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Why did the Veil of the Temple tear? Which Veil tore?

Among Christian Congregations, it is a common teaching that the Veil in front of the Holy of Holies Tore when Christ died, and that this means we are free to walk into the Most Holy Place without any barriers. Did the Veil before the Holy of Holies tear? and what was the true meaning of this sign?

Which Veil tore?
Before we inspect the reasons for the tear and the meaning behind it, let us try to understand how many veils were there in the temple and which one tore.

Num 4:25,26 And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.

The Tabernacle in the wilderness which stood as the model for the Temple built by Solomon as well as the second temple built by Zerubbabel carried a number of curtains as seen below. The 3 main curtains (in purple color) were:
a) Dividing the camp from the courtyard
b) Dividing the courtyard from the Holy place
c) Dividing the Holy place from the Holy of Holies

Even though the Scriptures are not clear on this fact, the same pattern was carried over to the Temple building which was built by Solomon and Zerubbabel. We see the multiple curtains/veils in the Temple mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, Maccabees and in the historical accounts such as Josephus and Talmud. according to these accounts there were 2 main curtains in the Temple. One at the entrance into the Temple and one before the Holy of Holies.

Heb 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make. The Book of Maccabees I Ch4 v50

When therefore he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar [of incense], which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them. Antiquities of the Jews Book 12 Ch7 v6

But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height. But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v4

But the inmost part of the temple of all was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v5

“The thickness of the veil [of the Temple] was a hand-breadth. It was woven of seventy-two cords, each cord consisting of twenty-four strands. Its length was forty cubits, by twenty in width. It was made by eighty-two myriads of damsels, and two such veils were made every year. It took three hundred priests to immerse and cleanse it [if it becomes unclean].” Ein Yaakov, Chullin Ch 7

The First Veil
Analysing the above information helps us see that the first Veil was in front of the door of the Temple and that it covered the doors so that the Holy place was covered at all times. No Levite other than the Family of Aaron went past this veil into the Holy place. All of the other Levites would work outside the temple.

 

 

The Second Veil
The next veil was in front of the Holy of Holies inside the Temple, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy. Only the High Priest of the line of Aaron went into this place which had the Ark of the Covenant; once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The other Priests of the Line of Aaron would not go past this place, and only serve inside the Holy place where the Menorah, The Table of Presence and Altar of Incense were situated. As the accounts of Ein Yaakov mentions, these two veils were so huge that it took 300 priests to hang them up. The thickness of the veils are said to be a handbreadth (4 inches) with a width of 20 cubits (10meters) by height of 40 cubits (20 meters) which would have been 8 stories high.

Which Veil Tore? the Outer Veil or the Inner Veil?
Because most Christians do not know about the Temple precinct and that there were 2 veils in the temple, they immediately assume that the Inner Veil Tore. This would have not been a sign that the Israelites could see, as the outer veil would be covering it. But if the Outer Veil was what tore, everyone would have been able to see it because of the height of this massive veil which towered over most of the other buildings. It would have been clearly sighted by everyone who was in the outer courts of the Temple.

In fact this was not the first time that the Outer Veil of the Temple tore. Josephus notes that in the days of King Uzziah, such an even happened with an earthquake, which is mentioned by Zecheriah.

2Ch 26:16-21 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparation [for futurity,] he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent; and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish; and despised that power which is of eternal duration: (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of the laws:) so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs; and was carried headlong into those sins of his fathers, which the splendour of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into: while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar; which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the High Priest, who had fourscore Priests with him, and who told him, that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice: and that “None besides the posterity of Aaron were permitted so to do.” And when they cried out, that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground, and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it; and fell upon the King’s face; insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled it self four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain; till the roads, as well as the King’s gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. Now as soon as the Priests saw that the King’s face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and commanded that he should go out of the city, as a polluted person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper, and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict; that he did as he was commanded; and underwent this miserable and terrible punishment for an intention beyond what befited a man to have, and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life: while his son Jotham took the government. After which he died with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him; when he had lived sixty eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two. And was buried by himself in his own gardens. Ant. of the Jews IX Ch10 v4

Josephus mentions that the earthquake made a tare in the temple referring to the Veil, through which rays of sunlight (which came from the East directly through the doorway) fell on Uzziah. This was divine judgement. We should note that the veil was torn in this case, but was not completely made into two parts. In this way, the tear made at the time of Yeshua’s death was much more significant. This sign of the tear could not have been seen by the people if it was the inner Veil. Now lets try to understand the reason for such a tear.

Why did the veil tear in two?
Many hold to the understanding that the inner veil tore, signifying that everyone is able to go to the Most Holy Place freely. But this is a gross misunderstanding of protocols in the courts of God. Only The High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. All other priests of the lineage of Aaron were barred from such an offense. Christ as the High Priest (Heb 9:11) is able to approach the Most Holy place, while all other priests were to stand before God in the Holy Place.

1. A sign of Priesthood
God has called us to be a Kingdom of Priests as we see this as part of His Covenant given through Moses(Exo 19:6) and also reiterated by Peter (1Pet 2:9). A tear of the Outer Veil shows a clear path to approach God and serve Him in the Holy Place as a priesthood, while the Holy of Holies is reserved for the Messiah and High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

2. A sign of Grief
In the bible a father usually rents his clothes as a clear sign of Grief when one’s son is dead (Gen 37:34, 2Sam 13:31). Two of the Gospel writers make an interesting observation when they say that the veil was torn from top to bottom, which is an indication of a garment of a father being torn in two. While God does not live in buildings made with hands(1Kin 8:27), God promised to dwell among the people through the Tabernacle/Temple (Exo 25:8, 1Kin 9:3) which stood on the earth as a microcosm of the Heavenly reign of God (Exo 25:40, 26:30). So the Outer Veil could be looked at as God’s outer garment on Earth, which being torn in two would denote a sign of Grief as His son paid the ultimate price for our sin.

Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mar 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

3. A sign to the People and leaders in Jerusalem
The Outer veil being torn would have also been a sign which would have amazed everyone in Jerusalem and a piece of news that would have travelled around the land. In fact, this could have been one thing that the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus would have been referring to, when they said:

Luk 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

A clear sign such as this would have been a witness to many who were doubtful about Yeshua’s claim to be the Son of God. Both the Ruling parties and the people who had come for Passover would have nothing else to talk about as the torn veil was accompanied with darkness and an earthquake.

Conclusion
The tearing of the Outer Veil did not signify the end of God’s Temple or His Law as tearing one of the veils could not lead us to this conclusion. It is much more likely that it was a sign of Grief by God, The Father and an invitation for the Priesthood to be called from around the world unto Him as well as a mighty sign that witnesses Yeshua was truly the Messiah. While Christ, the High Priest took office, the tear signified that the Priests who would take office could approach the Holy Place, after Him. The tear was also a major sign for the authorities as well as the people of Jerusalem and the whole of Israel, that an important event had taken place.

Migdal Eder and the Birth of Christ

We are all familiar of the story of the appearance of Angels to lowly shepherds watching over their sheep at night when Christ was born. But were these normal shepherds? Did the Angels tell them where to exactly look in Bethlehem? Or were they privy to some information we have not understood?

Prophecies of the Birth place of Messiah and Migdal Eder
Comparing the following verses, we see that the burial-place of Rachel is called the Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder in Hebrew). This may have been called as such in remembrance of Rachel who was a shepherdess(Gen 29:9). Micah 4:8 and Gen 35:21 reference the same place – the Tower of Eder also called the Tower of the Flock. Micah is a clear reference that Messiah would be born in this place.

Mic 4:8 And thou, O tower(Migdal) of the flock(Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Gen 35:19-21 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

In fact the Pillar of Rachel’s grave mentioned above may have been the Tower of Edar. So why is this Tower of the Flock of any interest to us? As Micah has prophesied, the Kingdom and Dominion comes to the Tower of the Flock. 6 verses down, Micah again references the same Shepherd who will arise from Bethlehem and feed His flock, to whom all of Israel will return. These prophecies were well known at the time of Yeshua‘s birth, as we see below.

Mic 5:2-4 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

Mat 2:4-6 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Joh 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

It is very likely, considering they lived in the land and knew the various landmarks, that the Tower of Edar was also well known for its significant prophecy mentioned in Micah.

Priestly Shepherds tending the sheep in the Lambing Season
We have all heard that the Shepherds in Luke’s account of the birth of Messiah, were outcasts and poor people taking care of their sheep at night. But we must ask the question of why shepherds would be out at night risking losing their livestock to predators and the like. The reason would be lambing season.

Gustaf Dalman who did extensive field work in the land of Israel before the 1st World War, mentions in his work “Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina (Work and Customs in Palestine) V1, 183” that he observed 3 lambing seasons; early lambs born in November-January, Spring Lambs born in February-March and Summer lambs born in June.

The Spring Lambing Season is of special significance to us, as that is the time of the Passover Sacrifice which required a 1-year old Lamb. For Messiah to be born in this season as the Lamb of God, would be an amazing foreshadowing of His Ministry of becoming the Passover Lamb that brings redemption to His people.

Another interesting fact is that there were Shepherds who were from the priestly families according to the Mishnah Bekhorot 5:4. Could the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 be Priests?Migdal Eder is also mentioned by name again in the Mishnah regarding lambs who were found in the vicinity being accepted as Passover offerings, making it very likely that this area was a common grazing place for Priestly-Shepherds.

Beasts which were found in Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder and within the same distance in any direction: Males are [considered as] burnt-offerings; Females are [considered as] peace-offerings. Rabbi Judah says: that which is fit for a pesach offering, is a pesach-offerings within thirty days before the pilgrimage [of Pesach]. Mishnah, Shekalim 7:4

If the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 were in fact Priests, this may also explain how the shepherds knew where to go, as the Angels never mentioned a particular place. It is unlikely that normal shepherds would know about the exact prophecies mentioned in Micah, while Priestly Shepherds would have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.

Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Was the Tower of the Flock the place of Yeshua’s Birth?
Even though many of us have grown up seeing Yeshua being laid in a rack for fodder called a manger, the text says something else. Luke mentions that he was laid in a “Phatne” in Greek, better translated as stall, as per examples given below.

Hab 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls(phatne):
2Ch 32:28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls(phatne) for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
Luk 13:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall(phatne), and lead him away to watering?

Compare the above to the instances of Phatne in the Birth of Messiah:

Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger(phatne); because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger(phatne).
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger(phatne).

It is clear that the imagery of the trough is not a Biblical one, and it is more likely that Messiah was born in a stall that was made for Lambs. Could this have been connected to the Migdal Eder? Did the Tower of the Flock also consist of a “Phatne” (stall) which could hold newborn lambs for the shepherds who were out at night in lambing season? This could explain how they found Mary, Joseph and Yeshua so easily.

Conclusion
Migdal Eder which is connected to Prophet Micah’s prophecy, may very well be the exact place of Yeshua’s Birth. What better place and time for the Lamb of God to be born, other than in the Spring Lambing Season close to Passover at the “Tower of the Flock” and be visited first by Shepherds who were priests. With God’s track record of foreshadowings and prophetic imagery, it is not far fetched to imagine the Birth of Messiah happening in this fashion.

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The Apostle Paul, his Nazarite Vow and his sacrifices at the Temple

The writings of Paul are often quoted by many to show that the “Law” was done away and that no one needs to adhere by it.

Paul never taught against the Law – in fact he adhered to it!
Apostle Paul who was called to preach the Gospel to the scattered nations, was falsely accused of breaking and teaching to break God’s Law in his day. A false accusation which is attributed to Paul to this very day. We clearly see that this accusation was false, in the request and proclamation James makes of Paul in Acts 21.

Act 21:20-24 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law.

Paul proclaims the same thing about himself, before Festus and some Jews who accused him of breaking the Law, in this way:

Act 25:7,8 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

Paul took on a nazarite vow offering sacrifices at the temple
The best example to show how much of an observant Jew Paul was, is to showcase his Nazarite Vow. The only vow which had the shaving of the head connected with it, was the Nazarite vow which started with the shaving of ones hair. At the end of his naziriteship a nazirite brings three offerings, a sin offering, a burnt offering and a peace offering, and shaves his hair (Num 6:13-18). Together these three offerings were called “the hair offering” at the time, for they were accompanied by the shaving of the hair.

Act 18:18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.

When Paul reached Jerusalem, James advised him to bear the cost of four other men who had the same vow with himself in completing the sacrifices in the Temple, to showcase that Paul was an observant Jew.

Act 21:20-27 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him,

Thus, we see that Paul was an observant Jew who was accused falsely regarding the Law of God. A Nazarite vow was the perfect way to display the adherence to the Law, as it had a strict procedure that went along with it. We see this in the many rabbanical laws which were instituted around it mentioned in the Mishnah.

A nazirite vow of unspecified duration is for thirty days. If [the nazirite] shaved himself or bandits shaved him, it overturns thirty days. A nazirite who shaves himself, whether with scissors or a razor, or who singes [the ends of his hair], even a minimal amount, is liable. A nazirite may shampoo [his hair] and part it [with his fingers] but may not comb it. Rabbi Ishmael says: he is not to cleanse it with dirt because it causes the hair to fall out. Mishnah Nazir 6:3

Josephus also mentions the actions of a Nazarite in the following way:

Moreover, when any have made a sacred vow, I mean those that are called Nazarites, that suffer their hair to grow long, and use no wine; when they consecrate their hair, (4) and offer it for a sacrifice, they are to allot that hair for the Priests [to be thrown into the fire]. Antiquities of the Jews Book 4, Ch4, v4

Bearing the cost of a person who had taken a Nazarite Vow was allowed and it would have been a considerably large payment that Paul paid for 4 others with himself. Josephus writes about King Agrippa in Antiquities of the Jews Book 19, Chapter 6, verse1 in this way:

He also came to Jerusalem, and offered all the sacrifices that belonged to him: and omitted nothing which the law required. On which account he ordained that many of the Nazarites should have their heads shorn.

The Mishnah also records the allowance of paying for another’s vow in the following way:

[If one says,] “Behold, I am a nazirite and I take it upon myself to bring the hair offering of another nazirite”, and his friend heard and said “I too, and I take it upon myself to bring the hair offering of another nazirite”, then, if they are clever they will bring the other’s hair offering; otherwise they must bring hair offerings on behalf of other nazirites. Mishnah Nazir 2:5

Conclusion
Paul shows no qualms in taking a Nazarite Vow, Purifying himself, Entering the Temple, Bearing the cost for himself and 4 others for the Sacrifices which are made at the end of his purification period and offering sacrifices as per the commandment given in Numbers chapter 6. Paul’s own words and the words of James, further solidifies the fact that he lived a life according to the Law of Moses and never taught against the commandments of God. The events of Acts 21 are believed to have occured in AD55 which means, almost 25 years had passed since the Resurrection of Yeshua and Paul was still a believer who walked and taught God’s Law as well as the Good News of Messiah. Reading Numbers chapter 6 would give us a better understanding that Paul would have never spoken against The Law, The Temple or the Sacrifices as he himself took part in it.

Were the Israelites in Egyptian Slavery for 430 years?

The majority of Christians teach that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. This understanding comes from the Exodus text which says the following:

Exo 12:40,41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

Pretty clear right? The only issue with a 430 years of enslavement is that it does not agree with the other details provided in the Scriptures, such as the age of the individuals who lived in Egypt from the time they arrived to the time they left.

For example, we know the following

Exo 6:18 And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years
Exo 6:20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
Exo 7:7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

Even if Kohath was born to Levi when he arrived in Egypt and Amram was born to Kohath, the year he died and Moses was born to Amram the year he died, still the calculation would be 133 + 137 + 80 = 350 from the arrival of Jacob in Egypt to the Exodus. So a 430 year period of enslavement is a physical impossibility.

Paul’s answer
Using Paul’s writings and the Book of Genesis we are able to put together a more accurate picture of what happened and why 430 years came to be mentioned in Exodus 12:40.

Gal 3:16,17 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

If you read the above carefully, Paul mentions that the time between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant was 430 years. How did he arrive at this conclusion? The above date agrees with Josephus who says the following:

They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus; on the fifteenth day of the Lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our fore-father Abraham came into Canaan. But two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt. Antiquities of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 15

Answers in Genesis
If we look at the accounts in Genesis, we find out that the second part of Josephus’ mention(215 years till Jacob entered Egypt) agrees with scripture.

Gen 12:4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Gen 21:5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
Gen 25:26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
Gen 47:9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

The above verses show us that there was 215 years from Abraham arriving in Canaan to Jacob entering Egypt with his family. Abraham was 75 when he entered Canaan. He was 100 when Isaac was born (100 – 75 = 25). Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born. Jacob was 130 when he entered Egypt.  25 + 60 + 130 = 215.

Which means that the Israelites lived in Egypt for a maximum of 215 years of which the period of Slavery is unknown, but could be no more than 150 as Joseph lived 70 years after Jacob entered the land of Egypt. (Gen 41:46, 45:6, 50:26)

The prophecy of 400 years of affliction
But there is another question which must be answered, as God himself made it known to Abraham that his children will be “strangers” in the land and will be afflicted 400 years.

Gen 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

To resolve the apparent contradiction, we must understand that Abraham and his descendants lived in the land of Canaan and Egypt as strangers till the Exodus. We see this mentioned in the speech of Abraham and the letter to the Hebrews as follows:

Gen 23:4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
Heb 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

Afflicted by Ishmael
The 400 years of affliction was set off by Ishmael, as he was the first to trouble the promised heirs of Abraham. Paul makes this point in the Letter to the Galatians as follows, equating Ishamel (born after the flesh) to be persecuting Isaac (born after the spirit).

Gal 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

The Genesis account records the above in the following way:

Gen 21:8,19 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.

An extra note must be made of the word “mocking” (Tsachak) which is also translated in Gen 26:8 as “sporting” which could mean that Ishmael was not merely mocking with words. If we take Isaac’s persecution at the hand of Ishmael to have happened when he was 5 years old (at the celebration when he was weaned), the 400 years of affliction falls into place naturally.

If Isaac was persecuted when he was 5 years old, the time from the start of affliction to the birth of Jacob would be 55 years (Gen 25:26). If we add Jacob’s sojourning in Canaan, which is 130 years (Gen 47:9) and the earlier established sojourning of 215 years in Egypt together we arrive at a 400 year period (55+130+215=400). Which means both the 430 years from Abraham to the Exodus and the 400 years of affliction are Scripturally accurate when looked at closer.

Abraham’s Covenant made on Passover
Looking and reviewing this text and this question leads us to another interesting deduction; which is that God made His Covenant with Abraham on a Passover. The Exodus account records that the time between the Exodus and the day that the promise was given to Abraham as recorded in Genesis 15, is the same day;

Exo 12:40,41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

We know that the Children of Israel left Egypt on Passover, and if the start of the 430 year mark is at the making of the Abrahamic Covenant, as we examined above – then this means the Abrahamic Covenant was made on the 15th of the 1st month (Abib) which is Passover.

Conclusion
It is clear that the 430 years of Egyptian servitude is not based on the whole text of the Bible, and is a clear misunderstanding of the verses. There seems to be no contradictions in this regard, even though 400 years of affliction and 430 years of sojourning is mentioned in the Scriptures. Dates and ages are always given for a reason in the Bible, and examining them closer shows us a clearer picture and dispels any questions which may arise.

Peter’s Denial: Before “the Rooster” or “the Morning Proclamation”?

All of us have read Peter’s denial of Messiah in the Gospels, but an interesting fact about the historical background of the Temple and this recorded event in the gospels could be very well pointing to showcase that all of the four gospels were in fact written originally in Hebrew.

The Gospel Accounts
All of the gospel accounts agree that Yeshua‘s trial in front of the Jewish leaders had come to a conclusion by the time of the “cockcrow”.

Mat 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Mar 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

Luk 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Joh 18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

Historical issues with the Gospel account
Although all of the Gospel authors mention the “cockcrow”, Historically, no fowls were allowed in or around Jerusalem when the temple stood. The restriction may have been instituted to reduce the noise or annoyance once Temple ordinances were enacted. The Mishnah which records the background and history of the temple period says the following:

It is forbidden to rear small herd animals in the Land of Israel, but it is permitted to rear them in Syria or in the wildernesses of the Land of Israel. It is forbidden to rear fowls in Jerusalem because of the “Holy Things” Mishnah Bava Kamma 7:7

The “Cock’s Crow” inside the Temple precinct

But in another section, the Mishnah records (in contradiction to what we saw above) that there was a “cock’s crow” in Jerusalem which signaled a particular time to enact certain temple activities. It records the following:

Every day they would remove [the ashes from] the altar at the cock’s crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) or close to that time, either before or after. But on Yom HaKippurim from midnight, and on the festivals at the [end of the] first watch; And the cock’s crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) would not arrive before the Temple court was full of Israelites. Mishnah Yoma 1:8

Anyone who desired to remove the ashes from the altar used to rise early and bathe before the superintendent came. At what time did the superintendent come? He did not always come at the same time; sometimes he came just at cock-crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר), sometimes a little before or a little after. The superintendent would come and knock and they would open for him, and he would say to them, let all who have bathed come and draw lots. Mishnah Tamid 1:2

Once, Rabban Gamliel and the elders were reclining in the house of Boethus ben Zonin in Lod, and they were occupied in studying the laws of Pesach all that night, until the cock crowed(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר). They lifted the table, made themselves ready and went to the house of study [to pray]. Tosefta Pesachim 10:12

The Cock-crow mentioned here in these historical documents is not of a fowl as the words used here is “miqerot hagever” (מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) which means “Proclamation of the Man”, and may have been referred to as the Cock-Crow because of the timing of the call. This is thought to be a call signifying the end of the night watch, and the start of the final watch also known as the Third Watch. We see this in the gospel accounts as follows:

Mar 13:34,35 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

Luk 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

The cockcrowing mentioned above is used as one of the watches; The First Watch starting at evening (around 6pm), The Second Watch at midnight (12am) and The Third Watch also called cock-crow (around 3am to 4am).

In fact the Greek words used in the Gospel accounts of Peter’s Denial and Luke 12:38 is “alektor” (ἀλέκτωρ) and “fonay” (φωνή) can mean the voice of the rooster/chanticleer or one who sings/chants which could very well be connected to the Temple Services very easily.

Conclusion
If the “miqerot hagever” (מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) which means “Proclamation/call of the Man” is in fact connected to the Temple activities as seen above, we can easily assume that the use of the word “cock-crow” (alektorophōnia) could have been a misunderstanding / mistranslation of the “Proclamation made at the third watch” or simply a direct translation which later translators of Greek who did not know about the Temple Services used unwittingly. If so, it is most probable that all of the four Gospels were written in Hebrew and that there are many more such nuances and details lost in translation throughout the ages.

What we do in our bodies – does it affect our souls?

Most Christians are familiar with Messiah’s words to the Pharisees in regards to the question raised on washing of hands.

Mar 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

While we have addressed the issue in concern and misunderstandings stemming from it, in another study; today I plan to showcase a different perspective on the misunderstandings created by the teachings that say “Christ declared all foods clean” and that “nothing that we eat can make us unclean”.

When Yeshua addressed the issue of obeying the “traditions of the elders – the washing of hands”, he was not speaking of the uncleanness brought about through what we eat – but of the uncleanness that is brought about (as per the Pharisees) by eating with unwashed hands. Yeshua’s words on this issue has led Christianity to believe that what we eat does not affect us at all. But is this what the Scriptures say?

What is the Soul?
The soul could be called the life force of a human being, as we see mentioned in the creation account.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul(Nefesh)

This life force is directly connected to the blood in a human or an animal.

Gen 9:4,5 But flesh with the life(Nefesh) thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives(Nefesh) will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life(Nefesh) of man.
Lev 17:14 For it is the life(Nefesh) of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life(Nefesh) thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life(Nefesh) of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
Deu 12:23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life(Nefesh) with the flesh.

The Greek word Psyche for Soul
Wherever Nefesh is mentioned in the Scriptures, the Septuagint (The Greek Translation of the Hebrew Bible dating to 3rd Century BC) translates it as “Psyche”.  We see the same word used in the New Testament writings as well, showing that the soul is truly the life force that makes us who we are.

Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul(Psyche) : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul(Psyche) and body in hell.
Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul(Psyche)? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Act 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life(Psyche) is in him.

Does what we do to our bodies affect our souls?
What we do to our bodies, especially in regards to food, can affect the soul as it is closely connected with the blood. What we consume directly affects our blood, which means the food or drink we intake can have a lasting influence on our souls. This is further showcased in the Scriptures by God’s commands regarding the food laws.

Lev 11:43 Ye shall not make yourselves(Nefesh) abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
Lev 20:25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls(Nefesh) abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.

Conclusion
So we see that the food laws that God provided for His people were not merely a matter of ritual purity as most of us think, but something that can affect our life force which is something that supersedes the short life we live today. Let us all try to keep our souls Holy and not become abominable by what God has shown to corrupt this precious gift we received from Him. Shalom

“Do not Judge” – Should we not judge anything at all?

_95739648_gettyimages-487787078“Do not judge others!” A common saying among the Christian Congregations of the day, a person who points out a shortcoming is often told not to judge others. But does this agree with God’s Word and the teachings of our Messiah Yeshua? Let’s look into the whole Word of God to see what the Bible teaches us about Judgement.

The commonly quoted Bible verse to show that we should not judge others, is the following

Mat 7:1,2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 

Enacting Righteous Judgement

But is this really what Yeshua was telling us not to do? That we should refrain from judging others so that we will also be judged leniently? Let’s read the rest of the verse as well.

Mat 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

In context, Yeshua tells us here to correct ourselves first, so that we may in turn correct others. In other words, a person should strive to judge righteously. This agrees with what he says in John 7, when the Pharisees judged Him by outward appearance for healing a person on the Sabbath day.

Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

The Apostle Paul says a similar thing when he advices the Corinthian Congregation to judge sin amongst the members of the church when he says the following:

1Cor 5:12-13 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Moreover, Yeshua taught us the correct way to judge such matters in saying,

Mat 18:15-18 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

What God’s Word says about Judgement

Most of these misunderstandings stem from not knowing the foundations of judgement laid in the Scriptures (Old Testament). In God’s Word, there are 3 main concepts of judgement discussed. Let’s look at these 3 ideas of judgement to get a better understanding of what Yeshua and the New Testament writings are trying to teach us.

Palal – The Hebrew word “Palal” means to pray. Wherever we see “prayer” mentioned in God’s Word, the word Palal is used. The word’s true meaning is to intervene, intercede, mediate or judge. Overtime we pray, in fact, we do engage in a sort of judgement. A judgement of self, or judgement of what we want God to help us with. This is a judgement between right and wrong, between black and white, a judgement that proclaims this is right according to His Word or not.

1Sam 2:25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge (Palal – H6419) him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.

Eze 16:52 Thou also, which hast judged (Palal – H6419) thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.

Mishpat – The Hebrew word “Mishpat” means a judgement. It is the decision and sentence which is provided when someone breaks a law. Most of God’s Law consists of such judgements. These judgements were to be given in a court proceeding by judges who were called to that position. Without such a position, we are unable to enact such judgements in our lives and interactions with our fellow human beings.

Lev 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment(Mishpat-H4941): thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Deu 17:9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment(Mishpat-H4941):

Din – The Hebrew word “Din” is the word used of the ministering of justice, meaning when a person is deemed guilty by a court or God, this pronouncing or Execution of Judgement is what this word encapsulates. We are not in a position to enact this facet of Judgement, as we are not Judges or The Righteous Judge of all the Earth – Almighty God.

Psa 9:8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment (Din – H1777) to the people in uprightness.

Jer 21:12 O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute (Din – H1777) judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Conclusion

While we are unable to decide a sentence (Mishpat) or minister justice by executing the said judgement (Din) in an instance where wrongdoings happen, we are clearly able to point out the wrong. This decision between right and wrong (Palal) is what Yeshua asked us to do in our daily lives. In an instance where a congregation is involved “Mishpat” and “Din” may also be enacted by the relevant authorities as mentioned by Yeshua in Mat 18:15-18 and by Paul in 1Cor 5:12-13. So the next time a person tells you not to judge, maybe you should ask which type of “judgement” he/she is speaking of.