News Letter 5847-010
17th day of the 2nd month 5847 years after the creation of Adam
The 28st day of the Counting of the Omer
The 2nd Month in the Second year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences.
May 21, 2011
Shabbat Shalom Brethren,
“If you owe the bank $1,000, you have a problem. If you own the bank $100 million, the bank has a problem.”
In March 0f 2008 I spoke of the coming economic disaster based on the Sabbatical cycles and the amount of money borrowed by the banks from the Federal Reserve. You can watch and listen to me make this point on the video in “The Prophesies of Abraham“.
I had been saying this was coming since I learned about it in June 2005.
In November 2008 I did a follow up as we were now going full bore into this crash which was just then becoming the great recession we have just gone through and are still in. You can read this short article:
- Newsletter 5842-024 Total Borrowings of Depository Institutions (banks) from the Federal Reserve
So this past week I went and looked at the total borrowings again to see just what has happened since I first began to speak out about it three years ago. You can see the current chart at http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/BORROW?cid=122 and take notice of just how the Great Depression of the 1930’s no longer is noticeable on the chart compared to what is happening now.
Today things once again look eerily similar to what was going on in 2007-2008 only now it is not just the USA in trouble but the whole world economy.
Then, as now, the vast majority of the macro-economic and stock market indicators issued massive warning signs. And then, as now, the stock market ignored them for a seemingly endless time.
The big difference: Then it was the beginning of the housing slump that massively disturbed me. Now it’s the beginning of the international government debt and funding crisis that makes me increasingly bearish.
If you recall, the housing and mortgage credit crisis did not befall the world out of the blue. There had been many warning signs. And some of the best market analysts clearly pointed them out. Plus it was a relatively slow development that took many months until it finally culminated during the autumn of 2008.
I remember when Ben Bernanke spoke out in 2007, at the beginning of the housing crisis. “Containment” was his buzz word. And he assured us that neither the housing market nor the economy was in danger. He even gave an estimate of “up to $100 million” in mortgage-related bad debts.
In an interview at the time I strongly rebutted Bernanke’s soothing remarks and added that he was probably off by at least one zero.
Now we have another central bank bureaucrat uttering soothing words: Jürgen Stark, Chief Economist of the European Central Bank (ECB). He said,
“The discussion about restructurings in the Eurozone is based on the totally false assumption that one or another EU member state is insolvent.”
Well, as we all know there are three EU member states — Greece, Ireland, and Portugal — that have already needed an illegal bailout by other EU members. If that’s not insolvent, what is?
These countries don’t have a liquidity problem, they have solvency problem … a severe one at that! And solvency problems don’t get cured by injecting additional credit.
“In the worst case, the restructuring of a member state could overshadow the effects of the Lehman bankruptcy.” — Jürgen Stark
According to Stark, a single euro member country default could trigger a banking crisis worse than the one that followed the September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse. And I certainly agree with him on this point.
But he doesn’t expect any defaults! That’s where we disagree …
I think that European government defaults are just a matter of time. And the market is massively supporting this view.
In fact, yields on 2-year Greek bonds are well above 20 percent — a strong market signal that default is unavoidable.
Now, let’s take a look at the …
Six Theoretical Escape Hatches
In theory, there are six ways to resolve the global debt trap — six escape hatches:
1. An economic growth miracle
2. Major interest rate cuts
3. Bailouts by other governments
4. Money printing
6. Outright default
In case of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and other European countries sitting in a debt trap: Options one, two, three and four aren’t available.
Growth miracles are the result of free market policies not in sight anywhere in Europe. Interest rates are already as low as they can get.
Bailouts have already been tried. Now it’s getting clearer that they weren’t enough, and the willingness of donor countries to do more is fading.
And due to the common currency, the ECB is the only one that can print money. That is as long as the troubled members want to keep their euro membership.
This leaves them with escape hatches 5 and 6: Austerity and default. They are trying the former to a minor degree. But because of the huge debt load it’s not enough to solve the problem.
What’s more, austerity is very unpopular …
Resistance among citizens is snowballing. And sooner or later populists will ride on this wave and opt for outright default — the only other way out.
The situation in the U.S. isn’t much better. The country is also trapped. But …
The U.S. Has More Options Left
First of all, the U.S. has a printing press as Mr. Bernanke so famously said ten years ago. Therefore inflation is feasible.
Second, the U.S. has much more fat available to cut. Hence severe austerity policies could still lead the way out of this mess.
Third, the U.S. is much more flexible, politically and as a society. A return to real market-oriented policies is still conceivable, accepting short-term hardship to foment a growth miracle later.
Mr. Stark has a point when he says that an EU government default would trigger another major banking crisis. But he is either naïve or whistling in the dark with his statement that a default would not occur.
It will, and probably soon. Therefore a bet against the banking sector might be a good idea since we’re talking about another global banking crisis due to the direct involvement of U.S. banks and the strong interconnection of the global financial system.
Interestingly, as you can see in the chart below the banking sector continues to show conspicuous relative weakness — another reminder of the 2007/08 episode.
From Wiese Report at http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/it%e2%80%99s-200708-all-over-again-44559?FIELD9=1
Lehman Brothers Crisis: Just the Opening Act
Bryan Rich | Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 7:30 am
In 2008, the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly collapsed the global financial system. To avert collapse, it required unprecedented global government bailouts, backstops and policy responses.
These efforts bought some time — nearly two and a half years to date. But time hasn’t healed the wounds. In fact, the government responses have done nothing to avoid the ultimate fallout, rather exacerbating it by transferring private debt into public debt, and building more and more debt in the process.
That’s why the global economy isn’t recovering despite the many calls from Wall Street. It’s only catching a breath, before the next wave hits.
The wave that promises to be …
The Main Event
As I laid out on April 16 here in Money and Markets, despite all of the fanfare surrounding fiscal and monetary policy in the U.S., the next wave has all along been emanating from Europe.
And in the past week or so, we’ve finally seen the appropriate fear and a growing acceptance of what’s likely to be the “main event.” That is, sovereign debt defaults in Europe.
Harvard Professor Kenneth Rogoff’s study on historical sovereign debt crises finds that not only do sovereign debt defaults tend to follow financial crises, but they tend to be widespread.
It’s the combination and systemic nature of sovereign debt and the global banking system that make the prospects of rolling defaults far more dangerous than what was experienced in the 2008 failure of Lehman Brothers.
Consider this: Even after the problems in the PIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) were exposed early last year, European banks have done little to pare back the sovereign debt they hold of these countries.
The most recent report from the Bank for International Settlements shows total exposure of euro-zone banks still hovers around $2 trillion. With that in mind, Standard & Poor’s just said this past week that Greece would have to trim their debt by at least 50 percent for it to become sustainable — that would mean a 50 percent haircut for debt holders!
While it’s true that European banks are on the hook for the lion’s share of the risk from a default of a country in Europe, the Lehman crisis made it abundantly clear that a major bank failure has acute global consequences.
Perhaps that’s why European Central Bank policymaker Jürgen Stark said that a debt restructuring in the euro zone would result in a banking crisis that would be worse than Lehman.
Warning Signs Flashing
As such, the following sequence of events that have occurred over the past two weeks should give fair warning for what likely lies ahead …
It started with a breakdown in the global commodities run — namely the contra-dollar assets. With the contra-dollar bubble pricked, cued by the purge of speculators from the silver market, the attention of global market participants then turned away from the U.S. and back to Europe.
Then followed an article from a German online magazine suggesting that Greece, fed up with the austerity forced upon it by its European neighbors, was contemplating pulling out of the euro, re-adopting its own currency and devaluing its way out of debt.
Showing just how slippery the slope is in a sovereign debt crisis, the next day a piece ran in The Irish Times quoting a local economist making the case that an Irish departure from the euro was the only way for national survival.
With those threats on the table, all of a sudden European officials are considering the only option left to possibly delay the impact from the sovereign debt crisis … relaxing the conditions on their rescue loans. This is where it gets even more dangerous.
Such a move would expose who has the real position of strength in the euro-zone crisis: Not the strong (i.e. Germany). But the weak (the PIGS)!
As Keynes said (my paraphrase), “If you owe the bank $1,000, you have a problem. If you own the bank $100 million, the bank has a problem.”
Given the exposure of German banks to PIGS debt, the country made a decision last June to go “all-in” to keep the euro zone together by offering Greece rescue funds. It’s clear though, neither Germany nor the rest of Europe have a plan for solving the problem, other than denying the ultimate outcome and trying desperately to keep it all going.
Moreover, they’re downplaying a critical point …
The Problems in the Euro Zone Are All Rooted in Their Single Currency: The Euro!
The euro-member countries are in trouble for all of the reasons Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, cited prior to that currency’s inception over twelve years ago.
• A “one size fits all” monetary policy doesn’t give the member countries the flexibility needed to stimulate their economies.
• A fractured fiscal policy forced to adhere to rigid EU rules doesn’t enable member governments to navigate their country-specific problems, such as deficit spending and public works projects.
• Nationalism will emerge. Healthier countries will not see fit to spend their hard earned money to bail out their less responsible neighbors.
• A common currency can act as handcuffs in perilous times. Exchange rates can be used as a tool to revalue debt and improve competitiveness of one’s economy.
Friedman predicted the euro would succumb to these flaws and fail within 10 years. It seems he might not have been too far off.
Brethren, remember the order of events leading up to the bank failures in 2008. You can review them here at http://www.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/09/30/us.bailout.timeline/index.html
From the above article we learn two things, that during these austerity times a personality could rise to power in a similar fashion as Hitler did during just such a trial in his days. Hitler came to power during the Great Depression years. We also learn that the world economic picture is similar to the US banking picture just before the crash which began with Lemans in the fall of 2008.
Financial and Banking Crisis Coming In 2015
February 2, 2011 •
The DOW is back above 12,000 for the first time since June 2008 – kind of weird to imagine, isn’t it? Does all feel right again in the world? Back in June 2008 the markets buzzing full of bullish energy. The U.S. housing sector tore it all apart, and then Ben Bernank huffed and puffed and blew it all back up again.
So do things feel just as rosy now? Perhaps even better, now that all the TBTF banks have stocked their capital reserves and there is more cash on corporate balance sheets than ever before?
Not according to Barrie Wilkinson, a partner at British consulting firm Oliver Wyman. During this past meeting at Davos, Wilkinson (not a member of the ultra-super elite, but invited to Davos nonetheless) stayed at a nearby hotel and shared some of his thoughts, most of which go against the grain of the optimistic hand-shaking shared by most as they congratulated themselves for stabilizing the world economy.
Niall Ferguson on the US Empire’s Tipping Point (it’s coming soon)
The Financial Crisis of 2015: Avoidable?
But Wilkinson warns that the unstable factors that led to the 2008-2009 are actually bigger now than they were then. Wilkinson wrote a 24-page report about it: “The Financial Crisis of 2015: An Avoidable History.“ A number of things are looking really unstable right now, according to Wilkinson:
1. Banks in search of higher yields. They’ve got all that cash from the Fed. It pays them only a slight interest (but makes a free profit nonetheless). Wilkinson says the low rate of return on equity is providing an incentive for banks to seek higher yields elsewhere, and this means they’ll be loading up on emerging markets and commodities – the traditionally risky plays. Because of the mammoth size of the banks’ reserves, this might fuel a new bubble.
2. There’s no more powder in the keg. Wilkinson is concerned that governments worldwide no longer have the resources to deal with another deep financial shock to the global system, given how much stimulus and money creating occurred in order to stabilize the shocks of 2008-2009. If it happens again, we won’t be able to respond as nimbly. Western governments have “expended their entire arsenal on the last round of fiscal injections.”
3. Domino effect of the next bank crisis. If there WERE to be another systemic banking crisis, if another “TBTF” bank was at risk of failing, governments could not refrain from stepping in to save it – due to the systemic consequences allowing it to fail would have – and as a result, the banking crisis would light the fire of a serious sovereign debt crisis (the cards of which are already stacked).
4. Emerging markets get ahead of themselves. Latin America and Africa, benefiting from Chinese import and investment, are seen to be no-brainer stories of promising development, especially with continued liberalization. But insofar as China becomes the recipient of the incipient high-yield seeking bubble, emerging markets such as these can come crashing down again once China’s bubble bursts. High commodities prices might encourage these regions to invest in large-scale development projects which then won’t be able to be finished if the commodities bubble bursts. Worse, Western banks will have “built up large and concentrated loan exposures in these new and exciting growth markets.”
Wilkinson concludes that banks still need to be much less leveraged than they are now. He also points out the frequency of financial crises. 2008-2009 was dramatic, but there have been many in the past 25 years alone. We can certainly expect to see another in some form not too far into the future.
Think we just need a wall of worry to climb? Wilkinson’s arguments converge nicely with the timeline of collapse recently put forth by a Harvard historian who says we’ll be seeing the show blow up within two years.
Niall Ferguson on the US Empire’s Tipping Point
January 18, 2011 •
So, like many people, maybe you’re sick of the so-called “doom and gloom” crowd – that’s too bad. Because reality doesn’t depend on fashion and it isn’t going to wait for you to agree with it before basic cause and effect takes hold and serves you up a dish you don’t like.
Niall Ferguson is different in one important respect from other so-called “doom and gloom” prognosticators: he’s not an economist. And he’s not a trader. He’s an academic historian who’s studied economic patterns throughout history and across different cultures and continents. He’s working from a much, much more diverse knowledge base than most economists are.
Ferguson sees the U.S. (and world) economy as the complex, dynamic system that it is – a concept that isn’t in the daily working memory of the average economist. You probably have a cartoon idea of what a complex dynamic system is, and I’ll leave it at that – suffice to admit that it’s a bit more — complex – than that, however.
When you’ve got a complex system in equilibrium, it’s like a spinning top (while the force of spin cancels out the gravitation pull, anyway). But as soon as some wind blows in the door, the top will react and fall over. It doesn’t take much, and it doesn’t take long.
Could the U.S. Really Default on Its Debt?
What Could Cause the U.S. to Collapse
Ferguson is very clear on the point that the U.S. financial system is like this spinning top – and it definitely wobbled during the peak of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Ferguson also thinks that the U.S. is not immune from it happening again. No, he’s not talking about a mere “double dip” in the stock market – he’s talking about an outright wide scale collapse of empire.
He’s not trying to be alarmist, either. He grew up in the UK; he knows what it’s like to witness imperial decline. More importantly, he certainly doesn’t want the U.S. empire to collapse or weaken. He thinks the alternative world we would live in would not be an improvement on what we currently have.
Ferguson says: “if you really want to see when an empire’s getting vulnerable, … the big giveaway is when the costs of servicing the debt exceed the costs of the defense budget.” That’s it in a nutshell! That’s the tipping point according to Niall Ferguson (http://fora.tv/2010/07/08/The_Financial_Crisis_Will_It_Lead_to_Americas_Decline#fullprogram ). This video is a must watch for your edification.
Now, at no point, so far, in U.S. history have the costs of the defense budget been overtaken by the costs of servicing debt payments, but – and this part should make you pay more attention – Ferguson seriously thinks it’s likely to happen to the U.S. over the next 5 years or so.
He points to 18th century France, which fell apart because of a mere inability to finance Royal debt in the 1780’s. Whereas today’s U.S. politicians seem to think this is a problem that will become most relevant in another 15, 20, 30 years – Ferguson thinks it’s actually going to “go live” in just another 2 years.
In other words, the U.S. financial system is sitting on the edge of chaos.
As I have showed you on the DVD when each of the Sabbatical years in the past came, it came with a recession or depression at about the same time. These economists believe the current financial bubble of debt will bust about 2015. The Next Sabbatical year will begin at Aviv 2016- to Aviv 2017. Again I showed you this in the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84njauGSx54&feature=related
So an economic collapse is potentially possible in 2015 leading up to the Sabbatical year of 2016-2017. Aviv to Aviv. This collapse would be caused by the nations of the world defaulting on their debts. Portugal, Greece, Ireland and the USA.
Europe’s Financial Crisis—a World Changer!
It is easy to overlook the financial crisis rocking Europe. To let it be eclipsed by other seemingly more pressing crises, such as the devastating weather striking the United States, the food crisis and the rocketing price of oil, the quake and nuclear crisis in Japan, or the violent and transformative uprisings that have swept through North Africa and the Middle East.
This would be a mistake.
Ultimately, Europe’s financial crisis will revolutionize Europe—and even the world!
It was almost exactly 12 months ago that Greece—laden with debt, its economy seizing—accepted a €110 billion bailout from the European Union. Led by EU heavyweight Germany, Greece’s European counterparts hoped the bailout would help Athens pay its bills, kick-start the economy and restore investor confidence in Greece. Most importantly, Europe’s leaders hoped to prevent the crisis from spreading to other heavily indebted eurozone economies.
Within months, those hopes were dashed. Since May 2010, both Ireland and Portugal have been given bailouts, while other countries, including Spain, remain precarious.
On May 6, it became obvious that Europe’s financial crisis was nearing boiling point, again.
Once more the crisis centered on Greece. On April 27, the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, reported that Greece’s (Portugal’s too) 2010 budget deficit was higher than it had projected. Despite the 2010 bailout, and a host of austerity measures, Greece’s debt was actually mounting.
As a percentage of gross domestic product, government debt is now at 140 percent. Meanwhile, the economy continues to contract, making it impossible to raise money by increasing taxes. With its economy in dire straits, Greece began to have trouble raising money on the global bond market, which compounded the problem further. Last week, interest on a 10-year government bond reached 16 percent. On Monday, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation’s debt to “B”—two notches below junk status.
Long story short, the reality crystallized last week that despite last year’s bailout, Greece cannot pay its bills, and is on course for bankruptcy!
Greece’s problems have created quite the conundrum for Europe. As data emerged revealing the severity of Greece’s condition, Europe’s leaders knew that across the world investors would ask the obvious questions: If Greece defaults despite receiving help from the EU, is it possible the bailouts won’t work for Ireland and Portugal? If the bailouts aren’t working, then is the eurozone even a safe investment? Beyond the loss of investor confidence, a Greek default would come with tremendous economic cost to many European banks and governments, which have hundreds of billions tied up in Greece.
There’s also the political fallout should Greece default. Europe’s leaders know that Greece is Europe. In the eyes of the world, including the investors that finance European economies by purchasing European bonds, Athens is part of a larger political—and financial—union: the European Union. Should Greece default, it would call into question the economic and political viability of the entire EU. After all, what good is European unification if member states are allowed to go bankrupt?
Last Friday, we got a glimpse at how dire the situation has become.
Late in the day, Germany’s Der Spiegel, citing sources within the German government, reported that Greece was considering dumping the euro and exiting the eurozone.
According to a source within the German government, Greece’s exit was to be the topic of discussion at a secret emergency meeting of European Commission leaders in Luxembourg last Friday night.
The article set off alarm bells around the world. Greek leaders immediately rejected the report, saying Greece had no intention of dumping the euro and leaving the eurozone.
In Brussels, Guy Schuller, the spokesman for Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who presides over meetings between eurozone finance ministers, told reporters: “I totally deny that there is a meeting, these reports are totally wrong.” Turns out, Schuller was lying.
He later admitted that he was told to say there was no meeting. We had “very good reason to lie,” he said. “We had Wall Street open at that point.” As it turns out, European officials not only met in a secret meeting last Friday, but this meeting was merely the latest of several emergency meetings. Of course, officials denied that they discussed Greece’s exit from the eurozone at the meeting. But after their earlier lie, who can trust them?
The mystery and deceit surrounding last Friday’s events ignited rage across Europe. Juncker—who has been quoted as saying, “When the going gets tough, you have to lie”—was la beled a “master of lies” by Austria’s Der Standard. Inside Germany, where resentment toward Greece is at an all-time high, tempers are hot. “Seldom have we seen politicians acting as irresponsibly as they did on Friday evening,” wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “In Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Luxembourg, officials were silent, deceptive or just plain lied.”
Across Europe, people’s confidence in European leaders has been shaken. “Within a matter of hours [last Friday],” Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung continued, “the governments of the euro countries managed to fritter away the last remaining trust the people of Europe still have in the bailout action.” Many are now seriously questioning whether or not their leaders have the financial crisis under control. “Any reasonably interested European will now be asking, in astonishment or anger, just how dramatic the situation really is in Greece. Is the country on the verge of bankruptcy despite all the aid and statements to the contrary?”
Although we still don’t know if Germany has manufactured a way to push Greece from the eurozone, last Friday’s dramatic revelation reveals how extremely dire Greece’s financial crisis is. That some European officials even seem to be talking about the idea is noteworthy. In the short term, it appears Europe’s leaders will simply give Greece another bailout.
The problem with this option, however, is that it will not solve the problem and will only kick the can down the road. Another option being discussed, especially by Germany, is the restructuring of Greece’s debt, which essentially means allowing Greece to default on some of its debts.
Whatever route this crisis takes, one thing is obvious: Europe’s financial problems have gotten worse, and this is forcing Europe, led by Germany, to consider increasingly dramatic solutions!
On Monday, Ian Traynor explored Germany’s central role in the ongoing eurozone crisis. In his article on guardian.co.uk, Traynor speculated that rumors of a Greek default or Greece quitting the eurozone were being spread by Germany to get Europe ready for a radical change.
For weeks, he wrote, “top German officials have been leaking discreetly, planting controversial ideas in the public sphere only for the government to row back when the media went berserk.” He’s right: German politicians have been at the vanguard of the effort to impose harsh measures on Greece.
Watch Germany closely—whatever the solution eventually imposed on Greece, it will be created by Germany!
One of the reasons we have recessions and these huge debts is because we will not do as we are told to do in a Sabbatical year. We will not forgive the debts of those who owe us money in each Shmittah.
Deu 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you make a release of debts. 2 “And this is the word of the release: Every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbour, he does not require it of his neighbour or his brother, because it is called the release of ????. 3 “Of a foreigner you could require it, but your hand is to release whatever is owed by your brother. 4 “Only, there should be no poor among you. For ???? does greatly bless you in the land which ???? your Elohim is giving you to possess as an inheritance, 5 only if you diligently obey the voice of ???? your Elohim, to guard to do all these commands which I am commanding you today. 6 “For ???? your Elohim shall bless you as He promised you. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And you shall rule over many nations, but they do not rule over you. 7 “When there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, within any of the gates in your land which ???? your Elohim is giving you, do not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 for you shall certainly open your hand to him and certainly lend him enough for his need, whatever he needs. 9 “Be on guard lest there be a thought of Beliya?al in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is near,’ and your eye is evil against your poor brother and you give him naught. And he shall cry out to ???? against you, and it shall be a sin in you. 10 “You shall certainly give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this reason ???? your Elohim does bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 11 “Because the poor one does not cease from the land. Therefore I am commanding you, saying, ‘You shall certainly open your hand to your brother, to your poor and to your needy one, in your land.’ 12 “When your brother is sold to you, a Heb?rew man or a Heb?rew woman, and shall serve you six years, then let him go free from you in the seventh year. 13 “And when you send him away free from you, let him not go away empty-handed. 14 “You shall richly supply him from your flock, and from your threshing-floor, and from your winepress. With that which ???? has blessed you with, give to him. 15 “And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Mitsrayim, and ???? your Elohim redeemed you. Therefore I am commanding you this word today. 16 “And it shall be, when he says to you, ‘I do not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, because it is good for him with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Do the same to your female servant.18 “Let it not be hard in your eyes when you send him away free from you, for he has been worth a double hired servant in serving you six years. And ???? your Elohim shall bless you in all that you do.
The Mosaic law, as set out in the Hebrew Torah, lays out three cyclical periods of rest: the Sabbath, occurring every 7th day, the Sabbatical year, occurring every 7th year, and the Jubilee year, occurring every 50th year (following 7 sabbaticals). We are admonished not to work on the Sabbath day and not to plant or harvest in either the Sabbatical year or the year of Jubilee. The Sabbatical and Jubilee years, however, have distinctive features associated with freedom from the bondage of debt or servitude.
1 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because Yehovah’s time for cancelling debts has been proclaimed. (Deut. 15: 1-2, NIV)
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.. (Lev. 25:10, NIV)
The presumption here is not that loans are made to exploit commercial opportunity, but rather to avert disaster. Indeed the Mosaic law encourages such lending:
7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tight fisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be open handed and freely lend him what he needs.
Thus in regulating intra-community debt, the Mosaic tradition imposes a structure of obligation that constrains the lender as much as the borrower. Debt, indentured servitude, and the alienation of land are viewed as the result of misfortune, with the result that creditors acquire an obligation not only to lend but also to remit debts periodically in the interest of justice. This strand of thought is mirrored in the Hebrew, Christian and Islamic prohibitions against usury, all of which grew up in agrarian communities in which technology was largely stagnant and borrowing was as much to avert calamity as to exploit opportunity.
Mat 18:23 “Because of this the reign of the heavens is like a certain man, a sovereign who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 “And when he had begun to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents, 25 but as he was unable to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 “Then the servant fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I shall pay you all.’ 27 “And the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “And that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred pieces of money. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 “Then his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I shall pay you all.’ 30 “But he would not, and went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 “And when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were deeply grieved, and came and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 “Then his master called him and said to him, ‘Wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt seeing you begged me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, as I also had compassion on you?’ 34 “And his master was wroth, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So also My heavenly Father shall do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
We are commanded to forgive the debts of our brethren who owe us money in the Sabbatical year. That year is coming and is 2016-2017. And we are to forgive this debt at Sukkot of that year. Are you planning for this now in advance?
Deu 31:10 And Mosheh commanded them, saying, “At the end of seven years, at the appointed time, the year of release, at the Festival of Booths, 11 when all Yisra’?l comes to appear before ???? your Elohim in the place which He chooses, read this Torah before all Yisra’?l in their hearing. 12 “Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and your sojourner who is within your gates, so that they hear, and so that they learn to fear ???? your Elohim and guard to do all the Words of this Torah. 13 “And their children, who have not known it, should hear and learn to fear ???? your Elohim as long as you live in the land you are passing over the Yard?n to possess.”
And as you consider these things also consider the third year and the sixth year of each Sabbatical cycle. We are currently in the second year now and the third year will begin at Aviv in 2012.
Deu 14:27 “And do not forsake the L?wite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. 28 “At the end of every third year you bring out all the tithe of your increase of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 “And the L?wite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the sojourner and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, shall come and eat and be satisfied, so that ???? your Elohim does bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
Deu 26:12 “When you have completed tithing all the tithe of your increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, and have given it to the L?wite, to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, and they have eaten within your gates and have been satisfied, 13 then you shall say before ???? your Elohim, ‘I have put away the set-apart portion from my house, and also have given it to the L?wite, and to the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Your command which You have commanded me. I have not transgressed Your commands, nor have I forgotten. 14 ‘I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for any unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of ???? my Elohim, I have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15 ‘Look from Your set-apart dwelling place, from the heavens, and bless Your people Yisra’?l and the land which You have given us, as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’ 16 “Today ???? your Elohim is commanding you to do these laws and right-rulings. And you shall guard and do them with all your heart and with all your being.
In a the third year of each Sabbatical cycle we are to give a tithe to the Levite who today we do not know who they are, but we are also to give part of this third year tithe to the widows and orphans in our community. We are not to give it to some church or organization and expect them to give it to the needy. You are to do this yourself so you know who they are and so you know they will get it and the money you give does not get lost in some church fund. You do this yourself. Locate a local orphanage or womans shelter or soup kitchen and you go there yourself and give them the money you have set aside for this tithe in this 3rd and 6th year of the Sabbatical cycle.
You have time to think about this and to prepare for it. And also keep in mind the blessing you are to receive in the 6th year of a double portion to those who are obeying and keeping this commandment of the Sabbatical year.
Mal 3:7 “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My laws and did not guard them. Turn back to Me, and I shall turn back to you,” said ???? of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what shall we turn back?’ 8 “Would a man rob Elohim? Yet you are robbing Me! But you said, ‘In what have we robbed You?’ In the tithe and the offering! 9 “You have cursed Me with a curse, for you are robbing Me, this nation, all of it! 10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, and let there be food in My house. And please prove Me in this,” said ???? of hosts, “whether I do not open for you the windows of the heavens, and shall pour out for you boundless blessing! 11 “And I shall rebuke the devourer for you, so that it does not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor does the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” said ???? of hosts.12 “And all nations shall call you blessed, for you shall be a land of delight,” said ???? of hosts.
We will now continue with the Omer count for Shabbat May 21
Day 28: Psalms 63: 1-8
Today Shabbat May 21 is twenty-eight days, which is four weeks of the Omer.
This represents the Sabbatical year at the end of the cycle of the Sword
I began to use this teaching on the women of the bible along with the counting of the Omer. I am not sure this is a good idea or not. But because I have started it, I will complete it and see what happens. So take these with a grain of salt.
28. Malkhut shebeNetzach
Majesty within Endurance
Ritzpah/Saul’s concubine (II Sam. 21:1-13)
While David is king over Israel, he executes some of Saul’s relatives for political reasons: the two sons of Ritzpah, a concubine of Saul, and five sons of Merav, Saul’s elder daughter. He hands these men over to be impaled by the tribe of the Gibeonites at the beginning of the barley harvest (that is, at the time of the counting of the Omer.) Ritzpah, the mother of two of the dead men, spreads out sackcloth on a rock near the site of the executions. She stays with the bodies and does not let birds of prey land on them to devour them. When David is told what Ritzpah has done, he gathers up the bones of the men who have been impaled, and buries them in Saul’s ancestral tomb.
Ritzpah uses her quality of netzach, her endurance and determination, in the service of human dignity (malkhut). She may only be a concubine, but she is made in God’s image. She deserves to mourn in a proper manner, and her sons deserve the decency of burial. By protecting the bodies of her children, she forces the powers that be to pay attention to her cause.
We are most like Ritzpah when we demonstrate the malkhut shebenetzach, the majesty of the persevering human spirit by refusing to be treated as less than human, even when we face power far greater than our own.
Psa 63:1 O Elohim, You are my ?l; I earnestly seek You; My being has thirsted for You; My flesh has longed for You In a dry and thirsty land without water.
Psa 63:2 Therefore I have had a vision of You In the set-apart place, To see Your power and Your esteem.
Psa 63:3 Because Your kindness is better than life, My lips do praise You.
Psa 63:4 Therefore I bless You while I live; In Your Name I lift up my hands.
Psa 63:5 My being is satisfied as with marrow and fat, And my mouth praises You with singing lips.
Psa 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
Psa 63:7 For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing.
Psa 63:8 My being has closely followed You; Your right hand did uphold me.
Day 29: Psalms 67: 1-7
Sunday May 22 is twenty-nine days, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer
This represents the first year of Sabbatical cycle of Captivity. It is also the Year which represents The Feast of Trumpets. The start of Judgement on the earth.
29. Chesed shebeHod
Love within Glory
Hatzlelponit/Manoach’s wife (Judges 13-14)
In the region of the tribe of Dan lives a man named Manoach, and his wife, who is barren. A midrash calls Manoach’s wife Hatzlelponit. Hatzlelponit is in the fields when an angel appears to her and tells her she will bear a son. This child must be a nazir (one who, as a religious act, vows to renounce wine, leave his or her hair long, and stay away from dead bodies) his whole life. His mother must drink no wine during her pregnancy. Hatzlelponit runs to tell her husband what has happened. Her husband prays to the angel to appear again. The angel does appear, but only to Hatzlelponit. Again the persistent woman runs to get her husband, but when Manoach huffs and puffs into the angel’s presence, the angel tells him: “The woman must take care about all that I told her.” When the angel disappears, Manoah is afraid that he will die, but Hatzelponit tells him: “Had God desired to kill us… he would not have shown us all these things.” The child Hatzlelponit bears is Samson, who becomes a judge in Israel.
It is because Hatzlelponit has the gift of humility, acceptance and readiness (hod) that she is able to understand God’s love (chesed) when she receives it. Unlike her husband, Hatzlelponit is comfortable with the appearance of angels. She knows that the prophecy she has received is one of love.
We are most like Hatzlelponit when we are able to take in the unexpected miracles of our lives with joy and gratitude, and without fear.
Psa 67:1 Elohim does favour us and bless us, Cause His face to shine upon us. Selah.
Psa 67:2 For Your way to be known on earth, Your deliverance among all nations.
Psa 67:3 Let the peoples praise You, O Elohim, Let all the peoples praise You.
Psa 67:4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You judge the peoples uprightly, And lead the nations on earth. Selah.
Psa 67:5 Let the peoples praise You, O Elohim; Let all the peoples praise You.
Psa 67:6 The earth shall give her increase; Elohim, our own Elohim, blesses us!
Psa 67:7 Elohim blesses us! And all the ends of the earth fear Him!
Day 30: Psalms 78: 1-16
Monday May 23 is thirty days, which is four weeks and two days of the Omer
30. Gevurah shebeHod
Strength within Glory
Sarah (Gen. 12-23)
The Bible does not record that Sarai receives a call from God to go forth into a new land, but she does go, with her husband Abram, to the land of Canaan. Both Abram and Sarai receive new names—Abraham and Sarah—and both receive a charge from God to found a people.
Yet Sarah is barren. She offers her handmaid Hagar to Abraham as a substitute, but when Hagar becomes pregnant, Sarah is jealous and torments Hagar. Hagar’s son Ishmael is born, but God continues to promise that the covenant with Abraham will only be fulfilled through the womb of Sarah. Three mysterious angels come to Sarah’s tent and announce that she will become pregnant. She laughs at them, but she does become pregnant, and gives birth to a son whom she names Isaac, meaning “laughter.” One legend says that Sarah’s milk is so abundant, although she is ninety, that she is able to breastfeed the children of all the nobles in the land of Canaan.
Sarah orders Hagar and Ishmael expelled—perhaps because of jealousy, or perhaps because she foresees an inevitable clash between the two boys. Abraham protests, but God orders Abraham to obey Sarah’s voice. Then God orders Abraham to take her son Isaac to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. One ancient midrash suggests that Sarah only hears of what happens afterward, and the shock is so great that her soul leaves her.
The themes of hod—the glory of Sarah’s miraculous pregnancy, and the truth of her voice—and of gevurah—the afflictions that Sarah causes and experiences—intertwine in Sarah’s life. We are most like Sarah when we are aware of the spiritual contradictions of our lives, yet strive to transcend them.
Psa 78:1 My people, give ear to my Torah1, Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. Footnote: 1In vv. 1-11 the words “teaching, words, witness, commands, covenant,” are used interchangeably, as parallels, almost synonymously. We find the same in Ps. 119.
Psa 78:2 I open my mouth in a parable; I utter riddles of old,
Psa 78:3 Which we have heard and known, For our fathers have related them to us.
Psa 78:4 We do not hide them from their children, Relating to the generation to come the praises of ????, And His strength and His wonders which He has done.
Psa 78:5 For He raised a witness in Ya?aqob?, And set a Torah in Yisra’?l, Which He commanded our fathers, To teach them to their children;
Psa 78:6 That it might be known to a generation to come, To children who would be born, To rise up and relate them to their children,
Day 31: Psalms 78: 17-31
Tuesday May 24 is thirty-one days, which is four weeks and three days of the Omer
This is a warning to Israel to remember these things especially now that the two witnesses are about to begin their work.
31. Tiferet shebeHod
Compassion within Glory
Elisheva (Ex. 6:23)
Elisheva is the sister of Nachshon son of Aminadav—the one who, according to legend jumps into the Sea of Reeds ahead of the Israelites. We don’t know anything else about her other than that she is the wife of Aaron and mother of four sons. Elisheva becomes the mother of the priestly line—all kohanim, all hereditary members of the Israelite priesthood, are descended from her.
But who was she as an individual? What merit does Elisheva have that makes her a mother of priests? One legend about Elisheva is that she was one of the midwives who saved Israelite children when Pharaoh ordered the Egyptians to kill them. A modern midrash I wrote about Elisheva suggests that Elisheva was a midwife who saved the life of a mother and her first-born son on the night of the tenth plague. Because of her compassion, she merited the glory of the priesthood. For me, Elisheva has become the symbol of tiferet shebehod, the compassion that resides in the glory of the priesthood. We best exemplify the qualities of Elisheva when we put compassion at the center of our ritual and spiritual lives.
Psa 78:17 Yet they sinned still more against Him To rebel against the Most High in the desert.
Psa 78:18 And they tried ?l in their heart By asking food according to their desire.
Psa 78:19 And they spoke against Elohim. They said, “Is ?l able to set a table in the wilderness?
Psa 78:20 “Look, He struck the rock, So that the waters gushed out, And the streams overflowed. Is He able to give bread also? Would He provide meat for His people?”
Psa 78:21 Therefore ???? heard, and He was wroth; So a fire was kindled against Ya?aqob?, And displeasure also came up against Yisra’?l,
Psa 78:22 Because they did not believe in Elohim, Neither did they trust in His deliverance.
Psa 78:23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of the heavens,
Psa 78:24 And He rained down manna on them to eat, And He gave them the grain of the heavens.
Psa 78:25 Men ate bread of the mighty; He sent them provisions to satisfaction.
Psa 78:26 He made an east wind blow in the heavens; And by His power He brought in the south wind.
Psa 78:27 And He rained meat on them like the dust, And winged birds like the sand of the seas,
Psa 78:28 And let them fall in the midst of His camp, All around His Dwelling Place.
Psa 78:29 So they ate and were completely satisfied, For He brought them what they desired.
Psa 78:30 They had not turned away from their desire, Their food was still in their mouths,
Psa 78:31 When the wrath of Elohim came against them, And He slew among their fat ones, And He struck down the choice ones of Yisra’?l.
Day 32: Psalms 78:32-39
Wednesday May 25 is thirty-two days, which is four weeks and four days of the Omer
This year represents the year when the two Witnesses begin their ministry in 2027 and cause drought to come on all the world.
32. Netzach shebeHod
Endurance within Glory
Naomi (Ruth 1-4)
The book of Ruth begins with the story of a husband and wife, Elimelekh and Naomi, and their two sons, Machlon and Chilion. When there is a famine in the land of Judah, the family leaves Bethlehem and goes to the land of Moab. While they are in Moab, Elimelekh dies, leaving Naomi a widow. Naomi’s two sons marry Moabite women—Ruth and Orpah. Then the sons too die. Naomi hears that the famine in Judah is over, and makes the decision to return home.
Naomi’s two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, have no sons. Naomi encourages the two young women to return home to their
mothers. Orpah kisses her mother-in-law and returns home to her own family. But Ruth clings to Naomi, saying: “Do not ask me to leave you or return for following you, for where you go I will go….” And so Naomi allows Ruth to follow her back to Bethlehem. Ruth works tirelessly for Naomi, gleaning in the fields to bring Naomi food. Naomi rouses herself to help Ruth, creating a plan whereby Ruth can convince Naomi’s wealthy kinsman Boaz to marry her. In the end, Ruth brings the son she bears to Boaz home to Naomi.
Hod is the sefirah of acceptance. Naomi achieves netzach shebehod, the victory of acceptance, because, even after so much has been taken from her, she is willing to accept Ruth’s love. We welcome Naomi’s presence into our lives when we learn to receive the love we are given.
Psa 78:32 In spite of all this they still sinned, And did not believe in His wonders.
Psa 78:33 So He ended their days in a breath, And their years in trouble.
Psa 78:34 When He slew them, then they sought Him, And they returned and did earnestly seek ?l.
Psa 78:35 And they remembered that Elohim was their rock, And the Most High ?l their redeemer.
Psa 78:36 But they flattered Him with their mouth, And they lied to Him with their tongue,
Psa 78:37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him, And they were not true to His covenant.
Psa 78:38 But He, the Compassionate One, Pardoned crookedness, And did not destroy them. And many a time He turned His displeasure away, And did not stir up all His wrath.
Psa 78:39 For He remembered that they were but flesh, A passing breath that does not return.
Day 33: Psalms 78: 40-55
Thursday May 26 is thirty-three days, which is four weeks and five days of the Omer
33. Hod shebeHod
Glory within Glory
Chuldah (II Kings 22; II Chron. 34:14-28)
A righteous king of Judah, named Josiah, discovers that the high priest has discovered a sacred scroll in the Temple. But Josiah does not know if the scroll is authentically the word of God. He asks a delegation of his royal officers to go to Chuldah, a prophetess who lives in Jerusalem, and find out from her whether he should govern according to the words of the mysterious scroll. Chuldah delivers her verdict: the scroll is authentic. Chuldah, a woman, is the first person in the Bible ever to canonize a text. Hod, glory, can refer to prophecy, and Chuldah represents hod shebe’hod, prophecy within prophecy, for her prophecy allows Israel to experience the prophetic voice in a new way.
The thirty-third day of the Omer is also Lag B’Omer. Lag B’Omer is a minor holiday frequently celebrated with bonfires and with the cutting of the hair of young boys. It is a holiday concerned with mystical revelations, marking the yahrtzeit (death date) of the mystic Shimon bar Yochai and the day manna fell from heaven. It is appropriate that Chuldah be remembered on a day that celebrates prophecy.
Today 33 which is called Lag baOmer. Go to this link to read more about this celebration and who it is commemorating. Then go to Lev 23 and read what it says we are to do on day 33.
Deu 4:2 “Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it1, so as to guard the commands of ???? your Elohim which I am commanding you.
Deu 12:32 “All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it.
Pro 30:6 Do not add to His Words1, Lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.
Rev 22:18 For I witness to everyone hearing the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, Elohim shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book,
Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part from the Book of Life, and out of the set-apart city, which are written in this Book.
Lev 23 does not say to do anything on this day 33 nor does it tell us to cut our hair.
The day of Lag BaOmer is also celebrated as the Hillula or yahrzeit (anniversary of death) of bar Yochai, who is purported to have authored the Zohar, a landmark text of Jewish mysticism. According to tradition, on the day of bar Yochai’s death, he revealed the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. Indeed this day is seen as a celebration of the giving of the hidden, mystical Torah through Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as a parallel to Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the revealed Torah through Moses. Indeed there is a source in the Kabbalah that Moses was reincarnated as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to give this mystical element of the Torah to the Jewish people.
During the Middle Ages, Lag BaOmer became a special holiday for rabbinical students and was called the “scholar’s festival.” It was customary to rejoice on this day through various kinds of merrymaking.
Lag BaOmer has another significance based on the Kabbalistic custom of assigning a Sefirah to each day and week of the Omer count. The first week corresponds to Chesed, the second week to Gevurah, etc., and similarly, the first day of each week corresponds to Chesed, the second day to Gevurah, etc. Thus, the 33rd day, which is the fifth day of the fifth week, corresponds to Hod she-be-Hod (Splendor within [the week of] Splendor). As such, Lag BaOmer represents the level of spiritual manifestation or Hod that would precede the more physical manifestation of the 49th day (Malkhut she-be-Malkhut, Kingship within [the week of] Kingship), which immediately precedes the holiday of Shavuot.
I have been using these Sefirah in the hopes of learning more as we count out each day of the omer. I see now where it comes from and have had doubts as to whether or not I should be using them. I now know for sure I have done wrong and will not be teaching any more on Sefirah after this weeks News Letter. I will also leave the past ones the same so that when people come to this issue they will see my repentance.
Psa 78:40 How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert!
Psa 78:41 And again and again they tried ?l, And provoked the Set-apart One of Yisra’?l.
Psa 78:42 They did not remember His hand, The day when He redeemed them from the adversary,
Psa 78:43 How He worked His signs in Mitsrayim, And His wonders in the field of Tso?an.
Psa 78:44 He turned their rivers into blood, And they could not drink their streams.
Psa 78:45 He sent among them swarms of flies which devoured them, And frogs which destroyed them,
Psa 78:46 And gave their crops to the caterpillar, And their labour to the locust.
Psa 78:47 He destroyed their vines with hail, And their sycamore trees with frost,
Psa 78:48 And gave their beasts over to the hail, And their livestock to bolts of fire.
Psa 78:49 He sent on them the burning of His displeasure, Wrath, and rage, and distress, A deputation of messengers of evils.
Psa 78:50 He made a path for His displeasure; He did not spare their being from death, But gave their life over to the plague.
Psa 78:51 And He smote all the first-born in Mitsrayim, The first-fruits of strength in the tents of H?am,
Psa 78:52 Then made His own people go forth like sheep, And led them in the wilderness like a flock.
Psa 78:53 And He led them on safely, And they did not fear, But the sea covered their enemies.
Psa 78:54 And He brought them to the border of His set-apart place, This mountain which His right hand had gained,
Psa 78:55 And drove out nations before them, And allotted them a measured inheritance, And made the tribes of Yisra’?l dwell in their tents.
Day 34: Psalms 78: 56-72
Friday May 27 is thirty-four days, which is four weeks and six days of the Omer
34. Yesod shebeHod
Connection within Glory
Avigayil/Abigail (I Sam. 25)
The young David, running away from King Saul, is earning his living by intimidating local farmers into providing him with bribes in return for the safety of their livestock. One wealthy landowner, Naval, refuses to pay. David sets out with his men to kill Naval, but Naval’s wise and beautiful wife, Avigayil, sets out to meet David, bringing with her bread, wine, sheep, raisins, figs, and other rich foods. She delivers an eloquent speech asking David not to shed blood, for shedding blood will taint David’s future kingdom. David, astonished, cries: “Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you!” Naval hears of what has happened and dies of consternation, and David takes Avigayil as a wife.
Avigayil convinces David to accept her words because of her deep ability to connect. Because she predicts David’s kingship, Avigayil becomes one of the seven women mentioned by the Talmud as prophetesses. So it is appropriate that she symbolize yesod shebehod—the connection of prophecy. We are most like Avigayil when we use our gifts to connect deeply with others.
Psa 78:56 Yet they tried and rebelled Against the Most High Elohim, And did not guard His witnesses,
Psa 78:57 But they turned back And acted treacherously like their fathers; They twisted like a treacherous bow.
Psa 78:58 For they enraged Him with their high places, And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.
Psa 78:59 When Elohim heard this, He was wroth, And greatly despised Yisra’?l,
Psa 78:60 And He left the Dwelling Place of Shiloh, The Tent which He had set up among men.
Psa 78:61 And He gave His strength1 into captivity, And His comeliness1 into the hand of the adversary. Footnote: 1“Strength” and “comeliness” are used as symbolic names for His Ark. See also Ps. 63:2, Ps. 132:8, and 2 Chr. 6:41.
Psa 78:62 And He gave His people over to the sword, And He was wroth with His inheritance.
Psa 78:63 His young men were consumed by fire, And His maidens were not praised.
Psa 78:64 His priests fell by the sword, And their widows could not weep.
Psa 78:65 Then ???? awoke as one asleep, As a mighty man who shouts because of wine.
Psa 78:66 And He smote His adversaries backward, He put them to an everlasting reproach.
Psa 78:67 Then He rejected the tent of Yos?ph, And did not choose the tribe of Ephrayim,
Psa 78:68 But chose the tribe of Yehud?ah, Mount Tsiyon, which He loved.
Psa 78:69 And He built His set-apart place like the heights, Like the earth He founded it forever.
Psa 78:70 And He chose Dawid? His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds;
Psa 78:71 He brought him in from tending the ewes, To shepherd Ya?aqob? His people, And Yisra’?l His inheritance.
Psa 78:72 And he shepherded them According to the integrity of his heart, And led them by the skill of his hands.
We now return to our 3 1/2 year Torah studies which you can follow online.
Ex 15 Isaiah 4-7 Ps 121 John 4:43 – 5:29
While in Egypt’s Goshen, the Israelites had lived in the well-watered Nile Delta region. They were accustomed to plentiful water – in stark contrast to the wilderness where they “found no water”
Many of you today are living in the lap of luxury and have so much to be thankful for; A place to sleep at night, Food in the fridge and no fears of being killed or robbed. Yet even now you complain about what you do not have.
People mistakenly assume that once they decide to follow Yehovah, everything will be perfect. But once we start to follow the truth then we are attacked by Satan and his forces.
Israel had just experienced the blessing of a miraculous escape, they had walked through the Red Sea and saw how it was over 250 feet high of frozen glacial ice, Verse 8, and the sea bed floor was frozen so they could walk on it. They also just watched the entire Egyptian army; 251,000 men, who were killed in those few moments. [https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=107 ]
And yet after just three days of no water they quickly grumbled when they grew thirsty.
In this life there will be trials as well as blessings; when we are mindful of this, we can stand prepared for whatever may come our way.
Exo 15:25 Then he cried out to ????, and ???? showed him a tree. And when he threw it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a law and a right-ruling for them, and there He tried them.
Yehovah tried the people with a short 3 day test of no water.
Psa 66:10 For You, O Elohim, have proved us; You have refined us as silver is refined.
Exo 15:26 And He said, “If you diligently obey the voice of ???? your Elohim and do what is right in His eyes, and shall listen to His commands and shall guard all His laws, I shall bring on you none of the diseases I brought on the Mitsrites, for I am ???? who heals you.”
Just three days after witnessing the Red Sea miracle and after watching the cloud by day and the fire by night the Israelites had now grumbled because they did not have faith in Yehovah who was leading them. They were now told if they obey and guarded His commands then none of the plagues of Egypt would come on them.
Deu 8:1 “Guard to do every command which I command you today, that you might live, and shall increase, and go in, and shall possess the land of which ???? swore to your fathers.
Deu 8:2 “And you shall remember that ???? your Elohim led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, prove you, to know what is in your heart, whether you guard His commands or not.
You will notice that the one thing that the people continued to get wrong was the heart. And it is the heart that Yehovah is testing with these trials we all go through. Well we guard His commandments and keep them and teach them? Is it something we do because we have to or is what we want to do because we love it and know it is good for us? Is our heart in it?
According to tradition, one of the mitzvot that Yehovah taught at Marah was keeping the Sabbath (Sanhedrin 56b). It appears that Marah was a prelude of sorts for receiving the Torah at Sinai.
Exo 16:4 And ???? said to Mosheh, “See, I am raining bread from the heavens for you. And the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, in order to try them, whether they walk in My Torah or not. 5 “And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 And Mosheh and Aharon said to all the children of Yisra’?l, “At evening you shall know that ???? has brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim. 7 “And in the morning you shall see the esteem of ????, for He hears your grumblings against ????. And what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Mosheh said, “In that ???? gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to satisfaction, for ???? hears your grumblings which you make against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against ????.” 9 And Mosheh said to Aharon, “Say to all the congregation of the children of Yisra’?l, ‘Come near before ????, for He has heard your grumblings.’ ” 10 And it came to be, as Aharon spoke to all the congregation of the children of Yisra’?l, that they looked toward the wilderness and see, the esteem of ???? appeared in the cloud. 11 And ???? spoke to Mosheh, saying, 12 “I have heard the grumblings of the children of Yisra’?l. Speak to them, saying, ‘Between the evenings you are to eat meat, and in the morning you are to be satisfied with bread. And you shall know that I am ???? your Elohim.’ ” 13 And it came to be that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. 14 And the layer of dew went up, and see, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 And the children of Yisra’?l saw, and they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Mosheh said to them, “It is the bread which ???? has given you to eat. 16 “This is the word which ???? has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, an omer for each being, according to the number of beings. Let every man take for those who are in his tent.’ ” 17 And the children of Yisra’?l did so and gathered, some more, some less. 18 And they measured it by omers, and he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered according to his need. 19 And Mosheh said, “Let no one leave any of it until morning.” 20 And they did not listen to Mosheh, so some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Mosheh was wroth with them. 21 And they gathered it every morning, each one according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted. 22 And it came to be, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Mosheh. 23 And he said to them, “This is what ???? has said, ‘Tomorrow is a rest, a Sabbath set-apart to ????. That which you bake, bake; and that which you cook, cook. And lay up for yourselves all that is left over, to keep it until morning.’ ” 24 And they laid it up till morning, as Mosheh commanded. And it did not stink, and no worm was in it. 25 And Mosheh said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to ????, today you do not find it in the field. 26 “Gather it six days, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there is none.” 27 And it came to be that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. 28 And ???? said to Mosheh, “How long shall you refuse to guard My commands and My Torot1? Footnote: 1Torot – plural of Torah, teaching. 29 “See, because ???? has given you the Sabbath, therefore He is giving you bread for two days on the sixth day. Let each one stay in his place, do not let anyone go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day1. Footnote: The seventh day of the week, the weekly Sabbath, was observed before the Ten Words were given on Mt. Sinai.
The weekly Sabbath is the test that is given to each and every generation since Marah up to and including us today. Well we keep the Sabbath or do we find ways to get around it and break it?
Lev 23 also expands on the Sabbath to show us it also includes the Holy Days and in Lev 25 we learn it also includes the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Does our heart seek to obey or find excuses not to keep the 4th commandment?
Psa 78:7 And place their trust in Elohim, And not forget the works of ?l, But watch over His commands, 8 And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation which did not prepare its heart, Whose spirit was not steadfast to ?l. 9 The children of Ephrayim, armed bowmen, Turned back in the day of battle. 10 They did not guard the covenant of Elohim, And they refused to walk in His Torah, 11 And they forgot His deeds And His wonders which He had shown them. 12 He did wonders in the sight of their fathers, In the land of Mitsrayim, in the field of Tso?an. 13 He split the sea and caused them to pass through, And He made the waters stand up like a heap, 14 And led them with the cloud by day, And all the night with a light of fire. 15 He split the rocks in the wilderness, And made them drink, as from the great depths, 16 And brought forth streams from the rock, And caused waters to come down as rivers. 17 Yet they sinned still more against Him To rebel against the Most High in the desert. 18 And they tried ?l in their heart By asking food according to their desire. 19 And they spoke against Elohim. They said, “Is ?l able to set a table in the wilderness? 20 “Look, He struck the rock, So that the waters gushed out, And the streams overflowed. Is He able to give bread also? Would He provide meat for His people?” 21 Therefore ???? heard, and He was wroth; So a fire was kindled against Ya?aqob?, And displeasure also came up against Yisra’?l, 22 Because they did not believe in Elohim, Neither did they trust in His deliverance. 23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of the heavens, 24 And He rained down manna on them to eat, And He gave them the grain of the heavens. 25 Men ate bread of the mighty; He sent them provisions to satisfaction. 26 He made an east wind blow in the heavens; And by His power He brought in the south wind. 27 And He rained meat on them like the dust, And winged birds like the sand of the seas, 28 And let them fall in the midst of His camp, All around His Dwelling Place. 29 So they ate and were completely satisfied, For He brought them what they desired. 30 They had not turned away from their desire, Their food was still in their mouths, 31 When the wrath of Elohim came against them, And He slew among their fat ones, And He struck down the choice ones of Yisra’?l. 32 In spite of all this they still sinned, And did not believe in His wonders. 33 So He ended their days in a breath, And their years in trouble. 34 When He slew them, then they sought Him, And they returned and did earnestly seek ?l. 35 And they remembered that Elohim was their rock, And the Most High ?l their redeemer. 36 But they flattered Him with their mouth, And they lied to Him with their tongue, 37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him, And they were not true to His covenant. 38 But He, the Compassionate One, Pardoned crookedness, And did not destroy them. And many a time He turned His displeasure away, And did not stir up all His wrath. 39 For He remembered that they were but flesh, A passing breath that does not return. 40 How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert! 41 And again and again they tried ?l, And provoked the Set-apart One of Yisra’?l. 42 They did not remember His hand, The day when He redeemed them from the adversary, 43 How He worked His signs in Mitsrayim, And His wonders in the field of Tso?an.
Num 33:8 And they departed from before Hah?iroth and passed over through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, went three days’ journey in the Wilderness of ?tham, and camped at Marah. 9 And they departed from Marah and came to ?lim. And at ?lim were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there.
The waters of Marah are contrasted with the springs of Elim. Be on guard, it is easy to quickly grumble and complain only to be embarrassed later by Yehovah’s help in His perfect timing.
Verse 1 of Chapter four is a direct continuation of the previous section, and brings it to a conclusion: in the Hebrew text, a section break follows verse 1, and verse 2 opens a new section. Verse 1 is characterizing the sweeping nature of the disaster that was to overtake the men of Judah and Jerusalem, which would leave so many unattached and vulnerable woman that as many as seven women would all beg one man to marry them without even having to take responsibility for their support, just to remove their shame at being unmarried. [Midrash Eichah Rabbah 5:12 cited by Rashi on v 1 explains that Nebuchadnezzar’s invading armies were ordered not to rape married women.]
“On that day.” (v 2) – “this is the day of salvation that will arrive with the coming of the Redeemer” (RaDaK). “.the plant (TZEMACH) of HaShem will be beautiful.” TZEMACH is one of the names of Mashiach (TZEMACH has the same gematria as Menachem). After the great cleansing that will take place with the removal of the wicked, “he that remains in Zion and he that remains in Jerusalem shall be called holy, everyone in Jerusalem that is written for life.” (v 3). From this verse the Talmudic rabbis learned that “In time to come, people will call out ‘Holy’ before the Tzaddikim just as they do before the Holy One blessed be He” (Bava Basra 75b). [Thus people refer to ARI HaKadosh, Rabbenu KaKadosh.] “And if you say that the Tzaddikim who died before that time will have lost their glory, the verse says ‘everyone who is written for LIFE’, i.e. the life of the world to come, will be in Jerusalem (Rashi on verse 3).
“And Hashem will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion and upon her assemblies  a cloud and  smoke by day and  the shining of a  flaming  fire by night, for upon all  the glory shall there be  a canopy” (verse 5). This verse speaks of seven canopies – each being one aspect of the “encompassing light” that will radiate over each of the Tzaddikim in time to come (Bava Basra 75a; Rashi on verse 5). Thus the righteous will have a tabernacle to protect them against the streams of fire flowing down from the River Dinoor and the rains that will come pelting down upon the wicked at the time of God’s judgment (verse 6, see Rashi ad loc.).
“Let me sing for my Beloved – my Beloved’s song about His vineyard” (v 1). The metaphor of Israel as God’s vineyard was introduced in Chapter 3 verse 14 and is elaborated as a parable (MASHAL) in our present chapter vv 1-6, while the NIMSHAL (that which is symbolized by the metaphor) is explained in v 7. The prophet sings this “song” on behalf of his Beloved and as His emissary to His beloved people, using terms of endearment in order to emphasize God’s great love for Israel despite the harshness of the allegory.
The vineyard was planted on a very fruitful hill: this is the Land of Israel . The vine was the choicest species. In the Hebrew text, this is called a SOREK. The gematria of Sorek is 606, alluding to the 606 commandments God gave to Israel in addition to the Seven Universal Commandments of the Children of Noah, making a total of 613. Other Midrashic explanations see the choice vine as the Holy Temple (Succah 49a) or as the soul of Adam, which was planted in the Garden of Eden (see Rashi on verse 7).
The tragedy of this vineyard is that after all the care invested in cultivating it, it brought forth bad grapes, causing the owner to abandon it and leave it to go to rack and ruin.
Vv 11ff: “Woe to those who rise up early in the morning that they may seek out strong drink.” The object of the reproof implicit in the allegory of the vineyard that went bad is the drunken rulers of the people, who drink and play music “but they regard not the work of HaShem neither consider the operation of His hands” (v 12). The “work of HaShem” specifically refers to the stars and constellations, the wisdom of whose movements and seasons leads man to apprehend the glory of the Creator (see RaDaK on v 12). Astronomy and the secrets of the heavenly cycles are the very summit of Torah wisdom, but those who have the capacity to understand them yet instead saturate themselves with drinking and feasting have despised the work of God (Talmud Shabbos 75a). The same applies to those who neglect to recite the blessings of YOTZER OHR before the morning SHEMA and MA’ARIV ARAVIM before the evening SHEMA, both of which praise God for the luminaries of the heavens (see Rashi on v 12).
“Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge” (v 13). The collapse of Torah knowledge among the people is the main cause of the exile, leading to degradation (v 15).
In vv 18f the prophet further elaborates his complaints against the sinners, who begin with thin cords of vanity and end up being tied and bound by their sins as with the thick ropes of a cart (v 18). “They say, Let Him make speed and hasten His work.” (v 19): the sinners heard the prophet’s warnings of coming doom and mockingly challenged Him to bring it speedily in order for them to test if it would really come.
Verses 20-23 typify the culture of evil, in which moral language becomes twisted out of its proper meaning in order to rationalize and justify the worst excesses. It is because the people have despised God’s Torah that they will be smitten with His retribution (vv 24ff). “And He will lift up a banner to the nations from far.” (v 26). This refers generically to all Israel ‘s enemies and persecutors, but specifically to the armies of Assyria, which in the time of King Hezekiah invaded and ravaged the whole of Judea (RaDaK on v 29).
ISAIAH CHAPTER 6
“In the year of the DEATH of King Uzziah.” (v 1) As discussed in the Introduction to the book of Isaiah (KNOW YOUR BIBLE Isaiah 1-2) and also in the commentary on II Chronicles ch 26 dealing with the reign of Uzziah, Targum and all the commentators agree that Uzziah’s “death” refers to his being struck with leprosy in punishment for trying to usurp the role of the priests by burning incense in the Temple Sanctuary (II Chron 26:16-21). It was in that year that Isaiah’s prophetic ministry began despite the fact that the chapter in which it is described does not stand at the beginning of his book. Yet it is clear that our present chapter marks the beginning of his ministry, because it says: “Who shall I send and who will go for us? And I said, here I am, send me” (v 8).
“.and I saw the Lord (A-D-N-Y) sitting upon a lofty and exalted throne.” The use of the holy name of Lordship (ADNUS) indicates that Isaiah’s vision was of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) “seated” upon the “Throne of Glory”. The “train” (i.e. the lower levels garbing and hiding the upper levels) extended down to and “filled the Sanctuary”. RaDaK (on v 1) explains that “the Sanctuary” (HEICHAL) may mean the Temple but can also refer to the heavens (cf. Psalms 11:4).
“Serafim stood above Him” (v 2) – “Serafim were ministering on high before Him” (Targum). “These are the holy angels that exist forever” (RaDaK ad loc.). The “wings” of the Serafim refer to the causal nexus through which these angels accomplish their missions: “wings are the cause of the fastest of all kinds of movements” (RaDaK). While Ezekiel, prophesying after the destruction of the Temple , saw the Chayos with only four wings, Isaiah, prophesying while the Temple was standing, saw the Seraphim with six wings (Hagigah 13b). Rashi (on our verse) explains that each Saraph hid his “face” with two wings so as not to gaze in the direction of the Shechinah, hiding his legs with two wings out of modesty, so that his whole body should not be visible before his Creator. The “flying” that was the function of the third set of wings refers to the actual service that each Saraph performed. The Hebrew word for “wing” is KANAF, which has the connotation of covering, hiding and concealing (cf. Is. 30:20). I.e. the prophet perceived an outer garb that both revealed yet at the same time concealed the inner essence. “And this whole vision was a prophetic vision through the apprehension of the intellect and not through any apprehension outside of the intellect [i.e. not through sensory perception] for these angels that he called Seraphim have neither faces nor legs nor wings. He called them Seraphim because he saw them in his prophetic vision in the likeness of burning fire, and this was in order to reveal the sin of the generation – for they were liable to complete destruction” (RaDaK ibid.).
“And one cried to another and said.” (v 2) – “They ask permission from one another so that not a single one should begin [the heavenly chant] before all the others, thereby making himself liable to be burned, but rather, they all begin together, as it says in the blessing of YOTZER OR, ‘all of them answer the Sanctification TOGETHER'” (Rashi ad loc.). All the angels are in complete unison in their praise of God, for all creation is a unity.
The formula with which the heavenly angels praise God as revealed here in Isaiah was adopted as the formula with which Israel daily sanctify Him at the height of the communal repetition of the Amidah prayer in the KEDUSHAH (“Sanctification”) at every morning, afternoon and Musaf service in fulfillment of the commandment in Leviticus 22:32, “And I shall be sanctified amongst the Children of Israel”.
“Holy, holy, holy is HaShem of hosts.” “Holy” (KADOSH) means “separate”. HaShem completely transcends His entire universe. “It mentions ‘Holy’ three times corresponding to the three worlds:  The supernal world of the angels and souls;  The intermediate world of the heavenly spheres, stars and planets;  The lower world – i.e. This World, the most glorious member of which is man. The prophet says that He is holy, exalted and elevated above all three worlds. Yonasan’s Targum, which says ‘Holy in the supreme heavens, the house of His indwelling presence, holy upon earth, the work of His might, holy for ever and ever’ includes all the upper worlds as one, thereafter mentions the earth, this lowly world, and finally says that just as this is true now, so it will be for ever” (RaDaK ad loc.).
“.the whole earth is full of His glory” – “for He created everything” (RaDaK).
“Then I said, Woe is me for I am ruined.” (v 5). Likewise Mano’ah, father of Samson, was convinced that he and his wife would die after seeing the angel (Judges 13:22).
“Then one of the Serafim flew to me with a live coal (RITZPAH) in his hand.” (v 6). Touching the prophet’s mouth with the coal was to cleanse him of having uttered an evil report against Israel in saying “I am in the midst of a people of impure lips” (v 5). Thus RITZ-PAH has the connotation of “smash” (=RITZ) “the mouth” (=PEH). Likewise Elijah ate a “cake of coals” (RETZAPHIM, I Kings 19:6) on account of having reported that Israel had broken the Covenant (Rashi on v 6).
It was the living coal FROM THE ALTAR that cleansed the prophet’s mouth in preparation for receiving the word of Hashem. Likewise, when we sanctify the way we eat at our table (=the Altar) we are able to speak words of purity and wisdom.
“And He said, Go and say to this people, Hear indeed but understand not! And see indeed but perceive not! Make the heart of this people fat and make their ears heavy and smear over their eyes.” (vv 9-10). God was warning the prophet that his rebukes and admonitions were liable to have the effect of making the people even more stubborn. For when the sinner wants to sin, God withholds from him the ways of repentance until he receives his punishment, as in the case of Pharaoh (Ex. 9:12) and Sichon king of the Emorites (Deut. 2:30; see RaDaK on v 9 of our present chapter).
“.lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and return and be healed” (v 10): This verse expresses the three conditions of Teshuvah (Repentance). It is not sufficient to “see with one’s eyes” – to attain a perception of God – without “hearing with the ears”, i.e. seeking to contemplate, grasp and internalize the perception in order to come to “understanding in the heart”, whereby the perception actually governs one’s future actions. It is repentance that brings true healing (Likutey Moharan I, 6).
“And I said, until when, O Lord?” – “How long will they harden their hearts and not listen?” “And He said, Until the cities be wasted.” – “I know that they will not repent until the punishments come upon them and they go into exile” (verse 10 with Rashi’s explanations ad loc.).
“And if one tenth remain in it, then that shall again be consumed.” When this prophecy was given in the reign of Uzziah, ten kings were yet destined to rule in Judah prior to the exile: Yotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Menasheh, Ammon, Josiah, Yeho-ahaz, Yeho-yakikm, Yeho-yachin and Tzedekiah (Metzudas David, RaDaK). The image of the oak tree and the terebinth repeatedly shedding their leaves (v 13) expresses how all the sinners will be successively cast off with repeated refining until only the trunk of the tree – the complete Tzaddikim who will return to God with all their hearts – will be left (Rashi on v 12).
“And it was in the days of Ahaz.” (verse 1). The prophecy in the previous chapter was dated to the year that King Uzziah was struck with leprosy. Uzziah lived another twenty-five years during which his son Yotham was regent. Yotham then reigned in his own right for sixteen years, after which he was succeeded by King Ahaz. The invasion of Judah by the armies of Retzin king of Aram and Pekah ben Ramaliah king of Israel took place in the early years of King Ahaz (see II Chronicles 28:5-8 & 16). Thus we have now fast-forwarded over forty-one years from the previous chapter to the present chapter, yet the two prophecies are thematically linked because we now see Isaiah engaged in his mission of reproof despite the stubbornness of his listeners.
“Ahaz son of Yotham son of Uzziah.” (v 1). “Why does the text trace Ahaz’ lineage? To explain why Retzin and Pekah were unable to fight against Jerusalem (as it says in v 1) – because the merit of Ahaz’ fathers Uzziah and Yotham protected him. The ministering angels said to the Holy One blessed be He, ‘This king is wicked’, but He said to them, ‘His fathers were righteous Tzaddikim and I cannot stretch out My hand against him'” (Rashi on v 1).
V 2: “And it was told to the House of David” – “Because Ahaz was wicked, it does not mention his name” (Rashi; cf. v 13).
The narrative in II Chronicles 28 about the joint campaign against Judah by the Arameans and the kingdom of Israel tells of the colossal blow they struck. Pekah alone slew Judean 120,000 warriors in one day, and leading members of the Ahaz’ household were killed. This would explain why “his heart was moved and the heart of his people as the trees of the forest are moved with the wind” (v 2).
“And HaShem said to Isaiah, Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and She’ar-yashuv your son.” While the simple meaning is that She’ar-yashuv (“the remainder will return”) was Isaiah’s son, Targum renders “the remainder of your students who have not sinned and who have repented of sin” – i.e. Isaiah went out with his students, who are called sons.
The specification of the precise location of Isaiah’s encounter with King Ahaz – in “the highway of the field of the washer (KOVEIS)” (v 3) – is explained in Talmud Sanhedrin 104a as alluding to Ahaz’ having tried to hide (KOVEISH) his face from Isaiah out of shame. Because of this shame Ahaz merited not to be enumerated among the wicked kings who have no share in the world to come.
The prophet reassured the king that Retzin and Pekah were nothing more than smoking firebrands (wooden rods used repeatedly to turn the logs of a fire until the rods are so thin that they are useless and are discarded). Rashi explains that “Ben Tav’al” – whom they wanted to appoint as king of Jerusalem – was none other than Pekah ben Remaliah himself: in the ALBAM cipher (where Aleph is replaced with Lamed, Beis with Mem etc.) TaVAL = ReMaL[i]A.
But God said this would not come to pass. “Within sixty-five years Ephraim shall be broken in pieces and no more be a people” (v 8). Rashi explains that the exile of the Ten Tribes was to take place not sixty-five years after Isaiah’s present prophecy but rather, sixty-five years after the prophecy about it by his teacher Amos, which was delivered two years before Uzziah was struck with leprosy (Amos 1:1). Uzziah had lived for 27 years after that prophecy; Yotham and Ahaz then reigned for 16 years each, followed by Hezekiah, in the sixth year of whose reign the Ten Tribes went into exile. 27 + 16 + 16 + 6 = 65.
Vv 10ff tell how God asked Ahaz to specify a sign of his own choosing that would testify to the truth of the prophecy, but Ahaz disingenuously declined, excusing himself on the grounds that he did not want to “test” God – “I don’t want His name to be sanctified through me” (Rashi on v 12; see RaDaK).
Accordingly God himself gave a sign: “Behold, the young woman is with child, and she will bear a son.” This cannot be a prophecy of the birth of Ahaz’ son Hezekiah since he was already nine years old when Ahaz came to the throne (Rashi on v 14; RaDaK on v 15). RaDaK states that the prophesied son was either a son who would be born to Isaiah’s wife or another son who would be born to Ahaz. The essence of the prophetic sign was that by the time this son would have the intelligence to distinguish between right and wrong – at about the age of three or four years old – the threat to Judah from Aram and the kingdom of Israel would disappear. Indeed, in the fourth year of the reign of Ahaz, by which time the newborn son would have been three years old, the Assyrians conquered and exiled Aram, killing Retzin (II Kings 16:9), while Pekah ben Remaliah was killed in the same year in a conspiracy (ibid. 15:30).
It is perfectly obvious that it would have been quite pointless for Isaiah to have offered Ahaz a sign that would only take place more than 400 years after his death – yet this is exactly how some Christians try to explain this passage, claiming that a prophetic allusion to the “virginal conception” of their founder is contained in the words, “Behold, the young woman (ALMAH) is with child.” This interpretation is based upon a severe distortion of the meaning of the Hebrew word ALMAH, which cannot be a virgin since it is specifically used in Proverbs 30:19 to refer to a maiden with whom a man has intercourse. ALMAH is simply the feminine form of ELEM meaning a “young man” (I Samuel 17:56). RaDaK on v 15 cites a work called Sepher HaBris (The Book of the Covenant) written by his father decisively refuting such distortions of the meaning of our text.
[H5959 ???? ?alma?h al-maw’
Feminine of H5958; a lass (as veiled or private): – damsel, maid, virgin.
What this Jewish Commentator does not understand is that what Isaiah is referring to is the constellation bethulah which means virgin and in this constellation she is giving birth to the BRANCH which we have already referred to above as the TZEMACH. That TZEMACH, that BRANCH that this is speaking of is Yehshua, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. See article on Conjunction or Sighted Which? at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=22 ]
“HaShem will bring upon you and your people and upon the house of your father days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah, namely the king of Assyria” (v 17). Isaiah had already alluded to the looming specter of Assyria (Isaiah 5:25ff), which was soon to become a world empire that would radically transform the geopolitical realities of the entire region. Yet although the Assyrian armies would occupy all of Judah at the time of Sennacherib’s siege against Jerusalem , God would “shave them with a hired razor” (for which one only pays money because it is very sharp, Metzudas David), miraculously decimating his army and killing his officers and finally Sennacherib himself. Although the vineyards of Judah would become prey to briers and thorns, its hills and mountains would provide pasture for plentiful sheep and cattle bringing great blessing to the inhabitants (vv 21, 23 and 25). God’s miraculous providence over Judah even amidst the worst ructions would prove that God is with us – IMMANU-EL.
[this prophecy of Isaiah is also speaking of Germany who were once called Assyria and how they will be hired in the last days. I refer you to The Prophecies of Abraham where this explained in great detail. Also Immanuel God with us is showing us again that Yehshua was in fact and is Yehovah.]
Isaiah 6:1-13, 7:1-6 and 9:5-6 are read as the Haftara of Parshas Yisro (Ex. 18:1-20:23) containing the account of the Giving of the Torah.
Psalm 121, the second song of ascents in the first set of three, is one of trust in God as helper and keeper. It is written as a dialogue-a two-party discussion (note the use of “I” and “my” in verses 1-2 and of “you” and “your” throughout the remainder of the psalm). Some believe this suggests antiphonal, responsive singing, yet you would have one group or person singing only two verses and then others singing all the rest. It is conceivable that the first stanza, verses 1-2, was intended as a solo introduction and that the remaining three stanzas-3-4, 5-6 and 7-8-were intended as a choir response. Other commentators, however, believe the dialogue here is within an individual. That is, the one speaking in verses 1-2 is also seen as speaking in the remaining verses but to his inner self.
The song begins with looking up to the hills and considering the source of help (verse 1)-then declaring the Creator God as that source (verse 2). What do hills have to do with help? In the context of ancient Israel, hills were a place of refuge. Armies converged in war on the plains. The Israelite nation in the Promised Land began in the hill country-where they did not have to fight the Canaanites and Philistines out on the open plains. Hills provided a barrier against advancing forces. For individuals, being out in the open was dangerous. The hills provided many hiding places.
We can draw a comparison with the help and protection that God provides. Note what another of the songs of ascents has to say: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever” (125:2). Jerusalem is at the top of the Judean hill country. And here the City of David and Temple Mount are surrounded by higher hills, which provided a natural defense against invasion. Sadly, the people of Israel and Judah often placed undue emphasis on such natural protection. They even used the heights of mountains and hills as false worship centers-the high places. Jeremiah 3:23 says, “Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.”
The author of Psalm 121 understands this well. Lifting his eyes to the hills probably refers to looking ahead as he ascends in his journey to the hills of Jerusalem. “Ps. 120 sets the stage for the Israelites’ journey to the Holy City; this poem  is a song ‘for the road'” ( Nelson Study Bible, note on Psalm 121). Rather than the natural defenses of the hills, the psalmist understands that true help is to be found in the One who made those hills and everything else-Almighty God (verse 2; compare 124:8; 134:3). There was help to be found in the hills of Jerusalem-but only because God’s blessing and protection was on this place of His sanctuary, where He commanded His people to convene and observe His spiritual feasts. Note the prayer in still another song of ascents: “Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens” (123:1).
In the remainder of Psalm 121 (verses 3-8), the psalm repeatedly affirms that God is our keeper-our watcher or guardian. We should note that the word translated “keeps” in verses 3-4 is the same one translated “preserve” in verses 7-8-so that a form of the word for “keep” is used six times in this psalm.
We see in these verses that God will protect us on our journey-both on our journey to His festivals and, in a figurative sense, on our lifelong journey to His Kingdom. He will be there to keep our foot from slipping (verse 3, NIV) and, though we have to sleep along the way, God never sleeps (verses 3-4)-He is always vigilant in His care for His people.
Verses 5-6 say that God is a shade “at your right hand” (meaning readily accessible) so that the sun won’t strike you by day or the moon by night. Travelers in the Middle East needed shade from the sun to prevent heat exhaustion, heatstroke and severe sunburn. Yet what of the moon? “In ancient times people saw the harmful effects of the rays of the sun, and they thought that certain illnesses (especially mental disorders) were also caused by the rays of the moon” ( Word in Life Bible, note on verse 6). Thus our modern words moonstruck and lunacy. We should be careful, however, to note that verse 6 does not acknowledge this as a genuine phenomenon. The point is that God would protect the travelers from those things that posed concerns to them on their journey. Of course, a bright moon could pose a real problem in that it would make travelers more visible to bandits-and staring directly at it will briefly diminish night vision, which might be needed at that moment to better see such bandits and wild animals.
Verses 7-8 say that God will preserve us from all evil in all our goings and comings-i.e., at all times in our lives. “Preserve” here is a better sense than the English “keep,” as the latter would seem to imply that nothing bad will ever happen to God’s people. We have enough examples in the remainder of the psalms and throughout Scripture to show that this is not the case. The point, as we consider the rest of the Bible, is that whatever happens to us is within God’s care and oversight. He watches over us and sees us through. He certainly does protect us as we go through life and keeps us from harm in far more ways than we are aware of. Yet He allows a certain degree of trials to befall us, though never more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Most importantly, He will work things out to what is best for His people in the end (Romans 8:28)-a glorious end that will pale all present trials by comparison (verse 18). Accordingly, the focus of Psalm 121 is not merely for the here and now, but “from this time forth, and even forevermore” (verse 8). Here we have the promise of God watching over His people in such a way as to eventually lead them to the glorious future of eternal life.
John 4:43 – 5:29
The pool of Bethesda was likely another water reserve re-configured as a mikvah. The pool may have been built by Simeon, a high priest who lived about 200 B.C. (Sirach 50:3). Charlesworth showed several snake figures excavated at the pool, indicating that the area also housed an Asclepeion, a pool dedicated to the healing god Asclepius. It is possible then that the blind, lame, and paralyzed were not waiting for the God of Israel to heal them, but rather the god Asclepius. If this is true, then there is a tension in the story: who are you going to believe can heal you, the god Asclepius, or the God, Jesus?
In honor of Asclepius, snakes were often used in healing rituals and non-venomous snakes were allowed to crawl on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. From about 300 BC onwards, the cult of Asclepius grew very popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples (Asclepieia) to be cured of their ills. Ritual purification would be followed by offerings or sacrifices to the god (according to means), and the supplicant would then spend the night in the holiest part of the sanctuary – the abaton (or adyton). Any dreams or visions would be reported to a priest who would prescribe the appropriate therapy by a process of interpretation. Some healing temples also used sacred dogs to lick the wounds of sick petitioners.
The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation “I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods …”
To learn more about this pool and it’s location you can go to http://www.netours.com/content/view/176/47/
Joh 5:14 Afterward ????? found him in the Set-apart Place, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more,1 so that no worse matter befalls you.”
What does Yehshua mean when He says so that a worse matter befalls you if you sin again?
Joh 8:11 And she said, “No one, Master.” And ????? said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” 1 John 3:4-10, 1 John 5:18.
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants for obedience, you are servants of the one whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 17 But thanks to Elohim that you were servants of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness. 19 I speak as a man, because of the weakness of your flesh. For even as you did present your members as servants of uncleanness, and of lawlessness resulting in lawlessness, so now present your members as servants of righteousness resulting in set-apartness. 20 For when you were servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.
1Co 15:34 Wake up to soberness, righteously, and do not sin, for some do not have the knowledge of Elohim. I speak this to your shame.
1Pe 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His body on the timber, so that we, having died to sins, might live unto righteousness1 – by whose stripes you were healed. Footnote: 1Rom. 6:2, 1 Peter 4:1-2.
1Pe 4:1 Therefore, since Messiah suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,1 Footnote: 1Rom. 6:2-22, 1 Peter 2:25.2 so that he no longer lives the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but according to the desire of Elohim.
1Jn 3:4 Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Everyone staying in Him does not sin. Everyone sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him.1 Footnote: 1See 2:4 & 3 John v. 11. 7 Little children, let no one lead you astray. The one doing righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.1 Footnote: 1See 2:29. 8 The one doing sin is of the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested: to destroy the works of the devil.1 Footnote: 1See Titus 2:14. 9 Everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin, because His seed stays in him, and he is powerless to sin, because he has been born of Elohim. 10 In this the children of Elohim and the children of the devil are manifest: Everyone not doing righteousness is not of Elohim,1 neither the one not loving his brother. Footnote: 1See 3 John v. 11.
1Jn 5:18 We know that everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin,1 but the one having been born of Elohim guards himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.2 Footnotes: 1See 3:6-9. 2See 4:4.
We are told after being forgiven for our sins to go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon us. We are now in the process of putting on righteousness. Should we stop doing so we then begin to put on unrighteousness and as we are told in Rom 1:18 For the wrath of Elohim is revealed from heaven against all wickedness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of Elohim is manifest among them, for Elohim has manifested it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible qualities have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, both His everlasting power and Mightiness, for them to be without excuse, 21 because, although they knew Elohim, they did not esteem Him as Elohim, nor gave thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the esteem of the incorruptible Elohim into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds and of four-footed beasts and of reptiles. 24 Therefore Elohim gave them up to uncleanness in the lust of their hearts, to disrespect their bodies among themselves, 25 who changed the truth of Elohim into the falsehood, and worshipped and served what was created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Am?n. 26 Because of this Elohim gave them over to degrading passions. For even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature, 27 and likewise, the men also, having left natural relations with woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing indecency, and receiving back the reward which was due for their straying. 28 And even as they did not think it worth- while to possess the knowledge of Elohim, Elohim gave them over to a worthless mind, to do what is improper, 29 having been filled with all unrighteousness, whoring, wickedness, greed, evil; filled with envy, murder, fighting, deceit, evil habits; whisperers, 30 slanderers, haters of Elohim, insolent, proud, boasters, devisers of evils, disobedient to parents, 31 without discernment, covenant breakers, unloving, unforgiving, ruthless; 32 who, though they know the righteousness of Elohim, that those who practise such deserve death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practise them.
Psa 81:10 “I am ???? your Elohim, Who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim; Open your mouth wide, and I fill it. 11 “But My people did not listen to My voice, And Yisra’?l would not submit to Me. 12 “So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels. 13 “O, if My people had listened to Me, Yisra’?l would walk in My ways, 14 “I would subdue their enemies at once, And turn My hand against their adversaries! 15 “Those who hate ???? would cringe before Him; And their time of punishment be forever. 16 “He would feed them with the finest of wheat; And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Gal 5:14 For the entire Torah is completed in one word, in this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 15 And if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 And I say: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not accomplish the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you desire to do.
The 613 Mitzvot
We now continue to study the 613 laws of Torah which we can read at http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm
We are doing 7 laws each week. We shall study laws 430-436 We also have commentary, with editing from me, again from http://theownersmanual.net/The_Owners_Manual_02_The_Law_of_Love.Torah
(430) Set the showbread and the frankincense before the Lord every Shabbat. “You shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.” (Exodus 25:30) “You shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before Yahweh. And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to Yahweh. Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before Yahweh continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of Yahweh made by fire, by a perpetual statute.” (Leviticus 24:5-9) The symbolism surrounding the showbread is as rich as it is profuse. Twelve cakes or loaves (obviously a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, and later to the twelve apostles of Yahshua—in other words, the whole household of faith) were to be baked with fine flour (solet) as opposed to meal (qemah). The difference was that the fine flour had been crushed and sifted to remove the bran, indicative of worthlessness or sin. Notice that the frankincense was to be sprinkled upon each row as a separate unit—God’s plan for Israel is distinct. The pure gold of the table speaks of the purity we must rest upon if we are to come “before Yahweh.”
Frankincense is a resin from the bark of a tree from the genus Boswellia. As the amber droplets of resin dry, a white dust forms, which explains the name: “Frankincense” is lebona, derived from the Hebrew word for “white,” laban. The related verb laben (to be white) indicates moral purity, the cleansing of God which makes the sinner “as white as snow.” This “whiteness” is sprinkled onto the loaves “for a memorial, an offering made by fire,” telling us that we are to remember the judgment Christ endured in our stead, for it made us pure in God’s sight. The setting out of the loaves on the Sabbath reminds us that we cannot work to attain this imputed purity. The showbread was to be eaten by “Aaron and his sons,” in other words, the priesthood—those who minister in God’s very presence, interceding between God and man. This today includes all people of faith in Yahweh, for the veil blocking access to the holy of holies has been torn in two—we believers may now boldly enter His presence in prayer. It’s no wonder Yahshua described Himself as being “the bread of life.”
(431) Kindle lights in the Sanctuary. “You shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before Yahweh. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 27:20-21) Just as Yahshua is the bread of life, He is also the “Light of the world.” The sun would go down and the world would grow dark, but Yahweh saw to it that there would always be light in the sanctuary. What produced the light? Oil, resulting from the crushing of olives. This reminds us that Yahshua’s body had to be broken before His Holy Spirit could indwell us (see John 15:26; the symbolic connection between the Spirit of God and olive oil can be seen in Zechariah 4). It also points out that we who have God’s Spirit within us are the only light the world will see in these dark times. Again, it is Aaron and his sons who tend the lamps—that is, the priesthood of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The lampstand itself (described in Exodus 25:31-37 and 37:17-24) was a visual representation of Yahweh’s ubiquitous six-plus-one pattern. A central lamp was flanked by three “branches” on one side and three on the other, each bearing a lamp fashioned like an almond blossom with an ornamental knob and flower. The whole seven-branched menorah was made out of a single piece of pure gold weighing in at over 90 pounds. Like God’s “six days of creation” plus one of rest, or the six days of the work week followed by the Sabbath rest, I believe the six branches of the lampstand plus the center lamp are a timeline, an indication of God’s plan for mankind’s redemption from the Fall of Adam to the Millennial reign of Christ—six thousand years for us to work followed by one thousand to rest from our labors in Yahweh’s perfect world (and by the way, we are rapidly approaching the end of that sixth millennium).
(432) The breastplate shall not be loosened from the ephod. “They shall bind the breastplate by means of its rings to the rings of the ephod, using a blue cord, so that it is above the intricately woven band of the ephod, and so that the breastplate does not come loose from the ephod.” (Exodus 28:28) In the previous chapter (Mitzvah #372) we reviewed the High Priest’s garments. The breastplate, you’ll recall, was adorned with twelve gemstones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. His ephod was a skirt-like garment that covered the hips and thighs (worn in addition to the thigh-length trousers mentioned in verse 42). The ephod, affixed to the breastplate with golden rings and a blue cord, also had straps going over the shoulders. Two onyx stones set in gold rested upon the shoulders. Each bore the names of six of the sons of Israel. Thus the High Priest symbolically bore the weight of Israel upon his shoulders, as well as having them near his heart. It’s a picture of service and intercession. The reason the ephod and breastplate were to remain attached was that service without love is worthless, just as love without service is impossible.
(433) Offer up incense twice daily. “You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood. A cubit shall be its length and a cubit its width—it shall be square—and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay its top, its sides all around, and its horns with pure gold; and you shall make for it a molding of gold all around. Two gold rings you shall make for it, under the molding on both its sides. You shall place them on its two sides, and they will be holders for the poles with which to bear it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations.” (Exodus 30:1-8) The altar of incense was a small wooden table, about 18 inches square and three feet tall, covered with gold. Like the ark of the covenant, it was equipped with golden rings through which poles would be placed when it had to be moved. (Unlike with the Ark of the Covenant, there was no specific instruction to leave the staves in place.) It was not to be touched, for it was set apart for Yahweh’s purposes. The High Priest (prophetic of the Messiah) was the only one authorized to burn incense upon it.
Notice that each time the High Priest was to burn incense, he was also to tend to the lamps (see Mitzvah #431). The priest was to replenish the oil (representing the Holy Spirit who provides the light in our lives) when he burned the incense—a metaphor for prayer. One should not be done without the other—prayer is intimately associated with the filling of the Holy Spirit. The lampstand and the altar of incense were in the same room in the sanctuary, normally called “the Holy Place.” As you entered from the outer door (at the east end of the room) you’d see the table of showbread on your right, the golden lampstand on your left. Straight ahead—right in front of the veil separating the holy place from the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant sat) was the altar of incense. You had to pass the altar of incense to get to the mercy seat. The lesson: atonement for sin could not be made without first communicating with Yahweh—it’s the place “where I will meet with you.”
Why was incense burned twice a day? In their own way, both specified hours speak of a new day. Every morning heralds a new opportunity to walk in God’s light. On the other hand, Yahweh specifically stated that sunset (not midnight, as we reckon it) would begin each calendar day. I’m admittedly guessing here, but I believe the two new beginnings indicated by the burning of the incense may be prophetic of two messianic advents of Yahshua—one in which we were introduced to the Light of the World, and the other in which will dawn a whole new era of righteousness. Or perhaps we are being given a preview of Yahshua’s instruction on prayer: “Our Father…may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
(434) Do not offer strange incense nor any sacrifice upon the golden altar. “You shall not offer strange incense on [the altar of incense], or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.” (Exodus 30:9) The primary function of the altar of incense was to symbolize the prayers of Israel rising to Yahweh (whose Shekinah glory was to abide in the most holy place before which the altar stood). As David wrote, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2) The only other function it had was stated in the next verse: “And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to Yahweh.” (Exodus 30:10) On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would apply some of the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of this altar, once again linking prayer—communication with Yahweh—to atonement, the covering of our sins.
As we shall see (Mitzvah #439), the formula for the incense to be burned on this altar was very specific and very exclusive. This, I believe, speaks to the principle that for our prayers to be efficacious, they must be aligned with God’s will. It’s not that Yahweh wants to hear the mindless repetition of pre-approved formula prayers, like a minyan of Black Hats teetering at the Wailing Wall. Rather, He wants us to be sensitive to His will and purpose, and conversing with Him along those lines. If we ignore what Yahweh has already told us about His plans and preferences, or talk to God as if He’s some sort of celestial Santa Claus, I’d say He perceives that as “strange incense.” And it stinks.
(435) The kohein shall wash his hands and feet at the time of service. “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Yahweh, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” (Exodus 30:18-21) The whole tabernacle layout is designed to teach us how to approach God. We’ve already discussed the furnishings found within the tent of meeting: the table of showbread, the lampstand, and the altar of incense within the Holy Place, and then, behind the veil in the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant with its integral mercy seat—redemption’s ground zero. But outside the tabernacle there were two items one had to pass before he even reached the front door. First was the altar upon which the sacrifices were slain and roasted. Then, standing between the altar and the tabernacle was the bronze laver described here.
It’s one thing for the proper sacrifice to be made to atone for your sin—the function of the altar. It’s quite another to be “clean” enough to stand before Yahweh. The altar denotes the sacrifice made; the laver symbolizes the sacrifice accepted. Note that the priest’s whole body wasn’t to be cleansed at the laver, but only his hands and feet, indicative of his work and his walk before God. We are reminded of the foot-washing scene between Yahshua and Peter in the upper room. Peter was questioning the appropriateness of the Lord of Creation stooping to wash his dirty feet, but Yahshua told him, “He who is already bathed needs only to wash his feet to make him completely clean.” (John 13:10) So it is with the laver: the sacrifice has been made at the altar, making us clean. All that’s left to do is admit that our feet are still dirty from walking through this world, and that they need to be bathed in Christ’s ongoing forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
(436) Prepare the oil of anointment and anoint high kohanim and kings with it. “Moreover Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane, five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy. And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.” (Exodus 30:22-30) Yahweh provided a very specific recipe for the oil that was to be used for anointing the priests and the consecrated tabernacle furnishings—all of which prophesied the Messiah in one way or another. (It was not specified for kings, as Maimonides asserts, nor is there any Biblical suggestion that Israelite kings were ever anointed with anything other than ordinary olive oil.)
The formula began with a hin (about a gallon) of olive oil, which as we have seen is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, the source of light in our lives. And what were these other ingredients? Myrrh is a resinous gum or oil from balsam or other trees with an oily bark. It is fragrant and slightly bitter, hence the name, mor, from a Hebrew root meaning bitterness—a reminder of the Messiah’s sorrows endured on our behalf. (A shekel, by the way, was a little over a third of an ounce, so five hundred shekels would be about ten pounds.) Cinnamon (Hebrew qinamown) is the familiar fragrant bark we still use as a spice to this day. Its use as an aphrodisiac (along with myrrh) is suggested in Proverbs 7:17. The “sweet-smelling cane” is qaneh, an aromatic reed, but one also used as a standard of measure, normally six cubits. Yahshua’s human moral perfection is the standard by which we are all measured—and fall short. The last ingredient was cassia (qidah), a fragrant plant ingredient used in perfumes and oils, the “fragrant oil” spoken of in Matthew 26:12 and Luke 23:56—something used to prepare the Messiah for His burial—both before and after He gave Himself up to be crucified. The mixture, then, describes the Messiah, Yahshua, whose Spirit-filled life was the epitome of love, the standard of holiness, and sweet salvation achieved through bitter suffering.
We believers are said to be “crucified with Christ.” How interesting it is, then, to read in Solomon’s love poem (an unblushing declaration of our Savior’s visceral love toward us, His betrothed) this description: “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus [qidah] and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices—a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” (Song of Solomon 4:12-15) It appears that we are not only crucified with Him (freeing us from the condemnation of the law), we are anointed with Him as well. As the bride of Christ, we will reign with Him as kings and priests. That’s why it was illegal to counterfeit the formula or use it on “strangers.”