Blog Scripture Readings for 6-18 Through 6-24-17

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Korach — Numbers 16:1 – 18:32
Haftarah — 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22 | Numbers 28:9-15; Isaiah 66:1-24**
Prophets — Jeremiah 40:1 – 47:7
Writings — Ecclesiastes 11:1 – 12:14; Esther 1:1 – 5:14
Testimony — Romans 14:1 – 16:27; 1 Corinthians 1:1 – 4:21

Our full Scripture Reading Schedule for 2016-2017 is available to download and print.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day. One each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

** A different Haftarah is read when it is a special sabbath in Jewish tradition. This week it is Shabbat Rosh Chodesh on the traditional calendar, reading in Numbers and Isaiah. Otherwise, the haftarah in 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22 would be read. We have included all readings here.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 6/18/17 through 6/24/17.

 

A Riddle: What is as bitter as wormwood and as sweet as honey at the same time?

I got this email question the other day from Rick who teaches about the Tabernacle of Moses in his church. Allow me to share my answer with all of you. — Natan

While teaching on the offerings when I presented the “meal offering” I had a few questions. Since the meal offering was fine flour, green ears, frankincense, oil, or salt, I mentioned that there was not supposed to be any leaven or honey put on the sacrifice. Questions follow;

  1. Why couldn’t honey be put on the offering?
  2. I was also asked “no shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”? I think I know why this is, and that is, that this is a meal offering of fellowship and not for trespass or sin offering. Am I correct in my thinking?

I have looked for the answers to both these and can’t seem to find the answers to either. Can you help? I appreciate your answers to questions I have had so far and am thankful that I have someone that I can call on. I think I have as much curiosity about a deeper study as my class does. Any help, I would be grateful.

Honey is sweet  and delightful to the taste and such has nothing to do with the death or is not an attribute of Yeshua’s death. His atoning death for sin was not a sweet or delightful thing and is therefore not an apt symbolic prophetic representation of his horrific death on the cross! That’s why I believe it was a prohibited ingredient for the meal offering.
The meal or grain offering (it was like matzah) was part of the twice daily (olah-tamid) sacrifices and was baked on the altar of sacrifice, which represented Yeshua’s death on the cross. In fact, Yeshua was crucified during the evening sacrifice at about 3:30PM. The meal offering was also part of the fellowship or peace offering and didn’t represent Yeshua’s death per se. It was as barbecue among friends celebrating a reconciled relationship (now that our sins are forgiven and we’re redeemed and can come into the presence of YHVH in right relationship). Thus, the meal offering was part of both both the expiatory and fellowship aspects of the sacrificial system. Why is that? This is because there are two aspects to Yeshua’s death on the cross: the blood/wine and his body/the bread—which are the communion elements we take during the Passover seder meal as per Yeshua’s command. First, our sins are  remitted by his shed blood, not by his  broken body. His blood is for atonement of sin—it paid the legal debt of our sin. His body, on the other hand, was for our healing (“by his stripes we are healed”). Now that our sin debt has been paid, we can be healed by his life flowing through us unhindered by sin. His body also resurrected. Bread is the staff of life. Our sins are washed away by his blood, but his body or His Word brings us life and resurrection once redemption has occurred. This is why the meal offering was part of the sacrificial and fellowship offerings. It speaks not to redemption, but to life in Yeshua now that we’re redeemed. This is what the communion elements represent. Together, they speak both to the idea of redemption from sin and new life as a result. HalleluYah!
Answer to the riddle: The death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah!
 

On Bodily Emissions and Tithing

Here is an email question I just received from a saint in England who is doing his best to follow the Torah. He had some questions about ritual cleanliness and tithing. Here is my answer to to him. — Natan
Regrading Leviticus 15 and laws concerning bodily discharges, it is all about good hygiene and cleanliness.
Women now have feminine hygiene products that keep their blood flow contained, so that it doesn’t come into contact with anyone else, so, in my estimation, this fulfills the Lev 15 requirements pertaining to that subject. If men become unclean because of a nocturnal emission, they now have quick access to showers with which to clean themselves. I don’t see that ritual uncleanness is any longer the main issue that it was in the days of the tabernacle and temple. These institutions no longer exist, therefore, we can’t fulfill these same requirements in the way there were at that time. Now we are the temple of the Spirit of Elohim who lives in us continually  because of our spiritual rebirth, cleansing of our sins by Yeshua’s blood and our continual relationship with him.
The Bible in many places instructs us to be holy or set-apart as Elohim is, and that without holiness no one will see him. What is holiness? it is acting holy as Elohim is. It is following the example of Yeshua about living cleanly—especially spiritually. This mostly has to do with the heart and mind as Yeshua teaches in Matt 15:1–20. There he instructs his disciples and us about worrying less about eating with unwashed hands and more about the filth that come out of our mouths through unholy words. That is not to say that we aren’t to be concerned about physical cleanliness. The Torah has a lot to say about this when it comes to disease detection, treatment and prevention, diet, washing and cleanliness and burying bodily waste for example. The phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness” may not be in the Bible, but it’s a biblical concept.
Overall, however, the Bible focuses more on inner spiritual cleanliness than outward, but we need to follow both the letter and the spirit of the law in this regard as best we can as Yeshua clearly teachings throughout his Sermon on the Mount teaching (Matt 5–7). We will be blessed in all respects in this life and the next life if we do.
With regard to tithing, I have a written teaching on that subject, which you can access at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/tithing.pdf.
In brief, tithing as per the Torah was largely an institution that depended on the Levitical priesthood and tabernacle/temple system and was agriculturally based, since Israel was an agricultural nation. The Torah teaches that there are three tithes: a feast tithe which the person set aside to finance his trips to keep YHVH’s feasts, the tithe that went to support the Levitical priesthood and the tithe to help the poor and needy. However, the Bible also teaches that giving one-tenth of our income to YHVH or his servants who are doing his spiritual work on this earth is a principle that predates the Levitical and temple systems. Therefore, I believe that tithing is a universal and eternal principle that all the saints should practice. The apostles, while not addressing the tithing principle directly, do speak of supporting the poor and of giving to the ministry who feeds them spiritually.
I personally have practiced tithing all my life, and YHVH has blessed and sustained me because of it. For me, giving him a tenth of my income is a form of worshipping him and I would never think of withholding this from him because it’s his. After all, considering all the blessings he has given to me freely (life, food, air water, this earth, his Son, his truth, family, good health, eternal life, etc.), how can I not love and honor him in every way possible?
 

When Is the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot or Pentecost?

For those of you who are confused about when to celebrate the biblical Feast of Pentecost, this is a new article I have just written for you. I hope this clears up the confusion! — Natan

When is the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Chag Shavuot) or Pentecost? This has been a subject of debate among the Jews going back for two thousand years to the first century, and still is today among well meaning people who love Elohim and desire to follow his word. This is the question I will address in this study.

Since Shavuot is the only biblical holiday that involves counting days and weeks (hence its name, the Feast of Weeks), there are different opinions about when to start the count leading up to Shavuot. The Torah tells us to count from the Sabbath associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. (Lev 23:15–16, NKJV)

This sounds simple enough. Or is it?

The question and the subject of the debate is which Sabbath do you start counting from? The day after the weekly Sabbath occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the day after the high holy day Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which occurs on the fifteenth day of the first month of the biblical year?

In the first century in the time of Yeshua and the apostles, there were two main opinions among the leading Jews on when to start counting the weeks (called “the counting of the omer”) leading up to Shavuot. The religious sect of the Pharisees whose spiritual descendants are the modern rabbinic Jews started the counting of the omer from the day after first high holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a high holy day Sabbath (John 19:31). On the other hand, the Sadducees, the other main Jewish sects of the first century (along with the Boethusians, which was likely a sub-sect of the Sadducees; see A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, second division, vol 2, p. 37, by Emil Schurer; Commentary on the NT from the Talmud and Hebraica, vol. 4, p. 23 [commentary on Acts 2:1], by John Lightfoot) counted the omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls within the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Some modern Messianics follow the rabbinic method, while others follow the Sadducean method.

It is generally understood by historical scholars that the Jewish sect of the Pharisees interpreted the written Torah in light of Jewish oral tradition, while the Sadducees rejected oral tradition and adhered strictly to the written Torah (Schurer, pp. 37–38).  According to Schurer,

In this rejection of the legal tradition of the Pharisees, the Sadducees represented the older standpoint. They stopped at the written law. For them, the whole subsequent development was without binding power” (ibid. p. 38). To the scribes and Pharisees, in contrast to the Sadducees, oral tradition took precedence over the Written Torah-law. It was intolerable to them that people should “interpret Scripture in opposition to tradition. The traditional interpretation and the traditional law are thus declared absolutely binding. And it is consequently but consistent when deviation from these is declared even more culpable than deviation from the Written Torah. It is more culpable to teach contrary to the precepts of the scribes, than contrary to the Torah itself [according to the B. Talmud, Sanhedrin ix.3]. (ibid. p. 12)

The first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 BC to 100 BC) confirms this. He writes,

[T]he Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. (Ant. XIII.10.6)

Commenting on Josephus’ statement, Louis Finkelstein, a noted the twentieth century rabbinic scholar says,

This prolix statement simply confirms the talmudic record that the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law,  which the Pharisees held equally authoritative with the Written Law. (The Pharisees, p. 261).

Yeshua himself castigated the scribes and Pharisees of his day for giving precedence to their Oral Law or the tradition of the elders over Elohim’s Written Torah in Mark 7:9, 13.

He said to them, “All too well you reject the [Torah] commandment of Elohim, that you may keep your tradition.…[Thus] making the word of Elohim of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

So we are still left with the following question: Which method of counting the omer toward Shavuot is correct? Do we follow the Written Torah or the Oral Tradition of the rabbinic Jews, which purports to follow the Written Torah but often doesn’t? That is the question I want to answer below.

To start, we need to understand first the meaning of some Hebrew words. Let’s look again at Leviticus 23:15–16.

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [haShabbat], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths [Shabbatot] shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath [haShabbat]; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. (emphasis added, NKJV)

The word for weeks in this passage is the Hebrew word shabbatot. Does this word mean “weeks” as in “from the first day of the week (our Sunday) to the seventh day (our Saturday), or does it mean “weeks of seven days” irrespective of which day in the week the count starts? I will attempt to answer this question later. Also it must be noted that the Torah here uses the phrase “seven complete Sabbaths” (Heb. shabbatot). This is important to note as we will see below.

The Hebrew word for Sabbath is shabbat. The plural form of this word is shabbatot, from which is our word Sabbaths derives, and is found later in the same verse (Lev 23:15). This verse says to count sabbaths, not weeks. Elsewhere the Bible clearly states that the sabbath is the seventh day of the week.

What do the Jewish rabbinical experts say about the meaning of Leviticus 23:15–16 and how to count the days toward Shavuot? After all, many Messianics view the Jews as the legal biblical experts that we are to follow in this regard.

To start with, the authoritative The ArtScroll Tanach Series Vayikra/Leviticus commentary is silent on the meaning of the word Hebrew word shabbatot in Exodos 23:15. The commentators offer no explanations as to why they chose to ignore the meaning of the word Shabbatot when counting the days toward Shavuot. They simply assume that the word shabbatot means “weeks” (shavuot) and not “sabbaths” without giving any explanation.

The nineteenth century orthodox rabbinic Torah scholar S. R. Hirsch in his commentary on this verse attempts to explain that the word shabbatot/sabbaths in Leviticus 23:15 when combined with the Hebrew word t’mimot (translated in English as complete or perfect) means “weeks of Sabbaths” or “weeks containing Sabbaths.” To justify this explanation, he cites, not Scripture, but a prior rabbinic Jewish tradition (i.e. The Babylon Talmud, Nedarim 60a). Thus, in his translation of the Torah, Hirsch says that the word shabbatot or sabbaths means “weeks of sabbaths.” Then in Leviticus 23:16, which reads, “the seventh Sabbath,” he translates the word shabbat as “sabbath-week,” even though this is never what the word shabbat means when used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Gutnick Edition Chumash takes a libertine approach and interestingly translates the Hebrew word shabbat in Leviticus 23:15–16 as “From the day following the (first) rest day (of Pesach)—the day you bring the Omer as a wave-offering—you should count yourselves seven weeks. (When you count them) they should be perfect. You should count until (but not including) fifty days, (i.e.) the day following the seventh week…” (emphasis added, parenthetical sentences are in the original). Here, bowing to rabbinic tradition and ignoring the meaning of the word shabbat, this translator translates shabbat/shabbatot respectively as “rest day,”  “weeks,” and “week.” Other than that, this rabbinic commentator gives no explanation how he justifies translating the word shabbat as he does. He focuses on the command to count, but totally ignores discussing which day to begin counting from.

Similarly, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash in its translation of Leviticus 23:15–16 also ignores the meaning of the word shabbat and changes the word shabbat to “rest day,”  “weeks,” and “week” respectively. In its commentary section, this Chumash totally omits any discussion on the subject of counting from the sabbath, or which sabbath to count from. Similarly, Rashi, the pre-eminent medieval Torah scholar, in his commentary on this verse also presumes shabbat to mean “weeks” and cites earlier Jewish sources (i.e. Targum Onkelos) as his justification, but gives no Scripture to back up his claims.

The counting of the omer from the day after the high holy day Sabbath (and not the weekly Sabbath) was normative among the dominant Jews of the first century as attested to by Josephus who make no mention of any alternative methods than that of the Pharisees for determining the beginning of the count of the omer (Ant. III.10.5).

These are the explanation, or lack thereof, that some of the top rabbinic experts over the past 2000 years have to tell us on this subject. This is not much to go on in order to make an informed decision about when to celebrate one of YHVH’s biblical feasts!

Contrary to what the above-quoted Jewish sages teach, The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament and Brown Drivers Briggs Lexicon, inform us that the word weeks [shavuot] is not one of the definitions of the word sabbaths [shabbatot], although BDB suggests that sabbaths or shabbatot could possibly mean “weeks of sabbaths.”  Gesenius in his Hebrew lexicon suggests the same thing from the comparison of Leviticus 23:15 and Deuteronomy 16:9. The evidence supporting the meaning of “weeks of sabbaths” behind the Hebrew word shabbat is tenuous at best and should not, therefore, in all honesty, be used to build an argument on how to determine the time count leading to Shavuot.

Now let’s look at the Torah text itself, since the rabbinic scholars offer us little if any help in determining how to count the omer toward Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks.

If one were to view the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—assuming it doesn’t fall on a weekly Sabbath—as the first day of the count of the omer as the rabbinic Jews do, then how do you count seven sabbaths subsequently? For example, if the third day of the week (i.e. Wednesday) happens to be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and hence a sabbath (a high holy day Sabbath, but not a weekly Sabbath), then are all the remaining Wednesdays leading up to the Feast of Weeks also sabbaths, so that the command in Leviticus 23:15 to count seven sabbaths is fulfilled? The command to count seven Sabbaths only makes sense if one is counting seven actual weekly Sabbaths with the first weekly Sabbath being the seventh day of the counting of the omer and each subsequent Sabbath as the fourteenth day, the twenty-first day and so on until one arrives at the seventh Sabbath on the forty-ninth day of the counting of the omer.

At this point, someone may ask about Deuteronomy 16:9–10, which seems to lend credence to the rabbinic Jewish tradition that the Hebrew word shabbatot (sabbaths) means “weeks.”

You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks [Heb. shavuot] from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. (NKJV)

In this passage, we are instructed to count weeks, not sabbaths. Therefore, can we simply ignore the Leviticus 23 passage that clearly instructs us to begin our count toward Shavuot on the day after the weekly sabbath in favor of beginning the count on any day of the week, and to count seven weeks (i.e. Sunday to Saturday) instead of seven weeks of sabbaths as the rabbinic do? Not at all, for the instructions on counting to Shavuot is first mentioned in Leviticus 23:15–16 and therefore (in light of the biblical interpretive “law of first mentions”) forms the foundation or basis for all subsequent biblical discussion on the subject. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16:9 must be understood or interpreted in the light of the Leviticus 23 passage and not the other way around, even as the New Testament must be interpreted in the light of the Tanakh (Old Testament), since it came first and forms the basis for all subsequent divine revelation. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16:9 must be understood to mean “weeks of sabbath” beginning from the first day of the week till the seventh day. Only in this way can Leviticus 23:16 be understood when it speaks of seven complete sabbaths being fulfilled upon arriving at Shavuot. This understanding reconciles these two passages in light of the biblical meaning and usage of the words shabbat (sabbath) and shavuot (weeks).

The closest analogous concept to weeks of sabbaths that we find in the Scriptures is the year-long land sabbath along with the seven sabbatical years leading up to the jubilee year. But in the biblical concept of seven land sabbaths, the pivotal point is still a definite sabbatical year when YHVH commanded the Israelites to let their land rest. The seven years is still tied to the year-long sabbath rest of the land, and the fiftieth jubilee year is calculated therefrom. The same is true from the day after the Sabbath, which is the first day of the week, when one starts counting toward the Shavuot. After all, the Bible calls this holiday, the Feasts of Weeks. In Genesis chapter one, the Bible defines a week as being from the first day to the seventh day, which is the Sabbath (see also Exod 20:8–9). Unless otherwise stated, a week in the Bible means a week of seven days starting with the first day (Sunday) and ending on the seventh day or the Sabbath.

In conclusion, the verse that clinches the argument in my mind to help us to understand when to start the counting of the omer is Levitucus 23:16,

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths [Heb. shabbatot] shall be completed.

Here, the Torah clearly states that the day before the Feast of Weeks is the weekly Sabbath. This is the plain meaning of the text and is what the Hebrew word shabbat means. By biblical definition based on how this word is used, the word shabbat can only refer to three things: the weekly shabbat, the Day of Atonement or the land sabbath. In the context of Leviticus 23:16, shabbat can only refer to the weekly Sabbath. Only rarely (about once in seven years) when using the rabbinical method to count the omer to Shavuot does the seventh Sabbath fall on the weekly sabbath. When one begins the counting of the omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot always follows the weekly Sabbath. With the rabbinic counting method, their Shavuot usually falls on the morrow or day after the seventh Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and so on, and only once in seven years on the morrow or day after the Sabbath. Therefore, their method of counting doesn’t meet the criteria as outlined in Leviticus 23:16, and which states that the day before Shavuout must be a weekly Sabbath.

Perhaps this explanation gives us a fuller understanding into the phrase found in the Torah, “seven Sabbaths [Shabbatot] shall be completed” (Lev 23:15), or to a similar phrase found in the Book of Acts, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). What is a complete [weeks of ] Sabbaths? It seems to indicate a complete or whole week from the first day (Sunday) to the seventh day (Saturday/Sabbath) with not a day lacking. Seven of these must be fully completed to arrive at Pentecost. It is interesting to note that Acts states, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).

Moreover, it seems that the counting of the omer, which is seven seven-day weeks for a total of 49 days (7 times 7) symbolically points to “a complete completeness” representing the spiritual growth and development of the saint as they mature into perfect unity with YHVH and with their fellow saint, so that they will be spiritually prepared to receive the inner Torah of the heart, the gifts of the Spirit, and come to a place of being together and in one accord within the body of Yeshua to be able then to do the great commission and to reap the wheat harvest of lost sheep of Israel necessary to establish YHVH’s kingdom as per Acts 1:6–8 as pictured by the Feast of Pentecost.

What’s more, the weekly seventh day Sabbath is a prophetic spiritual picture of the one-thousand year-long millennial reign of King Yeshua’s on this earth, while a first day (Sunday) Shavuot is a picture of seven days plus one (or the eighth day) that prophetically points to “the spiritual upper room” of the New Jerusalem as outlined in Revelation chapters 21 and 22, when the glorified saints will dwell together and in one accord and in one place with YHVH Yeshua forever.

Perhaps the most important argument in favor of counting the omer from the day after weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that this perfectly points to the resurrection and ascension of Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospel account is clear that he rose from the grave at the end of the weekly Sabbath and at the beginning of the first day of the week, and that he most likely ascended to heaven on the first day of the week when the wave sheaf offering was being made on Wave Sheaf Day (Lev 23:9–14). Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension during this time frame perfectly fulfills all the prophetic types and shadows in the Torah that pointed forward to him. (For a full explanation of this, please see my article, “The Resurrection of Yeshua from a Hebrew Perspective Prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures,” at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf.)

It is my contention that to count the 49 days of the omer leading to the Feast of Weeks in the rabbinic Jewish way takes away from the glorious spiritual, prophetic picture of Yeshua and his spiritual bride to be.

 

One of the coolest Messianic prophecies in the Bible

Yeshua—YHVH Elohim’s gift to mankind from heaven!

Read and study the Bible and discover the genius of the Creator’s mind breathed into its words. Fall in love with the Elohim and his Word as you read it, and let it transform your life and thinking! — Natan

Notes from Natan’s Bible commentary:

Isaiah 7:11–17, A sign. This is an amazing prophecy—a twofer prophetically showcasing the genius of the Creator’s ability to accomplish so much by saying so little. Here Isaiah prophecies to the rebellious Jewish king his kingdom’s (and hence his own) downfall, but at that same time, the rising up of the King Messiah to be born of a virgin woman as well as being deity. So while Isaiah prophesies judgment upon the apostate southern kingdom of Judah, at the same time he is giving a message of hope in predicting the coming Messiah—the ultimate and eternal hope of Elohim’s people even in the midst of darkness and judgment.

Isaiah 7:11, A sign … either in the depth, or in the height above. Sign is the Hebrew word owth (Strong’s H226) meaning “sign, token, signal, a beacon, a monument, evidence, prodigy or omen.” Traditionally, Christians have viewed this passage along with the following verses as a prophecy concerning the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Some who are opposed to the virgin birth interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 will say that owth is never used in Scripture in reference to a miraculous sign. To the contrary, there are numerous examples in the Scriptures where owth is indeed used in reference to a miraculous sign (e.g. Exod 4:8, 9, 17, 28, 30; 7:3; 8:23; 10:1, 2; Num 14:22; Deut 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; 11:3; 2 Kgs. 20:8–11; Neh 9:10; Isa 20:3; Jer 32:20, 21). For example, owt describes such supernatural occurrences as rods becoming serpents, the Nile turning to blood, the death of the Egypt’s first born, the splitting of the Red Sea or time moving backward ten degrees on Hezekiah’s sundial. So when Isa 7:11–14 uses the word owth to describe a virgin miraculously giving birth to a child, such an interpretation is not a biblical hermeneutical twist on this scripture.

The word depth is the Hebrew masculine noun aymek (Strong’s H6009 from H6010) meaning “valley or depression.” This same Hebrew word in its adjective form (same spelling, different vowel points) refers to the depths of sheol or hell (Prov 9:18; Job 11:8). In Psalm 139:15, David in reference to his formation in his mother’s womb (verse 13) says, “I … was curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth (Heb. aretz). Aretz (Strong’s H776) is the commonly used word for earth or land in Scripture. A valley or depression is the lowest part of the earth. Here David figuratively likens his mother’s womb to a low place or depression in the earth. Though the Hebrew words for depth in Isaiah 7:11 and lowest parts in Psalm 139:15 are different, the Hebraic concepts seem connected and analogous.

Height is the Hebrew word gabahh (Strong’s H1361) and means “to soar, to be lofty, to exalt.” This root word in its adjective form is also gabahh (Strong’s H1362) with the only difference between the two words being a slight vowel pronunciation difference in the second syllable. This word means “lofty or high.” We see this adjective used in Job 35:5 as a poetic reference to heaven (Heb. shamayim) as well as in Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 103:11 (“For as the heaven/shamayim is high above the earth …” or “according to the heights of heaven” (alternate Hebrew rendering, KJV marginal notes).

Above, which is opposite the word height in the passage under analysis, is the word ma’al (Strong’s H4605) meaning “upward, above, overhead, from the top, exceedingly.” Thus, the phrase in this verse could be rendered as highest heaven (where YHVH abides). The word ma’al can be used as an adjective to refer to heaven above where YHVH dwells (Deut 4:39; Josh 2:11).

What is the point we are trying to make here? YHVH prophesies, through Isaiah, that he will give a supernatural, miraculous sign to the house of Judah from both the depths (or womb of a woman) and the highest heavens. In verse 14 Isaiah speaks of the (the Hebrew uses the definite article the) virgin or the young maiden (depending on your Bible translation) giving birth to a son named Immanuel meaning “El With Us.” Now great controversy has raged as to the meaning of the word virgin (Heb. almah). Does it refer simply to a young maiden or to an actual virgin? Much has been written by scholars on both sides of this hotly debated issue and it is outside the scope of this work to deal with this particular subject. Both sides (the pro-virgin birth side and the anti-virgin birth of Messiah side) have valid points to their credit. This author maintains that if Isaiah 7:14 were to stand alone, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove the virgin birth of the Messiah either way. However, with the context of verse 11 considered (not to mention the other references in the Tanakh referring to the virgin birth of the Messiah (e.g., Gen 3:15; Isa 9:6–7; Pss 2:7; 110:1–7), it seems that Isaiah had one thing in mind in penning verse 14: the Messiah would be born of a virgin. He would be formed in the womb of a woman (without the seed of a man (see Gen 3:15) and at the same time would originate from the highest heaven. This seems to be a clear reference to the incarnation, that YHVH would miraculously fuse (by the Spirit of Elohim [Matt 1:20]) with the physical egg of a woman to form the Yah-Man (God-Man) referred to in Christian theology as the incarnation or the hypostatic union.

 

“Children are their oppressors…women rule over them.”

Isaiah 3:1–5, 12, YHVH…takes away…children…insolent…women rule over them. When YHVH’s judgment comes on a sinful nation, godly leadership and his protection is removed from that nation leaving a moral and spiritual vacuum. When the fear of Elohim is gone, so goes wisdom. With the absence of the wise, fools and the foolish rise up and take over a nation. This godless vacuum will soon be filled with ungodly, silly and rebellious youth and feminized male leaders and masculinized female leaders—Ahabs and Jezebels! Children who are insolent against their parents and elders are proof of the spiritual declension of a nation and YHVH’s hand being taken off that nation and his resulting judgment against it are the result. Isaiah clearly lays out this process in this passage. The cause and effect results were as true then with ancient Judah as they are today with modern America.

Since my youth (growing up in the 1960s and 70s), I have seen children go from acting respectfully to their parents and adults in general (“Yes sir,” “No Sir,” “Mr.” and Mrs.”) to total foul-mouthed disrespect and mocking scorn for older people. Correction and discipline of these rebellious brats has gone out the window, been tossed in the trash can of political correctness. When was the last time you saw a paddle in the school principal’s office? It was the norm in my day. Now such a school leader would be fired and convicted of “child abuse.” Moreover, gender roles, in many cases, have been reversed. The term “house husband” now has common currency. Many women have become masculine and men have become feminized. As an example of this, names that have been traditionally reserved for the male gender or now popular for girls along with woman smoking cigars, sporting tatoos, men wearing hair buns, earrings, painting their toenails, and the list goes on. Now there’s even gender identity confusion and “gender reassignment” operations. Is it any wonder?

This process has been horrendously sad and deeply painful for those of us in the older generation to watch, but it is merely symptomatic of a nation that has turned its back on Elohim. We know what things used to be like when families still went to church, there was prayer in schools, patriotism was taught in our institutions of education, mothers raised their children at home, divorce was rare, godly masculinity was a virtue and the fear of Elohim and adherence to biblical values still, to one degree or another, was the norm societally.

This is much more than looking back and waxing eloquent for the good old days. It’s about mourning for a nation that has lost its moral and spiritual compass and has gone from a God-fearing nation to one that loathes to keep Elohim in its memory, and is too blind by its own pride and self-absorption to recognize that two plus two equals four.

May YHVH Elohim help us to be children of his light in these times of gross darkness. Do not become weary in well-doing!

 

Blog Scripture Readings for 6-11 Through 6-17-17

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Sh’lach L’cha — Numbers 13:1 – 15:41
Haftarah — Joshua 2:1-24
Prophets — Jeremiah 33:1 – 39:18
Writings — Ecclesiastes 4:1 – 10:20
Testimony — Romans 7:1 – 13:14

Our full Scripture Reading Schedule for 2016-2017 is available to download and print.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day. One each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 6/11/17 through 6/17/17.