News Letter 5859-003
The 7th Year of the 4th Sabbatical Cycle
The 28th year of the 120th Jubilee Cycle
The 11th day of the 1st month, 5859 years after the creation of Adam
The 4th Sabbatical Cycle after the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Sword, Famines, and Pestilence
March 4, 2023
Shalom Shabbat to the Royal Family of Yehovah,
The New year has begun. We will be checking the barley just before wave sheaf day to confirm. But you will need to keep Passover, just in case it is. Keep in mind no man knows the day or the hour and this is proof of that. We are being tested. Will you pass the test?
If we postpone the month, then much of the barley will be lost by Wave Sheaf Day in April.
We are also told to number our days.
Psa 90:12 So teach us to number our days, so that we may bring a heart of wisdom.
At Sightedmoon.com we have these charts you can download to keep track of the days according to when the Moon was sighted. This way, you can know when the Holy Days are. And it is free to download.
Israel was known for murmuring and it cost many people their lives as we read in the Bible. I know you all want to know if the barley is Aviv or not. Act as if it is until we absolutely know. Stop complaining about this year being different. Get ready, and if necessary we will keep two Passovers if there is no barley on Wave Sheaf Day March 12, 2023.
You can read another group report about what Becca has been saying at this link if you like. https://nazareneisrael.org/torah-calendar-news/torah-calendar-news-2023/
You are about to hear about the barley from a number of other sources and you will be forced to defend your position. Are you ready to do so? Can you explain the growth cycle of barley? After the dough stage, how many more days until it reseeds? Are the storks in the land yet? Yes, they are! Are the grapes and the figs budding? Why does this matter? Yes, they are budding. Is the flax in bloom? Why does this matter? Yes, it is in bloom. Are the temperatures hot enough for the barley to mature in just 12 more days? It is 80 degrees there now. Here is the next 10-day weather forecast.
Prepare for Passover on March 7 and act as if the Shmita year began on February 22, 2023. Stop murmuring and have faith in Yehovah. Watch for Him to act. You can view all the beautiful flowers blooming in Israel right now on this link.
As of right now, we believe the BArley will be Aviv on Wave Sheaf Day. This means foot washing will be Monday Evening and the start of the Fast of the First Born. Yehshua would then be killed on Tuesday at 3 PM. The Passover meal will be eaten Tuesday evening after Sunset on March 7. The First Day of Unleavened Bread begins after Sunset Tuesday, March 7 and until Sunset on March 8.
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Blessing For Keeping the Third Tithe Year
The Third Year Tithe is Now Complete
Now You Are Commanded to Ask For The Blessing
We are in the Shmita year of 5859 now. You have completed the third year tithe and taken care of the widow and the orphans and the Levite. Now having done this you can stand and declare this prayer with me to Yehovah. You are no longer just playing church. You are now acting as a member of the Kingdom of Yehovah and you are keeping the laws of that Kingdom.
Deu 26:1 And it shall be, when you come into the land which Jehovah your God gives you for an inheritance, and possess it, and live in it,
Deu 26:2 you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the earth which you shall bring of your land that Jehovah your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket, and shall go to the place which Jehovah your God shall choose to place His name there.
Deu 26:3 And you shall go to the priest in those days, and say to him, I profess today to Jehovah your God that I have come into the land which Jehovah swore to our fathers to give us.
Deu 26:4 And the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of Jehovah your God.
Deu 26:5 And you shall speak and say before Jehovah your God, My father was a Syrian ready to perish. And he went down to Egypt, and stayed there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and many.
Deu 26:6 And the Egyptians ill-treated us, and afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us.
Deu 26:7 And when we cried to Jehovah, the God of our fathers, Jehovah heard our voice and looked on our afflictions and our labor and our oppression.
Deu 26:8 And Jehovah brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with fearful might, and with miracles and with wonders.
Deu 26:9 And He has brought us into this place, and has given us this land, a land that flows with milk and honey.
Deu 26:10 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which You, O Jehovah, have given me. And you shall set it before Jehovah your God, and worship before Jehovah your God.
Deu 26:11 And you shall rejoice in all the good which Jehovah your God has given to you, and to your house; you, and the Levite, and the stranger in your midst.
Having now completed the third tithe year, each of us who has done this can now stand and read this aloud.
Deu 26:12 When you have made an end of tithing all the tithes of your increase the third year, the year of tithing, and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (that they may eat inside your gates and be filled),
Deu 26:13 then you shall say before Jehovah your God, I have brought away the holy things out of my house, and also have given them to the Levite, and to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me. I have not broken Your commandments, neither have I forgotten.
Deu 26:14 I have not eaten of it in my mourning, neither have I put any of it away for unclean use, nor have I given of it for the dead. I have listened to the voice of Jehovah my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.
Deu 26:15 Look down from Your holy dwelling, from Heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, as You swore to our fathers, a land that flows with milk and honey.
Deu 26:16 Today Jehovah your God has commanded you to do these statutes and judgments. You therefore shall keep and do them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 26:17 You have today said that Jehovah is your God, and that you would walk in His ways, and keep His statutes and His commandments and His judgments, and listen to His voice.
Deu 26:18 And Jehovah has taken you today to be His peculiar people, as He has promised you, and to keep all His commandments,
Deu 26:19 and to make you high above all nations which He has made, in praise and in name and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to Jehovah your God, even as He has spoken.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Widows this 6th year of the Sabbatical Cycle. Whether you did it through Sightedmoon or on your own, thank you. Yes, it is a commandment. If you want blessings, then you must obey.
Those widows, orphans and Levites have a responsibility to pray for this work and those who support it and that Yehovah will bless them abundantly.
2022 is the 6th year of the 4th Sabbatical cycle. And anyone who has been reading our website for any length of time will know how to prove beyond all doubt when the Sabbatical and Jubilee years are. Once you have done that, then you will know when the 3rd and the 6th year of the Sabbatical Cycles are. We are told to raise a tithe every third year for the widow, the orphan and the Levite in your gates.
Here is a very severe warning from Yehovah to each of us.
Exo 22:21 You shall neither vex a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry. And My wrath shall become hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your sons fatherless.
We have now sent out (as of March 3, 2023) our 10th round of gift offerings that you have sent in for the widows and orphans. We have also supported a couple of other ministries that aid us in doing this work. This will fulfill the Levite part of the commandment. It was our desire to get the funds to them as we are told to do in Deuteronomy.
Deu 14:28 At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your increase the same year, and shall lay it up inside your gates.
Deu 14:29 And the Levite, because he has no part nor inheritance with you, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are inside your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied, so that Jehovah your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
May each one of you who has given to this cause, be blessed as Boaz was blessed by Yehovah for his generosity. May each one of you be known for your support of the laws that will make the Kingdom of Yehovah strong and righteous. And may Yehovah bless you so that what you give is never missed and you never lack for your generosity towards Yehovah’s heart.
THE SABBATH 101
The Sabbath 101
I have been asked a number of times for the basics of keeping Torah. I have told those asking where to look but still more come and they are overwhelmed by the amount of articles, videos and books to go through. I never set out for it to be like that. But we have been posting a weekly newsletter since 2005. That is about 938 newsletters which have been viewed 9,701,688 times. We have written 8 books selling 5,439 copies as of this week. We have created about 552 videos, which have had 2,778,234 views as of today.
Just looking at these numbers tells me we are doing something right. And at the same time we continue to dive deeper into the things we are teaching. But for the new person it can be over whelming.
I had the great opportunity to visit Batman, Bat-woman and Alfred, and I even stayed in the Bat-cave. Batman has compiled a number of teachings that are geared for the new person and those just starting out in this walk. He also put together three of the books we now offer at Sightedmoon. I want to make all of these available for you to take advantage of, but you can’t tell Batman.
Here is the video section.
Scripture Lessons for the Kingdom is exactly that, short lessons for those new to Torah. We have taken many of the lessons from the website and condensed them down into one to two-page lessons. While these do not cover everything, they will cover the basics and give you a good starting place for your journey into the Word of YHVH. We hope you enjoy this book and look forward to hearing back from you and your stories about this journey.
We also have a third book about the covenant titled I Do. It is an e-book only format.
The servants of the groom are announcing the wedding, but will the bride prepare herself properly to say “I do”? I do is a short book that both teaches and challenges one who has accepted the betrothal to the Lamb to do that which will prepare them for that great day when the groom arrives.
The Shmita Year of 2023
The Shmita Year of 2023
Aviv 1 on February 21/22 2023 began the 7th Year of Rest. You can prove this by understanding that 2 King 19:29 spoke about a 49th and 50th-year land rest. Knowing this was 701 and 700 BC, you can then count by 7 or 49 and land on every Sabbatical year or every Jubilee in history. All of our proof’s line up with this understanding.
In this Sabbatical year you are:
- Not to Plant
- Not to Harvest
- Stock up on Food in the 6th year
- Forgive Debts
- Read the Torah Out Loud on the 1st day of Sukkot.
These are the basics rule that you are to keep in order to be blessed by Yehovah. It is not too late to begin to stock up now for the year.
There are 365 days in the year. Let’s just say there are 400 in case there is an Adar Bet next year. You can buy 400 Cans of Soup to have one meal of soup each day during the year. One can of soup costs about $2, so for $800 you have a year’s supply of soup. But if you are not going to eat soup every day then take out half and buy canned beans, vegetables and fruits.
You must de-leaven your homes so do not buy anything that has leaven in it until after the last day of Unleavened Bread which is March 14, 2023.
You can do this. Do not say you can’t do this. Find the will to find a way to get this done. Find excuses as to why you will obey. We are coming into the 5th curse over the next 7 years. That curse is famine and it will be so bad that people will eat their own children. So stock up on food now so you can obey Yehovah. And extra food will be a welcome blessing later.
I went out and in the past week I have spent just over $1000, and I have now stocked up about 3/4 of a year’s worth of meals. I will do there’s after Passover week once the days of Unleavened bread are over. I have entered everything into my excel program to count each meal. Brethren, this is not that hard to do. What it takes is the willpower to do it: that and a little planning. You can buy meat throughout the year. It is not a ban on meat. You can also eat anything that grows of itself during the year. But do not plan on living off of those things that come from the ground. It they fail then you have no food. Stock up now, and if something grows, they are a bonus, but they are also free game for the neighbours and the animals. So they might eat it before you do. Plan ahead and stock up now. You still have time to get it done.
We read through the entire Torah along with the Prophets and the New Testament, once over the course of 3 1/2 years. Or according to the Sabbatical Cycle which means we read it all twice over a 7 year period. This allows us to cover more in-depth rather than being rushed to cover as much as is covered on an annual basis. We allow all to comment and take part in the discussions.
Septennial Torah Portion
If you go to Torah Portion at our archived section, you can then go to the 6th year which is the 6th year of the Sabbatical Cycle, the one we are in now, as we state at the top of every News Letter. There you can scroll down to the proper date, and see that this Shabbat we could very well be midrashing about:
If you missed last week’s exciting discoveries as we studied that section you can go and watch past Shabbats on our media section.
There are many people in need of fellowship and who are sitting at home on the Sabbath with no one to talk to or debate with. I want to encourage all of you to join us on Shabbat, and to invite others to come and join us as well. If the time is not convenient then you can listen to the teaching and the midrash after on our YouTube channel.
What are we doing and why do we teach this way?
We are going to discuss both sides of an issue and then let you choose. It is the work of the Ruach (Spirit) to direct and to teach you.
The medieval commentator Rashi wrote that the Hebrew word for wrestle (avek) implies that Jacob was “tied”, for the same word is used to describe knotted fringes in a Jewish prayer shawl, the tzitzityot. Rashi says, “thus is the manner of two people who struggle to overthrow each other, that one embraces the other and knots him with his arms”.
Our intellectual wrestling has been replaced by a different kind of struggle. We are Wrestling with Yehovah as we grapple with His Word. It is an intimate act, symbolizing a relationship in which Yehovah and I and you are bound together. My wrestling is a struggle to discover what Yehovah expects of us, and we are “tied” to the One who assists us in that struggle.
Today, many say Israel means “Champion of God”, or better — the “Wrestler of God”.
Our Torah sessions each Shabbat teaches you and encourages you to constantly challenge, question, argue against, as well as view alternative views and explanations of the Word. In other words, we are to “wrestle with the Word” to get to the truth. Jews worldwide believe that you need to wrestle with the Word and constantly challenge Dogma, Theology, and views or else you will never get to the Truth.
We are not like most churches where “The preacher talks and everyone listens.” We encourage everyone to participate, to question and to contribute what they know on the subject being discussed. We want you to be a champion wrestler of the Word of Yehovah. We want you to wear the title of Israel, knowing that you not only know but are capable of explaining why you know the Torah to be true with logic and facts.
We have a few rules though. Let others talk and listen. There is no discussion about UFO’s Nephilim, Vaccines or conspiracy-type subjects. We have people from around the world with different world views. Not everyone cares who is the President of any particular country. Treat each other with respect as Fellow wrestlers of the word. Some of our subjects are hard to understand and require you to be mature and if you do not know, then listen to gain knowledge and understanding and hopefully wisdom. The very things you are commanded to ask Yehovah for and He gives to those who ask.
Jas 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and with no reproach, and it shall be given to him.
We hope you can invite those who want to keep Torah to come and join us by hitting the link below. It is almost like a Torah teaching fellowship talk show with people from around the world taking part and sharing their insights and understandings.
We start off with some music and then some prayers and it’s as though you were sitting around the kitchen back in Newfoundland having a cup of coffee and all of us enjoying each other’s company. I hope you will grace us with your company someday.
Sabbath services begin at 12:30 PM EDT where we will be doing prayers songs and teaching from this hour.
Shabbat Services will begin at about 1:15 pm Eastern.
We look forward to you joining our family and getting to know us as we get to know you.
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The Holy Days 2023
You can see the dates for each of the Holy Days at this link.
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In our Sighted Moon small groups we have now completed Freedom Session and are now gearing up for Authentic Living which is an 8 week follow up course that helps us to walk out the tools we learned during Freedom Session and to continue walking in the freedom that we attained!
Here is a testimony of one of this year’s participants after she completed the homework on Forgiveness!
Matzo recipe (Matzah recipe)
Matzo recipe (Matzah recipe)
You’ll love this Easy Homemade Matzo, a simple from-scratch matzah cracker recipe that’s perfect for Passover. Just flour and water combine to make a crispy and golden unleavened baked bread that’s ready in only 18 minutes according to classic kosher tradition!
You can naturally also use this recipe to make Matzah meal (Matzo meal) see below.
What is Matzo or Passover bread?
Matzo, sometimes referred to as matzah, matzoh or matza, is a thin unleavened bread made from flour and water that’s traditionally eaten during Passover.
Similar in texture and taste to a thick crispy cracker and usually topped with salt and a schmear of butter, most Jewish families nowadays typically buy matzo packaged — but it’s so easy to make from scratch at home.
Tradition dictates that matzo be made fast, within 18 minutes from the moment you mix the flour and water until when you take the last batch of matzo bread out of the oven. It’s a hectic 18 minutes, but it is possible. Let me show you how!
Why you will love these Jewish Crackers //
- This traditional matzo recipe has only 2 ingredients! Only flour and water (and a little heat) are needed to make this classic unleavened bread.
- Make it kosher (or not): I lay out how to make matzo in only 18 minutes according to kosher standards. Make it fast and traditional, or take your time if you’re not worried about following the rules.
- It’s a crispy, crunchy cross between a cracker and a flatbread. Matzo is the perfect combination of a big cracker and a piece of crunchy flatbread.
- Eat it alone or be creative! This matzo recipe can be eaten as a crunchy side, used as a toast replacement with toppings, or even used as a crunchy sandwich bread.
Ingredients in matzo crackers. What you’ll need //
- Flour: Traditional wheat flour used in matzo must be grown according to kosher standards and unleavened, however if you are not concerned about this matzo being kosher then regular all-purpose flour will work as well. Whole wheat flour could be used as well, but would not be kosher unless it’s certified.
- Water: Regular tap water at room temperature works best for this recipe. While there is some debate on some bottled water brands being certified kosher, most any bottled water will work as well.
Traditional Matzo Kosher Rules //
There are some seriously strict rules about food ingredients and food preparation during Passover, and making matzo traditionally kosher means abiding by the following rules:
- The 18-Minute rule: To keep this matzo kosher, you need to finish the entire process in 18 minutes flat. That 18 minutes start when the water hits the flour until all of the matzo comes out of the oven (I was very grateful for my double ovens when I made these).
- The flour rule: The other thing that can be an issue is the flour that you use. The flour that I used in this recipe is a certified kosher all-purpose white flour. Regular all-purpose flour can be used, but know that it may not be 100% kosher.
How To Make Homemade Matzo Bread in 18 Minutes //
- Preheat oven and prep ingredients and tools: Preheat your oven to 475 F degrees and gather your tools and ingredients so they are ready to go once the clock starts ticking. Measure out the flour and water, line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper, and gather a rolling pin, pastry brush, a dinner fork, and a dough scraper or butter knife for cutting.
- Set your timer: Set your timer for 18 minutes; let the matzo-making begin!
- Mix the dough ingredients: Mix together 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of water.
- Knead the dough: Knead the dough on a well floured board or countertop until it comes together. This typically takes about 3-4 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough is soft but not wet.
- Cut the dough: Cut the dough into 8-12 chunks by using a dough scraper or butter knife. Do this by first cutting the dough into quarters, then cutting each quarter into thirds. You want each piece of dough to be about the size of an egg.
- Roll the dough: Roll each small piece of dough as thinly as possible with a rolling pin. Generously flour the dough as you roll to ensure it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin. (Or the countertop or cutting board).
- Prep the rolled dough for the oven: Carefully place the flattened matzo dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough does not expand. Feel free to place them close together to fit as many as you can on the baking sheet. Brush off any excess flour and use the fork to prick the top of the dough.
- Bake until crisp: Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 3-4 minutes until they are brown and crispy.
- Prepare the next batch: While the first matzo batch is baking, quickly roll out the next batch and prep it to go into the oven. When the first batch is ready then you can put the next batch in. When the first batch is done, remove the finished matzo to a plate to cool and place your next batch on the already used baking sheet (or use three baking sheets to allow one to cool). Continue prepping and baking until the entire dough batch is cooked. The clock is ticking!
- Serve: When the last batch is done, the matzo is ready to serve or store. And pat yourself on the back for a hectic 18 minutes!
Recipe Tips for Getting Perfect Passover Matzo //
- Find your favorite flour. While a certified kosher all-purpose flour is traditional, feel free to test this recipe with different flours. Whole wheat flour or gluten-free flours like spelt, chickpea, or almond flours can also work well. (Be mindful if you’re following kosher standards).
- Use room temperature water. While cold or warm water will work, I’ve found the best matzo texture using room temperature tap water. I fill a measuring pitcher with water 20 minutes before baking. That way it’s had to time adjust to room temperature before I mix it with the flour.
- Flour is your friend when kneading. Is your matzo dough too sticky? Add more flour. Is your dough sticking to your counter or rolling pin? Add more flour. Don’t be afraid of flour, but make sure the dough isn’t too dry before baking.
- Keep an eye on the oven. Because matzo cooks up quickly, keep your eye on the oven or it will easily become too brown and overcooked.
- Use 2-3 baking sheets. If you’re making matzo according to the 18-minute kosher rule, having 2 extra baking sheets will speed up the process. Have one in the oven, one prepped, and one backup. You can let one sheet cool when you remove it from the oven. (Let’s make our matzo burn and injury-free!).
Storing & Freezing //
- Storing: Store leftover matzo in an air-tight storage container on the countertop for up to three days. Or up to four days in the refrigerator.
- Freezing: For the best taste and texture, I do not recommend freezing matzo bread after it has been baked. You can prep the matzo dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days. In the freezer for a month or more, and then thaw before baking. Storing in the refrigerator or freezer will mean this recipe is not kosher. It will not fall in the 18-minute timeframe.
What is Matzo meal? and how to make it //
Matzo meal is simply ground matzo. Just break up the matzo in smaller pieces and grind it, preferably using your blender or food processor. You can buy matzo meal, but you will enjoy making it from this homemade recipe.
FAQ about Homemade Matzo //
What is the difference between matzo and matzah? Matzo, matzah, matzoh, and matza. These are all different ways of spelling and pronouncing the name for the traditional unleavened flatbread eaten at Passover in the Jewish tradition.
Why does homemade matzah have to be made within 18 minutes? The kosher rule for making matzo in 18 minutes is because only unleavened bread products are allowed during Passover. Natural fermentation begins within that time frame when flour and water are mixed. To avoid the natural fermentation, and therefore make the bread unleavened, it must finish baking before 18 minutes.
What kind of flour is kosher for Passover? Passover dietary restrictions exclude any grain that can ferment or become leavened, which includes wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt. The only bread that is allowed during Passover is matzo. Matzah is typically made from wheat flour and made in a way that ensures it is unleavened.
What do you serve with matzo? Matzo is usually served at the center of the table. Either as a side dish or accompaniment with traditional Passover foods like brisket, roast chicken, fish dumplings, and potatoes.
Jewish neighborhoods were considered the best locations for pizza places.
According to the Italian American Historical Society, the pizza is of Jewish origin and its true ancestor is the matzah … unleavened bread eaten at Passover, this year March 27-April 4 … Roman soldiers in about 200 B.C. decided to chop up the matzah with a dab of olive oil and some cheese … Lo the pizza was born.
The pizza went into decline when Rome fell, but the custom of having public ovens in the town square kept it alive in Naples and Sicily.
Children always hovered about when the good wives came to bake their daily bread and were rewarded with a slab of pizza made from leftover dough.
Two different styles emerged … The Sicilians made a crust several inches thick … The Neapolitans likes it wafer thin.
The pizza fad got started in 1936 when a saloon owner asked a restaurant supply man to develop a small oven capable of generating the 600 degrees needed for pizza … The first pizza sold like hot cakes in New York’s German neighborhood because, he said, “the Italians don’t go much for eating out.”
The pizza still jumps ethnic and geographic barriers … New York and Chicago are said to lead the field, but Boston, Miami and Los Angeles were breathing hot mozzarella fumes down their necks … with Philadelphia and Detroit close behind.
Jewish neighborhoods were considered the best locations for pizza places, Irish and German came next, with the Italians far in the rear.
THE BLESSING OF THE FIRSTBORN
THE BLESSING OF THE FIRSTBORN
In every home with children, there is a firstborn. The firstborn grows up with a special destiny. Firstborns are thrust into the role of trailblazers and natural leaders. They represent the future hope of the family and its name. They are also regarded as the first heirs of the family. According to ancient tradition found in Scripture, all of the children of a family should receive an equal share of the inheritance, but the firstborn receives a double portion. Scripture speaks of this blessing of the firstborn as the birthright blessing.
But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, … by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn. Deuteronomy 21:17
The Scriptures do not stop there addressing the subject of firstborns. As you are about to discover, there is an incredibly deep teaching about the firstborn. Like hidden treasure, not everything is as it seems when it comes to the subject of the firstborn in Scripture. Consider the story of Abraham and his descendants.
Abraham received a covenant from God to become the father of many, to establish a special heritage and blessing for the people of God. However, Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Isaac, the son born through Sarah received the blessing. Isaac’s firstborn son, Esau, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Jacob received the blessing. Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Joseph received the blessing. Joseph’s firstborn son, Manasseh, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Ephraim received the blessing from the hand of Jacob. And still further, when the tribes were numbered, God declared the Levites to be the firstborn of Israel.
What is happening here? Why is the blessing not being given as a birthright to the physical firstborn descendant? The Apostle Paul specifically addressed this question in the book of Romans. He was addressing the hidden wisdom about the firstborn.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. Romans 9:6-8
Let me summarize this wisdom about the firstborn. It is shrouded in controversy and many do not accept God’s sovereign choices here.
Why was Isaac the firstborn over Ishmael? Isaac was the promised son through Sarah.
Why was Jacob over Esau? Jacob was the prophesied son through Rebekah.
Why was Joseph over Reuben? Joseph was the favored (chosen) son of Jacob because of his love for Rachel.
Why was Ephraim over Manasseh? Ephraim was the adopted son elevated to the level of being a son of Israel.
Why was Levi chosen over the physical, natural firstborns that follow? Because Levi was the priesthood who drew near to the Lord.
The blessing of the firstborn is not about being the firstborn physically. It is about God’s promises, prophecies, choices, adoption, and those who draw near to Him.
To this day, there remains a dispute over who gets the blessing of the firstborn. Islam teaches that they descend from Abraham and that the Jews have stolen their blessing. The Palestinian conflict is rooted in the controversy between Esau and Jacob. Like Esau, the Palestinians (the inhabitants of the land) would prefer to destroy Israel than live with them. But the promised land, descending from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is called Israel. And it is the descendants of these fathers that are the remnant of promise.
And the story doesn’t stop there. The firstborn of Israel are not just the physical descendants; they follow the pattern of those who received the blessing of the firstborn. They are the children of promise. They are prophesied. They are chosen. They are adopted. They are the ones who draw near to the Lord.
Understanding this hidden wisdom about the firstborn is not easy, even for Messianic believers. Some of my Messianic Jewish brethren assert they are physical descendants over the spiritual testimony of being “born again” into the family of God by the Messiah. Further, Christians play into this definition by referring to themselves as the spiritual descendants while Jews are the physical ones. This thinking divides the world into Jews and Gentiles. But the spiritual definition of the firstborn and who gets the blessing is dramatically different.
We have reviewed the path of the fathers and who received the blessing of the firstborn. But let us look at the most profound story of the firstborn in Scripture. Let’s review the story of the Passover. The children of Israel were being oppressed by Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God had made a promise to bring Abraham’s descendants back from Egypt, to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God sent Moses to Pharaoh and his brethren and with great judgments God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. The final judgment was the death of the firstborn in Egypt.
Why that judgment? Why did God use the death of the firstborn to bring forth Israel out of Egypt? The answer was given by God even before Moses went to Pharaoh.
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, let My son go, that he may serve Me; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.” Exodus 4:22-23
The Passover was the night that God passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb on the doors, but those houses that did not have the covering of blood suffered judgment. The blood pattern over the door formed the Hebrew letter Het. The letter Het has a specific meaning to Hebrews; it makes the word Chai which means “life.” You may have heard the Jewish expression when toasting a glass at a joyous event – “L’ Chaim” which means “to life!” Even more so, Messianic believers see even more in the Passover because of Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection. We see the Messiah as the Passover Lamb, whose blood covers us, who passes us from death to life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24
But let’s ask a very basic question about this story of Passover since it is a story of salvation and deliverance. Who was saved at the Passover? Who was delivered? Was it all of Israel? No. It was only the firstborn of Israel that were saved by the blood of the Lamb. Many erroneously think that all of Israel was saved that night. Not so. It was the firstborn.
You could make an argument that all Israel was saved at the crossing of the Red Sea and you would be right. However, because of the Passover, not the Red Sea, the Torah gives some very profound instruction about the firstborn for all of Israel.
Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me. Exodus 13:2
This passage addresses the results of someone being saved. In the ancient tradition, a person saved by a deliverer owed his life to the deliverer. Since he would have died without deliverance, he now owes his “life” for being delivered. It was customary for the “saved” person to become the servant of the deliverer. God saved the firstborn of Israel and thus required them to belong to Him. God’s instructions go further.
Now it shall come about when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall devote to the Lord the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the Lord. But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, “What is this?” then you shall say to him, “With a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. And it came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the Lord the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem. So it shall serve as a sign on your hand, and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:11-16
By this statement in Scripture, the ancient tradition became the commandment of the Lord for all God’s people. The firstborn belong to God because He redeemed them. This is God’s definition of “redemption.” To redeem means to purchase out of slavery. Let us go further. You are about to discover the price tag for redemption.
The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. And you shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. Exodus 34:19-20
So what is the price of redemption or a firstborn son? What is it that is to be in your hand to redeem him? The answer for this comes from when God numbered all the firstborn of Israel and numbered the Levites. Initially, He substituted the Levites for the firstborn of Israel and made the Levites to be the Lord’s portion (the redeemed value). But a specific value was determined for all Israelites who would follow.
Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord. Numbers 3:12-13
And you shall take the Levites for Me, I am the Lord, instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the sons of Israel. Numbers 3:41
Consider this for a moment. God has consistently chosen to follow the path of natural things, yet His choice is sovereign and not determined by natural things. It wasn’t Ishmael, Esau, or Reuben. It wasn’t Manasseh, nor the physical firstborn of Israel. It turns out to be Levites who are called to be the firstborn of God. They will be commissioned to come near to the Lord (His altar) on behalf of all Israel.
When God selected the Levites as his firstborn, He instructed Moses to count all of the firstborn of Israel and the number of Levites. This is the meaning behind the book of “Numbers.” A comparison match was made and there were 273 firstborn of Israel more than the number of Levites.
And for the ransom of the 273 of the firstborn of the sons of Israel who are in excess beyond the Levites, Numbers 3:46
Apparently, a ransom price was paid for the 273 beyond the number of Levites. That value was recorded as 1,365 shekels.
From the firstborn of the sons of Israel he took the money in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, 1,365. Numbers 3:50
It is simple to do the math. 1,365 divided by 273 equals 5. The ransom price for a firstborn is 5 shekels. These are referred to as the “coins of redemption.” This is the price of redemption for a firstborn.
But you might ask, where did God get this price from? Did He just pick the number out of the air? No, of course not. It is the value of Joseph when he was sold to the Egyptians by his brethren. Referring back to Genesis, it is recorded:
Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt. Genesis 37:28 NASB
This is one place where the NASB doesn’t quite get it right, although it meant well. In the original Hebrew, it simply says it was 20 pieces of silver which is equivalent to 5 shekels, not 20 shekels. The sages of Israel have concluded that the price paid for Joseph was 5 shekels. This is where the price of redemption for the firstborn was determined. Apparently, this was fresh on the Israelites’ minds as they were carrying the bones of Joseph out of Egypt when the numbering was done. Therefore, when Moses specified that price, the testimony of Joseph and his valuation by his brethren was well understood. The price was (20 pieces) 5 shekels.
Jumping forward a bit, you might be wondering how the price of Yeshua (30 shekels) plays into this Biblical theme. First, the 5 shekels was paid for Yeshua as child. When Mary and Joseph went to the temple with Yeshua the first time, Mary was there to complete her purification requirements for the birth of a son according to the Law and to observe the custom of the Law for the coins of redemption.
And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, [Simeon blessed the child according to the custom] Luke 2:22-27
Apparently, the custom of the “coins of redemption” worked this way. The 5 shekels were to be paid to a righteous man. The righteous man would accept the price (the 5 shekels) and pronounce the redemption of the child. It did not necessarily have to be to the temple treasuries or to the priests. Simeon was a righteous man and he received the coins of redemption (5 shekels) for Yeshua as a firstborn of Israel. This is what Mary and Joseph were doing in the temple that day.
Simeon’s pronouncement of redemption for Yeshua was shocking. He proclaimed that his eyes had now seen “the redemption of Israel!”
But let’s consider the price of Yeshua (30 shekels) paid to Judas when He did the work of redemption for us. That is to say, the value was not for Him (Yeshua) but for all of us to be redeemed. So, the math works this way: 5 shekels (the price of redemption for a firstborn) times 6 (the number for man, mankind) equals 30 shekels. Thirty shekels is the both the value of a sacrifice and symbolizes the “coins of redemption” for all the firstborn from the Messiah.
A child is too small to know of the coins of redemption or how they are paid. It is like the commandment of circumcision; it is a commandment observed on behalf of the child by a parent. Part of the blessing for the firstborn is that the Lord has already paid the coins of redemption for us (we have been ransomed and we didn’t know it). Yeshua really is the “firstborn among many (firstborn) brethren.”
There is another aspect to be the firstborn that relates directly to the Messiah being the firstborn of many. It is explained to us in Scripture as “first fruits.” This, too, is an integral part of the Passover observance and is part of the blessing of the firstborn. The firstborn are the first fruits of the womb.
He also struck down all the firstborn in their land, the first fruits of all their vigor. Psalm 105:36
Passover time is really a threefold observance together. The first is Passover itself, the watchnight and remembrance meal. Then there are the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But in the midst of the seven days, the first day after the weekly Sabbath, is the Feast of First Fruits. It is from the Feast of First Fruits that the counting of the Omer and the Feast of Weeks is determined. This is part of the commemoration and remembrance of how the firstborn were saved at the Passover. Here is God’s instruction for the Feast of First Fruits.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, “When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord. Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the Lord for a soothing aroma, with its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine. Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.” Leviticus 23:9-14
The ripe barley sheaves that had been harvested were to be waved before the Lord. Passover is observed in the Spring (Aviv) between the barley and wheat harvests. The first fruits of the barley harvest are waved at First Fruits. The first fruits of the wheat harvest are waved before the Lord at the Feast of Weeks (seven Sabbaths – 50 days after the barley sheaves are waved). God even instructs that the new harvest is not to be eaten until the first fruits are brought before Him.
With this precedent pattern in place, there are other similar instructions for all kinds of first fruits. They bear significance in understanding the firstborn.
You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine, and your oil, and the first shearing of your sheep. Deuteronomy 18:4
In effect, the tithe is the first fruits (a tenth) of the increase. When a person tithes, he is presenting his first fruits. Therefore, the last portion of your increase does not qualify as a tithe or first fruits to the Lord. Why does God demand the first fruits? Because the firstborn belong to Him!
And the first of all the first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house. Ezekiel 44:30
This is the same instruction given by Moses for the first fruits to be given to the Levites. Remember the Levites became the firstborn of Israel.
Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, “Now behold, I Myself have given you charge of My offerings, even all the holy gifts of the sons of Israel, I have given them to you as a portion, and to your sons as a perpetual allotment. This shall be yours from the most holy gifts, reserved from the fire; every offering of theirs, even every grain offering and every sin offering and every guilt offering, which they shall render to Me, shall be most holy for you and for your sons. As the most holy gifts you shall eat it; every male shall eat it. It shall be holy to you. This also is yours, the offering of their gift, even all the wave offerings of the sons of Israel; I have given them to you and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. Everyone of your household who is clean may eat it. All the best of the fresh oil and all the best of the fresh wine and of the grain, the first fruits of those which they give to the Lord, I give them to you. The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, shall be yours; every one of your household who is clean may eat it.” Numbers 18:8-13
The Messiah is the person who ties together the concept of the firstborn and the first fruits for us. The truth is that all of these commandments were simply to instruct us in the Messiah, and how the Messiah would accomplish this. This is why Paul instructs us many times about the Messiah.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; Romans 8:29
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. Colossians 1:18
And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15
God’s sovereign choice of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, and ultimately the Levites is a demonstration of a much larger theme in God’s plan. This is where we get the terms the “children of promise” and the “Chosen People.” Each of us hold to the promises of God given to our fathers, and we discover that we are here by God’s gracious choice.
But wait a minute. God must follow the rules too. What gives God the right to substitute another person in His family before the natural physical firstborn? How can He arbitrarily put one before another? Paul addresses this momentarily in both Romans and Galatians.
Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” Romans 9:13-17
For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. Galatians 3:18
God’s merciful choice actually has a legal term you may be more familiar with – Adoption. God adopts (elects) us into His family and kingdom – He chooses us! This adoption is how we are made part of His family and given the position and inheritance of the firstborn despite the natural born. Adoption is the merciful choice of a parent! And they show mercy on whom they have compassion.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
According to laws of adoption, an adopted son receives the inheritance of a firstborn, a double portion, and unlike the natural born, can never be disinherited. He is there by choice of the father, not by natural birth. The Levites, as the adopted firstborn, did not receive a portion like the other tribes. Their portion was the Lord’s portion. The same is said of us as the firstborn of the Messiah. Our portion is not here; it is with the Lord.
As a Jewish believer of Yeshua the Messiah, I do not assert my position as a firstborn natural Jew. I assert God’s choice of me (my adoption) into His family. Consider this the next time you take your seat at Passover. Remember the commandment to see yourself, to consider yourself there in Egypt being passed over. I remember struggling with this commandment. I asked myself, “How can I go back to Egypt and pretend I am there in the room with the blood on the door with my father or with my son?” I have learned it is really about seeing yourself as the firstborn at the Passover. It is what God did for me at the Passover.
- The firstborn are covered by the blood of the Lamb.
- The firstborn are passed over from death to life.
- The firstborn are the redeemed.
- The firstborn belong to the Lord; they owe their lives to God.
- The firstborn are the first fruits of the kingdom, the best part.
- The firstborn are the “chosen people;” they are adopted by God.
- The firstborn are those who draw near to the Lord.
And when our children ask us why this night is different from all other nights, tell them that we are the firstborn of God, by His merciful choice. Tell them how the blood of the Lamb covers us. Tell them how we are passed over from death to life. Tell them how we are the first fruits, the best part. Tell them how they too are the firstborn of the Lord. And teach them how to “draw near” to the Lord to serve Him. And remind them that their inheritance is not here among mortal men; it will be brought to all of us when the Master returns. Tell them that this is the “blessing of the firstborn.”
I had almost completed this week’s News Letter when my friend Donald McGrew began to write me on FaceBook wanting to talk about Passover being on the 13th instead of the 14th. I was busy packing books and DVDs for overseas and for the prisons that had requested them and answering other emails at the same time. So I was in truth not paying much attention to the discussion Donald was trying to have with me. It is a big subject and one that I have devoted many newsletters to and really did not want to have at this time.
Now Donald had come to my first teaching in Eastern Kentucky when I was there in I think 2010. He later came to our teaching a year or so later in Missouri. And he also attended our Sukkot in 2013 where we made the videos of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years teachings, which was the first time I was able to explain in detail the whole matter over the course of 8 days.
This Donald with his granddaughter in Jericho on tour with me in 2016 for Sukkot.
In 2013 after each of my presentations all the people would rush out and head back to the campsite. I had felt they were eager to leave these long teachings and go and have fun. There were over 100 people there and few stuck around to ask questions. So at night when I would walk around the camp, I would see Donald and about 6-10 others sitting around the campfire all studying their bibles. When they saw me they would shout out a question and wait for me to answer then go back to studying.
When I joined them to ask what they were doing they all said they had to prove the astounding things I had taught them that day whether it was true or not. They had never heard such things before. And they were proving what I said was indeed true and they were dumbfounded they had never seen it before. And as I walked around the camp to other groups most of them were doing the same or discussing the day’s lessons. It was pretty awesome for me to see this. But it was Donald and his group that I have never forgotten and one other lady sitting under the Succah alone going over everything as well. Those are some my sweetest memories of that Sukkot. Until I saw Donald’s group studying, I was under the impression no one was interested in what I had to say.
What I am telling you is, that Donald is a true Berrean.
Back to our facebook conversation. After a bit, Donald wrote me something in the conversation he was mostly having and the same one I was not paying much attention to. And it was like Yehovah had hit me across the side of the head with a 2 x 4 and said wake up and look at this. Donald had switched his position about the time of the Passover meal and was now agreeing with me that it was at the end of the 14th, the start of the 15th. But how he arrived at that was stunning. It was the very thing I was writing about in this News Letter and was about to wrap up.
Now thanks to Donald I have to rewrite this week’s News Letter and share these juicy truths with you all.
In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as a Redeemer. This refers to the salvation he is believed to have accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or “buying back”. Although the Gospels do not use the title “Redeemer”, the word “redemption” is used in several of Paul’s letters. Leon Morris says that “Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ.” The English word redemption means “repurchase” or “buy back”, and in the Old Testament referred to the ransom of slaves (Exodus 21:8). In the New Testament, the redemption word group is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.
When I searched the word Redeem I found the following;
40 verses found, 56 matches
|Exodus||4 verses found||8 matches|
|Leviticus||12 verses found||17 matches|
|Numbers||3 verses found||4 matches|
|Ruth||2 verses found||8 matches|
|2 Samuel||1 verse found||1 match|
|1 Chronicles||1 verse found||1 match|
|Nehemiah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Job||2 verses found||2 matches|
|Psalms||8 verses found||8 matches|
|Isaiah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Jeremiah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Hosea||1 verse found||1 match|
|Micah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Galatians||1 verse found||1 match|
|Titus||1 verse found||1 match|
The word Redeemer
18 verses found, 18 matches
|Job||1 verse found||1 match|
|Psalms||2 verses found||2 matches|
|Proverbs||1 verse found||1 match|
|Isaiah||13 verses found||13 matches|
|Jeremiah||1 verse found||1 match|
The word Redeemed
61 verses found, 62 matches
|Genesis||1 verse found||1 match|
|Exodus||2 verses found||2 matches|
|Leviticus||10 verses found||10 matches|
|Numbers||5 verses found||5 matches|
|Deuteronomy||6 verses found||6 matches|
|2 Samuel||1 verse found||1 match|
|1 Kings||1 verse found||1 match|
|1 Chronicles||1 verse found||1 match|
|Nehemiah||2 verses found||2 matches|
|Psalms||7 verses found||8 matches|
|Isaiah||13 verses found||13 matches|
|Jeremiah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Lamentations||1 verse found||1 match|
|Hosea||1 verse found||1 match|
|Micah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Zechariah||1 verse found||1 match|
|Luke||2 verses found||2 matches|
|Galatians||1 verse found||1 match|
|1 Peter||1 verse found||1 match|
|Revelation||3 verses found||3 matches|
I can only see 9 times the word redeem or one related to it is used in the New Testament. All the rest are found in the Old Testament.
According to Talmudic tradition, the first-born acted as officiating priests in the wilderness, until the erection of the Tabernacle, when the office was given to the tribe of Levi (Num. iii. 12, 13, 45-51; Zeb. 112b; compare Onelos to Ex. xxiv. 5). In consequence of the deliverance from the tenth plague, when “the Lord slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt” but spared the first-born of the Israelites, the following commandment was given: “Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine” (Ex. xiii. 2), which is explained in greater detail in verses 12-15. The first-born of clean beasts were thus made holy and were unredeemable, while the first-born of unclean beasts and of man had to be redeemed from the priests (Num. xviii. 15-18; Deut. xv. 19-22; compare Neh. x. 37).
The concept of the redeemer is used in the Book of Ruth to refer to the kinsman-redeemer, and in the Book of Isaiah to refer to God, the “Redeemer of Israel”.
In Job 19:25, Job makes the statement, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
This passage mentions an unnamed man who was the guardian-redeemer for Naomi and Ruth. Other Bible translations call him a family guardian or kinsman-redeemer. This description comes from the Hebrew word go’el, meaning “redeemer.” A go’el was a male relative who was responsible for caring for a deceased relative’s possessions, including land, houses, livestock, and even the widow. If the deceased had debts, the go’el would pay them. If the deceased was childless, the go’el would marry the widow and produce offspring who would carry on the name and family lineage of the deceased man. When they came of age, those children would inherit the deceased man’s property. The possessions and people who were cared for by a go’el were said to be “redeemed.” The go’el’s responsibility, then, was supremely sacrificial: He invested much in supporting his deceased relative’s estate and family but received little to nothing in return. Israel’s social system and survival as a people depended on men who performed their duty as a go’el. So important was this role that Isaiah 43:14 describes God as Israel’s go’el or redeemer, a concept that carries over to the New Testament understanding of Jesus’ life and ministry.
1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. 2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. 3 Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said. 5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.” 6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.) 8 So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. 9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!” 11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah. Boaz was a well-to-do farmer who owned land and crops and had numerous employees. Why would he be interested in a poor Moabite widow such as Ruth, despite Jewish law forbidding intermarriage with Moabites? It so happens that Boaz was a fifth generation descendant of Perez, who was the son of a Canaanite widow named Tamar. Tamar’s first two husbands died. They were both sons of Judah, one of the great-grandsons of Abraham himself, the father of the Jewish people. Judah promised to give her his third son, but he neglected to fulfill that promise. So Tamar used some loopholes in the law, plus a little trickery, to get Judah to father twin sons, one of whom was named Perez. (Genesis 38 has the full details.) Thus, Tamar provided for her future security and family line. Perhaps this was why Boaz was sensitive to the plight of disadvantaged foreign widows such as Ruth. And he was brave enough to ignore social stigma to follow through on his promises to care for her.
The Hebrew word for redeem is used 22 times in Ruth and 104 times throughout the Old Testament. It means to restore, repair, or avenge. God is the ultimate redeemer (Isaiah 49:26).
In the Old Testament, God redeemed people from slavery (Exodus 6:6), disobedience (Isaiah 44:22), harm (Genesis 48:16), enemies (Psalm 107:2), captivity (Isaiah 43:14), and death (Hosea 13:14). In the New Testament, God sent Jesus to provide redemption for all people: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
The Pidyon Ha’bon
Why did Yehovah have to pay a redemption price and to whom?
To redeem the firstborn is called The Pidyon Ha’bon.
The source for an Israelite’s obligation to redeem his firstborn son through giving the kohen (priest) specifically five shekels is the Book of Numbers (18:15-16): “You shall redeem the firstborn of man . . .the redemption [shall be performed] from the age of a month, according to the valuation, five shekels of silver.”
Several explanations are given for the specific amount of silver shekels used for the pidyon haben. The following is from the Talmud:
Joseph – Rachel’s firstborn son – was sold by his brothers for twenty silver pieces, the equivalent of five shekels. This established that the standard “price” for a (firstborn) human is five shekels, which are given to the kohen, God’s representative, to redeem the child.
Genesis 37:26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
A pidyon haben, or “redemption of the [firstborn] son,” is a ceremony wherein the father of a firstborn male redeems his son by giving five silver coins to a kohen(a priestly descendant of Aaron), thirty days after the baby’s birth.
What is the reason for this procedure?
Exodus 13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”
:13And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break its neck: and all the first-born of man among thy sons shalt thou redeem.
And it shall be, when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand Jehovah brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that Jehovah slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man, and the first-born of beast: therefore I sacrifice to Jehovah all that openeth the womb, being males; but all the first-born of my sons I redeem. And it shall be for a sign upon thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand Jehovah brought us forth out of Egypt.
The first place we see the word redeem is in Exodus 6:6
Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am Jehovah, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments: and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
Originally, the Israelite firstborn were the sanctified priestly class. They were inducted into God’s service when they were spared from the Plague of the Firstborn that struck Egypt. However, when Israel—firstborn included—served the Golden Calf, the firstborn forfeited their status. The priesthood was transferred to the tribe that did not participate in the Golden Calf hoopla—the Levites, and particularly the children of Aaron.
Now we have 20 pieces of silver being the price for Joseph being redeemed from the cistern. That amount equalling 5 shekels as we were just said. Joseph represents the northern 10 tribes. It is upon his children that the name of Israel is given. Let my name Israel be carried on in them.
Gen 48:15 “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
We have another interesting story that we can also connect to this and to the redemption of Israel. That is the story of Hosea. Hosea represents Yehovah seeking His wayward bride who has gone a whoring after other men. Hosea, represents Yehovah, who is redeeming Israel.
Hosea Brings His Wife Back to Himself
3 The Lord said to me, “Go. Show your love to your wife again. She is loved by another man. And she has committed adultery. But I want you to love her just as I love the people of Israel. They turn to other gods. And they love to offer raisin cakes to Baal and eat them. In spite of that, I love my people.”
2 So I bought Gomer for six ounces of silver and 430 pounds of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You must wait for me for a long time. You must not be a prostitute. You must not have sex with any man. And I will be faithful to you too.”
4 So the people of Israel will live for a long time without a king or prince. They won’t have sacrifices or sacred stones. They won’t have sacred linen aprons or statues of family gods. 5 After that, the people of Israel will return to the Lord their God. They will look to him and to a king from the family line of David. In the last days, they will tremble with fear as they come to the Lord. And they will receive his full blessing.
Now 6 ounces is equal to 170.1 Grams of Silver. And 1 shekel is equal to 100 grams. So gomer is being bought or redeemed for about 10 shekels of silver. And Gomer represents Israel (Ephraim and Manasseh) who have gone a whoring after other gods.
The question we are addressing this week is Why did Yehovah have to pay a redemption price? And to whom did He pay it?
We are told in Exodus 4:22-23
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”
In The Prophecies of Abraham,we have shown you many times how Egypt represents the end time whore.
When Abraham and Sarah go down to Egypt Pharaoh takes Sarah for his wife. This is similar to Egypt taking the children of Israel for slaves and in the end time how the Great end time Whore will take the remnant of Israel for captives. You are this very day witnessing the same events of the children of Israel living in Egypt and the tables being turned to make them slaves. Today the UN and the EU whores are fighting everything the US is doing under Trump. And now Trump is cutting off funding to the UN and so is the State of Isreal and the UK is pulling out of the EU agreement. The BREXIT divorce. The USA has pulled out the Paris Agreement.
When you step back from the banter of the headline news you should be able to see that in each of these cases, the EU and the UN stand to lose billions of potential income that the USA and the UK were providing to these various causes.
The EU and the UN will soon turn their forces upon the USA and the UK and turn what is left of them after the wars, (The remnant) into slaves.
It is during this time that the two witnesses will act and cause all sorts of plagues to fall upon this great whore in the same way Moses and Aaron did in the Exodus story.
Now again I ask you ‘Why does Yehovah have to pay anything at all.” I can see Hosea paying for Gomer who is owned by her new lover.
Oops, I think I just learned something Gomer was owned by the one she had given herself to, the other lover. Gomer represents Israel, who has gone after all sorts of other lovers who do not love her. Hosea or Yehovah loves Israel, who is His first born. Meaning Yehovah will have others nations as HIs children at some point in time.
Paul has this to say in Romans 6:12:
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
When we give into sin then we submit ourselves to Satan. We submit ourselves to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The very same tree Adam and Eve submitted themselves too and the rest of mankind. Just imagine if you can, that each time you sin, all of your descendant that come from you from that point on will be enslaved by Satan for your sins.
And yet we have sinned and we have submitted ourselves to our new lord Satan.
In Matthew, we read how he has authority to give kingdoms to whomever he chooses.
Mat 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
We also read in the letters from both John and Paul how Yehshua Himself admits that there is one who rules this earth now and it is not Yehshua.
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
John 16: 7-11 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.
1 Corithians 10:18-22 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
1 John 5:19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
Rev 9:11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon..
Rev 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
Now getting back to the Exodus story we need to understand that Yehovah did not destroy the firstborn of Egypt. But Yehovah protected Israel from the destroyer who was at this time killing all the firstborn in Egypt.
Exodus 12:23 says that when God passed over the doors of the houses which had been marked with the blood of the Passover lamb, He would not allow the destroyer to enter into the house to kill the firstborn of that house.
So it was not Yehovah who struck down the firstborn sons of Egypt, but a being referred to as “the destroyer.”
Yehovah’s primary activity in the tenth plague was not in killing the firstborn sons of Egypt, but in protecting people from the destroyer that had come to kill all things.
Yehovah paid a price to this destroyer and that price was Egypt.
Isa 43:3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
We now need to take another look at what took place on the night Yehshua was betrayed and relook at the events of this night. I have not seen this until Donald tipped me off whether or not he realized it.
Nisan13 was Tuesday. Do not forget the day begins with sunset. Tuesday is the day before the preparation day for Passover. At the end of this the 13th of Nisan, and the start of the 14th, which is the start of the preparation day, that the disciples had the special meal that we call The Last Supper.
There was a tradition which in Hebrew is called, seudah maphsehket; this translates essentially to “last supper”. This last supper was about remembering that it was indeed not ALL Hebrews who were in danger from death at God’s hand in Egypt, but ONLY the firstborn sons. So a special nighttime meal was adopted whereby this meal would be eaten and then there would be a 24 hour fast that followed……thus the name “last supper”. The next meal to be eaten was the Passover meal after the 14th had passed and the start of the 15th of Nisan was just beginning.
It is at the start of the 14th day of Nisan at this seudah maphsehket that Yeshua says to commemorate this day by drinking wine that symbolizes His blood that establishes the New Covenant, and by eating unleavened bread that symbolizes His body.
After having the last supper, the next event is that Judas betrays Him and shortly after midnight Yehshua is arrested. It is still The Preparation day. In the wee hours a little before sunrise, He is tried and convicted of blasphemy by the Sanhedrin. It is still Preparation Day. After the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, confirms his death sentence Yehshua is scourged and then nailed to the tree by Roman soldiers. It is still The Preparation Day, Wednesday, Nisan 14, 31 C.E.
When Yehshua dies at 3 pm in the afternoon on this Preparation Day, it is the exact same time the slaughter of the Passover Lambs begins in the Temple grounds. Somewhere around ¼ million sheep will be killed and their blood collected between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm. It is still the Preparation Day because the sun has not yet set and after sunset then the Passover meals are eaten with these lambs which have just been killed and roasted in the Temple area.
The Fast of the First Born
Let’s understand one thing very clearly: The final meal Yeshua had with his disciples was NOT THE PASSOVER! The Passover was very plainly not yet come. John, in describing this final meal Yeshua had with his disciples, said, “Now BEFORE the feast of the Passover” (John 13:1). He plainly shows this meal or banquet was BEFORE the true Passover, which was scheduled to be eaten and observed the next night, Nisan 15 (John 18:18). The next day the Jews would still be “preparing” for the Passover (John 19:14, 31). Therefore, what exactly WAS this “last meal”?
What few have realized, not being familiar with Jewish customs of the time of Yeshua, is that this meal could not have been the Passover, since Passover lambs would not be slain until the following afternoon, and then eaten in the homes of the Jews on the night of the actual “Passover” — when YEHOVAH God slew the firstborn in the land of Egypt and “passed over” the Israelites — Nisan 15. Yet obviously, this final meal was very important — a meal of close fellowship and spiritual significance.
A Jewish Look at the Last Supper
Says David H. Stern, in the Jewish New Testament Commentary:
“The Last Supper is considered by most scholars to have been a Passover meal or Seder. Many Pesach themes are deepened, reinforced and given new levels of meaning by events in the life of Yeshua the Messiah and by his words on this night. However, Joseph Shulam has suggested that it may not have been the Seder but a se’udat-mitzvah, the CELEBRATORY ‘BANQUET accompanying performance of a commandment’ such as a wedding or b’ rit-milah.
“Here is the background for his argument. When a rabbi and his students finish studying a tractate of the Talmud, they celebrate with a se’udat-mitzvah (also called a se’udat-siyum, ‘banquet of completion,’ i.e., graduation). The Fast of the Firstborn, expressing gratitude for the saving of Israel’s firstborn sons from the tenth plague, has been prescribed for the day before Pesach, Nisan 14, at least since Mishnaic times. When it is necessary to eat a se’udat-mitzvah, this takes precedence over a fast. With a modicum of foresight a rabbi can plan to complete a tractate on Nisan 14 and thus avoid having to fast; doing so is not construed as cheating, and in fact it has become the custom. “The tradition of the Fast of the Firstborn dates at least from Mishanic times. But, Shulam reasons, if it goes back a couple of centuries more to the time of Yeshua, and if the si’udat siyum custom applied in the first century to the completing of any course of study, then Yeshua might have arranged to have himself and his talmidim [students, disciples] finish reading a book of the Tanakh on Nisan 14. Or, since Yeshua knew he was going to die, he may have regarded it as appropriate to complete his disciples’ earthly ‘course of study’ with a BANQUET. This solution would also resolve the perceived conflict between Yochanan [John] and the Synoptic Gospels over the timing of the Last Supper” JNT, p. 77).
In other words, there is much more to this passage in I Corinthians 11, and its meaning, than we have supposed. Although there is no doubt that Yeshua the Messiah presented the new meanings of the bread and the wine as representing his broken body and shed blood, given on our behalf, at the last supper, and that these symbols are directly involved in the Passover Seder, held on Nisan 15, it is also a fact that this final meal was ONE DAY before the Passover. It is also a fact that Yeshua did not tell his disciples that they should institute a NEW COMMANDMENT, or a new “holy day,” and begin observing Nisan 14, at the eve, as a memorial of this “last supper.” However, he was having a “final banquet” with them — a special and unique “fellowship meal” with them, where all were relaxed, reclining, at ease, and experiencing a very close oneness with each other. This was similar to a Passover Seder in some respects — but yet different.
The Greek Word “Artos”
Interestingly, when Yeshua held this final dinner with his disciples, the word John used to describe it was diepnon, which means “supper, the principal meal, dinner.” It is used of the last supper Yeshua held with his disciples, and other main meals of the day (see Mark 6:21; Luke 14:12, 16, 17, 24; 22:20; John 12:2; 13:21, 4; I Cor. 11:20-21; Rev. 19:9, 17). This word is NEVER used of an annual Festival, or of the Passover. However, it simply refers to the MAIN MEAL of the day, usually at evening.
Furthermore, at this final dinner or banquet, there is no mention of a lamb being eaten — which would have been necessary if this were the Passover. The gospel accounts would hardly have neglected to mention such an important feature.
But even more interesting is the fact that Jewish custom of that time, and always, has dictated that UNLEAVENED BREAD was not to be eaten during the days before the FEAST of Unleavened Bread, so that the Feast would be set apart as distinct and real. For unleavened bread to have been eaten BEFORE the Festival would have diminished its importance during the Feast itself! Therefore, if Yeshua and his disciples had eaten “unleavened bread” on the night of Nisan 14, they would have violated Jewish custom and practice. It is very interesting, therefore, to notice that when Yeshua sat down at dinner, at that final meal with his disciples, “as they were eating, Yeshua took bread, and blessed it [many Greek copies have, “gave thanks”], and brake it, and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt. 26:26). The word for “bread” here is artos, and means, “bread (as raised), a loaf.” This same word is used in Matthew 4:3-4, “man does not live by bread alone,” in Matthew 6:11, “our daily bread,” and Matthew 16:12,”the leaven of bread,” etc. This word is often used of LEAVENED BREAD!
Generally, whenever UNLEAVENED bread is meant, this word is preceded by the Greek word for “unleavened,” which is azumos, meaning “unleavened, uncorrupted.” But in the three synoptic gospel accounts of the last supper of Yeshua and his disciples, Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, the writers always use ONLY THE WORD ARTOS, meaning BREAD — without the modifying word azumos to designate “unleavened.” Therefore, the clear indication is that AT THE LAST SUPPER YESHUA USED NORMAL LEAVENED BREAD, when he blessed and broke it, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body”!
Here is further proof that this dinner was not and could not have been the PASSOVER!
The Real Bread at the “Last Supper”
Further proof that Yeshua and his disciples did NOT and could not have eaten the “Passover,” with its unleavened bread, at the “last supper” on the eve or beginning of Nisan 14, is plain and simple Jewish law (halakha) of the time. It is a historical fact that when the Scriptures use the expression “kept the Passover” (Ezra 6:19) it refers strictly to the slaying of the Passover lamb, on the 14th of Nisan, whereas the expression “eat the Passover” was fulfilled the coming evening of Nisan 15 which was the beginning of the eating of unleavened bread on “the night to be much observed.” The reason why this evening was called “the night to be much observed” was because the Passover meal was always eaten as the first meal in the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Also, according to Jewish law of the times (halakha), it was absolutely forbidden to eat unleavened bread during the 24-hour period prior to the first night of Unleavened Bread! This was a distinction made by law to sanctify (set apart) the sacred meaning of the Feast from whatever they may have eaten for bread on the previous days. This means that Yeshua and the disciples could not have eaten unleavened bread the evening prior to the “night to be much observed”!
Also, the gospels indicate that Yeshua was keeping the Fast of the Firstborn during the daylight hours of the crucifixion day — this was a daytime fast observed by all firstborn Jews on the Preparation Day in remembrance of YEHOVAH God protecting the firstborn of Israel while killing the firstborn of Egypt; this also explains Yeshua’s remark in Matthew 26:29, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Obviously, Yeshua did not drink any wine the following day. Furthermore, this explains why he refused to accept the vinegar mixed with gall mentioned in Matthew 27:34. The Hebrew text of Matthew’s gospel written by the Spanish Jewish scholar Shem-Tov ben-Shaprut (c. 1380 A.D.) reads: “and gave him wine mixed with gall. But when he began to drink it he perceived and would not drink it.” Yeshua must have remembered he was observing the Fast of the Firstborn. The Greek word for “taste” used in this verse produced a false impression. Yeshua remembered before he drank and swallowed.
Clearly, then, the “bread” which Yeshua broke and gave to his disciples during the beginning portion of Nisan 14, in the evening, at his final “supper” with them, must have been and indeed was LEAVENED BREAD!
But can this be? Can leavened bread, as well as unleavened bread, represent the body of Yeshua the Messiah?
The answer is a resounding YES!
In Leviticus 23:17, regarding the feast of Pentecost, we read: “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be BAKEN WITH LEAVEN; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.” Leaven, in this case, certainly does not represent SIN, as nothing “contaminated” or “sinful” could ever be offered to YEHOVAH God. To offer “sins” to YEHOVAH would be sacrilegious — blasphemy — like offering swine’s flesh (Isa. 66:3, 17).
Notice, therefore, what the Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Commentary has to say on this passage in Leviticus 23:
“These loaves were made of “fine” or wheaten flour, the quantity contained in them being somewhat more than ten pounds weight. As the wave-sheaf gave the signal for the commencement, the two loaves solemnized the termination of the harvest season. They were the first-fruits of that season, being offered unto the Lord by the priest in name of the whole nation (see on Exo. 34:22). The loaves used at the Passover were UNLEAVENED, those presented at Pentecost were LEAVENED — a difference which is thus accounted for, — that the one was a memorial of the bread hastily prepared at their departure, while the other was a TRIBUTE OF GRATITUDE TO GOD for their daily food, which was leavened…” (vol. 1, p.498).
However, even “leavened bread” is a TYPE of the body of the Messiah, and represents “his flesh” which he gave for the sins of the world. To the Jews, unleavened or flat bread represented affliction and poverty, as when the Israelites came out of Egypt; but leavened loaves of bread, as were sacrificed at Pentecost to the Lord (Leviticus 23:17), typify ABUNDANCE, richness, wealth. The typology should be clear. The Messiah crucified was in affliction, flatness, abject, beaten, bruised, pierced, pummeled — the perfect type being unleavened bread. The Messiah as the richness of the abundance of life, life-giving bread, is pictured by the leaves of beautiful, sweet-smelling leavened bread! Don’t all of us enjoy a beautiful loaf of home-made leavened whole wheat bread straight out of the oven steaming? Therefore, the richness of leavened bread also symbolizes Yeshua the Messiah, the “bread of life.” Notice!
“The BREAD of Life”
In John chapter 6, when Yeshua fed the multitude from a few loaves of bread and a few fishes, he declared,
“For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world….I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believth on me shall never thirst….
“I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
“I am the LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven: if any man eat of THIS BREAD, he shall live forever: and the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world….
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
“This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever” (John 6:33-58).
Yeshua, then, is the “bread of life.” This is a reality. This is not just Passover. Throughout the year, every day, day in and day out, Yeshua the Messiah remains and IS the “bread of life” which came down from heaven! We should be eating of this “bread” DAILY as we study the Scriptures! Yeshua went on to declare:
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
Thus even regular bread is a type of the richness of the life-giving bread of Yeshua the Messiah! In this sense, the leaven represents fullness and abundance. True Christians, as members of the body of the Messiah, also are “one bread” IN the Messiah!
30 Pieces of Silver
Now with everything you have been shown thus far consider the following.
Zech 11:10-14 And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
In Mathew, we learn how Judas has agreed to betray Yehshua.
Mat 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Next, we read about the betrayal of Yehshua in John 13:21-30
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
We then read the rest of what Judus has done in Mat 27:3-10
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
I will share next what is commonly said about this transaction and then share my thoughts on it.
In Zechariah 11:12–13, 30 pieces of silver is the price Zechariah receives for his labour. He takes the coins and throws them “to the potter”. Klaas Schilder notes that Zechariah’s payment indicates an assessment of his worth, as well as his dismissal. In Exodus 21:32, 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave, so while Zechariah calls the amount a “handsome price” (Zechariah 11:13), this could be sarcasm. Barry Webb, however, regards it as a “considerable sum of money.”
Schilder suggests that these 30 pieces of silver then get “bandied back and forth by the Spirit of Prophecy.” When the chief priests decide to buy a field with the returned money, Matthew says that this fulfilled “what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet.” Namely, “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me” (Matthew 27:9–10). Although many scholars see Jeremiah’s name as included in error, Jeremiah’s purchase of a field in Jeremiah 32 may indicate that both prophets are in mind. Craig Blomberg argues that Matthew is using typology in his quotation, rather than “any kind of single or double fulfillment of actual predictive prophecy.” According to Blomberg, Matthew is telling his readers that, “like Jeremiah and Zechariah, Jesus attempts to lead his people with a prophetic and pastoral ministry, but instead he ends up suffering innocently at their hands.” William Hendriksen argues that Matthew is referring to Jeremiah 19.
Blomberg also suggests that Matthew may also be saying that “Jesus’ death is a ransom, the price paid to secure a slave’s freedom,” and that the use of the blood money to buy a burial ground for foreigners (Matthew 27:7) may hint at the idea that “Jesus’ death makes salvation possible for all the peoples of the world, including the Gentiles.”
The 1877 Handy Book for Bible Readers states that “Argurion, argenteus, denarius. This word occurs in two passages–(A) the account of the betrayal of our Lord for “thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. xxvi. 15; xxvii. 3, 5, 6, 9). These have usually been considered to be denarii, but on no sufficient ground. The parallel passage in Zechariah (xi. 12, 13), is translated “thirty [pieces] of silver”; but which should doubtless be read, “thirty shekels of silver”, whilst it is observable that “thirty shekels of silver” was the price of blood to be paid in the case of a servant accidentally killed (Exod. xxi. 32). The passage may therefore be explained as “thirty shekels of silver”, not surrent shekels, but tetradrachms of the Attic standard of the Greek cities of Syria and Phoencia. These tetradrachms were common at the time of our Lord, and of them the stater was a specimen.”
There is something very special about this Fast of the First Born and the money paid to redeem the firstborn. And then when we actually see it played out in real time at the crucifixion we should be able to draw understanding from it. But we do not because of so much confusion about the events and because we have not obeyed for over 2700 years. So we have lost much understanding.
Yehovah had to pay the ruler of this world, Satan the destroyer, for those whom Yehovah was redeeming the same as Hosea did for his adulterous wife whom he bought back.
The price of redeeming the firstborn was set at 5 shekels. The price for Gomer was equivalent to about 10 shekels. The 30 Silver coins …
The word used in Matthew 26:15 (???????, argyria) simply means “silver coins,” and scholars disagree on the type of coins that would have been used. Donald Wiseman suggests two possibilities. They could have been tetradrachms of Tyre, usually referred to as Tyrian shekels (14 grams of 94% silver), or staters from Antioch (15 grams of 75% silver), which bore the head of Augustus. Alternatively, they could have been Ptolemaic tetradrachms (13.5 ± 1 g of 25% silver).There are 31.1035 grams per troy ounce. At spot valuation of $17.06/oz (the closing price on Monday, December 12, 2016), 30 “pieces of silver” would be worth between $185 and $216 in present-day value (USD).
The Tyrian shekel weighed four Athenian drachmas, about 14 grams, more than earlier 11-gram Israeli shekels, but was regarded as the equivalent for religious duties at that time. Because Roman coinage was only 80% silver, the purer (94% or more) Tyrian shekels were required to pay the temple tax in Jerusalem. The money changers referenced in the New Testament Gospels (Matt. 21:12 and parallels) exchanged Tyrian shekels for common Roman currency.
I am trying to say that the redemption price is connected to the 30 pieces of Silver. Exactly how I will leave for you to ponder.
This day called the Fast of the firstborn is directly connected to the Fast of the Day of Atonement. As we showed you last week, the goat that represented Yehovah was killed on the Day of Atonement. This is the sacrifice that shows us we will be killing Yehovah. We were to kill the goat that represented Him, the same as we were to take the other goat, that looks just like the one that represents Yehovah, and cast it into the wilderness with all the guilt from our sins placed upon it. This Goat represented Satan the destroyer.
So because of these two Holy Days are connected in that the lamb that is killed also represents Yehovah at Atonement, so we are to fast at this time. It is the Fast of the Firstborn.
But although we have the symbolism here in the redemption of the firstborn, and we have it already stated that the 30 pieces of silver were to be used to buy the potters field as graves for the strangers. It has been stated that this field represents the rest of the gentile world.
Now let us go back once again to Genesis 15.
Gen 15:17-21 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
Yehovah made this blood covenant by Himself. He swore by His own life. There is no higher authority than He.
Then at Mount Sinai Yehovah again reaffirms this covenant with all of Israel whom He had just bought with the lives of the Egyptians from the destroyer. In Exodus starting in chapter 19 and going all the way to 34 is the covenant with all of Israel and we all agreed to obey it. Now, this too was a blood covenant which means that if either party breaks those things they have agreed to in it then they would pay with their lives.
Israel did break this agreement and is guilty of sin and thus must pay for this with their lives.
But Yehovah has shown us just how much He loved Israel and not just Israel, but all of mankind, by giving His own life as payment for us breaking the covenant of Mount Sinai.
He has redeemed us with His own blood. The redemption price of the firstborn as shown to us each time we keep the Pidyon Ha’bon and again each year we keep the last supper not as the Passover meal which is the next night but as this special night in which He paid for us on this day by His own blood.
We know this is what He did because of the fact that the dead who were held prisoners by Satan up until that time had not and had never come back to life from the grave until Yehshua came out of the grave at the end of the Sabbath.
This is the first time other than Lazarus, and a few others, that anyone has come out of the grave.
Mat 27:50-53 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
This was the first chag of Unleavened Bread. It is the first wave offering and it is the first time any of the Saints were brought back to life.
Paul tells us how Yehshua led the captives.
Eph 4:8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
1 Cor 15:20-26 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
This event that took place after the payment had been executed is the redemption of mankind from the grave. It took place on the wave sheaf day. It is what the wave sheaf represents. Those Saints who obeyed were brought back to life on wave sheaf day. All of those from the time of Adam until this day in 31 C.E. were brought back to life and then ascended to heaven at 9 AM that Sunday morning with Yehshua.
Those captives were those who were held by Satan in death. They are now free and ascended with Yehshua to heaven.
The next wave offering to take place happens at the end of the tribulation on Shavuot when the next wave offering of two loafs of bread are waved. This is the one that all those since 31 C.E. until that time who have died and even those who are alive will be brought back to life and or changed in the twinkling of an eye and rise to meet Him in the air.
1 Cor 15:50-57 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again death is captivity and captivity means to be a captive of Satan. What is to be thrown into the lake of fire in the end?
Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev 20:4-6 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
I do hope I have been able to convey this new to me and some of you, understanding. I hope you can see the Great and mightiness of Yehovah in everything He is doing. Yehovah is our redeemer and Yehovah is the one who paid the redemption price with His own blood for us and for all mankind.
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
Isaiah 41:14 “Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the LORD, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Jeremiah 50:34 “Their Redeemer is strong, the LORD of hosts is His name; He will vigorously plead their case So that He may bring rest to the earth, But turmoil to the inhabitants of Babylon.
Amos 4:13 For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind And declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness And treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.
Isa 43:14-15 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I send to Babylon and bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”
Isa 44:6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
Isa 49:26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Look at this verse above again and note what it is saying to you. ‘I am Yehovah Yehshua and your Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob’.
Isa 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Isa 43:3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Let me show you this scripture in the Hebrew. And I want you to think on it some over this coming week.
Isa 43:3 For I am Yehovah, the Holy One of Israel, your Yehshua. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Jer 31:10-11 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
Jer 50:33-34 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them. All who took them captive have held them fast; they refuse to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon..
Dry canals, low rivers and shrunken lakes: Europe braces for severe drought amid winter heatwave
A winter heatwave, record low levels of rain and a startling lack of snow in Europe are pushing rivers, canals and lakes across the continent to alarmingly low levels, with experts warning there could be repeat of last year’s severe droughts.
Images of dried-up river beds and shrunken lakes are usually associated with the scorching heat of summer – not the winter. But an exceptionally warm and dry start to the year is affecting a swath of Europe, including central and southwest France, northern Spain and northern Italy.
There are concerns for what this might mean for water supplies.
Europe’s water situation has become “very precarious,” according to a study published in January by researchers at the Graz University of Technology in Austria, which used satellite data to analyze the world’s groundwater resources.
“A few years ago, I would never have imagined that water would be a problem here in Europe,” said Torsten Mayer-Gürr, one of the researchers. “We are actually getting problems with the water supply here – we have to think about this.”
Record-breaking dry spell in France
France, which is experiencing its driest stretch in more than 60 years, may soon bring in water restrictions.
The country “suffered a series of 32 consecutive days without any significant rainfall from January 21 to February 21,” Simon Mittelberger, a climatologist at Météo-France, told CNN – the longest stretch since records began in 1959.
It is having a damaging effect on the country’s rivers and lakes, Mittelberger said, as well as the country’s soils.
“Soils are much drier than usual,” he said. France’s current soil moisture levels would not normally be seen until mid-April.
Snowfall has also been low. “The situation in the Pyrenees is close to the lowest record of snow quantity for that time of year,” Mittelberger said. The Alps have seen 63% less snow than usual, according to CIMA Research Foundation.
A lack of snow in the winter can threaten water reserves in the spring and summer, as there is less snowmelt to sustain rivers.
Last summer, France suffered its worst drought on record but, Mittelberger warned, this year “the situation could be worse if we don’t have significant rainfall in the next couple of months.”
Christophe Béchu, the minister for ecological transition, called the winter drought “unprecedented,” and warned the country is in a state of alert.
Exposed lake beds and dried up canals
In Italy, some of country’s most famous bodies of water are drying up.
Water levels at Lake Garda are so low that it is now possible to walk to an island in the middle, along a strip of exposed lake bed. A few months ago, this walkway did not exist.
It is now also a lot harder to take a water taxi in Venice, as some of its canals have become too shallow to keep gondolas afloat, in part, because of a lack of rainfall.
The city which has long feared flooding is now grappling with the opposite problem.
Italy’s longest river, the Po, which winds through its northern agricultural heartland, has 61% less water than usual for this time of year.
Last summer, the Italian government declared a state of emergency for the area surrounding the Po, which experienced its worst drought in 70 years.
Giorgio Zampetti, general manager of Legambiente, an Italian environmental group, fears that the worst is yet to come: “2023 has just begun, but it is showing worrying signs in terms of extreme weather events [and] drought levels,” he said in a press statement.
Fears for water supplies
In Spain, which experienced its hottest year on record last year, there are concerns about water supplies.
“We cannot guarantee water supply for drinking water or for economic uses by relying exclusively on rain,” Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition recently said at a press conference.
The country has approved plans to invest around $24 billion in water management, including measures to improve sanitation and treatment and modernize irrigation.
Since 1980 the average available water has decreased by 12%, with projections that there may be a further decrease of up to 40% by 2050.
Dry weather in Spain is also threatening the country’s prized jamón ibérico bellota, as low rainfall and rising temperatures affect the acorns eaten by the pigs.
“The coming weeks will be crucial”
While Europe has previously been blighted by summer droughts, experts fear the exceptionally dry last two months may signal a new reality, caused in part by rising average global temperatures.
“These conditions were rare in the past, but climate change is altering precipitation regimes over Europe and making these extremes more recurrent and intense,” Andrea Toreti, a climatologist at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, told CNN.
“There is a growing concern due to the lack of precipitation in the last weeks and also considering the 2022 drought. The coming weeks will be crucial,” Torerti said.
While Toreti said attributing the winter drought to climate change would require a specific analysis that has not yet been conducted, he added such events “are an expected effect of climate change in terms of more frequent and intense extremes.”
It’s never been this warm in February. Here’s why that’s not a good thing
As parts of the West and Northern US face a winter storm with blizzard conditions and significant snowfall, much of the rest of the country is experiencing a summer-like heat that has never been felt before during the month of February.
More than 130 cities from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes could set new records for daily and monthly high temperatures this week. Highs will climb up to 80 degrees as far north as Ohio and West Virginia — certainly unusual, but becoming less so in the warming climate.
Here’s a stark example: Before this decade, Charleston, West Virginia, had only hit 80 degrees before March three times in more than 100 years of record-keeping. But this week’s incredible warmth will mean that four of the last six years will have logged temperatures of 80 degrees, which is its normal high on June 1, in February.
Record warmth in February — a time that’s supposed to still feel like winter — might not sound like such a bad thing, but its negative consequences spread across the plant world, sports, tourism and agriculture. And it is another clear sign that our planet is warming rapidly, experts say.
“Whenever we get these events, we should always be thinking there’s the possibility or likelihood that human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of strange weather,” Richard Seager, climate researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told CNN. “The more it goes on, the more they can bring such tremendous damage.”
Deadly thin ice
On the Great Lakes, ice coverage reached a record low for this time of the year — the same time that the annual maximum extent of ice usually occurs. As of last week, only 7% of the five freshwater lakes were covered in ice, a sharp difference from the 35 to 40% ice cover typically expected in mid-to-late February, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Great Lakes ice is on a downward trend, NOAA scientists report. A recent study found a 70% decline in the lakes’ ice cover between 1973 and 2017.
The decline in Great Lakes ice each winter may not seem like it has any harmful impact, but that ice acts as a buffer for large, wind-driven waves in the winter, scientists have reported. Without the ice, the coastlines are more susceptible to erosion and flooding.
Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome, a research scientist at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research at the University of Michigan, said low ice coverage could also set the stage for another severe lake-effect snow storm like the one Buffalo, New York, experienced in December.
“The moisture and heat from the lake surface water are absorbed into the atmosphere by storm systems, and then fall back to the ground as snow in the winter,” Fujisaki-Manome said in a statement.
The thin ice has already had deadly consequences in New England.
At Vermont’s Lake Champlain, the annual ice fishing tournament was cancelled last weekend when three fishermen died after falling through the ice. One man’s body was found hours after he was expected to return home from the lake, while the other two died after their utility vehicle broke through the ice.
Montpelier, Vermont, had its warmest January on record this year since 1948, with Burlington recording its fifth warmest January since 1884, according to the Burlington National Weather Service.
Robert Wilson, a professor of geography and environment at Syracuse University, said the Northeast as a whole is now a “fast-warming region,” with winter seasons warming faster than summers due to the climate crisis.
And he underscored how this trend is threatening some of New England’s most cherished winter activities.
“In coming decades, winter — as most people understand it — will get shorter and warmer, with less snow and more rain,” Wilson said. “This poses a serious threat to winter recreation: snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing.”
The risk to food crops
Plants are blooming way earlier than usual across much of the country, a clear sign that spring is either right around the corner — or it has already arrived, in some places.
“Spring is coming early in much of the Southern and Eastern US,” Brad Rippey, meteorologist with the US Department of Agriculture, told CNN. “Here in the mid-Atlantic, that means everything from budding trees to crocuses in bloom to spring peepers making lots of noise — and in February, no less.”
Many plants species — including daffodils, witch-hazel, forsythia and even cherry blossoms — are beginning to leaf out in the East. Theresa Crimmins, director of the USA National Phenology Network, said it’s the plants responding to very early warm temperatures.
“Plants, especially those of temperate systems, respond to a number of cues in order to wake up in the spring, including exposure to chill in the winter, exposure to warmth in the spring, and day length,” she told CNN.
If another cold snap occurs after an early warm spell, Crimmins said it could be disruptive and damaging for the plants’ cycle. As flower buds develop, many species lose their ability to tolerate cold temperatures, which means a freeze could kill blooms and leave fruit crops and other commodities vulnerable to spring freezes.
Rippey said warm winters followed by a spring freeze has become more common in recent years. In 2017, for instance, a severe spring freeze in March damaged several fruit crops — peaches, blueberries, apples and strawberries — in states including Georgia and South Carolina, which carried an economic toll of roughly $1.2 billion.
“As nice as it feels to have temperatures in the 70s and 80s this time of year, the fact that it’s not ‘normal’ can have a profound impact on the ecosystem,” Rippey said. “Even a typical spring freeze can damage commercial and back-yard fruit crops that have been pushed into blooming by late-winter warmth.”
This isn’t just a US problem
India issued its first heatwave alert, with temperatures in some states reaching 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) – up to 9 degrees Celsius (16.2 Fahrenheit) above normal, according to data released by the India Meteorological Department on Monday.
“The heatwave warnings as early as February is a scary situation,” Krishna AchutaRao, a professor at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, told CNN.
It has raised fears of a repeat of last year’s deadly heatwave, which scorched swaths of India and Pakistan.
Blistering heat has devastating consequences for people’s health, for water supplies and for crops; last year, crop yields were reduced by as much as a third in some parts of the country. As temperatures soared last spring, India banned exports of wheat, dashing hopes that the world’s second-largest wheat producer would fill the supply gap caused by the war in Ukraine.
This February, with high temperatures hitting wheat-producing states, including Rajasthan and Gujarat, India has set up a committee to monitor the impact of rising temperatures on the crop, according to Reuters.
Europe, too, has seen unusually high temperatures, kicking off 2023 with an extreme winter heatwave that broke January temperature records in several countries. Low levels of snow and rainfall have fueled concerns about the region’s rivers and lakes.
The River Po, which winds through northern Italy’s agricultural heartland, fed by snow from the Alps and rainfall in the spring, is at very low levels, while water in Lake Garda in northern Italy has reached record lows. There are fears Italy, which declared a state of emergency last year after its worst drought in 70 years, may face another drought.
The unusually warm weather has also left ski resorts across the Alps with little or no snow. In February, top skiers wrote an open letter to the International Ski and Snowboard Federation demanding action on the climate crisis.
“The seasons have shifted,” they wrote. “Our sport is threatened existentially.”
While ski resorts have adapted to warming by relying on artificial snow – a process that uses a lot of water and energy – Wilson noted that resorts would still need cold nighttime temperatures to make it.
“The long-term survival of skiing and other winter recreation will depend on nations lowering their carbon emissions to avoid the more dire consequences and severe warming in the future,” he said.