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News Letter 5850-026

24th day of the 6th month 5850 years after the creation of Adam

The 6th Month in the Fifth year of the Third Sabbatical Cycle

The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle

The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes, Famines and Pestilence

September 20, 2014

Shabbat Shalom Family,
We are just one week away from Yom Teruah, the Feast of Shouting, the Feast of Trumpets. This is the Feast that the Jews do not know the meaning of.

On the 1st day of the Seventh month (Tishrei) the Torah commands us to observe the holy day of Yom Teruah which means “Day of Shouting” (Lev 23:23-25; Nu 29:1-6). Yom Teruah is a day of rest on which work is forbidden. One of the unique things about Yom Teruah is that the Torah does not say what the purpose of this holy day is. The Torah gives at least one reason for all the other holy days and two reasons for some. The Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread) commemorates the Exodus from Egypt but it is also a celebration of the beginning of the barley harvest (Exodus 23:15; Lev 23:4–14). The Feast of Shavuot (Weeks) is a celebration of the wheat harvest (Ex 23:16; 34:22). Yom Ha-Kippurim is a national day of atonement as described in great detail in Leviticus 16. Finally the Feast of Sukkot (Booths) commemorates the wandering of the Israelites in the desert but it is also a celebration of the ingathering of agricultural produce (Ex 23:16). In contrast to all these Torah festivals, Yom Teruah has no clear purpose other than that we are commanded to rest on this day.

The name of Yom Teruah may provide a clue as to its purpose. Teruah literally means to make a loud noise. This word can describe the noise made by a trumpet but it also describes the noise made by a large gathering of people shouting in unison (Nu 10:5–6). For example:

“And it shall come to pass when the ram’s horn makes a long blast, when you hear the sound of the shofar, the entire nation will shout a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall in its place, and the people shall go up as one man against it.” (Joshua 6:5)

Many times I am asked if it is okay to celebrate a birthday. So many people want nothing to do with the day a person was born. They associate it with an evil or pagan thing. But is that correct?

Yom Teruah, the day of Shouting, is about the day the Messiah was born and it is the announcement that He has arrived. Stop and ask yourself if Yehovah would really send the Messiah on just any old day? The answer is no. As you just read, many of the Holy Days have one or more meaningful events take place on them.

Yom Teruah is the day the Messiah was born and it is also the day upon which He will come at the end of the 7th Millennium just before the 8th one begins. We have taught on this before. If you want proof as to how I know Yehshua was born on this day then you can read the article The Return of Yahshua & Conjunction or Sighted Which?

Each year we all shy away from the story of the Messianic birth because it is surrounded by the Christmas story on December 25. I noticed I have never taught on this story and it was mainly for that reason. Yom Teruah is the birth of Yehshua and this year I wanted to go over those verses that lead up to that very important time when the angels were blowing their shofars to announce it. The Day of Blowing. Hmmm.

At the same time this will answer the question about birthdays. Always ask yourself, what does Yehovah say about this?

Let us go through the entire story of the birth of the Messiah and understand. I will point out those things along the way that you should be made aware of.

Luk 1:1  Since many took in hand to draw up an account concerning the matters which have been borne out among us, 2  even as those who from the beginning delivered to us, becoming eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word, 3  it seemed good to me also, following all things accurately from the very first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4  so that you might know the certainty of those things in which you have been instructed. 5  In the days of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

The course of Abijah. Many use this to teach about the birth of the Messiah. Lets look at it briefly.

The Course of Abija

Posted on November 2, 2012

How many of you have heard of the course of Abija?  Did you know it is one of the only ways to date the birth of Jesus in the Bible?  95% of Americans will celebrate the birth of Christ this year, so I thought some might be interested in the Biblical case for the timing of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Most are familiar with story of the birth of Christ from Luke 2.  But it is Luke 1 that provides the means by which the timing of the birth of Jesus can be determined.  In Luke 1 we have the story of Zacharias, the priest, and his wife, Elisabeth.  Zacharias and Elisabeth were well on in years and without children.  As it is told in Luke 1, Zacharias was performing his duty in the temple when the angel appeared and told him they would have a son and to call his name John.  Needless to say Zacharias was somewhat incredulous, considering their age.  As proof of his message the angel told Zacharias he would be unable to speak until the day the message was fulfilled.

The passage goes on to say that Elisabeth conceived after Zacharias’ service ended.  Then 6 months later Mary, the mother of Jesus, conceived.  Zacharias performed his priestly service during the course of Abijah which fell during the latter part of the 4thmonth.  From this it is a simple matter to determine the general time of the birth of Jesus.  The chart below gives the priestly courses in relation to the conception of Elisabeth and Mary.

Luke 1:35-37  35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Course_Of-_Abijah1000

What most people never think of is Adar Bet.  Adar Bet is the 13 month in the Calendar. In other words a leap year.  Is it possible to have a leap year in these courses of the Priestly duties? Yes, it is. Was the year Yehshua born a leap year?  You cannot use the current Hebrew calendar for this calculation as it had not yet been instituted which only occurred in the 12th century C.E. We have no real way to be certain if a leap year had occurred or not. But let’s just look at the chart above. Yehshua was born at the end of the ninth month, not the beginning of it and not after 8 1/2 months on Sukkot. He was born after 9 complete months. When Adar Bet is added after the month of Adar then the birth of Yehshua comes at the end of the ninth month, on the first day of the 10th month of Mary’s pregnancy. This is the first of Tishri or Yom Teruah.

Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks after conception; in women who have a menstrual cycle length of four weeks, this is approximately 40 weeks from the start of the last normal menstrual period (LNMP)

If you count the weeks from the very week Mary should have gotten pregnant you will see that by the end of the month of Tishri would only be 36 weeks. Yet she gives birth after 38 weeks. Now let us add one Adar Bet or a leap month. But there is one more thing everyone is missing. Elizabeth was in her 6th month. It was still the 6th month not the start of the 7th, as the chart is showing you and most people then begin to count from.

You have 4 weeks in that 6th month to work from. Mary is told this news during the 6th month. After this news she departs in haste to go and see Elizabeth and by the time she gets there Mary is pregnant. All of this happens during the 6th month. So was it the first week or the 2nd week or third week? You are about to prove it for yourself.

Now, let us count the weeks from the beginning of the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.

Tevet the 10th month 4 weeks

Shivat the 11th month 8 weeks

Adar 1 the 12th month 12 weeks

Adar 2 the 13th Month 16 weeks

Nisan the 1st month 20 weeks

Iyar the 2nd month 24 weeks

Sivan the 3rd month 28 weeks

Tammuz the 4th month 32 weeks

Av the 5th month 36 weeks

Elul the 6th month 40 weeks

We can then assume that the 6th month was half over and that Mary conceived in the middle of the sixth month. 38 weeks later takes you to the end of the month of Elul and the birth of Yehshua on the 1st of Tishri, The Feast of Trumpets. Just as we quoted our source above said it would 38 weeks after conception.

Now we know for sure Yehshua was not born on December 25. And we also now know He was not born at Sukkot.

6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.7 And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren. And both were advanced in their days. 8 And it happened in his serving in the order of his course, before God, 9 according to the custom of the priests, it was his lot to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And all the multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of incense. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him as he was standing on the right of the altar of incense. 12 And seeing this, Zacharias was troubled, and fear fell on him. 13 But the angel said to him, Do not fear, Zacharias. For your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you shall have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall neither drink wine nor strong drink. And he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Look at what Yehshua said about John:

Mat 11:7And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the crowds concerning John, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?  8But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, they who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  9But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yea, I say to you, and one more excellent than a prophet.  10For this is the one of whom it is written, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You.”  11Truly I say to you, Among those who have been born of women there has not risen a greater one than John the Baptist. But the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.  12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence, and the violent take it by force.  13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  14And if you will receive it, this is Elijah who is to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke1:16 And he shall turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 18 And Zacharias said to the angel, By what shall I know this? For I am old, and my wife is advanced in her days. 19 And answering, the angel said to him, I am Gabriel, who stands before God. And I am sent to speak to you and to show you these glad tidings. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and not able to speak until the day that these things shall be performed, because you did not believe my words which shall be fulfilled in their time.

Compare the doubt of Zacharias to the words of Mary when the angel greeted her. A stark contrast and a warning for us.

21 And the people waited for Zacharias and marveled that he stayed so long in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them. And they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he was making signs to them, and remained speechless. 23 And as soon as the days of his service were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived and hid herself five months, saying, 25 So the Lord has dealt with me in the days in which He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Notice that Zacharias did not know Elizabeth until “after” he had completed his time at the temple. And then in the next verse it says “IN” the sixth month.

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

This name Nazareth is

G3478 ????????, ???????? Nazareth  Nazaret

nad-zar-eth’,nad-zar-et’

Of uncertain derivation; Nazareth or Nazaret, a place in Palestine: – Nazareth.

On our last tour of Israel with Avi ben Mordechai we stopped at the city of Gamala. I hope to have up the video teaching I recorded of this city. If so, you can see it here. But here is the evidence of Gamala. Yehshua was a netser or in other words, a BRANCH See the notes on Mathew 2:23 below. He was not from Nazareth.

Evidence Found at Gamala

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:”—Matthew 5:1

The numerous mentions of mountains and their proximity to the Sea of Galilee, in the gospels, should raise a red flag as Nazareth is more than twenty miles from the Sea and situated on a flat plateau and Capernaum is at sea level, but with no mountains. However, the Sea is actually visible from Gamala or Gamla, which is seven miles northeast of the east bank, and unlike Nazareth actually existed during the time of Christ and had its own Temple, This city, which was excavated during the 1970’s and 80s, was the home of Judas of Galilee, and would too closely tie the Jesus of Christianity with the Jewish rebels. It is also the main region inhabited by the original Nazorean sect.

“Herod, upon his return to Syria, finding himself unable to reach the robbers themselves, invaded Trachon and slew many of their relations there, in retaliation for which they still more harassed and pillaged his territory (“Antiquities” xvi. 91). In the end, Herod threw 2000 Idumzeans into Trachonitis (i6. 2), and placed a Babylonian Jew named Zamaris, a leader of mercenaries, in command of the surrounding districts. Zamaris built fortresses, and a village called Bathyra, and protected the Jews coming up from Babylon to attend the feasts in Jerusalem against the Trachonite robbers. The consequence was that, till the end of Herod’s reign, the country around Trachonitis enjoyed tranquillity”–Josephus, “Antiquities” xvii. 2 1-2.

Bathyra was the academy built on the deserted estate of John Hyrcanus. Herod promised five hundred Babylonians tax-free status forever if they built a military academy there to protect his border. On their own they established a religious academy with such teachers as Hillel (110 BCE-10CE) and his grandson Gamaliel I. From topographic descriptions of the camel humps used to identify both Bathyra and Gamala, one can conclude that they are synonymous.

The city of Gamala on the Golan derived its name from gamal (Hebrew for camel), since it was situated on a hill shaped like a camels hump. The Hasmonean ruler Alexander Yannaeus founded the city in the first century BCE and it continued to be inhabited by Jews, as attested to by Josephus Flavius (Antiquities of the Jews 13:394). Josephus, a Jew, was Commander of Galilee during the Jewish Revolt against Rome and in 66 CE fortified Gamala as his main stronghold on the Golan. He gives a very detailed topographical description of the city and describes the Roman siege under the command of Vespasian which led to its conquest in 67 CE. The Romans attempted to take the city by means of a siege ramp, but were turned back by the defenders; only on the second attempt did they succeed in penetrating the fortifications and conquering the city. Thousands of inhabitants were slaughtered, while others chose to jump to their deaths from the top of the cliff (Josephus, The Jewish War IV, 1-83). Gamala has not been rebuilt since.

The following is the history leading up to the birth of Yehshua. It was a very tough area to grow up in as Herod sought to kill off the line of people who descended from the Davidic line. I have edited the dates of this article to match those of the birth of Yehshua.

Gamla, the Home of the Jewish Resistance Movement

Where Prince Matthan ben Eliezar lived we have no direct evidence to date, but the genealogy and history suggests that his family may have lived in the hilltop fortress of Gamla.  Matthan’s first born son, Jacob, became the Patriarch of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.  He lived in Jerusalem as the first of the Abiudite Davidian Lineage Princes to achieve such predominance in Jewish governance since the days of the Persian Governor Nehemiah and his descendants, who also served as Persian Governors of Judea. They were all heirs of Governor Zerubabbel by his 1st Babylonian wife, Amytis.

Secular history does attest that the second oldest son of Matthan ben Eliezar, Hezekiah the Zealot lived in later years near the western shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) at the city of Sepphoris while his younger brother Judas of Gamala kept his identity with his native city of Gamla, on the eastern side of Galilean Sea.  The evidence suggests that Jacob, Hezekiah, and Judas grew up in the region of the city of Gamla.

The city of Gamla in the foothills of the Golan Ridge gets its name from the Hebrew word, gamal, which means camel. There on a ridge that looked like a camel’s rump, the Hasmonean king, Alexander Jannaeus founded the city, whose historical roots go all the way back to the Early Bronze Age and later conquered by Joshua and the Israelites.  Gamla was annexed into the Hasmonean State in 81 BCE.

As late as 66 CE, it was the Jewish Commander of Galilee, Flavius Josephus, who also fortified the city of Gamala in anticipation of the arrival of the Roman legions of General Vespasian (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XIII, 394).  Located on a basaltic rocky ridge completely surrounded by deep ravines and gorges, a shallow saddle separated the city from the rest of the ridge.  This provided the city with great strategic and defensive positions. At the top of the hill the ridge become very narrow and pointed with a deep slope on the northern face and a more graduated slope where the city was built on the south. To the east was the entrance to the city and fronted by a massive square basalt stone fortification wall.   It had multiple square towers on the side while a circular citadel tower was built on the crest.

After a siege and two attempts with rampart siege engines, the Roman forces penetrated the fortress on the eastern fortification walls with a five meter wide breach depicted evidence of significant fighting with arrowheads and numerous ballistic balls. As the fighting progressed into the city, the soldiers and citizens retreated to the citadel on the top of the cliff.Over four thousand Jewish fighters were killed in battle while over five thousand were killed fleeing towards the cliffs and to their death.Only until the 70’s was the city of Gamala archeologically rediscovered and identified.

In the year of 23 BCE, the sister and twin brothers of Joseph were secretly removed to the home of their uncle, Hezekiah the Zealot up in Galilee so they could be outside the reach of King Herod’s grasp, when their father and Hezekiah’s brother, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Jacob ben Matthan was executed on charges of sedition against the royal throne of King Herod.  It also appears that the three daughters, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Joanne, born to the reigning High Priest of Israel, Yeshua III were also secreted to the same region in the same year.

It was during that year, that King Herod in a fit of amorous passion rearranged the political and religious Jewish hierarchy by executing the leading officer of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and deposing and probably executing the High Priest in order that he could appoint a new High Priest, Simon V Boethus, so that he could marry his daughter, Miriamne II.

The evidence is still not clear whether Hezekiah the Zealot, a name that he may have earned in later years, was living in the fortress city of Gamla in 23 BCE, for where we find Hezekiah the Zealot, now involved in the Jewish Resistance Movement around 6 BCE, involved in setting up the Theocratic State of Galilee at the city of Sepphoris on the western coast of Galilee.  It appears the younger son, Judas of Gamala, stayed closer to the home front and earned the name of its identity.

In the center of the city was an impressive rectangular shaped synagogue oriented in the directed of Jerusalem to the southwest.  The central pillared synagogue had several rows of stone-built benches along the walls. In the courtyard were wide steps that led down to the mikvah ritual baths of purification. The city, located on the sides of the mountain was terraced with stepped alleys, and in the western part of the city were residences with large rooms suggesting owners of distinction, wealth, and prominence.  The numerous oil presses suggested an agrarian economy that was supported by its olive oil industry.

Within the fire and conflagration of the collapsing walls, the city for nineteen hundred years was preserved. Within the ruins were found unique coins that were minted at Gamla during the Jewish Revolt.  On the observe was written the words, ligeulat, meaning “for the redemption of” and on the reverse, Yerushalayim Hakedosha meaning “Holy Jerusalem”.  This highlights the strong ties between the Citadel at Gamla and the city of Jerusalem and the firm belief of the citizens at Gamala that their defense was also a defense to save Jerusalem. The intense Zionistic fervor was preserved to its last days.

After the revolt and execution of Simon V of Perea, the last of the all-Jewish Tobaidite Davidian princes, the next Davidian prince to rise in opposition to Rome was the brother of Patriarch Jacob ben Matthan; Hezekiah the Zealot in 4 BCE.  Jacob, apparently the oldest, was the Patriarch of Jerusalem between the years of 32 to 23 BCE.  He was killed, according to David Hughes, on charges of sedition against the Herodian state the same year that Yeshua III (Jesus III) the high priest was removed from the office of the high priest with the same charges.

It was in the year of 23 BCE, the children of Patriarch Jacob were secreted out of Jerusalem and taken to Gamala to be raised in the home of their uncle, the brother of Jacob, Hezekiah the Zealot.  The children of Jacob the Patriarch were; Princess Miriam (12 years old), Prince Joseph (6 years old), and the “twins” Ptolas and Clopas (3 years old).

Their mother, Cleopatra of Jerusalem, now a widow, was taken under the orders of King Herod and given to be the wife of the new High Priest, Simon IV Boethus.  This young Egyptian Princess, Cleopatra of Jerusalem, appeared to be a pawn of political expediency for King Herod.

There in the home of Hezekiah (Hizkiah or Ezekias), the four children of Patriarch Jacob: Miriam, Joseph, Ptolas, and Clopas were raised with Hezekiah’s three sons: Judas, Menahem, and Jacob. Truly lovers of Israel, the foster family of Prince Joseph, were classical Zionists, ones who dearly loved their “promised land” and firmly believed in the Providential Covenant of the Promise that “This Land is Our Land”.  Yet, within the heart of Uncle Hezekiah was a burning ache that it was not part of God’s covenant that they were destined to be slaves and pawns under the tyrannical rule of King Herod.

All the children were grown up, and adults of their own, in the year that King Herod died in the fall of 1 BCE.  Prince Joseph, a “Carpenter” or “Master Guildsman” by trade, who was capable of doing any form of construction, was financially struggling under the heavy hand of King Herod, as he sought to eliminate in pogroms of terror any Davidian prince that lived within his kingdom.

By the year of 1 BCE, Prince Joseph’s adopted Son, Yehoshua (Jesus), who was conceived by his betrothed bride, Princess Miriam under miraculous circumstances was two years old.   Suddenly the village of Bethlehem “Ephrata” was under siege in a commando massacre raid early in 1 BCE, after a group of Magi from the East came into the city of Jerusalem, looking for the royal child who was destined to be the “king of the Jews”.  The royal family of Prince Joseph and Princess Miriam were not to be found, for in an act of divine providence, Joseph was warned to escape to the land of Egypt.

By 1 BCE, the older sister of Prince Joseph, Princess Miriam(also), now at the age of thirty one, was married to Prince Theudas, who was famous to be the last of the anti-Princes and the oldest son of the anti-king Athronges. He was the last dynastic Patriarch of the Pelatiahite Lineage that once descended from the officially approved Jewish lineages of the oldest son of Governor Zerubabbel and his 3rd Jewish wife, Esthra’s second son, Prince Pelatiah.  They also had been outcasts in Jewish society for Pelatiah had married a “foreign” bride.

Prince Theudas was different. He was a man of peace and later became a rabbi (teacher) and leader in the Jesus messianic movement called the Nazarenes. History would later reveal that Theudas was a part of the chosen “Seventy” and later as a “prophet” of renown that Josephus called a “wizard” or “miracle worker”, a name that was also called his nephew, Yehoshua HaMaschiach (Jesus the Messiah).

You can read the rest of this excellent account at the link above.

Luke 1:27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in to her and said, Hail, one receiving grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, Do not fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold! You shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS.

G2424  ????????   Ie?sous   ee-ay-sooce’

Of Hebrew origin [H3091]; Jesus (that is, Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites: – Jesus.

H3091  ??????    ????????   yeho?shu?a?  yeho?shu?a?    yeh-ho-shoo’-ah, yeh-ho-shoo’-ah 

From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-savedJehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader: – Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare H1954, H3442.

H3068    ????     yeho?va?h     yeh-ho-vaw’ 

From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050, H3069.

H3467    ????    ya?sha?     yaw-shah’

A primitive root; properly to be openwide or free, that is, (by implication) to be safe; causatively to free or succor: –  X at all, avenging, defend, deliver (-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save (-iour), get victory.

H1954     ?????     ho?she?a?     ho-shay’-ah

From H3467; delivererHoshea, the name of five Israelites: – Hosea, Hoshea, Oshea.

H3442     ??????     ye?shu?a?     yah-shoo’-ah

For H3091; he will saveJeshua, the name of two Israelites, also of a place in Palestine: – Jeshua.

His name was to be called Yehshua or Yehoshua. He was not called Jesus.

32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I do not know a man? 35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that Holy One which will be born of you shall be called Son of God.

Let us now read Isaiah and Revelation which describe this event that is written in the stars. The constellation Virgo explains this same prophecy.

Isa 7:14 So, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.

Rev 12:1  And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, 2  and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear. 3  And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads! 4  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child. 5  And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

H6005     ????????     ?imma?nu?’e?l    im-maw-noo-ale’

From H5973 and H410 with suffix pronoun inserted; with us (is) GodImmanuel, a name of Isaiah’s son: – Immanuel.

He shall be called Yah with us. God with us. Yehovah, Yah Saves.

36 And behold, your cousin Elizabeth also conceived a son in her old age. And this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her. 39 And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah. 40 And she entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened as Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and cried out with a loud voice and said, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And from where is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For lo, as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believes, for there shall be a perfecting of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He looked on the humiliation of His slave woman. For, behold, from now on all generations shall count me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. 51 He has worked power with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. 52 He has put down rulers from their seats and exalted the lowly, 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and He has sent away the rich empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, 55 as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever. 56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her own house. 57 And the time was fulfilled to Elizabeth for her to bear. And she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard how the Lord had magnified His mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and were calling it Zacharias, after his father’s name. 60 And his mother answered and said, No, but he shall be called John. 61 And they said to her, There is none of your kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father as to how he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they all marveled. 64  And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosened. And he spoke and praised God. 65  And fear came on all who lived all around them. And all these things were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66  And all those who heard laid them up in their hearts, saying, What kind of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. 67  And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68  Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people 69  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, 70  as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from eternity; 71  that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, 72  to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73  the oath which He swore to our father Abraham, 74  that He would grant to us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear 75  in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 76  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest, for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77  to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, 78  through the tender mercy of our God; by which the Dayspring from on high has visited us, 79  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80  And the child grew and became strong in spirit and was in the deserts until the day of his showing to Israel.

Luk 2:1  And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2  (This taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3  And all went to be registered, each to his own city. 4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee to be taxed (out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David). 5  And he took Mary his betrothed wife, being with child. 6  And while they were there, the days for her deliverance were fulfilled. 7  And she brought forth her son, the First-born, and wrapped Him, and laid Him in a manger– because there was no room for them in the inn. 8  And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

After Sukkot the weather changes and is rainy and cold. No one is out in the fields at this time. But they are still out there up until Sukkot. The Feast of Trumpets takes place 15 days before Sukkot.

9  And lo, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were grievously afraid. 10  And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11  For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12  And this is a sign to you. You will find the babe wrapped, lying in a manger. 13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The Feast of Shouting. Here it is and no one sees it. The announcement of the Arrival of the Messiah. The Feast of Shouting.

15  And it happened as the angels departed from them into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Indeed, let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has happened, which the Lord made known to us. 16  And hurrying they came and sought out both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. 17  And seeing, they publicly told about the word spoken to them concerning this Child. 18  And all those who heard marveled about the things spoken to them by the shepherds. 19  But Mary kept all these sayings, meditating in her heart. 20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as was spoken to them. 21  And when eight days were fulfilled to circumcise the child, His name was called JESUS, the name called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

All males are to be circumcised on the 8th day after they’re birth. But do people actually read what it says here? If they did then they would not be arguing that Jesus was born at Sukkot and circumcised on the 8th day of the Feast. Read what is said in Leviticus.

Lev 12:2  Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, If a woman has conceived seed and has borne a male, then she shall be unclean seven days; as on the days of her menstrual impurity she shall be unclean. 3  And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4  And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying thirty-three days. She shall touch no holy thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are fulfilled.

This word sanctuary is the Temple, and Mary would not have been allowed up there in her impurity. So it was not until 40 days (7 + 33) after the birth of Yehshua that they brought him up to the Temple, as we read in verse 22. From the time of his birth until 40 days later they stayed in Bethlehem.
H4720    ??????    ??????     miqda?sh  miqqeda?sh      mik-dawsh’, mik-ked-awsh’
From H6942; a consecrated thing or place, especially a palace, sanctuary (whether of Jehovah or of idols) or asylum: – chapel, hallowed part, holy place, sanctuary.
22  And when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord 23  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) 24  and to offer a sacrifice according to that said in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. 25  And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. And this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. 26  And it happened to him, being instructed by the Holy Spirit, he was not to see death before he would see the Christ of the Lord. 27  And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And as the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do according to the custom of the Law concerning Him, 28  even he received Him in his arms and blessed God, and said, 29  Lord, now You will let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word. 30  For my eyes have seen Your Salvation 31  which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, 32  a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel. 33  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken by him. 34  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this One is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against 35  (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36  And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in many days, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. 37  And she was a widow of eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, serving God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38  And she coming in at that instant gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those in Jerusalem eagerly expecting redemption. 39  And when they had finished all things according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40  And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. And the grace of God was on Him. 41  And His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42  And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the Feast. 43  And fulfilling the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know. 44  But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey. And they looked for Him among the kinsfolk and acquaintances. 45  And when they did not find Him, they turned back to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46  And it happened that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both hearing them and questioning them. 47  And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48  And seeing Him, they were amazed. And His mother said to Him, Child, why have you done so to us? Behold, your father and I have looked for you, greatly distressed. 49  And He said to them, Why did you look for Me? Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? 50  And they did not understand the word which He spoke to them. 51  And He went with them and came to Nazareth, and He was subject to them. But His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

What ever happened to Yeshua after the age of 12?

Jesus in Glastonbury
It is more than coincidence that the raid on Sepphoris occurred at around the time that coincides with the start of the missing years of Jesus in the gospels. Jesus is supposed to have landed in England according to the Jesus in Cornwall tradition. The House of God in the great Monastery of Glastonbury, called the Secret of the Lord, is recorded in the Doomsday Book (1088 C.E.). Traditionally, the twelve Hides of Land of the Church of Glastonbury, descend from an original grant given Joseph of Arimathaea, by King Arviragus (10 C.E.-74 C.E.), in the XXXI year after the Passion of Christ.

In a letter to Pope Gregory, St. Augustine states that there was a church “constructed by no human art, but divinely contructed (or by the hands of Christ Himself), for the salvation of His people.” The historian, Gildas, says Jesus’ “Light and precepts” were “afforded…to this island during the …last year of the reign of Tiberius. Tiberius retired to Caprae in A.D. 27. William of Malmesbury includes in his writings the contents of a letter given by King Ina to Glastonbury, 700 AD.” (Tiberius officially reigned till 37 CE) “To the ancient church, situate in the place called Glastonbury (which Church the Great High Priest and Chiefest Minister formerly through His own ministry, and that of angels…..”This confirms Gildas’ statement that Jesus had a ministry at Glastonbury. The historical records called the Doomsday Surveys, also bear witness to Jesus’ presence in Glastonbury. These surveys state that Glastonbury contained 12 hides (160 acre parcels) of land that “have never paid tax.” This was because the King Arviragus gave these parcels to Joseph of Arimathea when he arrived in England in 37 AD. Do the math 37-31=6 CE not 30 CE. The little we know about Judas of Galilee comes from the Pharisaic Jewish historian Josephus who worked for the Roman Emperor and was totally opposed to Judas and the Zealots. However, it seems likely that the crucifixion of Christ mentioned in the Cornwall tradition is that of Judas and not of Jesus. Jesus was known as Melchizedek among the Essene or the Archangel Michael incarnate as Michael Zadok, Zadok referring to the Zadok family of the Zadokite priesthood. So, Sadduc must have been Jesus. Since Cunobeline rose to power in Britain c 9 CE, then Jesus must have migrated to Britain after 6 and prior to 9 CE.

In all likelihood the warrior king was now dead and the flesh atonement (the Jewish Christ) had sought refuge in Britain, never to be seen again in the land of Moses. Once again the Essene community must have sunk into a deep depression. However, by now the Zealot movement, which dreamed of a thousand year Jewish Empire, had moved front and center.

You can read more about the missing years of Yehshua at this link, and this one on Joseph of Arimathea. Here are some more details about exactly who Yehshua was descended from.

THE FAMILY TREE OF JESUS

Ancient tradition says that Ann, the mother of the Virgin Mary was of Cornish origin, [i.e. She was British]. It is not generally known but there is a family tree of Jesus from the time of Adam, in the Herald’s Office at the English College of Arms. From that document we glean the information that Ann, mother of the Virgin Mary, was married three times. Her first husband was Joachim by whom she had the Virgin Mary, her second husband was Cleophas and her third Salome. – [See JOHN 19:25]. It would seem Ann liked the name “Mary” for in addition to the Virgin Mary she named the daughters by her two other husbands “Mary’ also.

ANN
JOACHIM (FIRST HUSBAND) CLEOPHAS (SECOND HUSBAND) SALOME (THIRD HUSBAND)
VIRGIN MARY MARY ALPHAEUS MARY ZEBEDEE
JESUS JAMES – SIMON – JUDE JOHN THE DIVINE
JOSEPH BARSABA ST. JAMES

Mary Salome, mother of disciples James and John [Zebedee] was also a second cousin to the Virgin Mary. Andrew and John were friends of the family through John the Baptist. The father of John the Baptist was Zacharias who was assassinated between the temple and the altar for proclaiming the virgin birth. Ann had a sister by the name of Bianca who was the mother of St. Joseph. Thus St Joseph, the Virgin Mary’s husband, was also her first cousin. That is an important fact in the development of this inquiry because it would indicate that Joseph of Arimathea was a uncle of both Mary and Joseph.

BIANCA (AUNT OF THE VIRGIN MARY)
JOSEPH (HUSBAND OF MARY) ELIZABETH
JESUS JOHN THE BAPTIST

This view is confirmed in the HarL MSS. which is held in the British Museum. It will come as a surprise to many to realise that far from being confined to Palestine, the Holy Family seem, through the Virgin Mary’s uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, to have intermarried into British royalty and to have left Palestine to live in Britain. Some have assumed that the Virgin Mary’s exile in Britain was brought about by a forced exodus from the Holy Land but there is evidence that both Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea had planned for a life in Britain for the family from the time Jesus was quite young. It would seem that the forced exodus after the resurrection of Jesus was a preempting of an already carefully laid plan.

A RELATIVE OF THE VIRGIN MARY MARRIES INTO THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY
Confirmation that Penardin, grand-daughter of Joseph of Arimathea, married King Lear of Britain is to be found in a manuscript which is held at Jesus College, in England. From the chart below we can see the contemporary nature of events.

JOSEPH OF ARlMATHEA (UNCLE OF THE VIRGIN MARY AND JOSEPH)
ANNA
PENARDIN [MARRIED BRITISH KING LEAR)
BRAN [BRITISH KING)
CARACTACUS [BRITISH KING]
GLADYS [BRITISH PRINCESS] WHO MARRIED ROMAN NOBLEMAN RUF’US PUDENS AND CHANGED HER NAME TO CLAUDIA AND BECAME HOST TO THE APOSTLE PAUL.

And Paul says in ROMANS 16:3, “Satute Rufus,chosen in the Lord” and his mother and mine”. If this is the same Rufus, then Paul and Rufus were half-brothers. Remember that Paul was a Roman citizen also, but not by race; Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, even if he was a Roman by citizenship. The Roman connection of Paul is ignored by the traditional Churches, but we can see the importance. Going into this further, we find that the Apostle Paul was a half-brother of the Roman Rufus Pudens, and a brother-in-law of the British Princess Claudia. When the Apostle Paul presented the Gospel in Britain, he had friends in high places. There are many historical records that present Britain as being the first kingdom to receive the Gospel. Paul had other relatives in the ministry; some were apostles.

ROMANS 16:7 “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”

ROMANS 16:21 “Timotheus my work fellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.”

It is interesting to note that King Arthur and ALL the knights of the Round Table claimed descent from Joseph of Arimathea. The above genealogies are important because they give an altogether different perspective of the interrelationship of the nations at the time of Jesus. Then, as now, it would seem that the rich, influential and famous knew each other and had far more in common than we would at first think. Note the following British connections.

A grand-daughter of Joseph of Arimathea, cousin of the Virgin Mary, married a member of the BRITISH Royal Family.
A member of the BRITISH Royal Family married a Roman commander.
An Apostle of Jesus is entertained by a BRITISH Princess in Rome.
A member of the BRITISH Royal Family is the first Bishop of Rome – [Not the first Pope].

This places the British in the centre of things. Israel in Britain starts with some of the tribe of Dan travelling there soon after the Exodus. We find the Prophet Jeremiah took the royal daughters of Zedekiah, the last Israelite king in Palestine, to Egypt and thence to Ireland [See JEREMIAH 41:10]. The Royal House of Judah thus continued in Britain. History throws a different perspective on the world at that time; a different perspective than we have been led to believe. History is HIS story.

Many people read John and his account of who Yehshua was and it goes right over their heads. The word was Yehovah and in verse 14 that Word, Yehovah became flesh. Yehshua said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. This is because they are one and the same person.

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2  He was in the beginning with God. 3  All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 4  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. 6  There was a man sent from God; his name was John. 7  This one came as a witness, to bear witness concerning the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9  He was the true Light; He enlightens every man coming into the world. 10  He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11  He came to His own, and His own received Him not. 12  But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, 13  who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God. 14  And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth. 15  John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I spoke: He who comes after me has been before me, for He was preceding me. 16  And out of His fullness we all have received, and grace for grace. 17  For the Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

When we say the Shema what are we doing? Saying there is one God, not two and not three. Just one. You can read our article on this subject at this link.

Deu 6:4  Hear, O, Israel. Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.

Isa 43:11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.

These are strong words and tough to get over after a lifetime of being told something else. Yehovah is the one we hung on the tree and killed and who rose from the dead three days and three nights later. Yehovah! It is where we get the name Yeh-Shua from. Yehovah Saves!!

Now let us read this birthday of Yehshua-Yehovah on the Feast of Trumpets from Matthew.

Mat 1:18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was this way (for His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph) before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19  But Joseph, her husband to be, being just, and not willing to make her a public example, he purposed to put her away secretly. 20  And as he thought upon these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take to you Mary as your wife. For that in her is fathered of the Holy Spirit. 21  And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins. 22  Now all this happened so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, 23  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and will bear a son. And they will call His name Emmanuel,” which being interpreted is, God with us. 24  And Joseph, being roused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife,  25  and did not know her until she bore her son, the First-born. And he called His name JESUS.

Mat 2:1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem,

Who were these wise men that came from the east? They were from the mighty Parthian Empire. This Parthian Empire were the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They were Israelites. Not Jews, but Israelites, and they kept track of who the proper pedigrees were that could inherit the throne of David. This is why I showed you the family tree of Yehshua. It tied into the Royal Families of England.

You already have a great deal of reading to do on this subject of Messiah’s birth. But there is so much more to understand. When these Parthian Magi came over it almost caused a major war between them and Rome. I have written about it in this article. It starts about half way down the page. What the hey, I am going to re-post it here for you anyway.

This week I want to share with you a part of the book Parthia by Steven Collins. He is also a reader of this News Letter and I am so grateful he has allowed me to copy his article here for you to read about the birth of Yahshua. As Harvey Kirk used to say ‘Now You know the rest of the Story.’

The four book set that Steven Collins has written about the Lost tribes of Israel is an invaluable collection to have. If you do not know who Israel is in the end times then you will not and cannot know who the prophecies of the bible are talking about. It is impossible!

Each and every person must have these books which can be purchased at http://www.bibleblessings.net/index.html I do not make any money off these sales. I tell you to buy these books for your understanding of where Israel went and where they now are. When you know this then you will understand why the Roman Empire was attacking certain nations throughout history. It was the Beast Power attacking Israel. Just by knowing this you will then know who is going to attack whom in the very near future.

Also, Mr. Collins has some things in this article which I state differently in the article Conjunction or Sighted, which? which talks about the star at the birth of Yahshua and the year of his birth. Study both opinions and you decide. You can learn more from his site athttp://www.stevenmcollins.com/

 

EXCERPT from the book, PARTHIA, by Steven M. Collins, Chapter 3, Pages 123-151

 

HIS CHILDHOOD YEARS (BIRTH TO AGE 12)

 

Much has been written about the life of Jesus Christ, the historical person whose name is attached to the many different denominations of Christianity that exist today. In fact, so much has been written that one might wonder whether anything truly new could be written about this one life. As the reader will see, new facts about the life of Jesus Christ can be ascertained by combining the accounts of the Bible with secular historical accounts and traditions about the time in which He lived. This chapter is not intended to be a complete history of the life of Jesus Christ. It will cover those aspects of His life and times which have not been generally known.

The prior chapter dealing with the Parthian Empire discussed historical events shaping the world into which Jesus Christ was born. When some surprising information about His life is added to the history contained in the previous chapter, it can be seen that Jesus Christ actually played a role in the great power politics which occurred between the empires of Parthia and Rome. The Bible hints that He could have played a much larger role in the political affairs of that era if He had chosen to do so.

Did Jesus Really Live?

There is no doubt that the person, Jesus Christ, actually lived in Palestine at the beginning of the first century A. D. While some skeptics doubt this fact, this chapter will begin by offering firm evidence that Jesus Christ was a real, historical person.

Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century A. D., regarded the life of Jesus Christ as an established fact. In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus wrote: “there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works, — a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ; and when Pilate [Pontius Pilate, Roman Procurator of Judea], at the suggestion of the principle men among us, had condemned him to the cross…He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”1

In this account, written shortly after Christ died, Josephus not only gave us a powerful witness that Jesus Christ truly lived, but also provided an independent corroboration of many of the biblically-discussed events of His life. Josephus refers to him as “a wise man,” and wonders whether He was more than a mere man because of the “wonderful works” He did. That a non-Christian, Jewish historian of the apostolic era writes of the miracles of Jesus as actual facts offers contemporary support to the Bible’s accounts about them. Josephus agrees with the testamental writings that Jesus was sentenced to be crucified by Pontius Pilate at the behest of the Jewish Sanhedrin, “the principle men among us.” Josephus also acknowledged that Jesus Christ fulfilled many prophecies of the Hebrew prophets about the Messiah, and even refers to His resurrection as an historical fact!

Josephus’ reference to Jesus as “the Christ” acknowledges that Jesus was the Messiah, “the anointed.” Since a non-Christian source so close to the actual time of Christ has confirmed these facts of His life, the musings of modern skeptics questioning Christ’s existence are without merit. Josephus could speak with eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life; modern skeptics are almost two millennia removed from the events, and their writings are merely speculative. Jesus Christ did live, and the writings of Josephus substantiate the Bible’s claims of His performance of supernatural deeds as well as His being raised from the dead.

Roman secular sources agree with Josephus. Celsus, an anti-Christian writer of the Roman Empire in the second century A.D., wrote: “It was by magic that He [Jesus] was able to do the miracles which He appeared to have done.”2 Here a Roman opponent of Christianity grudgingly acknowledges the reality of Christ’s “miracles,” which he labels as “magic.” However, Quadratus, writing in approximately 117-134 A.D., “urged people to believe in Jesus because the effect of His miracles continued up to the present — people had been cured and raised from the dead, and ‘some of them…have survived even to our own day.’”3 Tacitus, the famous Roman historian, writing about the Christians just decades after the death of Christ, stated:
“Nero fabricated scapegoats — and punished…the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.”4

Tacitus’ comment about Christ appears as a mere aside in an overall account of events in the reign of Nero. It is particularly compelling evidence that Jesus Christ really did live! Tacitus was no fan of Christ or Christianity, and he had no “axe to grind.” His account that “Christ” was a real person crucified by Pontius Pilate is highly credible as Tacitus refers to it as an official act of Pontius Pilate within His overall accounting of Rome’s activities.

Clearly, Roman accounts confirm that Jesus Christ lived, and that He was executed in Judea during the administration of Pontius Pilate. Even His detractors acknowledged that He performed supernatural deeds. Whatever your views about Jesus Christ, we begin with the fact that He, indeed, lived and died when the Bible states that He lived and died, that He performed marvelous deeds, and that He made a major impression on the civilization of His day.

Let us now review the historical setting into which Jesus Christ was born. The Roman and Parthian Empires were both powerful, well-established “superpower” rivals at the time Jesus was born. Rome ruled the Mediterranean region, and Parthia ruled Asian lands from modern Syria to the Indus River. Palestine was located within the Roman Empire, but was close to the Euphrates River constituting the Parthian border.

Five decades before the birth of Jesus, Rome and Parthia fought several battles with one being fought near Antioch of Syria (very close to Palestine).5 In about 40 B.C., the Parthians launched a major assault which drove the Romans out of Asia! For three years, 40-37 B.C., Palestine was within the Parthian Empire and was ruled by a Jewish vassal king of the Parthians named Antigonus. At that time King Herod, the Roman king of Judea, fled from the Parthians in fear of his life. While the Parthian-sponsored rule of Antigonus was brief, it was apparently popular with the Jews. When the Parthians withdrew across the Euphrates, Antigonus, with Jewish support, attempted to maintain himself as king of the Jews, but was defeated by Herod. Mark Antony, the Roman leader famous for his dalliance with Cleopatra, ordered Antigonus beheaded, and Josephus records that this was done to compel the Jews to accept the hated Herod as their king.6 Mark Antony afterward led a massive invasion of Parthia in 37-36 B.C., but his army was utterly defeated by the Parthians.7

To help modern readers gain a frame of reference for these ancient events, these Roman-Parthian wars were more recent events for the people at the time Jesus was born than World War II and the Korean War are to modern readers. Parthian rule over Palestine was, therefore, vividly remembered by many in Jewish society as being preferable to Roman rule.

Parthia’s victory over Mark Antony led to a long period of peace between Rome and Parthia, with the Euphrates River serving as the border between their two vast empires. This prolonged period of peaceful relations lasted from 36 B.C. until 58 A.D.,8 including not only all of Jesus Christ’s life, but also the early period of the Apostolic Church as well. Rawlinson records that it was an established Roman policy not to provoke a Parthian war during that period of time so long as both empires agreed to coexist on separate banks of the Euphrates River. Rawlinson comments on this peaceful interlude as follows:
“It is a well-known fact that Augustus left it as a principle of policy to his successors that the Roman Empire had reached its proper limits, and could not with advantage be extended further. This principle, followed with the utmost strictness by Tiberius, was accepted as a rule by all the earlier Caesars…”9

As long as the Caesars wanted peace with Parthia, Roman officials along Parthia’s border, such as King Herod and Pontius Pilate, knew they risked their positions and lives if they entangled Rome in an unwanted war with Parthia.

Without this period of Parthian-Roman detente, it would have been impossible for some of the events of Jesus Christ’s life to have occurred, as we shall see. The first such event was the coming of the Magi, or “Wise Men” to pay homage to Jesus. We read of this event in Matthew 2:1-12, which becomes more important when considered in the overall context of Roman-Parthian relations.

 

Parthia’s Magi Visit Jesus (and Frighten Jerusalem)

As discussed in the previous chapter, the Magi were powerful members of the Parthian bicameral body that elected Parthian monarchs and wielded great influence within the empire. One assembly was composed of members of the royal family (the Arsacids), and the other consisted of the priests (the “Magi”) and influential Parthians of non-royal blood (the “Wise Men”). The Magi and Wise Men were jointly known as the Megistanes.10

Matthew 2:1 states that “wise men from the east” came to worship Jesus. The term “Wise Men,” which appears in Matthew 2:1, is not a generic description of these visitors, but was the proper title of Parthian Megistanes. The Greek word translated “wise men” is “magian,” literally meaning “Persian astronomer or priest,”11 from which we derive the word “Magi.” Parthia governed Persia at the time of Christ, so the “Wise Men” cited in the Bible were Parthian nobles and/or priests. While traditional Christian accounts of this episode celebrate the coming of “the three wise men,” the Bible does not limit the number of visiting Magi-Wise Men to three men. Indeed, biblical events and the realities of that time argue for a much larger contingent of Parthian Magi.

Since we saw in previous chapters that the Parthians were descended from the ten tribes of Israel and that their priests were likely descended from the tribe of Levi, it is likely that this delegation of Magi consisted of leading members of the ten tribes of Israel. Because there were numerous Jews of the tribe of Judah in Parthia’s empire, they may have been represented as well. Consequently, the delegation of Magi could easily have consisted of at least ten or twelve men representing the various tribes of Israel.

Also, the Bible confirms that the Magi did not visit the young Jesus in the manger at Bethlehem, as most nativity scenes depict, but rather visited Jesus in a house somewhat after His birth. Matthew 2:11 states that this visit of the Magi took place in a house (not at the manger) when Jesus was old enough to be called “a young child.” Luke’s version of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-40) mentions the shepherds’ arrival at the manger, but makes no mention of any Magi visiting Christ while He was “in the manger.”

Matthew 2:8 adds that Herod sent the Magi “to Bethlehem” after conferring with the Jewish hierarchy about the prophesied location of the Messiah’s birth. They cited Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would originate in Bethlehem, and they were likely familiar with Daniel 9:25-26 which predicted that the arrival of the Messiah was due at that time. Herod privately met with the Parthian delegation, and enquired when “the star” which they followed had first appeared. He apparently learned that this period of time was almost two years because he killed all male children in Bethlehem under two years of age in an attempt to kill the Messiah, whom he regarded as a competitor for his position as king of the Jews.

Although the Bible tells us that “the star” appeared to the Wise Men almost two years prior to His birth, this offers inexact information in determining how old Jesus was when the Wise Men came to him. The Wise Men were prominent people in Parthia when “the star” appeared, and they had to make a very time-consuming journey to reach Judea. It took time to prepare the costly gifts to present to the Messiah, set their affairs in order for a long absence, organize and equip a caravan, obtain an armed escort for protection and make the slow, lengthy journey to Judea in a caravan of pack animals. Since the “star’s” appearance was not necessarily timed to coincide exactly with the time Jesus was born, He may have been a few months (or up to two years) old at the time of the Magi’s arrival.

Consider also that Matthew 2:1-3 states:
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. Saying, where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (KJV)

The arrival of the Magi’s caravan in Jerusalem was a very public affair because “all Jerusalem” was “troubled” by their arrival. What was it about the Magi’s caravan that scared the Roman leaders and the whole city of Jerusalem? The Magi, a delegation of high Parthian officials, came to Jerusalem in a caravan loaded with costly treasures and escorted by a strong force of armed Parthian soldiers! Since the Magi were high officials of the Parthian government, they would routinely travel with a substantial escort of Parthian soldiers to guarantee their protection. Since they were traveling with many costly treasures to present to the newborn Messiah, their escort may have been unusually large.

The Magi’s caravan would have included large numbers of servants, animal-handlers, cooks, etc. for such a long journey. These people alone would have constituted many hundreds of people! Given the fact that many high Parthian officials and very expensive treasures were in the caravan, there may have been many thousands of Parthian soldiers escorting the caravan! This is not an overstatement.

Josephus records that treasure caravans bringing expensive offerings to Jerusalem from Jews living in Parthian territory did so with “many ten thousand men” as escorts.12  In ancient times, traveling with expensive items was dangerous. There was danger not only from brigands, but also from local satraps who might use their armies to conquer a treasure train passing through their territories. If Jewish commoners from Parthia were allowed to travel to Jerusalem with the equivalent of several infantry divisions as escorts, would an important delegation of Parthia’s ruling class and a treasure train of gifts have been accompanied by any fewer armed escorts? If the Parthian column had included “many ten thousands” of soldiers, it would have justified the widespread fear in Jerusalem caused by their arrival. In the previous chapter, we learned that ancient Chinese historical accounts recorded that the Parthians sent 20,000 cavalry just to escort a Chinese ambassador into Parthian territory.

Plutarch records that Surenas — a Parthian military commander and, no doubt, a member of the Megistanes — traveled on routine business in a caravan of cavalry, servants, and attendants the size of “a baggage train of 1,000 camels…at least ten thousand men.”13 If one Parthian leader traveled with so large a caravan on routine business within Parthia, how large was the caravan of the Magi — a whole delegation of Parthian nobles carrying great treasures to worship a “new-born king?” It was large enough to frighten the whole city of Jerusalem!

The Wise Men coming to Jesus were not bringing just a few samples of gold and other precious things that they carried in their personal saddlebags. They were coming to worship a royal-born child, so they likely had a whole train of pack animals loaded with “gold, frankincense and myrrh!”

Their caravan was so huge that it was a “cause celebre” in Jerusalem. The whole city was in an uproar over their arrival, and that argues for a very visible and impressive Parthian caravan arriving in Jerusalem. The sheer size of the caravan, its treasures and its escorts awed King Herod and the whole city to the point they were all “troubled.” This indicates that the Parthian caravan had so many armed escorts that many feared it was an invasion force coming to besiege Jerusalem and start a new Roman-Parthian war. However, their reason — coming to visit a royal-born Messiah — could have electrified a city of Jews who intensely wanted the Messiah to come and free them from Roman rule! The Jewish hierarchy understood the Parthians were looking for the Messiah as they quickly looked for Messianic prophecies to locate the city of His birth.

After their consultations with Herod and high Jewish officials, the Parthian delegation traveled to Bethlehem to worship Jesus and present their gifts to him. By this time, Matthew 2:11 states Jesus and Mary were living in “a house,” so they were no longer staying at the manger. The Magi’s journey to Bethlehem would have been closely followed by Herod’s spies.

Joseph was then warned by an angel to flee quickly into Egypt (Matthew 2:13) to avoid Herod’s impending slaughter of Bethlehem’s young male children. Since Herod’s edict applied only to Bethlehem, there would have been no need for Joseph, Mary and Jesus to flee unless they were still in Bethlehem. Since Joseph and Mary actually lived in Galilee (Luke 2:4), the fact that they were in a house in Bethlehem indicates that this must have been weeks after Jesus’ birth while Mary was regaining the strength to make an overland trip back to Nazareth. Their flight to Egypt took them completely out of Herod’s area of jurisdiction.

Herod made the mistake of assuming the Messiah would be born to a family native to the Bethlehem area. Since Luke 2:39 states that Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Galilee not long after Jesus was born, it seems apparent that the stay of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in Egypt was very brief. Historical sources disagree on the year of King Herod’s death, but there is persuasive evidence that Herod died soon after giving his cruel order to murder the boy babies of Bethlehem. Matthew 2:14-19 states that Jesus and His parents returned from Egypt as soon as Herod was dead, and the account implies their stay in Egypt was brief.

This author acknowledges that there are differing scholarly and historical viewpoints concerning the year of Jesus Christ’s birth. While many people assume that Jesus Christ was born in a theoretical “year zero,” scholarly options for the year of Jesus’ birth focus on the time frame of 5 B.C. to 2 B.C.

It is significant that Jesus’ parents were faithful to God’s law requiring circumcision on the eight day (Leviticus 12:2-3), and to Jewish custom by making an offering to God at the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate their firstborn male child. (Luke 2:21-24) This is an important observation as it shows Jesus was raised by a Jewish family that devoutly obeyed God’s laws.

When the Parthian column arrived at Jerusalem, the Parthian Magi came directly to King Herod, quite open about their reasons for being in Roman-occupied Palestine. They informed Herod that they had come to worship “He that is born king of the Jews.”

It is a tribute to the power of Caesar’s policy that the Roman-Parthian peace be maintained that war did not result from this statement, for Herod could easily have taken it as an insult. He could have flown into a rage, and yelled “How dare you ask to see another ‘king of the Jews’ besides me; I am king of the Jews!” That Herod swallowed his gargantuan pride, and meekly answered the Parthians is quite noteworthy. This is a tribute not only to Caesar’s policy to maintain the peace, but also to recognition that a sizeable Parthian army had come to Jerusalem as escorts of the Magi. Herod’s meek response to the highly provocative question of the Parthian officials does imply that he was intimidated by the many Parthian soldiers who accompanied the Magi.

Because the whole city was “troubled” by the Parthians’ arrival, the presence of so many Parthian soldiers surely sparked rumors in Jerusalem that a new Parthian-Roman war was imminent. Herod may even have suspected that the Parthians’ question was designed to provoke an incident, which would lead to an outbreak of hostilities and his removal from the throne. Herod and all Jerusalem was surprised, but relieved to learn that the Parthian Magi and soldiers had arrived with peaceful intent. Herod may have been expecting to hear an ultimatum for the surrender of Jerusalem to Parthia when the Magi were ushered into his presence.

Some observations must be made about the “star” which led the Magi to Jesus. Some have proposed that this star was a comet or a celestial phenomenon although the biblical accounts indicate that this was not the case. The biblically-described “star” moved, leading the Magi over a long east-to-west route from Parthia to Judea, and Matthew 2:9 states that it finally “stood over where the young child was.” Simple logic confirms that no comet or celestial phenomenon in the sky could possibly pinpoint a single city, much less “stand over” an individual child on the earth’s surface! Nevertheless, that is what the biblical “star” did.

The Bible periodically uses the word “star” to represent angels (Job 38:7, Revelation 1:20), and there is good reason to believe that the “star” which led the Parthian nobles to a specific child in a specific house in Judea was an angel of God. Nothing else makes sense. Only an angel, a spirit being, could literally “stand over” the baby Jesus to designate one specific child to the Parthian nobles.

Also, nothing in the biblical account indicates that this “star” was visible to anyone other than the Magi-Wise Men! Matthew 2:2 states that the Magi saw “the star,” but the context argues no one else ever saw it. Verse 7 relates that Herod asked the Magi when “the star” appeared to them, indicating no one in Judea was aware of any such “star.” If a striking celestial object had appeared in the sky, Herod and his astrologers would already have known the exact date and hour on which it had appeared.

After leading the Parthians to Judea, the “star” disappeared, forcing the Parthians to ask Herod for directions. After the Magi left Herod, the “star” again appeared to them, led them directly to Bethlehem (Luke 2:9), and finally “stood over” one specific child, Jesus. Verse 10 states the Magi rejoiced that the “star” had again appeared to show them where to go! Obviously, a “star” which appeared, disappeared and reappeared for the Magi (but which was apparently not seen by any other humans) had to be an angel. Supporting this fact is that Luke 2:8-15 records that the birth of Jesus was announced to shepherds by angels speaking to them out of a heavenly light which accompanied their appearance. God also used an angel to warn Joseph to flee to Egypt. Since God used angels to direct the movements of persons in the events surrounding Christ’s birth, it would have been completely consistent for God to also send an angel to guide the Magi’s movements.

Having found Jesus, the Magi worshipped him, offering costly gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. They were then warned by God in a dream (Matthew 2:12) not to return to Herod, resulting in the prompt exit of the Magi and their many escorts from Judea. When Herod realized that he had been fooled, he wrathfully killed all the young male children of Bethlehem in a vain effort to kill the Messiah. However, there is no indication that Herod made any attempt to overtake or punish the Magi. As high Parthian nobles, they had “diplomatic immunity,” and Herod dared not anger Caesar by provoking the Parthians. Also, Herod’s garrison troops could have been vastly outnumbered by the size of the Magi’s military escorts.

There is another important aspect of this remarkable episode. While it is not surprising that Jewish leaders during Herod’s reign were sufficiently familiar with the prophetic writings to pinpoint for Herod exactly where the Messiah would be born, it is surprising that God was working so closely with members of the Parthian ruling class! This makes no biblical sense unless: (A) the Parthians were descended from the ten tribes of Israel and (B) the Magi (Parthian priests) included some Levites. During His ministry Jesus Christ asserted that He had not been sent to the gentiles, but only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24-28 shows the reluctance of Jesus to assist a gentile.

Throughout the Old Testament God worked almost exclusively with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It was not until after the death of Christ that gentiles were given equal access to the God of Israel. The fact that God was working intimately with the Parthian nobility — sending them angelic messages, giving them divine messages in dreams — confirms that the Parthians had to be descended from the ten tribes of Israel which had migrated into Asia.

The fact that some of the Parthian ruling classes were apparently worshippers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is most revealing. God obviously considered these Parthians to be “righteous” men under the terms of His laws or He would not have been dealing with them so personally. That educated Parthians were ready to visit and worship the Messiah at the time of Christ’s birth indicates they were also familiar with the prophecies of the Old Testament. Who but transplanted Israelites would have been looking for the Messiah at that time?

Although we are jumping ahead in the narrative, consider the events of Acts 2:9 which states Parthians were among those who made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, known to Christians as Pentecost Sunday. Verse 9 also mentions “Medes, Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia” as being present at this feast, and all these regions were provinces of the Parthian Empire. We know that portions of the ten tribes had been relocated to “the cities of the Medes,” so the presence of devout visitors from Media most likely designates people from the ten tribes of Israel who still lived in Media. Interestingly, verse 9 also mentions “dwellers…in Asia” were present. The word “Asia” has clouded origins, but the Encyclopaedia Britannica states, “It is probable that it [“Asia”] has an Assyrian or Hebrew root, and was used first…with a specific or restricted local application, a more extended signification having eventually been given it…”14

As briefly mentioned in chapter two, one of the Scythian tribes was called the “Asii” (or “Asiani”).15 Since the “Asiani” were one of the Scythian tribes bearing the name of Isaac, the Sacae or Saka, the Bible’s reference to “Asians” attending the Feast of Weeks could indicate that Scythians were also present in Jerusalem at that time. This further indicates that the Parthians and Scythians were the displaced members of the “lost ten tribes of Israel.” The non-Israelite populations of Asia had no cultural interest in the worship of the God of Israel; only the ten tribes of Israel would retain such a custom.

It was not unusual for large pilgrimages originating in Parthia to travel to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. Josephus’ statement that caravans from Parthia arrived in Jerusalem under the protection of “many ten thousand men”16 was noted earlier. These must have been magnificent treasure trains to have warranted the protection of a sizeable army. Such huge protection of a sizeable army. Such huge “offerings” going to Jerusalem from Parthia indicates that significant numbers of people within the Parthian Empire worshipped the God of Israel. This meant that, at the time of Jesus and Herod, there was a great deal of travel and trade between the Parthian Empire and the Roman province of Judea. It also shows that there was a strong sense of community between Judea and many regions of the Parthian Empire. If a caravan of Parthian commoners could be escorted by “many ten thousand men,” how many escorts would accompany a caravan of Parthia’s nobility?

The Parthian nobility did not “travel light.” Plutarch records that Surenas, a high Parthian noble, had an entourage of ten thousand men when he traveled “on his own affairs” on routine business. Just one Parthian noble was accompanied by such a huge and imposing caravan when he traveled on routine business! Think how much larger would have been the caravan of a group of perhaps ten or twelve Parthian nobles, the Magi, travelling, not on routine business within Parthia, but through dangerous terrain with rich treasures and into Roman territory! Parthians believed in large numbers of armed escorts for VIPs. When an ambassador came to Parthia from China, an escort of 20,000 armed Parthian cavalrymen greeted him!18

Now you can understand why the whole city of Jerusalem was frightened when the Parthian Magi arrived to look for the young child of royal birth. They were accompanied by a gigantic caravan from Parthia moving toward Jerusalem. This column was escorted by many thousands of Parthia’s military cavalry. Many in Jerusalem feared the Parthians had come to start a war and besiege the city.

 

The Royal Lineages of Jesus Christ

In an earlier chapter it was shown that the Magi were loyal to one dynasty, the Arsacids, whose members continuously ruled Parthia. It was shown that many rulers of Parthian and Saka kingdoms had names incorporating the word “Phares” (PH-R-S). This indicates that the Arsacids were descended from the seed of David, who was the first king of the Phares family. (Matthew 1:2-6) The kings of Judah of the Phares dynasty are listed in I Chronicles 3:9-17, but verses 18-24 reveals that the royal lineage continued to flourish after Judah’s captivity. Indeed, David’s dynasty was given high status in the Babylonian Empire. (II Kings 25:27-30) This post-exilic elevation of the Davidic dynasty in Asia likely led to their serving as vassal kings over captive Israelites under Babylonian and Persian masters. Their later elevation to the throne of Parthia fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 33:17 that David’s descendants would always rule over the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel. This may explain the unshakable loyalty of the Parthians to the Arsacids. With the Parthians being Israelites, and the Arsacids being descended from King David, the Arsacids were the only dynasty in Asia that was racially, historically and culturally related to the Parthian people.

Since Matthew 1:3-17 tells us that Jesus Christ was a descendant of Phares and King David, Jesus was a distant relative of the Parthian ruling dynasty, which also descended from Phares and David. The bloodline relationship of Jesus to the Parthian Arsacids serves as a further explanation for the homage paid to Jesus by the Parthian nobility. It was customary for the Parthian Magi and Wise Men to keep track of male Arsacids in foreign nations. In some cases they sent to foreign nations, Scythia and Rome, to summon male relatives of the Arsacids to come to Parthia to serve as king. As mentioned in the previous chapter, some Parthian rulers killed every male relative they could find in an effort to eliminate potential rivals to their throne. This compelled the Magi to look for distant individuals who had the same bloodline as the Arsacids, the lineage of Phares and King David. At the time of the birth of Jesus, the recent Parthian emperor, Phraates IV, who reigned 37-2 B.C., had killed many male relatives, including his own father and almost thirty brothers.19 Male Arsacids at the time of Jesus’ birth were in very short supply.

When the Magi were led by God to pay homage to the young Jesus, they doubtless learned that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were all related to the Parthian dynasty! Indeed, they may already have known that Jesus was an Arsacid, related to Parthia’s kings. When the Magi came to Herod, they said:  “Where is He that is born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2, KJV)

This statement confirms that the Magi arriving in Jerusalem already knew that Jesus was “royal-born,” and it implies that they knew He was related to Parthia’s kings. If they did not know that fact prior to their arrival, they learned it during their visit with Joseph, Mary and the young Jesus. Indeed, because Phraates IV, the emperor of Parthia, had killed so many of his male relatives, the Magi were surely to find surviving males of the Davidic bloodline.

Consider some important information. When the Babylonians conquered Judah, they brought King Jehoiachin of Judah and many of his royal family to Babylon. (II Kings 24:15) After languishing in prison for years, King Jehoiachin was exalted into the position of a favored vassal king in the Babylonian empire. I Chronicles 3:17 reveals that Jeconiah had many sons and grandsons, who very likely also became vassal kings in Asia after Jehoichin died. One of Jeconiah’s sons was “Salathiel” (I Chronicles 3:17), who lived in Asia, not Judea. Salathiel, later spelled “Shealtiel,”20 was the father of Zerubbabel. (Ezra 3:2) Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 confirm this as well.

Zerubbabel’s name includes the root word “babel,” indicating he was born in Babylon. Zerubbabel was one of the leaders of the group of Jews who left Asia and returned to Jerusalem during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah under the auspices of Persian kings. Zerubbabel had a prominent role in the rebuilding of a Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Judea, and he is mentioned frequently in the books of Ezra and Haggai and once in the book of Nehemiah. Joseph, the human “father” of Jesus Christ was a descendant of Zerubbabel. (Matthew 1:12-16) So Jesus Christ was born into a very prominent and famous family in Judea, one known to be descended from the Kings of Judah. Since His royal progenitors formerly lived in Asia and had included vassal kings of the Babylonians, the Parthian Magi may have been very well aware that they were coming to visit a family of Arsacids! Babylon was then ruled by Parthia, so its records were available to the Magi. Because Phraates IV had killed so many males of the royal Parthian dynasty at that time, the Magi were compelled to look outside Parthia’s borders for male Arsacids who were eligible for the throne of Parthia.

Now consider this: Because Jesus was eligible for the throne of Parthia, so was His human father “Joseph.” Christian mythology tends to personify Joseph as an obscure, poor “carpenter” struggling “to make ends meet.” But the possibility exists that he was, in fact, well-to-do. The account in Mark 6:3, for instance, indicates that Jesus himself was a “carpenter,” but in that day someone in the building trades business was often more of a “building contractor,” involving all aspects of construction. This could possibly have been a very responsible position.

The concept of Joseph and Mary being “poor” partly comes from the “manger scene” of them staying in a lowly manger when Jesus was born. However, they did not stay there for lack of financial resources. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they tried to stay in a lodging house, but everything was “booked solid” in the city. (Luke 2:7) As soon as the crowds thinned out, they promptly relocated to a rented “house” in Jerusalem. (Matthew 2:11) Also, it takes financial resources to travel. When God warned Joseph to flee to Egypt quickly, he obviously had the financial resources on hand to afford a hastily arranged, indefinite stay in a foreign nation. (Matthew 2:13-15) Either Joseph was not a “poor carpenter,” or these funds came from the gifts of the Magi at Jesus’ birth.

Jesus was descended from the kings of Judah through both His father and mother! While Matthew 1 gives Joseph’s descent from Judah’s dynastic line, Luke 3:23-33 gives Mary’s descent from king David. Both Joseph and Mary were direct descendants of King David, the kings of Judah, related to the Davidic kings in Asia and had Salathiel and Zerubbabel as common ancestors. However, Joseph and Mary’s immediate ancestors were descended from two different sons of Zerubbabel. (Matthew 1:13-16, Luke 3:23-27) Some confusion exists on this point, as it is easy to not grasp that Luke 3’s account gives Mary’s lineage. Henry Halley explains this point as follows:
“The commonly accepted view is that Matthew gives Joseph’s line, showing Jesus to be the Legal Heir to the Promises given Abraham and David; and that Luke gives Mary’s line, showing Jesus’ blood descent, ‘Son of David according to the flesh’ (Romans 1:3). Mary’s genealogy, in accord with Jewish usage, was in her husband’s name. Joseph was the ‘son of Heli’ (Luke 3:23), that is, ‘son-in-law’ of Heli. Jacob was Joseph’s father (Matthew 1:16).”21

Jesus was a “blue-blooded” son of parents descended from royalty. This remarkable relationship meant both Joseph and Jesus were distant relatives of Parthia’s kings. Because Parthia could offer the kingship to any relative of the Parthian king line, not just the oldest son or closest relative of the previous king, both Joseph and Jesus Christ were potential claimants to the throne of the Parthian Empire! While the Bible does record Jesus’ royal lineage of the seed of David, it does not specifically mention His relationship to Parthia’s dynasty. However, as we shall see later in this chapter, the Bible implies that this relationship existed.

Since the Magi who worshipped Jesus were members of the body which selected the kings of Parthia and kept track of male Arsacids, they must been ecstatic to find living descendants of King David. The Magi no doubt discussed the possibility that this child Jesus, born under such unusual circumstances, might one day take the throne of Parthia. While the Bible is silent on their future contacts, this delegation of Parthian Magi likely would have stayed in contact with Jesus in future years and monitored the events of His life. If the Parthians had a Messianic understanding, Jesus would have been seen as an acceptable ruler because He was a son of David.

 

Did the Magi Almost Cause a Roman-Parthian War?

Let us consider that the visit of the Magi to Jesus may have been a factor in a political crisis that almost led to a new Roman-Parthian war. Recall that from 40-37 B.C., Parthia had ruled Palestine and Syria before the Romans drove them back across the Euphrates River. That war ushered in a long period of Parthian-Roman détente which included the entire lifetime of Jesus Christ. However, a great Parthian-Roman war was barely averted in 1 A.D. when a “summit conference” was held between the Parthian emperor, Phraataces, and Caius Caesar, the grandson of Augustus Caesar on an island in the Euphrates River (i.e. neutral territory). Roman sources recorded that:
“The armies of the two chiefs were drawn up on the opposite banks of the river [the Euphrates], facing one another; and the chiefs themselves, accompanied by an equal number of attendants, proceeded to deliberate in the sight of both hosts.”

This “summit conference” averted war, but how could the Magi’s visit have had a role in this crisis?

The Bible’s account of the Magi visiting Jesus ceases when the Magi left Judea and returned to Parthia, leaving the impression that the issue was concluded. However, if we consider the geopolitical realities of that time, there is no way that the Magi’s exit from Judea ended the matter.
Matthew 2:3 records that Herod and “all Jerusalem” were troubled by the arrival of the Magi. Jerusalem was a commercial city at the nexus of major trade routes, and it commonly received caravans of thousands of people. Three tired Magi arriving from the east would not have made a ripple in the city’s calm. For that matter, caravans from Parthian territory could arrive in Jerusalem with many thousands of armed escorts, and such events did not trouble the city. However, the arrival of Parthian Magi — Parthia’s nobles and priests — in Jerusalem escorted by a large army of Parthian soldiers was unprecedented and unrepeated in the history of the city of Jerusalem. This occurred at a time when Parthia and Rome had a peace treaty, and no major Roman or Parthian military forces had crossed the Euphrates River in over three decades. The arrival of a large Parthian military force in Jerusalem escorting high Parthian officials was militarily provocative and could justifiably be seen by King Herod and the Romans as a treaty violation.

When Parthia had occupied Palestine, it had crowned its own vassal king, Antigonus, as ruler of Judea. When the Magi, Parthia’s official king-makers, came to Jerusalem looking for “a new king of the Jews,” it must have sounded to Herod and the Romans that the Parthians were trying to reassert their claim to Judea and dethrone Herod. Their speaking directly to Herod, who was Rome’s “king of the Jews,” about wanting to find a “new king of the Jews” could be seen by the Romans as very close to a declaration of war, given the region’s history. The fact that King Herod “bit his tongue” and made no rash statement to the Magi and treated them with deference argues that the Parthians must have had an intimidating number of troops at Jerusalem to compel Herod to be so uncharacteristically meek. Since a major Roman-Parthian treaty had been in effect for over three decades, Rome felt unthreatened in the region, and would, consequently, have had only a small garrison in Jerusalem.

Caesar’s decree that no Parthian war be provoked also put Herod in an awkward position. While the Magi and Parthians were in Judea with no harmful intent, there is no way the Romans could be sure this “visit” was benign in nature. After the Parthians left, Herod “blew his stack” (Matthew 2:16) and vented his pent-up rage by murdering all male children in Bethlehem under age two. Official reports surely had to be filed with Augustus Caesar in Rome about this highly unusual event.

Herod was justifiably fearful of Parthian intentions in the area. Hadn’t they come to anoint a replacement for him as “king of the Jews?” Hadn’t they also deceived him by leaving the area without his knowledge? Herod’s murderous act in Bethlehem would also have inflamed Jewish residents, and rumors of revolt against the hated Romans would have intensified. Faced with a possible Parthian invasion and/or a Jewish revolt, Herod needed more Roman soldiers in the region. In his reports to Caesar, Herod surely cast himself in a favorable light, warning Caesar that the Parthians had crossed the Euphrates, made a military reconnaissance to Jerusalem to spy out the city’s weakness and were openly talking about crowning a “new king of the Jews.” Because the Parthians’ arrival in Jerusalem had scared the whole city, news of this extraordinary event would have spread quickly along the trade routes. Roman honor had been slighted, and Rome usually responded to such an insult.

However, the Romans could not respond immediately. Rome had been sapped by the costly civil wars between Brutus and Octavian and also Octavian against Mark Antony and Cleopatra. These wars were fought in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, so Rome’s military forces in the east had been depleted and disorganized. Augustus Caesar could not be entirely sure whom to trust with an army, lest another civil war break out in the east. Herod the Great was a firm ally of Augustus, but Herod was soon to die, leaving Augustus with no close ally in the East to whom he could entrust an army. Also, Rome and Parthia were facing a possible conflict in Armenia over succession to the throne of Armenia. In both Armenia and Judea, the issue was whether Rome or Parthia would choose the kings of those nations. Also, Rome had to finance, train and equip an army to fight the Parthians. Rome’s armies under Crassus and Mark Antony had been “clobbered” by the Parthians, so Rome would need extra time to assemble an army to challenge Parthia. Rome’s leadership crisis is described by George Rawlinson as follows:
“Augustus [formerly “Octavian”], from the time that he heard of the Armenian troubles, and of the support given them by Parthia, seems never to have wavered in his determination to vindicate the claims of Rome…[but] hesitated as to the person whose services he should employ…He would have been glad to employ Tiberius; but that morose prince had deserted him and…was living in self-chosen retirement. Caius, the eldest of his grandsons, was, in B.C. 2, only 18 years of age…the extreme youth of the prince caused him to hesitate…and the consequence was that Caius did not start for the East until late in B.C. 1.”23

In other words, Rome’s political situation compelled a delay in responding to Parthia’s real provocation in Judea and apparent provocation in Armenia. The situation was further muddled by the death of Phraates IV, Parthia’s emperor when the Magi visited Jerusalem.24 Since Phraates IV and Herod the Great had died by the time Rome’s army was ready, all the major principals had a fresh viewpoint by the time Rome and Parthia had their “summit conference” at the Euphrates River in 1 A.D.

Although historical accounts mention only the Armenian dispute, it is significant that the Parthian and Roman armies did not confront each other in Armenia. Their confrontation was along the Euphrates River, which had been crossed by the Parthian armed column led by the Magi. Everyone in the region breathed a huge sigh of relief when war was averted. As we shall soon see, if a war had been fought ending the Parthian-Roman detente, much of Jesus Christ’s ministry in Judea could not have occurred.

If the armed Parthian column led by the Magi provoked the Roman-Parthian confrontation in 1 A.D. during which war was averted, a date of 2 B.C. for Christ’s birth is more logical. If He had been born in 4 B.C., there would be too great a gap between that year and the Roman response in 1 A.D. However, a gap from 2 B.C. to 1 A.D. would be understandable given the political realities of that time.

The Bible says little else concerning the early years of Jesus Christ. Luke 2:40 states that Jesus “waxed strong,” and was filled with wisdom and favored by God. Luke 2:41-50 tells us that Jesus, at age twelve, amazed the teachers in the Temple with His wisdom. This passage confirms that Jesus was being raised by His parents according to the Laws of God, as His family annually attended the Passover in Jerusalem, the location of the Temple. Jesus would have been seen by others as a devout, brilliant son of a prominent Jewish family.

 

ENDNOTES:

 

1. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, III, 3
2.Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, p. 98
3.Ibid, pp. 99-100 (citing Eusebius, The History of the Church, 4.3.2)
4.Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, Part II, “The Burning of Rome,” circa XV.42-47
5.Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, pp. 178-181
6.Josephus, Antiquities, XV, I, 2
7.Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, pp. 199-205
8. Ibid, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, p. 216
9. Ibid, p. 210
10.Ibid, p. 85
11.Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, see word “Wise,” subhead 8, p. 1060
12.Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, IX, 1
13.Plutarch, Crassus, 21
14.Encyclopaedia Britannica, Heading entitled “Asia,” Vol. 2, p. 512
15.Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, p. 118
16.Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, IX, 1
17.Plutarch, Crassus, 21
18.website: Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. see links: “Geography,” “Parthian Stations,” and “Parallel Passages from the Chinese Annals” (citing Friedrich Hirth’s China and the Roman Orient)
19.Rawlinson, George, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, pp. 195-198, 215
20.Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, see “Salathiel, Shealtiel,” p. 831
21.Halley, Henry, Halley’s Bible Handbook, see “Matthew,” p. 415
22.Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, pp. 218-219
23.Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, pp. 213-214

Mat 2:2  saying, Where is He who is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him. 3  But when Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5  And they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea. For so it is written by the prophet, 6  “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the governors of Judah. For out of you shall come a Governor who shall rule My people Israel.” 7  Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, inquired of them exactly what time the star appeared. 8  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child. And when you have found him, bring me word again so that I may come and worship him also. 9  When they had heard the king, they departed. And lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the child was. 10  And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11  And coming into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother. And they fell down and worshiped Him. And opening their treasures, they presented gifts to Him, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 13  And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and His mother and flee into Egypt. And be there until I bring you word, for Herod is about to seek the child to destroy Him. 14  And he arose and took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt. 15  And he was there until the death of Herod; so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the LORD through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.” 

Herod dies in 1 B.C., as we have shown you in the article above Conjunction or Sighted Which? Note this attack on the children was done two years after the birth of Yehshua. The wise men did not come at his birth but two years afterwards.

16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was greatly enraged. And he sent and killed all the boys in Bethlehem, and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had carefully inquired of the wise men.

Mat 2:17  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 18  “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” 19  But Herod having expired, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20  saying, Arise, and take the child and His mother. And go into the land of Israel. For the ones who sought the child’s life are dead. 21  And he arose and took the child and His mother and came into the land of Israel. 22  But when he heard that Archelaus reigned in Judea in his father Herod’s place, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee. 23  And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Matthew 2:23, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

First we need to look at the verse and notice that Matthew does not say “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah or Jeremiah, etc.” This tells us it is not a direct quote, but he tells us it comes from the prophets, plural. Therefore we know that this is a theme or common knowledge that they recorded. Lets look at what this means. Matthew in chapter 1:23 is quoting from Isaiah 7:14. In Chapter 4:15-16 he is quoting from Isaiah 9:1-2. Isaiah 7, 8 , 9, 10 and 11 are messianic prophecies. In 2:23 he is quoting from Isaiah 11:1, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

What is the Hebrew word for branch in Isaiah 11:1? It is netzer. This is clearly a messianic prophecy that tells us Messiah will be a branch that bears fruit and will come from the stem – or stump of Jesse. Matthew tells us that the Messiah will be called a netzer and he will have lowly origins coming from the stem/stump of Jesse. He tells us Yeshua dwelt in Natzeret (Nazareth) and was called a Natzerene (Nazarene). It is a prophetic play on words from a concept found in the other prophets where this figure was called a branch. Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15, Ezekiel 19:14 and Zechariah 6:12. Different words were used but they all meant ‘branch’.

This was important for three reasons; First, the play on words, netzer/natzereth. Second, the prophets’ use of the term branch for a redeemer figure. Third, the emphasizing of the lowly origins of the stem/stump. Nazareth was not a spectacular place to be from. John 1:46, “And Nathanael said to him, `Can anything good come out of Nazareth?…” Matthew was not ignorant, he was not creating Scripture that was not there. He was pointing out the fulfillment of Scripture that many were familiar with. He was explaining that Yeshua was the branch/netzer they were waiting for.

We also know that the Jews of Yeshua’s time interpreted Isaiah 11 as Messianic. Targum on verse 1 and 6 in the Talmud (Jer. Berach. 5 a and Sanh. 93 b); and in a number of passages in the Midrashim. Verse 1 in Bereshith R. 85 on Gen. 38:18, where also Psa 110:2 is quoted, and in Ber. R. 99, ed. Warsh., p, 178 b. In Yalkut (vol. i. p. 247 d, near the top), it is described how God had shown Moses all the spirits of the rulers and prophets in Israel, from that time forward to the Resurrection. It is said that all these had one knowledge and one spirit, but that the Messiah had one spirit which was equal to all the others put together, according to Isaiah 11:1.

Let us now finish this birthday of Yehshua which we should be celebrating and shouting about. When He comes back from being in England and around the world we read of the start of HIs ministry.

Luk 3:1  And in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the Trachonitus country, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene– 2  Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests– the Word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3  And he came into all the country around Jordan, proclaiming the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, 4  as it is written in the book of the Words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. 5  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. 6  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. 7  Then he said to the crowd that came forth to be baptized by him, O generation of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8  Therefore bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9  And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. 10  And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11  He answered and said to them, He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. And he who has food, let him do likewise. 12  And tax-collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, Teacher, what shall we do? 13  And he said to them, Continue to do no more than that commanded to you. 14  And the soldiers also asked of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said to them, Do not forcibly extort anyone, nor accuse any falsely. And be content with your wages. 15  And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts concerning John, lest perhaps he was the Christ, 16  John answered all, saying, I indeed baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I comes, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to loose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, 17  whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor and will gather the wheat into His storehouse. But He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. 18  And then indeed exhorting many things, he proclaimed the gospel to the people. 19  But Herod the tetrarch (being reproved by him on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done) 20  added still this above all, that he even shut John up in prison. 21  And it happened in the baptizing of all the people, Jesus also being baptized, and praying, and the heaven was opened. 22  And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him. And a voice came from Heaven, which said, You are My Son, the Beloved; I am delighted in You. 23  And Jesus Himself was beginning to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) son of Joseph, son of of Heli,

 

Here are ten prophecies from the Old Testament, fulfilled in the coming of Jesus:

1. Jesus will come from the line of Abraham. Prophecy: Genesis 12:3. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1.

2. Jesus’ mother will be a virgin. Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14. Fulfilled:Matthew 1:18–23.

3. Jesus will be a descendent of Isaac and Jacob. Prophecy: Genesis 17:19 and Numbers 24:17. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:2.

4. Jesus will be born in the town Bethlehem. Prophecy: Micah 5:2. Fulfilled: Luke 2:1–7.

5. Jesus will be called out of Egypt. Prophecy: Hosea 11:1. Fulfilled:Matthew 2:13–15.

6. Jesus will be a member of the tribe of Judah. Prophecy: Genesis 49:10. Fulfilled: Luke 3:33

7. Jesus will enter the temple. This is important because the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and was never rebuilt. Prophecy: Malachi 3:1. Fulfilled: Luke 2:25–27.

8. Jesus will be from the lineage of King David. Prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:6.

9. Jesus’ birth will be accompanied with great suffering and sorrow.Prophecy: Jeremiah 31:15. Fulfilled: Matthew 2:16.

10. Jesus will live a perfect life, die by crucifixion, resurrect from death, ascend into heaven, and sit at the right hand of God.Prophecies: Psalm 22:16; Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10–11; Psalm 68:18; Psalm 110:1. Fulfilled: 1 Peter 2:21–22; Luke 23:33; Acts 2:25–32; Acts 1:9; Hebrews 1:3.

So to answer the question we began this with: Should we celebrate birthdays? Yes, we do this every year on the Feast of Trumpets in honor of the Messiah.

 

 

We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading which can be found at? https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv.pdf

 

20/09/2014      Ex 6     1 Kings 11-12     Ps 110-111       Luke 21

 

The Miracles Begin (Exodus 6:28—8:19)

Moses was now in his 80th year. He was beginning the final 40 years of his life in leading the nation of Israel to the Promised Land. Moses and Aaron had been prepared by God to understand that Pharaoh would be very stubborn, regardless of the miracles that were to be performed. Pharaoh also had some “tricks” that could be performed through his magicians—perhaps even with demonic help. Pharaoh’s magicians somehow imitated the first three miracles that Moses displayed (those with the snakes and the first two plagues—the water to blood and the frogs). After that, the magicians could no longer duplicate or simulate miraculous plagues. The ability to work magic with snakes was a skill in which the Egyptian magicians apparently prided themselves: “The power to control and direct the movements of such venomous reptiles was one of the things of which the Egyptian was most proud, and in which he was most skilfull, already in the time when the pyramids were being built” (E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, 1971, p. 5). This could have been akin to snake charming, a fleshly skill, or something supernatural—originating from Satan, the chief serpent. The New Testament tells us the names of the chief magicians were Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8). Their magic, though powerful, was not equal to the power by which God worked through Moses. Nevertheless, even after the power of God prevailed, Pharaoh did not listen.

In the future, the Bible reveals, an awesome geopolitical power known as “the beast” will arise on the world scene. Its leader will be a dictator like Pharaoh and, as Pharaoh was with the priests of Egypt, he will be in league with a false religious power that will perform many wonders and miracles. Will we be able to discern the power of God as opposed to the power of this false system? There are those who will be deceived (Revelation 13:13-14). Through His written Word, God promises that if we stay close to Him, we will not be deceived.

Returning now to the chapters of today’s reading, let us examine the first three plagues on Egypt—plagues that even the Israelites experienced.

1. Waters made blood: Each of the plagues of Egypt was an assault on multiple Egyptian gods. For instance, the plague on the waters was a slap at Khnum, the giver of the Nile; at Hapy, the spirit of the Nile; at Sodpet, the god of Nile floodwaters; at Osiris, whose bloodstream was the Nile; at Edjo, the goddess of the Delta; at Hatmehyt, guardian goddess of fish and fishermen; and at various other deities that should have been looking out for the Egyptians. Whether the waters were turned into actual blood is unclear. It is possible that the waters simply appeared this way. The Nelson Study Bible points out, “The Hebrew word translated blood can refer to a red color, as in Joel 2:31…. [It] might be that God caused torrential rains to flood and pollute the sources of the Nile to create this plague…. Red soil and algae would make the waters of the Nile red, unfit for drinking and deficient in oxygen for the fish” (1997). Indeed, volcanic or meteoric activity could cause a similar pollution of blood-red coloring, as appears to be the case in a prophesied future event in Revelation 8:8. And the Bible does seem to indicate that there was geologic upheaval at the time of the Exodus (compare Psalm 114:1-6). In any case, no matter what the actual change in Egypt’s waters was, and no matter how God brought it about, the important thing to realize is that He brought it about. It was clearly a divine miracle.

2. Frogs: One of the gods worshiped by the Egyptians was Heket, whose image was a frog or a woman with the head of a frog. Heket was the goddess of birth, midwives and safe deliveries (frogs, in moderate numbers, being seen as signs of life, renewal and happiness). After the overabundance of them, and then the stench of huge piles of dead frogs, it would seem that the goddess Heket would have lost credibility. Furthermore, the court of Hapy, mentioned above, included crocodile gods and frog goddesses. And the primordial gods Nun, Kek and Heh were each depicted as a man with a frog’s head. This plague, though imitated by the magicians, causes Pharaoh to yield. But his stubbornness then prevails and he changes his mind.

3. Lice: Though the Egyptians revered no specific god of lice, so far as we know, they did worship an insect God—Kheper, who was represented as a scarab beetle. Furthermore, we should see how this plague was a slap at the Egyptian gods in general—who were unable to protect their subjects from the infestation. Indeed, Har-pa-khered (Horus in child form) was invoked to ward off dangerous creatures, while Imhotep was besought as a god of medicinal healing. But beseech as they might, there was no relief. Even Pharaoh himself was considered a god—the divine incarnation of the sky and sun god Horus—yet he personally suffered from this plague. The lice infestation could not be imitated by the magicians. They, therefore, yield—but Pharaoh does not.

Jeroboam and the Beginning of Division (1 Kings 11:26-43; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31)

The consequences of Solomon’s idolatry continued to accumulate. Jeroboam was an industrious soldier who came to Solomon’s attention. Seeing his diligence, Solomon appointed Jeroboam to oversee the workforce of the house of Joseph. Then the word of the Lord came to the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite. Ahijah met Jeroboam and declared that God would rend the kingdom—10 tribes—away from Solomon’s son and give it to him instead, and he informed Jeroboam that all this would happen because of Solomon’s idolatry.

Word of this transaction reached Solomon, and his reaction shows just how far from his wisdom Solomon had fallen: he tried to have Jeroboam murdered. What folly! If God has appointed a thing to happen, can a mere man, even one as intelligent and powerful as Solomon, frustrate the plans of the Almighty? Nevertheless, Solomon foolishly thought that he could end the Lord’s plan by dispensing with Jeroboam.

Solomon did have good reason to fear Jeroboam, though. Jeroboam was a “mighty man of valor” (an accomplished soldier) and very industrious—two qualities that make for a strong leader. But more importantly, Jeroboam was an Ephraimite who, as a result of his position managing the Ephraimite workforce, had no doubt cultivated relationships with the wealthy and powerful of that tribe. Given the longstanding rivalry between Ephraim and Judah (Solomon’s tribe), Solomon had every reason to view Jeroboam as a very potent rival to his throne. Indeed, there was more than mere rivalry between Ephraim and Judah. Even during David’s kingdom, the northern tribes of “Israel” were cautious and reluctant about accepting a king from Judah. Solomon’s hold on the northern tribes was thus perhaps somewhat tenuous anyway. They were probably willing to assert their independence from Judah any time they no longer liked the political arrangement, and Solomon would surely have been well aware of this.

That Jeroboam was able to flee to Egypt for protection also implies that the alliance Solomon had forged with Egypt through his marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh was now either failing or already defunct. The Pharaoh gave Jeroboam protection in the hopes of allying Jeroboam to Egypt. Thus, at the end of Solomon’s life we see foreign enemies in the north, southeast and south, and a rival to the throne being given protection by the powerful and influential ruler of Egypt.

In Ahijah’s declaration, we see that “the kingdom” was to be taken from Solomon and given to Jeroboam. “The kingdom” is further defined as “ten tribes.” Why is this? Solomon’s son Rehoboam would naturally retain leadership of his own tribe, Judah. But as a concession for David’s sake, God allowed one other tribe, Benjamin, to be subject to Solomon’s son as well. There is good reason for this. When David became king of all Israel, he moved his capital from Hebron, the Judahite capital, to Jerusalem, a city lying just within Benjamite territory but administered by Judah. This was as a concession to the northern tribes. By moving to Jerusalem, David became less “Jewish,” so to speak, and more “Israelite,” and therefore more acceptable to the northerners. If Rehoboam had lost all the other tribes—including Benjamin—he, as a Judahite, would likely have been forced back to Hebron at some point, probably under Israelite pressure, abandoning Jerusalem and the temple. By allowing Solomon’s son to continue to reign over Benjamin, God continued a powerful geographical motivation to keep Jerusalem as the center of Judah’s government and the seat of God’s worship.

Solomon’s Heart Turns From God (1 Kings 11:1-25)

For all his wisdom, for all his marvelous insight, for all his education, Solomon drifted away from God. Wisdom is good, and much to be desired, but Solomon never learned (or learned much too late if Ecclesiastes was his end-of-life reflection) that there is one thing that is far above wisdom and much more to be desired than all the wealth that Solomon’s wisdom brought him—a faithful heart yielding to the commands of God. When God gives gifts to people, He allows those people the choice of whether to use them or not. Every believer can either use or not use the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is why the apostle Paul admonished the evangelist Timothy to “stir up the gift that is in you” (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6)—and why he admonishes all believers not to stifle or suppress that gift (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

First Kings 11 begins by succinctly stating the cause of Solomon’s idolatry: “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites…. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.” As we read earlier, many of Solomon’s wives and concubines were undoubtedly the result of foreign alliances, as was the custom of the day. God knew these customs, and He commanded Israel’s kings not to engage in them. While certain alliances were apparently permitted (with the understanding that God was the true source of security), multiple wives for the king as a consequence of the alliances were not. Nor were marriages to women of peoples God had expressly forbidden. Solomon, then, disobeyed—even though he most likely knew of these prohibitions (compare Deuteronomy 17:18-20; 7:1-4).

It is explicitly stated that Solomon turned away from God “when he was old” (1 Kings 11:4). Of course, he couldn’t have been that old, as he apparently didn’t reach the age of 60. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s Commentary notes regarding Solomon’s apostasy in verse 4, “He could not have been more than fifty.” Still, a man’s vitality naturally diminishes with age. No doubt Solomon’s wives, having never given up their gods, continually pressured him concerning their religion and how certain forms of worship were required of them. Although Solomon penned Proverbs 27:15-16, he likely became a victim of its dynamics. And no doubt this idolatry came upon him by degrees, starting small and increasing over time. Perhaps he first allowed his wives to possess small images. Gradually, perhaps, the idols became bigger, required shrines and demanded rites and ritual. However it happened, it surely did not happen all at once. Sin usually increases through neglect and compromise over time. Solomon’s example should serve as instruction for God’s people today to not compromise with His revealed ways and to shun intermarriage with anyone who is not spiritually likeminded (see 2 Corinthians 6:11-18; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

The result of Solomon’s compromise and idolatry was that ultimately Israel would be split into two rival kingdoms. Solomon’s son would not be the king of a wealthy nation with worldwide trading interests, but the potentate of a small kingdom with greatly reduced wealth and little power. Even before the rupture of the kingdom, God allowed the peace and security Solomon had inherited, nurtured and enjoyed to be taken away by an increasing number of adversaries and unfaithful allies. Turning away from the simple and plain commands of God never results in greater peace and happiness, but always in frustrating and persistent problems that rob us of the life and peace God wants us to enjoy.

Jeroboam’s Idolatry (1 Kings 12:25-33; 2 Chronicles 11:13-17)

Jeroboam set about securing his kingdom and decided to pursue a diabolical and disastrous strategy. Thinking that the people of Israel might change their minds and be persuaded to return to Rehoboam if they continued assembling for worship at Jerusalem during the feasts, Jeroboam decided the most practical and expedient course of action would be to change the religion in northern Israel and thereby keep the people away from Solomon’s temple.

Accordingly, he created two golden calves and placed one in Dan and one in Bethel, meaning House of God. These locations were strategic. Dan was Israel’s northernmost city, and thus would attract worshipers from those in the far north. Bethel was in Ephraim, near the southern border of Jeroboam’s kingdom and not far from Jerusalem. Being along the main route to Jerusalem, Jeroboam’s new worship center would attract those formerly accustomed to going to Jerusalem to worship. Why did Jeroboam choose calves as the primary symbols of his new religion? No doubt this was influenced by the time he had spent in Egypt—where bull worship had long been a prominent feature of Egyptian religion. Variations of this worship, which also incorporated bulls and calves, were also popular in the nations around Israel and Judah.

Jeroboam was a practitioner of syncretism—blending of traditions, beliefs and elements from different religions with God’s true religion, which God strictly forbids (Deuteronomy 12:29-31). Some elements, such as priests, worship centers and religious festivals, to some degree imitated the worship system God had established. Yet Jeroboam added his own twists for his own ends and purposes. He palmed off his plans under the guise of making worship easier for Israel. Why have all Israel go to Jerusalem in the far south? Why not make the worship of God easier and establish two worship sites in Israel, making the trip far less cumbersome?

The New King James Version records Jeroboam’s proclamation as, “Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28). But it could also be translated, “Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt,” as the Hebrew Elohim can be translated as either “God” or “gods” and the verb in this case fits both plural and singular usage. Notice that in the account where Aaron was prodded into making the golden calf at Mount Sinai, the older King James translates Exodus 32:4 as “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Yet the New King James renders this as “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” The NKJV translated it this way because there was only one calf at Sinai. So does the existence of two calves in 1 Kings 12 denote two gods? Not necessarily—for in paganism multiple images can represent the same deity. And that is most likely what Jeroboam meant. Just as the golden calf at Mount Sinai was made to represent “the LORD” (Exodus 32:4-5), so the two golden calves of Jeroboam were both made to represent the same God—again, the true God. Yet God saw the worship introduced by Jeroboam as worshiping demons (2 Chronicles 11:15; compare 1 Corinthians 10:20).

Notice some of Jeroboam’s other changes. He rejected the Levitical priesthood, replacing it with non-Levites who would attend to and administer the new religion (1 Kings 12:31). He “made priests of the lowest of people” (Green’s Literal Translation), those who were willing to make any religious compromise necessary. As a result, we find the added detail in 2 Chronicles 11 of the migration of faithful Levites from Israel to Judah. The stated reason given is their loss of position (verse 14). Nevertheless, the fact that they were thoroughly taught, trained and practiced in the law of God was surely a contributing factor to their devotion to remain true to God’s worship system and support the Davidic ruler, Rehoboam.

Jeroboam’s new religion, it should be pointed out, was not really all that new. He still worshiped God in name, but with his own changes. Idolatry was sanctioned, acceptable places for worship were changed and a new priesthood—one personally loyal to Jeroboam—was inaugurated. Jeroboam did not rush wholesale into apostasy, the worship of a foreign god. Instead he merely “made things a little easier” for Israel to “worship the God of Abraham.” Such gradual change is typically the pattern of apostasy—and we must always be on guard against it. This is not to say that we should never change or grow in understanding as God makes biblical truth clearer to us. We absolutely must. But we must be extremely careful to “prove all things” according to God’s Word and “hold fast” what we recognize to be His clearly revealed truth and will (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV).

The Bible makes it clear that Jeroboam bears heavy accountability for deliberately initiating a counterfeit religion and setting such an evil precedent for succeeding kings of Israel. Jeroboam remains infamous long after his death, Scripture repeatedly branding him as one who “made Israel sin” (2 Kings 10:31; 13:6; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24). The Israelite kings Baasha, Zimri, Omri, Ahab and Ahaziah are all said to have “walked in the way of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 15:33-34; 16:19, 26, 31; 22:52). Jehoram “persisted in the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kings 3:3). Jehu, Jehoash, Jeroboam II and Zechariah “did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kings 10:29; 13:11; 14:23-24; 15;8-9, 18). Jehoahaz “followed the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kings 13:2). And note this stinging indictment: “Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin” (2 Kings 17:21).

Rehoboam Loses the Kingdom (1 Kings 12:1-24; 2 Chronicles 10:1-11:4)

Now the terrible consequences of Solomon’s idolatry will begin to unfold for the entire people of Israel. Rehoboam goes to Shechem for his coronation. Prior to the coronation, however, the people of Israel had called Jeroboam back from Egypt, intending to make him their spokesman. Solomon’s great building plans had required heavy taxes and forced labor, though some of the people were becoming wealthy through the trading empire Solomon had built (1 Samuel 8:11-18; 1 Kings 4:7; 9:15). With the accession of a new king, the people sought relief from the taxation.

That this was a well-orchestrated effort at taxation reform is indicated by the people’s united activity and their selection of Jeroboam as spokesman. It also indicates that the house of Ephraim was likely the main force behind the united effort. Israel’s kings were limited, constitutional monarchs, Samuel having set down in a written document the rights and responsibilities of the king according to God’s law (1 Samuel 10:25; compare Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Absolute monarchs, by contrast, have no such limits.

Rehoboam proved himself to be a stubborn and foolish young man, which his father had worried over (see Ecclesiastes 2:18-19). His insensitivity to the request of his own people, and his apparent unawareness of the well-ordered petition brought by an Ephraimite in the land of Ephraim, showed him to be of dull discernment and unfeeling heart. That Shechem was the place where Israel had formerly bound themselves to God as their sole Sovereign (Joshua 24:23-25) also seems to have eluded the young heir to the throne. Rehoboam also seemed oblivious to the fact that all of Solomon’s counselors, who were older and more mature than his less-experienced friends, advised him to reduce the heavy taxation—an indication that they too recognized the excesses of Solomon. Rehoboam was unable to recognize sound counsel when he heard it.

Indeed, the young man’s judgment fell far short of the wisdom his father counseled in the book of Proverbs—and this despite the book’s many appeals to “My son,” i.e., to Rehoboam primarily. Yet really that should come as no surprise—since Solomon set such a bad example of not following it all himself. It may even be that Solomon was too distracted with his thousand wives and the administration of his kingdom to properly train Rehoboam for his future responsibility—so that the young man lacked a sound foundation for rulership. Furthermore, “the turn of events was from the Lord”—to bring about the divine punishment of Solomon that his heirs were to suffer (1 Kings 12:15).

The rebellion at Shechem was quickly followed by the anointing of Jeroboam as king of Israel. Rehoboam marshaled his troops, from Judah and Benjamin, to crush the rebellion, but a message from God forbade the contemplated assault, and Rehoboam relented.

“Save With Your Right Hand”

Psalm 110 is a royal psalm of David that affirms the divinity of the Messiah. Note that the psalm begins in verse 1 with “the LORD”-i.e., YHWH (He Is Who He Is, the Eternal God)-giving subordinate regal rule at His right hand to another whom David refers to as “my Lord” (Adoni, meaning “Master”). David was the king of Israel. Who, if not God, was over him as his Lord?

Prior to Yeshua’s day, the Jews viewed this psalm as messianic. They saw David here looking to the future Messiah or Christ, the anointed King who would establish the Kingdom of God over all nations. Yet other passages showed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, which was seemingly problematic for Psalm 110. Yeshua used these points in confounding the Pharisees. Note this exchange from Matthew 22 (which gives evidence of the Jewish messianic interpretation of Psalm 110 and confirms David as the psalm’s author):

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Yeshua asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’

“They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’

“He said to them, ‘How then does David call Him ‘Lord,’ saying [in Psalm 110:1]: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?’ And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him anymore” (verses 41-46; compare Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44).

It was unheard of that a forefather would call a descendant “Lord” (i.e., Master). Moreover, how could David, as the founding father of his dynasty, refer to a king to follow in his stead as his Lord? Some have proposed that David was referring to Solomon when he became king in David’s place while David was still alive. Yet this seems rather unlikely-for why then would the religious teachers of Christ’s day have been confounded? Indeed, David shortly before his death still issued commands to Solomon. So Solomon was not David’s Lord.

Following Yeshua and the emergence of renewed assemblies, a new Jewish explanation came about-that le David (“of David”) in the psalm’s title meant not by David but regarding David and that the psalm was written by one of David’s subjects. Yet this was obviously not the traditional understanding in Yeshua’s day, as His exchange with the Pharisees makes clear. They considered David the author, as Yeshua affirmed. It is interesting that le David in the titles of the preceding psalms (108 and 109) was and still is understood in Jewish interpretation to mean that David wrote these.

The apparent dilemma of having David as the author is resolved if we understand that the messianic descendant of David is also Himself divine. Yet the wording of Psalm 110:1 does not seem to merely say that a future messianic King would one day be David’s Lord. David, rather, appears to say that this One was already his personal Lord-that is, One he already served. This truly makes sense only if David recognized two divine beings existing at that time-one subordinate to the other. So here we have an Old Testament revelation of the existence of God and the Word-later known as God the Father and God the Son (Yeshua). While this was not generally understood by the Israelites, it should not surprise us to see that God’s specially inspired prophets glimpsed this important truth.

The apostle Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 as applying to Yeshua as the subordinate “Lord” at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36). The verse is also quoted in Hebrews 1:13, which shows that this position was given to Yeshua and not to the angels.

Whereas Psalm 110:1 describes both Lords from a third-person perspective, verses 2-3 are written in second person-with David using the words “You” and “Your” in addressing the messianic King directly. Depending on the context, the name YHWH (represented here as “LORD”) could refer to God the Father or to the One who became the Messiah, Yeshua-or to both. In keeping with verse 1, the use of  “LORD” in verse 2 still clearly refers to the Father. The “You” and “Your” with the “rod of…strength” or “mighty scepter” (NIV) in verses 2-3 must refer to the Messiah. Note God making “Your [the Messiah’s] enemies” a footstool (subservient) in verse 1 and the mention again of “Your [the Messiah’s] enemies” in verse 2.

David in verse 3 tells his messianic Lord that His people will be “volunteers” when the Lord comes in power. The wording here is “lit[erally] ‘freewill offerings,’ i.e., they will offer themselves as dedicated warriors to support [the Messiah] on the battlefield…. Accordingly, Paul speaks of Christ’s followers offering their bodies ‘as living sacrifices’ (Ro 12:1) and of himself as a ‘drink offering’ (Php 2:17)” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 110:3). The latter part of verse 3 apparently depicts the Messiah “as clothed in royal majesty and glory and perpetually preserving the bloom of youth even as the ‘womb of the dawn’ gives birth each morning to the dew” (same note).

Verse 4 is either another third-person description of a divine conversation or a continuation of the second-person address to the Messiah. God is quoted as telling the divine Messiah, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek (meaning “King of Righteousness”) was in Abraham’s day the King of Salem (meaning King of “Peace”) and priest of God Most High (see Genesis 14:18-20). He was evidently a preincarnate manifestation of Yeshua (see “Who Was Melchizedek?” in our free booklet Who Is God?, pp. 32-33). Unlike the later Aaronic priesthood, His priesthood was not established on the basis of His descent within a priestly tribe. Rather, it was by direct divine appointment. Yeshua would continue in this priestly role on the same basis. Discussion over this point, citing Psalm 110:4, can be found in Hebrews 5:5-11 and 6:20-7:28.

The declaration in Psalm 110 of the Messiah as a priest was a source of confusion for many of the Jews of Christ’s day, leading some to mistakenly think that besides a Davidic Messiah of the line of Judah, there would also be a Messiah of the line of Aaron, who was from the tribe of Levi (and, outside the scope of this discussion, some also believed in a Messiah of the tribe of Joseph). Yet the one Messiah was to be both King and Priest. We will look further into the concept of the Melchizedek priesthood in our later reading of the book of Hebrews.

Note next the opening words of Psalm 110:5: “The Lord is at Your right hand.” The Lord (Adonai) at the beginning of the verse is evidently the Messianic King, Yeshua, who is at the right hand of the Father (see Acts 5:31; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1). For recall from verse 1 the Father’s appointment of the Lord (Yeshua) to sit at His right hand. Therefore, verses 4-7 must constitute an address to God the Father about the future rule of the messianic Lord-thus reciting back to God, in hope and trust, what God has revealed. Yshua will execute divine judgment throughout the world and achieve victory.

“He Has Sent Redemption to His People”

Psalms 111-119 all untitled with no attributed authorship, form “a cluster of nine psalms framed by unusual alphabetic acrostics (…Ps 111 [112]; 119) that enclose the ‘Egyptian Hallel’ (…Ps 113-118) [so named because of the use of these hallel or ‘praise’ psalms at Passover in celebration of the Israelites’ deliverance in Egypt]. The framing psalms that enclose the celebration of redemption contained in the Hallel offer instruction in the piety that must characterize those who join in the celebration of God’s saving acts on behalf of his people” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalms 111-119).

Close comparison of Psalms 111 and 112 “shows that these two psalms are twins, probably written by the same author and intended to be kept together…. Structurally, both Ps 111 and Ps 112 are alphabetic acrostics…but unique in that each (Hebrew) half-line advances the alphabet…. Both of these twin psalms are composed of the same number of Hebrew syllables” (note on Psalm 111). Both psalms begin with “Praise the LORD!” or Hallelujah. And Psalm 112 picks up thematically where Psalm 111 leaves off.

While Psalm 111 praises God for His great works-creative, providential and redemptive-the focus is on studying these works as part of wisdom instruction to see the benefits of following Him (see verse 2). God intended His works to be remembered and considered (verse 4). All that He does is characterized by enduring righteousness, grace, providence, truth and justice toward His people (see verses 3-7). Verses 7-8 declare God’s precepts, His laws, to be absolute and eternal. In verse 9, God’s redemption of His people harkens back to His deliverance of Israel from Egypt as well as to other acts of deliverance He performed for their benefit. The psalmist implicitly includes here future redemption through the sacrifice of Yeshua, for he states in the same context that God’s covenant with His people is forever.

Where verse 5 says God provides for those who “fear Him”-who appropriately respect His great power and holy demands, understanding the consequences of disobedience-verse 10 adds the fact that this proper fear of God is “the beginning of wisdom” (see also Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). We are further told that “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). The italicized words here would literally be “who do them”-yet the plural pronoun in the Hebrew must refer back to “precepts” in verse 7-the “they” of verse 8. Nothing helps to understand the purpose for God’s laws more than actually living by them. The more we follow them and experience their benefits, the better we understand why God commanded them.

The conclusion of the psalm refers back to its opening call for praise of the Lord-affirming that His praise, like His enduring praiseworthy attributes (compare verses 3, 7, 9), will go on for eternity (verse 10).

Luke 21

Yeshua teaches about giving, how it is not the amount you give, but what and how much the giving actually costs the giver. His taught ones were admiring the beauty of the set apart place and Yeshua prophesies the destruction of it. His taught ones asked Him when these things will happen and immediately Yeshua warns them not to be deceived. For He tells them many will come in His Name claiming to be the Messiah, but they will not be.

Yeshua prophesies about the wars, earthquakes, famines, diseases, horrors, and great signs in the heavens. He also prophesies persecution, arrest, imprisonment, and death, betrayal and trials. But He tells them not to worry, He will give them what to say. He explains how events will become very great upon the earth, but by this also, we shall know that His return is near. We are to not fall prey to the worries of this life and world but to watch continually and always make ourselves ready.