilah[H], and all come to him (Yeshua).”
“Rabbi” This is the one exception in the New Testament where someone other than Yeshua is called Rabbi. In all other places the title is used of Yeshua or is explained by Yeshua. I misspoke in a former article where I failed to state this exception.
The disciples of Yochanan, perhaps along with those debating immersion, came to Yochanan the Immerser concerned that Yeshua might be taking followers from Yochanan the Immerser.
Joh 3:27 Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, Alt. Heb. [lo-yuchol iysh lachat davar[H], none among all men can take anything], except it be given (didomi[G], nitan[H]) him from the heavens (Ho-ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]).
Sadly, in modern religious practice (both in Christianity and Judaism), many religious leaders are intent on making a name for themselves and their respective theologies and practices. Yochanan the Immerser seeks no glory for himself but instead explains to his disciples the simple truth that all things are given by God for a purpose and in keeping with a person’s identity and calling in life. Therefore, there is no need for jealousy concerning the success of others when one’s focus is entirely on pointing to and acknowledging God and His redemptive purpose.
Yochanan’s practice stood in opposition to that of the rabbis, who said:
"It is not lawful for a disciple to teach the constitutions, or sentences of the law, before his master; but must be twelve miles distant from him, as the camp of Israel… a disciple that teaches before, or in the presence of his master, is guilty of death” - T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 37. 3.
Joh 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness (martureo[G]), that I said, I am not the Christ, Anointed One (Ho-Christos[G], Ha-Mashiach[H]), but that I am sent, ordered, appointed (apostello[G], shaluach[H]) before Him.
Yochanan reminds his listeners that he has been very clear to point them beyond himself to the King Messiah. He reiterates his proclamation that “I am not the Christ!” Yochanan is not the Messiah but he has been appointed by God as a shaliach sent one who is to come before the Messiah and point Israel to Him.
Yochanan is the epitome of humility, in many ways he is the Brit Chadashah’s (NT) Moses.
Oh that the leaders of our religious communities would take a leaf from Yochanan’s book and chose to point to Yeshua rather than to themselves (I include myself in this admonishment).
Joh 3:29 He that has, holds (echo[G]) the bride, betrothed (numphe[G], Ha-Kalah[H]) is the bridegroom (numphios[G], Ha-Chatan[H]): but the friend (philos[G]) of the bridegroom (numphios[G]), which stands and hears (akouo[G], shomeia[H]) Him, rejoices (chara[G], samoach[H]) greatly (chairo[G], yismach[H]) because of the voice (phone[G], kol[H]) of the bridegroom: this my joy (chara[G], simchatiy[H]) therefore is filled up, brimming with peace, wholeness, wellbeing, perfected, made secure (pleroo[G], sheleimah[H], from shalem, related to shalom).
The bridegroom imagery is firmly established in the writings of Israel’s prophets and is a prophetic vision of one who celebrates and rejoices over his bride. God Himself is likened to the bridegroom:
“As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.” -Isaiah 62:5 NIV
This bridegroom imagery is connected to the recently celebrated wedding in Cana and to the Jewish idea of an eschatological banquet at the end of the age, when joy and abundance will be manifest in the promised Messianic age, the Olam Haba (world to come)[Isa. 25:6-8; Exek. 34:17-30].
Allusions to the Messianic Banquet also occur in later rabbinic literature (Babylonian Talmud Sanh. 96-99).
Joh 3:30 He must increase, grow larger and larger (auxano[G], gadeil[H]), but I must decrease, subtracting and subtracting (elattoo[G], chasor[H]).
No greater statement of humility has ever been spoken by a prophet of Hashem. Thus Yeshua says elsewhere, “Amen, I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser…” (Matt.11:11a).
Yochanan could only point to the One Who would open the way to the Olam Haba. Whereas Yeshua was and is the Creator, the means of entry, and the One Who sustains the Olam Haba (world to come).
Joh 3:31 He that comes (Ha-ba[H]) from above, from the beginning (anothen[G]) is above (epano[G]) every individual (pas[G]): he that is of the earth (meieretz[H]) is earthly, and speaks (dabeir[H]) of the earth (meieretz[H]): He that comes from the heavens (Ho-ouranos[G], mi-shamayim[H]) is above (epano[G], na’aleh[H]) every individual (pas[G], col[H]).
Yochanan’s testimony of the person of Yeshua is impeccable. Yeshua is from above, from the beginning of all things, and is above every created thing while being submissive toward God the Father. On the other hand, Yochanan speaks from an earthly (albeit God inspired) perspective and therefore sees himself as subordinate to the One Who is from above.
Joh 3:32 And what He (Who is from above) has seen with His eyes, perceived (horao[G], ra’ah[H]) and heard (akouo[G], shama[H]) that He testifies (martureo[G], yaiyd[H]); and no one receives (lambano[G]) His testimony (maturia[G], eiduto[H]).
“What He has seen” recalls the words of Yeshua, “We testify” (v.11), and is further proof that Yeshua was speaking of the Godhead.
“and no one receives His testimony” Yochanan prophecies the rejection that Yeshua will face from those who refuse the testimony He brings from above. On the other hand the text says “no one receives His testimony” in the present tense, meaning it is yet to be received by some.
Joh 3:33 He that has received (lambano[G]) His testimony (maturia[G], eiduto[H]) has secured His seal, double sealed (sphragizo[G], chatom chatam[H]) showing that the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) is true (alethes[G], emet[H]).
The one who receives the testimony of Yeshua has been double sealed in that because he has believed Yeshua (God with us) he has also shown his belief in God and is therefore safe in Messiah, in God (John 14:20). A double seal is a figure for that which is unbreakable.
"the seal of the blessed God is truth" - T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1. & T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 64. 1. & Yoma, fol. 69. 2.
Joh 3:34 For He Whom the God (Ho-Theos[G], Elohim[H]) has sent, appointed, ordered (apostello[G], shelachu[H]) speaks (yadabeir[H]) the utterances, words (rhema[G], divreiy[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]): Who (God) does not give out a limited measure of the Spirit (Ho-pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]).
Judaism had understood up to this point that the Holy Spirit was only ever given in measure:
"Says R. Joden bar R. Simeon, even the waters which descend from above are not given, but, "in measure".--Says R. Acha, even the Holy Spirit, which dwells upon the prophets, does not dwell, but "in weight".'' - Vajikra Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 157. 3.
The sent Word speaks the Word of the God. It is the Word (Yeshua) Who is given authority in the Father to pour out the Spirit without measure, something that has never happened in Israel before. This is prophetic of the outpouring of the Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost) 50 days after the resurrection of Yeshua (Isa.44:3; Joel 2:28; Acts 2).
Joh 3:35 The Father (Ho-pater[G], Ha-Av[H]) loves (ohev[H]) His Son (et-beno[H]), and the all, everything, every individual (pas[G], ve’et-kol[H]) has been given (didomi[G], natan[H]) into His hand (be’yado[H]).
Having revealed the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Yochanan now speaks of the Father having given all creation into the hands of the Son. Thus the Godhead is revealed in complex unity. Yeshua has been given authority because it is through Him (a man, Who is also God) that humanity and creation are to be redeemed. Yeshua in turn will submit both Himself and all of the renewed creation to the Father.
“When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son will also make Himself subject to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” -1 Corinthians 15:28
Joh 3:36 He (all) that believes, trusts, is persuaded of, places his confidence (pisteuo[G], kol-hama’amiyn[H]) in, on, with, for the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) has, holds (echo[G]) everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]): and he that does not believe, is apathetic toward (apeitheo[G]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) shall not see, or be seen by (optanomai[G]) life, living (zoe[G], chayim[H]); because (kiy[H]) the wrath, anger (orge[G]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) abides, remains, sits (meno[G], yishkon[H]) on, by, before, against, over (epi[G], alayv[H]) him.
A Midrash speaks of the King Messiah, the Latter Redeemer:
“whosoever believes in him shall live; but he that believes not in him shall go to the nations of the world, and they shall kill him.'' - Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2.
“The one that believes, in the Son holds everlasting living” We note that the one who believes in the Son Yeshua “holds” present tense, “everlasting living”. The one who believes has already entered everlasting living, a form of living that death has no hold over.
“The one that does not believe, who is apathetic toward the Son shall not see, or be seen by living because the wrath of the God remains on that one.” Many today are happy to talk about redemption but are unwilling to speak of consequences for those who refuse redemption. The Gospel is clear in its affirmation of the just judgement of God. His wrath is (present tense) on all who have had the opportunity to receive His Son but have rejected Him and refused God’s loving offer of sacrificial atonement. As long as one resists God that one stands condemned, judged. However, in the moment that that same one choses to receive the Son and return to God, that one enters everlasting living. Thus, as I stated previously, God does not send people to eternal punishment, to the contrary, those who go to that place have chosen it through a perpetual refusal of Gods love, grace and mercy. This kind of persistent refusal of God’s mercy is elsewhere called the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (Matt.12:30-32).
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,