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
“The holy blessed G-d will renew His world a thousand years, and in the seventh millennium there will be new heavens and a new earth.” –Zohar in Gen. fol. 35. 3
An examination of Revelation 21.
21:1 Then I saw new heavens and a new earth; for the first heavens and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer sea.
This chapter begins with waters, the waters of the sky. The Hebrew, “Shamayim Chadashah (waters of the sky that are new)”, translates as, “heavens”. This is significant in the sense that it shows the origin of the life giving waters offered to all that are thirsty.
At the time of Yochanan’s recording of the Revelation of Yeshua, the Jewish people had been awaiting new heavens and a new earth for hundreds of years. In approximately 740 BCE, the prophet Isaiah recorded these words of HaShem:
“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 65:17
This ancient Hebrew prophecy also promises the redemption of ethnic Israel and her perpetual standing before G-d.
“’For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,’ declares HaShem, ‘So your offspring and your name will endure.’” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 66:22
The apostle Shimon-Kefa/Peter, reminds us of the ancient hope of the Jewish people when he writes:
“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” –2 Peter 3:13
The Greek kaheenos, “new”, means new in kind as opposed to just another heaven and earth.
“And there is no longer sea”
The Greek thalassah can be translated sea or lake (body of water), however the English reader must remember that the gospels frequently use this same Greek word to name the Sea of Galilee (Lake Keneret).
While most English translations insert the word, “any” so that the text reads, “there is no longer any sea”, this is not an accurate reading of the Greek text. Therefore, what may seem to infer that the new earth has no oceans whatsoever must be more closely examined.
Yochanan, a Jew and a prophet with a strong connection to the land of Israel, may well be writing “sea” in relation to the land of Israel, meaning that the sea or seas (although the Greek is not plural) in question refer to the lake waters of Israel. In particular, the largest body of water, that being the Dead Sea (Also a lake, and the only salt water lake in Israel). Given its salt content, the Dead Sea is a good match for the Greek thalassah, which is a prolonged form of the primary Greek word, “halce (salt)”. This in turn lends itself well to the metaphorical use of the noun, “sea” as representing death and sheol.
The sea then is seen as both literally missing from the new land of Israel and at the same time it is used as a metaphor for the fact that death no longer exists. As explained in previous chapters, the sea is a Biblical metaphor for sheol and death, both of which no longer exist. Hence, “there is no longer sea.”
In my opinion the text is not saying that there will be no oceans on the new earth but rather that there will be no lake or lakes in the new land of Israel, and that metaphorically speaking, there will be no death on the new earth, as affirmed later in this same chapter of Revelation.
2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of the heavens from G-d, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
The New Jerusalem (City flooded with peace) has been the Jewish hope from ancient days. It is noteworthy that the city is seen coming down from the heavens. This is not said of the temple which Yochanan is commanded to measure in Revelation 11:1. The differences are important because the former measurement took place on earth and uses a measure to record accurate literal dimensions, whereas the present city will be measured by an angelic messenger (not Yochanan) who will communicate the measurements in human terms, as metaphorical representations of the heavenly perfection of the New Jerusalem.
The earthly Jerusalem and its temple (Rev.11) are the work of human hands but the heavenly New Jerusalem is the work of G-d alone. This is the city that Avraham looked forward to in faith:
“By faith he (Avraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is G-d.” –Hebrews 11:9-10
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the New Jerusalem saying:
“Afflicted city, tossed in the storm and not comforted,
I will set your stones in antimony (brittle silvery-white semimetal)
your foundations will be laid in Lapis lazuli
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 54:11-12
The prophet Ezekiel dreams of the rebuilt Jerusalem describing it as having twelve gates named for the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48:30-35).
The observant Jew recites 19 benedictions each day called Shemoneh Esreh (eighteen). These statements of faith remain central to Judaism and act as essential tenants of Jewish belief. The 14th of these tephillot (prayers) reads as follows:
“Return in compassion and mercy to Jerusalem Your city and dwell therein as You have promised; speedily establish therein the throne of David Your servant, and rebuild it, speedily in our days, as an everlasting edifice. Blessed are You HaShem, who rebuilds Jerusalem…”
The Zohar says that the third rebuilding of Jerusalem will happen, “in the days of the King Messiah” (Zohar in Gen. fol. 126. 4)
The Jewish writers of Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) continued in this hope:
“This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.” –Galatians 4:24-26
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living G-d, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,” –Hebrews 12:22
“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”—Hebrews 13:14
The bride imagery here is an allusion to the fact that the bride of Messiah, both Jew and Gentile, will dwell within the walls of the New Jerusalem. A city is the sum of its inhabitants.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting, dwelling: from shakhan, to dwell) of G-d is among humanity, and He will (shakhan) dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and G-d Himself will be among them and be their G-d,
This is the last of twenty occasions where Yochanan hears a loud voice speaking, in this case as in several others the voice is coming from the throne itself and is therefore the voice of G-d’s Spirit, proclaiming the wonderful consummation of G-d’s promise to dwell with redeemed humanity. The voice is loud because its sound waves reach every corner of creation.
The text says, “G-d Himself” because while in the past both Yeshua and the Ruach (Holy Spirit) have been among the people of G-d and G-d the Father has been seen to temporarily manifest His K’vod (glory) among His people, now He is causing His K’vod (glory) to shakhan (dwell) with redeemed humanity permanently, hence, “G-d (the father) Himself”. This is a picture of a renewed Eden, a place where the footsteps of G-d will once again be heard (Genesis 3:8).
This verse is best understood by making a connection to its foreshadowing in Numbers 2, where the tribes of Israel are encamped around the dwelling place of G-d’s presence, His K’vod, glory; that is the tent of meeting or Mishkhan. The Hebrew word Mishkhan comes from the root shakhan, meaning, “to dwell”. Hence the majority English translation, “Behold, the dwelling place of G-d is among men.” The text follows a Hebrew literary formula, making a play on words by
Using the noun Mishkhan followed by the root shakhan. We can read, “The dwelling tent of G-d is among humanity, and He will dwell among them.”
This entire verse is essentially a requoted composite of numerous passages from the Tanakh (OT) which reiterate one of the most frequent promises of G-d to His covenant people ethnic Israel. G-d’s promise to dwell with us and be our G-d, is first stated in Genesis 17:7 and is a common theme throughout the Biblical narrative (Exodus 6:7, 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12; Numbers 15:41; Deuteronomy 29:13; 2 Samuel 7:24; Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4, 24:7, 30:22, 31:34, 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20, 34:24, 36:28, 37:23, 27: Zechariah 8:8).
“I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their Elohim (G-d).” –Exodus 29:45
“And I set my Mishkhan (dwelling place) among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your Elohim (G-d), and you shall be my people.” –Leviticus 26:11-12
The Jewish New Testament writer of Hebrews records the following:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says HaShem; I will put my instructions into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a Elohim (G-d), and they shall be to me a people:” –Hebrews 8:10
Due to variation in Greek manuscripts there has been an argument over whether the text should read, “They shall be His people” or, “they shall be His peoples”. I see no reason to argue. Both are correct. Redeemed ethnic Israel is intended according to the Tanakh texts, therefore, “His people”, and the redeemed of the nations are also intended, that is, they have become part of the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12), hence, “His peoples”.
This is our first taste of a new Eden. Chapter 22 will expound upon this idea but it is seeded here as a redemption of that which was lost to humanity. G-d walked (dwelled) in the first Eden in the person of the reincarnate Yeshua the Word/Voice/Sound:
“They heard the voice (Kol) of HaShem Elohim walking in the garden.” –Genesis 3:8
In the centre of earth’s history Yeshua (G-d with us) was born into the world of the womb of a woman and walked the earth for 33 years. G-d was with us as the Word again.
Finally, at the end of the age and following the renewing of all things, G-d will dwell with us, Father, Son and Spirit and we will once more hear the footsteps of the Messiah Yeshua in the new Garden of Eden.
“For I know my redeemer lives, and at the latter day He will stand upon the earth:”
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
G-d is the wonderful counsellor and consoler of His people. With sin, death and sheol banished to eternal fire, He now illuminates the new reality of an eternal dwelling devoid of the by-products of sin. All mourning, sorrow and pain are stripped away. The phrasing, “wipe away every tear… no more… crying” is a metaphor for the elimination of all sorrow. If our transformed bodies have the capacity to weep we will only weep tears of joy.
Rabbinical Judaism says:
"There is no death in the Olam Habah (world to come); good is laid up for the righteous in the world to come, and with them is no death.” –Maimon. Teshuva, c. 8. sect. 1.
“After the resurrection the body is perfect, and shall never after taste the taste of death.” –Midrash Hanneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 70. 1.
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
He Who sits on the throne is the Father G-d. This is one of the few times in Revelation where G-d is said to speak (1:8 7 possibly 16:1, 17). Usually it is a messenger or an unnamed voice who speaks on G-d’s behalf. We should take special note of the importance of the subsequent verses. This is further emphasized by the familiar phrase, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing;” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 43:18-19
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 65:17
“Therefore if any person be in Messiah, that person is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” –2 Corinthians 5:17
Rabbinical tradition teaches:
“The holy blessed G-d will make ten things new in the Olam Habah (world to come); the first is, He will enlighten the world; (See Rev 21:11) the second is, He will bring living water out of Jerusalem; (see Rev. 21:6) the third is, He will make trees to bring forth their fruit every month; (see Rev 22:2) and the fourth is, all the waste places shall be built, even Sodom and Gomorrah; the fifth is, Jerusalem shall be built with sapphire stone; (see Rev 21:19) the sixth is, the cow and the bear shall feed; the seventh is, a covenant shall be made between Israel, and the beasts, fowls, and creeping things; the eighth is, there shall be no more weeping and howling in the world (See Rev 21:4); the ninth is, there shall be no more death in the world(See Rev 21:4); the tenth is, there shall no more be sighing, and groaning, and sorrow in the world; (see Rev 21:4).” –Shemot Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 101. 3.
6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Aleph and the Tav, the source and the goal. I will give water without cost to the one who thirsts, from the spring of the water of life (Mayim Chayim).
The phrase, “It is done” is plural in the Greek, “They are done”: in other words all the events that were to lead up to this consummation have been completed.
The Greek text reads, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet. This is an allusion to the Word of G-d Yeshua, Who, as the D’var/logos of the universe, holds all things together. This metaphor is explained in most English translations by the phrase, “the beginning and the end”. However, G-d has no beginning or end, He is the uncreated Creator, therefore the Greek text affords us a better translation, “the source and the goal”.
“Water without cost” is a familiar Hebrew idiom. We began the chapter with the revelation of the source of this living water, the heavens, “Shamayim” and are now show that the source has come to earth and is offered to the thirsty as, “Mayim Chayim” (waters of life eternal). Our present Jewish Shabbat practise reminds us of our spiritual thirst, when we chant on the eve of Shabbat:
“Ushavtem mayim b'sason mimainei ha-yeshua”
“Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of salvation”
This water we sing about is of course HaShem’s, “Mayim chayim” water of life eternal. We draw it as a result of yeshua (salvation). We drink without cost, not because the water has no value but because we are unable to afford the price necessary to purchase it. Instead G-d has purchased this living water on our behalf through the sacrifice of His Son Yeshua (Salvation).
We note that only those who thirst for this water will drink of it. This is an expression of humility, we recognize our need and humbly acknowledge our spiritual thirst. In return G-d invites us to drink from His abundant supply of living water.
It is through the Lamb (Yeshua: Salvation) that our names have been sealed in the Sefer Chayim (Scroll of Life eternal) and it is also through Yeshua that we are able to drink the Mayim Chayim (Waters of life eternal).
“For with You (G-d) is the Mayim Chayim (fountain of life): in Your light shall we see light.” –Psalm 36:9
“The fear of HaShem is a Mayim Chayim (fountain of life), enabling us to depart from the snares of death.” –Proverbs 14:27
7 He who conquers will inherit all things, and I will be his G-d and he will be My son.
The phrase, “He who conquers” occurs seven times in Chapters 2-3. It refers to every individual who, in Messiah, overcomes sin, death and Satan.
“They defeated him (the dragon) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony (the testimony of Yeshua) and witness (of Yeshua).” –Revelation 12:11
8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and detestable and murderers and sexually immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
We must be careful here to properly understand the terms used. I’ve often heard believers foolishly misuse these terms, the result being condemnation and defeat.
“Cowardly”, doesn’t (as some English translations foolishly state) mean, fearful. Nor does it apply to those who are frozen with fear in any given situation pertaining to faith. A soldier who hides in a trench, too afraid to climb the trench wall under a barrage of cannon fire is not a coward, he is a man with a G-d given sense of danger that ignites a G-dly resistance to death. To the contrary, a coward is a man who gets into a car and intentionally drives into civilians in order to murder them. A coward is a woman who hides a knife in her handbag waiting for an opportunity to stab an unarmed civilian in order to murder them. Cowardice is seeded by evil intention, fear is a response to perceived danger. The fear of G-d delivers us from cowardice.
“Unbelieving”, is the choice not to believe. “Detestable”, is the choice to continually commit vile acts without any remorse or repentance. “Murderers”, are not those who kill but rather those who kill unjustly. “Sexual immoral persons”, are those who continually commit sexual sin without any remorse or repentance. “Sorcerers”, are those who practise witchcraft in rebellion toward G-d, without remorse or repentance. “Idolaters”, are those who perpetually worship anyone or thing other than G-d without remorse or repentance. “Liars”, are not people who lie, or it would include you and I, rather, liars are those who intentionally and perpetually live a lifestyle of lying without remorse or repentance. All of these titles reflect individuals who have chosen to allow their consciousness to be seared and have perpetually resisted G-d’s offer of loving redemption. If you are a follower of Messiah, you may sin in these areas but the Spirit of G-d in you will convict you of that sin and return you to G-d in Messiah so that while you may have lied, you do not become a liar, though you may have committed sexual sin, you do not become a serial sexual sinner etc.
As seen in the previous chapter, those who in resisting G-d have become the epitome of evil, will suffer eternal death and torment.
Rabbinical Judaism once held the belief that there are several distinct places in Gehinom, each reserved for specific sorts of sinners, in particular, for Sabbath breakers, adulterers, and liars. –Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 7. 2.
“When the wicked man is condemned he shall take his part in Gehinom.” –T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 15. 1.
9 Then one of the seven messengers (angels) who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
The opening phrase is identical to that of Revelation 17:1. It seems that the same angel is intended here and that a comparison is being made between the fallen city, the whore Babylon and the New Jerusalem, the bride of Messiah. This same angel (whose title is unknown), once an angel of judgement, is now ministering as an angel of revelation. His former role was to expose the harlot Babylon, his present role is to direct Yochanan to view the pure bride and wife of the Lamb.
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from G-d,11 having the k’vod (glory) of G-d.
Yochanan is carried away in the Spirit (not physically). He shares this experience with the prophet Ezekiel:
“In the visions of G-d he brought me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain.”—Ezekiel 40:2
Jerusalem is seen coming down from the heavens, an affirmation of the origin of the New Jerusalem, which has already been described in verse 2. This description is repeated in order to make clear the distinction between the New Jerusalem whose architect and builder is G-d alone and the present Jerusalem built by human hands.
The city is said to have the, “K’vod” rather than the “Shekhinah” of G-d. Both Hebrew words convey the feminine presence of G-d’s glory but the former is a Biblical word whereas the latter is a rabbinical word derived from the root Shakhan (to dwell). While both are technically correct, the former reflects the ancient glory, whereas the latter conveys a developed understanding that is more difficult to connect to the Tanakh. One rarely hears the Shekhinah spoken of in traditional Jewish circles or in synagogue services, in fact it is more widely used by Christian scholars than it is by rabbis and Jewish scholars. The more familiar term for the Jew is, “K’vod”, glory. Having said this, K’vod and Shekhinah are synonymous terms.
Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper (red). 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers (angels); and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.
The description of the city’s brilliance is a reflection of the light of G-d and the clear jasper (red) is an allusion to the price of its purity.
The wall, while usually a symbol of protection as in Revelation 11, is to be understood here as conveying a sense of the secure nature of the city. There is no longer a need for defensive walls because all the enemies of G-d and His people have been defeated.
The twelve gates symbolize the placement of the twelve tribes of Israel as they surround the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting), which was a foreshadowing of the New Jerusalem. The city itself has become the holy of holies, the dwelling place (Mishkhan) of G-d’s presence. Over each gate is a messenger with the name of the appropriate tribe written (katuv, engraved) upon him. It may be that each of these messengers has been a guardian of a specific tribe of ethnic Israel from time immemorial.
Rabbinical Judaism speaks of princes being appointed over the gates of heaven, east, west, north, and south, with the keys in their hands. –Raziel, fol. 35. 2.
The Zohar describes the New Jerusalem this way:
"which has twelve gates, according to the computation of the tribes of Israel; on one gate is written Reuben, on another is written Simeon; and so all the tribes of Israel are written on those gates; in the time they go up to appear before the Lord of the world, whoever goes up to this gate, (on which the tribe of Reuben is written,) if he is of the tribe of Reuben they open to him, (and receive him,) if not they cast him without; and so of all whom they do not receive; they open to none but to him who is of that tribe, or whose name is written on the gate.'' –Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 4.
13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
We notice the unusual order of the gate description, “East, North, West and South” (Ezekiel 48:31-34). While we can only conjecture as to the meaning, if we acknowledge the encampment of Israel around the city as seen in the foundation stones named with the Shiliachim (Apostles of the Lamb); we’re able to make a correlation with the breastplate of the high priest where the tribes at the east side make up the top row of stones, the tribes from the north make up the bottom row of stones and the tribes from the south and west make up the centre rows, top and bottom respectively.
The twelve Shiliachim (Apostles) are representatives of the twelve tribes, in the same way that the seventy sent out by Yeshua during His earthly ministry were representatives of Israel, acting in the calling of a redeemed Sanhedrin. We note that the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are on the foundations, meaning that the foundations themselves are the tribes of Israel redeemed through the witness of the Apostles. Thus they are the firm root of the city through Messiah.
15 The one who spoke with me (one of the seven messengers who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues) had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, 12,000 stadia (2415 kilometres); its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, 144 cubits (66 meters), according to human measurements, which are measurements the messenger (angel) used.
While Yochanan was given the job of measuring the earthly temple in Revelation 11, the heavenly city is to be measured by an angelic messenger. This shows the origin of each subject. The temple made by human hands was measured by a human being whereas the heavenly city of Jerusalem whose architect and builder are G-d, is measured by a heavenly being. This is also an indication of the fact that the measurements of Revelation 11 are essentially literal whereas the measurements of the New Jerusalem are intended to be understood as metaphor.
The city is in the shape of a cube. This is a common Biblical shape that relates directly to Holiness: the altar of burnt offering, the altar of incense (Exodus 27:1; 30:2; 28:16) and the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:20) were all cubes. Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem repeatedly refers to cubes (Ezekiel 41:21; 43:16; 45:2; 48:20). The symbolism could not be clearer: the correlation between the Holy of Holies (Solomon’s temple) and the New Jerusalem is affirmed by the manifest presence of G-d dwelling in the city.
The 12,000 stadia speaks of the complete redemption of the 12 tribes of Israel (12 x 1000) and the 144 cubits speak of the 12 tribes multiplied by the ministry of the twelve Apostles.
The phrase, “Human measurements” is used to remind the reader that these are metaphorical numbers, written in human measurements to convey a heavenly measurement beyond the reader’s understanding. Therefore the measurements are to be understood as metaphor.
Rabbinical Judaism says of Jerusalem, “In the Olam Habah (world to come) it (Jerusalem) shall be so enlarged, as to reach to the gates of Damascus, yea, to the throne of glory.” --Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1.
18 The material of the wall was jasper (red); and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper (purple: Gad); the second, sapphire (blue: Simeon); the third, Carnelian (translucent multi-coloured: Reuben); the fourth, emerald (deep green: Zebulun); 20 the fifth, sardonyx (red laced black: Issachar); the sixth, sardius (red: Judah); the seventh, chrysolite (yellow: Dan); the eighth, beryl (light green multi-coloured: Asher); the ninth, topaz (greyish blue: Naphtali); the tenth, chrysoprase (greenish yellow: Ephraim); the eleventh, jacinth (deep blue: Manasseh); the twelfth, amethyst (violet: Benjamin).
Each of the jewels listed here represent the jewels embedded on the High Priests breastplate. They each represent a tribe of Israel but are listed in an unusual way.
The traditional birth order of the tribes of Israel is:
Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher,Ephraim and
The order of the tribes as they appear on the priestly breastplate is:
Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, Naphtali.
We’re told that the foundation stones have the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb on them. In other words the foundations of the apostolic ministry, the tribes of Israel, have the apostles’ names written on them in the same way that the messengers of the twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes written on them.
The purpose of these patterns is to illuminate the meaning of G-d’s dwelling with humanity based on the premise that He gave a pattern of foreshadowing in the encampment of Israel during her desert wandering.
Shiliyachim (Apostles) Shevetim (Tribes)
So why are the jewels representing the tribes listed contrary to the birth order? The answer is in the connection between the priesthood (breastplate), the encampment (tribes/jewels) and the Mishkan, dwelling of G-d with His people (Rev. 21:3).
The order of the jewels corresponds to the order of the tribes as per their encampment around the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) in the desert, beginning with Gad at the south west corner of the camp, followed by the remaining tribes in an anti-clockwise direction, circling the tent of meeting and ending with Benjamin alongside Gad on the opposite side of the south west corner.
All of this is a beautiful and elaborate way of connecting G-d’s temporal dwelling with Israel in the desert to His eternal dwelling (New Jerusalem, new heavens and new earth) with humanity in the Olam Habah (world to come). The names of the apostles combine with the tribes of Israel to unite the people of G-d in an eternal priesthood born of the redemptive work of G-d through His Son, our Messiah Yeshua.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no Sanctuary in it, for HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai) and the Lamb are its temple.
The Rabbis agree with Yochanan’s vision of a New Jerusalem with gates made from pearls:
“The Holy One, Blessed is He, will in the Olam Habah (World to come), bring prescious stones and pearls which are 30 cubits by 30 cubits and will cut out from them openings which are 10 cubits by 20 cubits, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem.” –Baba Bathra 75a
The transparent gold/glass streets emphasize the flawless state of the city.
The reason for there being no Sanctuary (holy place) in the city is that the city itself is the Holy of Holies (cube, foreshadowed by the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple). G-d Himself and the Lamb are its temple, and the redeemed are the bricks of the temple:
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are G-d’s temple and that the Spirit of G-d lives in you (both corporately and individually)?” –1 Corinthians 3:16
The trifold title of G-d, “HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai)” emphasizes His primary attributes: He is merciful, just and all powerful.
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the k’vod (glory) of G-d has illuminated it, and its light is the Lamb.
The city has no need of other light sources (keeping in mind that the sun and moon have G-d as their source). The fact that the city has no need of the light of the sun, moon or stars, doesn’t mean that those entities will not exist (Isaiah 60:20), it simply means that G-d’s light is all in all. The glory of G-d and the illumination of His Son the Lamb is all sufficient.
This is yet another great hope of the Jewish people, a cry from ancient times. The present passage recalls the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of HaShem rises to shine on you.
2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of Hashem rises and appears over you.
3 All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4 “Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
Your sons are coming from distant lands;
your little daughters will be carried home.
5 Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,” –Isaiah 60:1-5
The Rabbinical writings regarding the Maor (Great lights) of the heavens in the Olam Habah (world to come) is very similar to that of Revelation:
“The orb of the sun is in this world; and the gloss adds, but not in the Olam Habah (world to come), for the lights shall be renewed.” –T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 101. 1.
"In the Olam Habah (world to come), Israel will have no need of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, neither by day nor by night,'' --Raziel, fol. 17. 2.
"Thy days shall cease, but thy light shall not cease; for thou shall have no need for ever of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, and of the stars.'' –Petirat Moseh, fol. 23. 2.
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their riches and honour into it.
All who inhabit the new earth are redeemed. This section of the text tells us that whole nations, redeemed and prosperous will inhabit the wider earth and will bring up to Jerusalem the prosperity, honour, wealth and glory that G-d has given to them. This means that in the Olam habah there will be positions of honour (Kings) for those who have built on the foundation of salvation with right action, service, faithfulness and devotion.
“Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
They will bring you the wealth of many lands…
16 Powerful kings and mighty nations
will satisfy your every need,
as though you were a child
nursing at the breast of a queen.
You will know at last that I, HaShem,
am your Saviour and your Redeemer,
the Mighty One of Israel…
19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for HaShem your G-d will be your everlasting light,
and your G-d will be your k’vod (glory).
20 Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For Hashem will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.” –Isaiah 60:5, 16, 19-20
25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
This is a literary device denoting eternal light. Darkness, which is often seen as a metaphor for evil, will no longer exist.
The Rabbis teach that:
“Jerusalem, in the Olam Habah (world to come), will be made a lamp to the nations of the world, and they shall walk in its light." --Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 56. 3.
26 and they will bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s (sefer chayim) book of life.
The redeemed among the nations will return to HaShem the glory and honour He has given to them. The motivations and practices of sin that had resulted from rebellion and idolatry in the first heavens and earth will never come in to the New Jerusalem because they have already met their eternal fate and are no longer present. The New creation is devoid of all evil.
Those whose names have been secured by the Lambs blood in the Lamb’s Sefer Chayim (Scroll of life eternal) may come and go as they please because all of the new creation has been made known to them. In Messiah they have become eternal sons and daughters of life in G-d.
The Rabbis understood that only those who are prepared and appointed for it may go up into the New Jerusalem in the Olam Habah (world to come):
"the Jerusalem of the Olam Habah (world to come) is not as the Jerusalem of this world; In the case of the Jerusalem of this world, whoever would go up to it (or enter into it) might; but in the case of the Olam Habah (world to come), none may go up to it (or enter into it) but those who are prepared and appointed for it.''
This chapter began with, “Shamayim” (sky waters) and progressed to “Mayim Chayim” (Waters of Life eternal), finishing with “Sefer Chayim” (Scroll of life eternal). From the heavens, Messiah came to give us life eternal, life which has been recorded in His book of life since before the foundation of the world.
“Our Father who is in the sky waters,
May Your name be kept holy.
‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done,
On earth as it is in the sky waters.” –Matthew 6:9-10
“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:13
“Written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.” –Revelation 13:8; 17:18
© 2015 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.