News Letter 5846-025
25th day of the 5th month 5846 years after creation
The 5th Month in of the first year of the third Sabbatical Year
The Third Sabbatical Year of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
August 7, 2010,
Shabbat Shalom Family,
This week we have way too much to share once again, but all of it is important for you to understand. Much of this is what I show people in Jerusalem when we go there. Here is just some of this week’s subjects we shall cover; The Dome of the Rock; The Mount of Oils and the Shekinah; The days of Gibeah; The dietary laws.
I would like to apologize for the length of this week News Letter but I cannot. We are in the last days and as such it is as if we are cramming before the final examine. There is much to cover and a very short time to do so. We also have many false teachings to remove from our current life styles. So turn off the TV, buckle down and study the word of Yahovah. Either through this News letter or another, but do not neglect your study. Time is fleeting and it will soon be time to flee.
Stretch this study out over the coming week. They will not all be like this all the time but this week it is.
In scriptures is a prophecy about the King of the South attacking the King of the North and is written about in Daniel 11: 40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind , with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over . 41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown : but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
In the Trumpet last week was the following article about the current situation in Egypt and how the Brotherhood is situated to take control of Egypt. We are indeed living in exciting times.
Human Events, Robert Spencer | July 27 www.thetrumpet.com
Muslim Brotherhood Jockeys for Power in Egypt
The Islamic supremacist group known as the Muslim Brotherhood, which is dedicated, according to a captured internal document, to eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, has its best chance in years to take power in Egypt, with implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has terminal stomach cancer, and is not expected to survive beyond another year. Mubarak has anointed his son Gamal as his successor; however, the Brotherhood, from which sprang both Hamas and al Qaeda, could attempt to seize power upon the elder Mubarak’s death, and is maneuvering now to ensure that once Hosni Mubarak is gone from the scene, the Muslim Brothers will be more powerful than ever.
The Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, but often runs candidates in Egyptian elections as independents. In this way it won one fifth of the seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections.
Gamal Mubarak said in July 2008, in a clear reference to the Brotherhood, that “confessional political parties” were “multiplying anti-Western references” and thereby “building barriers between the different cultures” and “destroying the bridges between the Eastern and Western worlds that the past generations had so much trouble building.” …
But will he be able to out-maneuver the Brotherhood? If the Brotherhood succeeds in imposing a sharia regime in Egypt via a figurehead or weak ElBaradei presidency, the Camp David Accords, already much transgressed and ignored by Egyptian authorities, could be swept aside altogether.
Egypt could follow Turkey’s path of a new belligerence toward Israel as it jockeys for power with the Saudis and the Turks among the major players of the Sunni Muslim world. If, on the other hand, it wins enough concessions from Gamal Mubarak and his ailing father to push forward its agenda with new energy, confidence, and power, an Egyptian sharia state inveterately hostile to the United States and Israel is not necessarily forestalled, but merely postponed.
Hosni Mubarak is the third Egyptian strongman in a row to keep a lid on the Brotherhood’s power. Whether his son will be able to do so as well remains to be seen—but if he doesn’t, the consequences of an Egyptian political scene dominated by the Brotherhood will almost certainly extend far beyond the borders of Egypt itself.
Last week’s News Letter brought the following emails;
I see you have been busy 3/4 mil. hits on your site. WOW!
It has been several weeks since I had visited. However I see our studies are still in sink.
Day before yesterday I was looking into ‘the night of broken glass’ and The events leading up to it. Haunting how one can see the shadowing of this government is heading, in the same direction. That night I asked my husband do you think the Jews wanted to leave their homes, families, and business? However had they known what was in store for them would they have stayed? He seems to think he can stand and fight, I let him know he would be shot on the spot.
Looks like you have become a very busy man since I started receiving your New Letter back when..Yah’s work though is fulfilling for sure.
What is our status as far as immigrating to our home land? Can a visa be had and for how long? Keep me informed as to all that is goings on as far as the land you are looking at and so forth. I am interested for sure if permanent status can be arranged. Things here is the US are not looking good for sure.
You spoke of a special feeling when you visited Israel. Even though I have not been in Israel I have spent time in the middle east working in Iraq and visited Turkey on occasion. In Turkey, it in a way felt like I was supposed to be there, strange. In my heart I know we must try and leave this country soon. It’s just not home anymore.
Stand fast Brother,
…….I am in the Air Force though. I am honored to be in the Air Force, ……….
I certainly have conflicts between my walk of Faith and the Commander in Chief, and as you know, our country is a ticking time bomb. I have visions of being called to the Air Force Base to enforce Martial Law, or something horrible like that.
Thank you for your obedience to Our Father. You are also a prophet, standing in the gap and gaping hole of little sheep wandering out into the world, and to their death. You are guiding them back in to the Truth of Torah, back to the Father. I love you and thank you for that. You have our support always through prayer.
Anyway – thank you and will be visiting your FB page, always sighted moon too!
In recent weeks we have been exposing the liars and false doctrines that have crept into the True Torah teachings of Scriptures which Yeshua and the Apostles all spoke out against. With each article a number of people wrote in to express their views about me stepping on their toes.
This week’s News Letter will also upset a number of people and brethren. Amongst those who are into Kabalah are Madonna , Lindsay Lohan, Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard, Anthony Kiedis, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Lucy Liu, Rosie O’Donnell, Naomi Campbell, Pierre Lewis, Alex Rodriguez, Donna Karan, Mischa Barton, Britney Spears, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, James Van Der Beek, Heather McComb, Zac Efron, and Lauren Conrad. And maybe some of you.
Make sure you read the end notes on this article.
The Quest for Qabalah
Uncovering the Intents of the Heart
by Stephen P. Dehnke
The abrupt death of a friend earlier this year led to a shocking discovery and an unsettling question of faith that has haunted me ever since. Although several months have since past, I still feel at a loss to come to an explanation. While this has been a remorseful experience for me, perhaps it will serve as a warning for others who might find themselves going down a similar road to perdition.
My friend died just before sundown ushered in a weekly Sabbath. It came as a terrible shock to everyone who knew him. Even in death, he entered into his Sabbath’s rest. He was Shabbat Shomer, an observant keeper of YHWH’s weekly day of rest – the eternal sign between Him and His people, Exd. 31:13-17. We both had been taught to keep the Torah strictly as a demonstration of our daily devotion and love for the Most High. Our friendship was forged by common experiences along the Narrow Way and a love for YHWH and His Word.
The previous year had been especially difficult for him. My friend had an unexpected seven-month “hiatus” that kept him away from home during the entire time. For him, the experience was profound. It forced him to rethink some things, especially his relationship with his Heavenly Father.
After his hiatus ended, he confided to me that his unpleasant experience led him to reconsider his interest in Jewish mysticism, known as the Qabalah, also spelled Qabbala, Kabbalah, Cabala, and numerous other variations. (1) His zeal was such that he had endeavored to go as far deep into learning Qabalastic mysteries as he was able. He eventually regretted that decision.
Meanwhile, certain other Hebraic Roots believers, themselves Qabalah proponents, had encouraged him onward. He ordered books, received newsletters, and searched the Internet, acquiring a vast amount of information on the subject. Full of curiosity, he inundated himself in what had been considered for century’s hidden knowledge explaining the mysteries of the universe and the nature of the Almighty.
His desire to uncover hidden secrets, however, led him to go beyond the Qabalistic realm of Torah commentary into what many consider the supernatural realm of the occult. In that occult essentially means “hidden,” perhaps this should not have come as a total surprise, especially given the Qabalah’s unsavory reputation as a system for performing occult magic (2), sorcery, and divination. Before his hiatus, he managed to keep his esoteric involvement with the Qabalah hidden from me. After he returned, he eventually revealed a dark secret to: one that exploded like a bombshell in my face.
As if he had confessed to pigging out at a pig roast, I was shocked and appalled when he admitted that a former friend, who was also a professed Hebraic Roots-oriented Bible believer, had brought him a deck of Tarot cards and taught him how to “read” them. This person shared other questionable things with my friend as well.
And if that discovery was not enough to elicit my exasperation, he also divulged that he had engaged in candle magic to cast spells. It was like he admitting to being a sorcerer’s apprentice. By his sheepish expression, I could tell he was not proud of himself for engaging in these practices. He even admitted that he should never have done so. I think it was a huge relief for him just to confess to me that he had done these things.
However, instead of repenting and putting this problem behind him; he still wrestled with an unresolved issue.
Recalling from the Bible the incident with the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19 and the actions of good kings Hezekiah and Josiah to cleanse the ancient Jewish kingdom of heathen idolatry, I exhorted him to burn and destroy these abominable items immediately.
Without going into detail, he replied that he simply could not do so at that time. He explained the items could only be destroyed at the right time and only in a prescribed way. I tried arguing with him about it, but he kept to his position without backing down. Only as he said “when the time was right” would he be able to do what needed to be done.
I didn’t agree whatsoever, but I decided it was pointless to argue further. Instead, I chose to just let the matter go since it was obvious he was unwilling to be persuaded otherwise.
Presuming that he had been taken care of this matter as he said he would, I watched admiringly as he worked during the next months to develop a new overseas online Hebraic Roots outreach. This was his new daily passion. He was talking about developing other ministries as well. Meanwhile, he had taken a Nazirite vow, as per Num. 6, committing himself to spiritual purity while the vow remained in effect. Things were looking up for him.
A SHOCKING DISCOVERY
Five months after his occult confessions to me, I was notified of his sudden death. His passing occurred just days before Passover. The significance of this timing would manifest itself shortly to me.
During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I received a call from a mutual friend, who is a fellow Hebraic Roots believer. He had just helped clean out several items from our departed friend’s apartment. “There’s something you need to see for yourself,” he told me, proceeding to warn me in advance what to expect.
On the weekly Shabbat, I and another person drove to his house to engage in fellowship and Bible study, before attending a nearby worship event later that day featuring a renowned spiritual warfare speaker. Afterward that evening, we took care of the business that our departed friend had neglected to do long ago: burn and destroy two garbage bagfuls of occult paraphernalia that had accumulated in his apartment. Evidently, something had frightened him to the point where he refused to discard these items.
There were candles of various scents and colors, sachet bags filled with stinky powders for incantations, spell-casting directions, voodoo stuff, certain persons’ photographs with the backgrounds cut out, incense, assorted other stuff, and also — not entirely surprisingly – a deck of Tarot cards. Looks alone suggested something of a nefarious element here. Even the mingled odors of the various scented items smelled evil.
My friend never destroyed these items as he said would. To this day, I cannot understand why. I had no idea he had delved so deeply into what was clearly to me an abomination to YHWH. Tarot cards were just the beginning of an unhealthy spiritual sickness. Most of the items obviously were not intended for other people to see. Evidently, he planned to keep these things hidden until he figured out how to get rid of them.
As I reflected upon his situation, I thought of Messiah Yeshua’s warning about the Pharisees in Luke 12:2,
“But there is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” (3)
Perhaps most shocking of the items was a handwritten spell using YHWH’s name, essentially commanding the Most High to provide him with something that was unlawful for him to have.
The pastel colored inks used in the Tarot deck gave off a wild array of strange colors. While it burned, a nauseating stench filled the air. My stomach turned as we watched the items immolated and reduced to ashes. Afterward, the ashes were covered over with dirt. The non-burnable items were smashed and destroyed. A feeling of accomplishment came over me as we finished our Deu. 7:5 commanded duty.
Months later, I still do not understand what caused my friend to fail obliterating these occultic items from his life. What was he so afraid of? Was he fearful of a demonic retaliation? Had he made a covenant or vow in the supernatural realm that he feared was binding upon him? Had he pronounced a curse upon himself?
As I contemplated these questions, others came to mind as well: Why had my friend so flagrantly disobeyed the Torah’s prohibitions against engaging in the occult? Why had he placed his trust in demons over YHWH? And why was he convinced that YHWH could not deliver him from retaliatory demonic forces? What had become of his faith?
The more I pondered the situation, the more consternation I felt, especially that other professing believers apparently had influenced my friend to go in this direction. My main concern, though, was why he even let them.
I was stupefied in understanding why this man, who had a great zeal for Almighty YHWH and His Torah, who even considered becoming a minister at one point, would allow himself to fall into practices that were outright occultic in nature. Had a strong delusion come over him, as in 2Th. 2:11? This is my quest to learn how my friend had allowed himself to become so terribly deceived by something that may have looked attractive outwardly but inwardly was replete with red flag issues.
The Torah says the following about those who would lead one astray into idolatry: “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, that is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him.” Deu. 13:6-8.
Exd. 22:18 also came to mind, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (KJV). Other translations say “sorcerer” instead of “witch.” Except perhaps to Wiccans, it probably makes little difference which word is used here: by definition sorcery is witchcraft. (4) Regardless of what the politically correct crowd says, all witchery is wicked. YHWH looks upon it as an abomination.
Here, I must make a confession. I was not only upset but utterly LIVID that others who professed to be fellow believers and observant of the Torah had shamelessly encouraged my friend to go in this direction. I praise the Almighty, though, that my friend at least realized what he was doing was evil and put a stop to it. If only he would have come totally clean on his situation by having all those abominable items removed and destroyed. If only…
Following my awful discovery, I wondered what would have happened had I spoken out earlier against Qabalism as I had felt impelled to do. Perhaps things would have turned out much differently for my friend. Perhaps he would even still be alive.
To be sure, Qabalism was a hotly debated subject within the Messianic and Hebraic Roots movements. Whenever detractors pointed out that the Qabalah had pagan and occultic elements, its defenders would respond that there were essentially two types of Qabalah: kosher and non-kosher (with the kosher variety supposedly always spelled with a “K.” as in “Kabbalah” to differentiate it from occultic Qabala, spelled with a “Q.”). (5)
My position is that all Qabalah, regardless of its spelling, is based on a received tradition, thus rendering it suspect. The spelling with a “Q” instead of a “K” best reflects its Hebrew origin. There is probably no one “correct” spelling. As it is spelled in this article is an attempt to reflect its transliteration from Hebrew. More about the spelling and meaning of the term appears below.
Meanwhile, defenders of the Qabalah might allege that the non-kosher type is the one practiced commonly, including by pop celebrities and numerous Hollywood actors. Not surprisingly, this branch of Qabalah is riddled with pagan, occultic, and New Age spiritually unclean elements. Kosher Kabbalism, allegedly ascended above the corruptions of non-kosher Qabalism and supposedly offers a pure, mystical understanding of the Almighty’s nature, along with a deeper comprehension of the Scriptures.
At the time, rather than thoroughly investigating the Qabalah question for myself, however, I found it convenient for years to remain mostly ambivalent on the subject — and thereby decidedly neutral when the controversial subject came up. Shame on me!
PRIOR EXPOSURE TO QABALISTIC TEACHINGS
Although my position was essentially neutral, my intuition and limited knowledge on the subject told me there was much to be wary about its study and practice. Several years ago, I was invited to the U.S. Midwest for a Torah-observant Sukkoth, or Feast of Tabernacles. After I arrived, I realized that Qabalism was to be the main course of the feast.
A Hebraic Roots author who had written several books on Nazarene Messianic Qabalism was the featured guest speaker. His overhead PowerPoint presentations on Qabalistic concepts were, frankly, over my head (pun intended). At the time, the impression I had was that they were radical reinterpretations of the Creation account given in Genesis 1-2.
Another guest, with a similar religious background to mine, rejected the teachings outright as heretical and exited abruptly from the convocation. While I found myself troubled by some of the teachings presented, I felt at the time that it was worthwhile to learn more.
Eventually, two incidents convinced me that I too was in the wrong place.
One of the spiritual leaders and authorities on the Qabalah remarked to me at one point that “Yeshua’s problems were really with the Sadducees, rather than the Pharisees.” I could scarcely believe my ears at hearing such a statement. With numerous examples throughout the four gospels of contentions between the Pharisees and Yah’shua, it was clear to me that an effort was underway to reinterpret the Scriptural record of Yeshua’s life to exonerate the Pharisees.
Of course, to Jews, the Pharisees are looked upon favorably as the religious party that founded rabbinic Judaism and who also are the forefathers of modern Orthodox Judaism. With that telling remark, sadly that leader thereafter lost credibility with me.
Later, one of his Qabalah students presented a teaching on Lilith, the supposed first wife of Adam, in the Garden of Eden. His message cited traditional Jewish sources without once referencing the Biblical account in Genesis. At that point, I realized that tradition and questionable apocryphal accounts were being given greater credence over Holy Scripture. Appalled, I was reminded of Paul’s admonition in Tts. 1:13-14:
“This testimony is true. For which cause reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.”
Despite my protest to one of the event’s leaders over that teaching, it seems the matter was quickly disregarded. Although I did not abruptly walk away from that convocation as that other family had done earlier, I determined that I would not be returning to this feast site in the future.
Given this experience, it would have been easy for me then to dismiss all Qabalah teachings as suspect. Instead, I decided to set the subject aside and leave it alone for the meantime. While others might find it fascinating and perhaps even use it to broaden their Scriptural knowledge, my position was that Qabalah was not for me. For the meantime, I was content to just let it go at that.
Now, years later, my friend’s death has drawn me back to the subject. Relentlessly curious about this matter, I needed to understand why my friend, despite his outward zeal for Torah observance, had developed such an attraction for the dark side of Qabalah with its apparent anti-Torah elements. In time, I came to acknowledge that this issue was far more complicated than simply being an issue of right or wrong, truth or error, Biblical or unBiblical.
Deep down, I found that the quest for Qabalah is really a journey to discover the true intents of the heart. As observed in Jer. 17:9-10,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? I, YHWH, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”
BEGINNING THE QUEST
To begin the quest for understanding the nature of Qabalah, perhaps it would be best to examine the word itself. As mentioned above, I specifically chose this spelling because it seems to correspond best with the Hebrew spelling: qoph-beth-lameth-hey, as shown in Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s Hebrew-English Dictionary. The chosen spelling of “Qabalah” is my best attempt at a transliteration of the Hebrew term. As indicated by the –ah ending, Qabalah is a feminine term. Ben-Yehuda defines the word as “reception; tradition; cabala; mysticism.”
Regardless of how it is spelled in English, the term is typically defined as meaning “to receive.” (Please note that the spelling “Kabbalah” will often appear in the quotations cited in this article, along with variant spellings of other Hebrew words.)
Interestingly, this Hebrew term does not appear in the Bible.
However, its closest related term is Strong’s number H6901, qaval, qoph-beth-lameth, a primitive root, which means “to take, receive, be before.” In the Piel, or intensive, conjugation, it can mean “to take, choose, receive, accept, or assume.” In the Hiphil, or reflexive, sense, it can mean “to show appositeness” or “to correspond or receive one to the other.”
Qabal is one of seven Hebrew and Aramaic words in the Original Testament (OT), or TaNaK that are translated as “receive.” Meanwhile, there are 28 different Greek words in the King James Version (KJV) of the Nazarene Testament (NT) corresponding to “receive” or a form of the word.
Looking at the related Hebrew terms, we see that among the meanings of qaval, H6905, is “siege engine” and “battering ram,” perhaps conveying the idea of taking something by conquest or persistent force.
According to Gesenius Lexicon, H6906, qava’, qoph-beth-final ayin, means “to cover” and also suggests being in “hiding.”
Figuratively, the word can mean “to deceive, to defraud” someone, as in Mal. 3:8-9: “Will a man rob Elohim?” It also can mean “to despoil” someone, as per Prv. 22:23. In the KJV, it has been translated four times as “rob” and twice as “spoil.” These word meanings are important as we delve into understanding the nature of Qabalah.
The term Qabalah specifically refers to a received mystical tradition. Some say this tradition goes back as far back as Adam in the Garden of Eden and was passed down generation to generation since then. Some speculate that angels taught the mysteries of Qabalah to mankind. It is assumed these were not fallen angels. According to some traditions, Abraham learned of these mysteries and taught them to the Egyptians, who then supposedly developed their own esoteric teachings based on them.
Another explanation is that Moses received the teachings of the Qabalah from the Most High Himself while on Mt. Sinai after receiving the Torah and the Oral Tradition, or Oral Law, which is used to explain how the Torah was to be kept.
Commenting on this, the author of a general book about the Qabalah mentioned, “Adherents to the traditional orthodox approach believe that Kabbalah is divinely inspired and written under the influence of the Ruakh HaKodesh, literally ‘the Holy Spirit.’ People who maintain this orientation believe that Kabbalah, even though it is an oral tradition, has the authority of Scripture and that its insights are part of the oral Torah that Moses received at Mount Sinai.” (7)
The rabbinic Oral Tradition was later codified in the Talmud. Yah’shua takes issue repeatedly with the Pharisees’ observance of the Oral Law over the Written Word, such as in Mat. 15:3-6 and Mark 7:9-13.
Over time, Judaism developed a works-based theology based on the keeping of rabbinic traditions, which often contradicted teachings in the TaNaK. This is exhorted in 1Pe. 1:13-25, that one ought to put his hope of salvation by faith in Almighty YHWH and by keeping His Word, rather than living by the traditions of man (v. 18).
In any event, it is conceded that some Qabalistic teachings are indeed extremely ancient and may precede the 1st Century CE (or, AD). One notable Qabalistic book, “The Song of Sabbath Sacrifices,” was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls and also among the ruins at Masada. (8)
Scholars have suggested that the Apostle Paul was likely educated in Qabalistic thought in his schooling to become a leading 1st Century Phariseean rabbi. Also, Bible commentators have noted Qabalistic aspects in John 1 as the evangel begins by explaining Yeshua’s deistic nature. As with the prophetic books of Ezekiel and Daniel, some have suggested that the book of Revelation contains merkavah-type visions – in which one ascends to the heavenlies to Almighty’s throne — similar to those reportedly experienced by Qabalah adherents. Moreover, the book of Jude includes a quotation from the apocryphal book of Enoch, generally considered to be a book of Qabalistic authorship.
Undoubtedly, there is much about the Holy Scriptures that could be considered “hidden” or allegorical, especially the book of Song of Solomon. Yah’shua often chose to present His teachings in parables. Paul often wrote in a way that could be misunderstood by those not knowing his context, as Peter noted in 2Pe. 3:16.
Nevertheless, much of what we now refer to as Speculative or Theoretic Qabalah dates back to the Middle Ages. Practical or Hermetic Qabalah – the practice of esoteric Qabalah – dates back to antiquity. This branch merged with Qabalistic teachings during the late Middle Ages. As a result, Qabalah received the reputation for being occultic and often was equated with witchcraft.
“Kabbalah is a mixture of demonic activity, pagan philosophy, Gnosticism and the Hebrew Bible,” was the summation of one Messianic Jewish believer who wrote on the subject, adding that the mystical religious element in Judaism has always been influenced by outside beliefs and practices. (9) Given the recurring idolatry that occurred in Biblical times, it should come as no surprise that the Jewish religion continued to wrestle with corrupting foreign religious influences since then.
Perhaps for that reason, Orthodox Judaism generally has disdained the study of Qabalah. The medieval Church, which for centuries had antipathy for all things Jewish, also viewed it with great suspicion. Thus, Qabalism generally remained hidden and kept secret among relatively few.
Interestingly, the English word “cabal,” which has sinister and conspiratorial connotations, is derived from the word “Cabbala.” By definition, it refers to a small group meeting secretly. (10)
With the following comments, one contemporary Messianic writer, J.K. McKee, expressed his concerns about studying the Qabalah: (11)
“We have to be extremely cautious of teachings circulating in our midst, and IF SOMEONE IS BRINGING KABBALAH INTO OUR ASSEMBLIES, HE OR SHE MUST BE STOPPED. The origins of Kabbalah are not Biblical, and they lie with the occult and practices which are distinctly classified in the Bible as being divination. Divination is punishable by death according to the Scriptures (Exodus 22:18; cf. Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12).” (CAPITALIZATION for emphasis is mine.)
He further adds:
“The Book of Revelation says that ‘the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’ (21:8), plainly attesting that those who practice sorcery, esoterism (sic), asceticism, or anything related will be eternally separated from God. While some of these mystical teachings might sound good, and might tickle our ears, their origin is not the Holy Scriptures.” (12)
As modern watchmen, it is our duty to speak up against occultism and witchcraft when it tries to make its way into our congregations, fellowships, and study groups. Those who introduce such esoteric teachings should be gently shown their error but firmly told that there is no place for these things among fellow believers. If they persist in such matters, it may be best to tell them to leave.
“But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of.” 2Pe. 2:1-2.
More about Qabalah’s esoteric elements will be examined later. Certainly some fellow believers are deeply concerned with the teaching of Qabalism in view of the obvious connections to the occult. Before considering those elements, we will peruse some basic normative teachings.
EIN SOF AND THE SEFIROTIC TREE
“In the beginning, created Elohim the heavens and the earth.” No, this is not a careless typo or an inadvertent juxtaposition of words. The Qabalah presenter mentioned earlier suggested that this was perhaps how Gen. 1:1 ought to be translated, indicating that the Creator was initially the unnamed entity Ein Sof.”
Thus, as read, the unnamed entity created Elohim (usually translated in English as “God”). Furthermore, if commas are added after Elohim and the heavens, then the sentence grammatically reads as a series of things created: “…Elohim, the heavens, and the earth.”
At initially hearing this thought expounded, it seemed heretical to think of something greater than Elohim. In Qabalistic thought, though, Elohim resulted when Ein Sof – called “the Infinite, unknowable divinity” – contracted (a process called tzimtzum) to be able to create the universe.
In so doing, Elohim — a collective Hebrew noun which means Mighty Ones — manifested itself as ten emanations known collectively as the Sefirot Tree. These emanations, or Sefira, are known as follows, from top to bottom: (13)
1. Keter: Crown
2. Binah: Understanding
3. Chokhmah: Wisdom
4. Gevurah: Power (or Judgment)
5. Hesed: Love
6. Tiferet: Beauty (or Compassion)
7. Hod: Splendor
8. Netzach: Eternity
9. Yesod: Foundation (or Righteous One)
10. Shekhinah: Presence (Malkhut or Kingdom)
The Sefirotic Tree is preceded by an 11th entity, the Sefiroth First, the Horizon of Eternity, presumably a reference to the Ein Sof. The Sefirotic Tree, which is likened to the Tree of Life, appears in three columns. The left column – Binah, Gevurah, and Hod – are considered masculine while the right column –Chokhmah, Hesed, and Netzach — are feminine.
The 22 connections, or pathways, between the 10 emanations correspond to the 22 letters of the Hebrew language. Qabalists attempt to advance through the pathways as if consuming of the fruits of the Tree of Life until attaining enlightenment, or illumination.
Interestingly, though, after Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out of the Garden of Eden, a cherubim with a flaming sword was placed in the garden to prevent them from eating of the tree, Gen. 3:24. Thus, it would seem that eating of the Qabalist Tree of Life, the Sefirot, would be partaking of forbidden fruits.
The Sefirotic Tree also corresponds to four separate worlds: Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. Each is said be linked to one of the four letters in YHWH’s name: yothe-hey-waw-hey.
Trying to comprehend the Ein Sof and the Sefirotic Tree introduces the Bible student to supposedly a deeper understanding of YHWH’s nature. Needless to say, this new metaphysical understanding may seem extremely unfamiliar, as indicated in the following quotes:
“The entire world of the Sefirot was seen as symbolized in God’s explicit name, YHVH (YHWH). The yud (yothe), which begins the name, is the smallest letter in the alphabet and represents Chokhmah (wisdom), the flash of insight. Chokhmah is nourished in the ‘womb’ of Binah, which is a growth of comprehension that represents the nourished flesh of insight. Binah, the supernal Mother, is symbolized by the first hey in YHVH. Hey is the letter than ends most feminine singular words in Hebrew. The vav (waw), which is next in the Name, represents the next six Sefirot. Vav has the gematria of six. Finally, the last hey in YHVH symbolized Shekhinah, the other Mother/Bride/Queen that gives birth to the created universe by bringing forth Shefa (divine energy). (14)
“The other dominant symbol for the world of the Sefirot is that of the primordial human, Adam Kadmon, which is male and female together in one being. In this symbolic map of the Sefirot, each Sefira represents a different part of the body. The first three Sefirot are the head. Hesed is the right arm, and Gevurah is the left. Tiferet is the torso, Netzach the right leg, and Hod is the left leg. Yesod is the male sexual organ, Malkhut the female.” (15)
On a side note, much has been made of the symbolism of the double trapezoidal shape of the Sefirotic Tree. In reading over recent years about the alleged esoteric layout and architecture of Washington, DC, I recall an author suggested that the federal mall, extending from the Lincoln Memorial at the head eastward to the Capitol building below, represented the Sefirotic Tree.
Likewise, the Temples in Jerusalem also were situated toward the east.
The Washington Monument, the giant Egyptian-style obelisk (reportedly a word that signifies “shaft of Ba’al”), corresponds to the Yesod, the male sexual organ. Below, or further east, is the Capitol Building, with its prominent classical-style dome in the middle. This structure symbolizes Malkhut, or Kingdom, and represents a woman’s womb. (16)
Between the two structures lies the Reflecting Pool, which symbolizes the birth canal. The Reflecting Pool also serves to produce a duplicate image of the Capitol. This represents the primary occultic belief “As above, so below,” which also is a major tenet in Qabalistic thought.
Using this symbolism, one would arrive at the conclusion that the Capitol building, with its idol-like figurine of Liberty at its pinnacle, represents the Shekhinah, the supposed feminine presence or manifestation of YHWH, which some equate with the Holy Spirit.
For the Qabalistic mystic, the epitome of life is to engage in union (devekut) with the Shekhinah, bringing that person into the ecstatic sublime presence of the Almighty – also known as having a merkavah (chariot) experience, as in the chariot of fire that swooped up the prophet Elijah into the heavens, 2Kg. 2:11.
For this reason, married Qabalistic Jews believe that Shabbat evening (Fr-day night) is ideal for sexual intercourse. Here, the wife symbolizes the Shekhinah presence, with whom her husband seeks to join together in an ecstatic union. (17) This is encouraged despite the Torah statement in Lev. 15:16-18, 32 indicating that sexual relations make both persons ritually unclean. On the Sabbath, one should desire to appear before YHWH in a sanctified state, if possible, and forego relations during that set-apart 24-hour period. In Qabalism, though, the rule is to follow mystical rabbinic tradition over the plainly stated Written Word.
Teachings regarding the Shekhinah presence of the Almighty make Qabalism extremely attractive to those with a preference for feminism. To them, the notion that the Almighty manifests itself in an entity that is by nature feminine is more appealing than the Hebraic Roots patriarchal view of the Father and Son working together in ekhad, unity.
Meanwhile, back to the Qabalistic themes incorporated into the Washington, DC layout. In many religions, the godhead was presented as a trinity of deities: the divine father, mother, and son. Interestingly, the painting on the Capitol dome ceiling is called “The Apotheosis of George Washington.” It depicts the U.S. first president ascending to heaven and, in accordance with pagan tradition, being transformed and taking his place in the pantheon of gods. (18) Thus, the capitol dome, a symbol of the female womb, symbolizes the place where sons of gods are birthed. (19)
This pronounced esoteric symbolism seems more than just coincidental, especially when considering all the other Washington street-layout anomalies. Among these are the seemingly deliberate incomplete inverted pentagram (known as the Goat’s Head of Mendes) and the owl’s head symbol: both having profound meanings among occultists. (20)
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that several of the Founding Fathers were either Freemasons or were influenced by it. (21) In addition, it has been acknowledged within Freemasonry, despite its secretive nature, that its rituals and symbols are a reflection of the Hermetic Qabalistic tradition. (22) Those who are in the upper levels of Freemasonry are considered to be “enlightened ones” or “illuminated.” “Illumination” is also a key idea recurring throughout Qabalistic thought.
Thus, it came as no surprise to me when touring the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. and the George Washington Memorial Lodge across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia to find prominence given to the Name of YHWH in items used for ritualistic purposes. From Qabalistic literature on the subject, it would seem the emphasis on YHWH’s Name is not to bring glory to it, but to exalt its alleged magical qualities.
What is YHWH’s response to such blatant, not-so-hidden occultism? The prophet Micah delivers the answer in Mic. 5:10-15,
“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith YHWH, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and will destroy thy chariots: and I will cut off the cities of thy land, and will throw down all thy strongholds. And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers: and I will cut off thy graven images and thy pillars out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thy hands; and I will pluck up thine Asherim out of the midst of thee; and I will destroy thy cities. And I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations which hearkened not.”
Heavenly judgments have been pronounced. It is only a matter of time before the sentences are fully carried out here on earth.
“SACRED” BOOKS OF THE QABALAH?
While there are many books that comprise the Qabalah, three in particular stand out in importance: the Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation; the Sefer Bahir, the Book of Illumination; and the Zohar, the Book of Splendor, the latter being the main text of Torah exegesis.
For one to give credence to these texts, it is important to know the source. Who are the authors? In each case, the book’s authorship is not known for certainty.
As noted earlier, it is thought that these books were inspired by the Holy Spirit, thus placing them on the same or nearly the same level as Holy Scripture. While they may contain many beneficial ideas, several of which seem complementary to Scriptural teachings, they in no wise can replace the authority and authenticity of the Scriptures.
As any resourceful journalist knows, a news source must be credible for the information he conveys to have credibility. Unlike with the Holy Scriptures, this presents a problem for these books of the Qabalah.
The authorship for the Book of Creation is attributed to the patriarch Abraham. There is no evidence, however, that he is the author. At present, the consensus on the pseudipigraphical book’s authorship is that it was written prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, perhaps during the 1st Century CE when the Nazarene faith was being proclaimed throughout the Holy Land. (23)
Likewise, the Book of Illumination’s authorship also is not definitely known. Rabbi Nekhunia ben HaKanah, a Mishnah tanna, or sage, is thought to have written it in the mid-1st Century. (24) This would place the work concurrent with the lives of Paul and the other Apostles.
Nekhunia is known, among other things, as the teacher of the much revered Rabbi Akiva, who persecuted the Nazarenes and falsely proclaimed Shimon Bar Kokhba as the conquering messiah. He was executed by the Romans for insurrection by being flayed alive in 132 CE.
The Zohar, which also means “Illumination,” is said to have been written by Rabbi Akiva’s disciple, Rabbi Shimon bar Yokhai. In the end, after hiding in a cave for 12 years, he was apprehended and executed by the Romans. Most of the Zohar is written in Aramaic; although some of the text appears in Hebrew. The words used in the text have given clues to the book’s actual authorship:
“The Aramaic of the Zohar, however, contains numerous grammatical mistakes, terms that are clearly translations from Medieval Hebrew, philosophical terms that were coined in the Middle Ages, and other elements that would never characterize something written by an authentic Aramaic speaker such as Shimon bar Yokhai.
“The Land of Israel, where Shimon bar Yokhai lived and which is the landscape regularly depicted in the pages of the Zohar, is described with geographical errors that a native inhabitant would not make. However, all of these characteristics make sense if this was the imaginative setting of a work written in late-thirteenth-century Spain.” (25)
In other words, the Zohar is a fraud. Nevertheless, despite evidence to the contrary, modern Orthodox Judaism maintains that Shimon bar Yokhai is indeed the book’s author. (26) It needs to maintain him as such in order to maintain the book’s credibility. “The Zohar is the only text besides the Bible (TaNaK) and the Talmud ever to be considered a canonical book in the Jewish tradition.” (27)
So if Shimon bar Yokhai did not write the Zohar, who did?
“Many modern scholars believe that Moshe de Leon (of Spain) was the actual author of the Zohar, but the most recent research has veered toward the conclusion that Moshe was not the sole author. Much of the Zohar revolves around a group of ten Kabbalists, with Shimon bar Yokhai at the center. The latest theory is that a number of Kabbalists who studied together, much like the Kabbalists depicted in the book itself, all contributed to the composition of the Zohar, with Moshe de Leon as the main author.” (28)
OVER-EMPHASIS ON QABALAH STUDY
So, despite the authorship issues, the Zohar is still highly esteemed by Qabalists. One modern Qabalistic author asserts, “Of all the sacred texts, the Zohar is the most effect instrument for connecting to the Light.” Some even believe copies of it have “spiritually charged” magical qualities when one merely scans it by his hand, even if he does not know how to read Hebrew. Doing so supposedly allows him to connect with the Light of the Creator. (29)
Thus, the importance of studying the Holy Scriptures is diminished. What happened to “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path.” (Psa. 119:105)? Yah’shua is the “light of the world” and “the Word made flesh.” He is the one to whom we should be trying most to connect.
Our focus should be on living according to his example, not according to the teachings of various Talmudic and Qabalistic rabbis and their traditions. Did they recognize Yah’shua for who He is? Did they support His Kingdom message? Were they men filled with the Holy Spirit who gave the glory to YHWH On High?
Perhaps this is the main danger of studying Speculative Qabalah, it diminishes from time that would have been spent studying the Scriptures – and worse, can lead one astray from the Narrow Way.
“The secret things belong unto YHWH our Elohim; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Torah).” Deu. 29:29.
No doubt, there are those who will be inclined to go “qa-ballistic” and gnash against me in this matter. They may assert that I’m absolutely wrong and that there is no harm in studying the Qabalah. I’ve been subjected to verbal abuse before over matters such as this; so I have come to expect it from abusive individuals.
Yes, perhaps there are some spiritual insights to be gained by studying the Qabalah. Nevertheless, it also seems that there are more dangers than blessings. With this article, I am issuing a word of caution against it. Certainly, studying the Qabalah, or Talmud for that matter, cannot edify one spiritually as can studying the Holy Scriptures, Genesis to Revelation.
Consider the following statement from Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre: (30)
“The sacred texts of Kabbalah are gifts of the Creator that have been brought in to the world by and through a small number of righteous human beings. Through their works, we are able to directly communicate with them beyond the limits of time and space, and across the borders between this world and the next…”
Hmmm, sounds like necromancy to me – which is yet another occultic practice specifically prohibited in the Torah, Deu. 18:10-12.
“Even more than their teachings, this soul-to-soul contact with the righteous is vital to our spiritual progress. Our contact with these great souls magnifies our own souls’ greatness. Because ego is so completely absent from their works, Kabbalah teaches that the writings of the tzaddikim (righteous ones) have a quality of divine inspiration. Light flowed so directly to the tzaddikim their writings are considered actual messages from the Creator….
“On the spiritual level of being, study is necessary for our growth and even our survival. It is truly food of the soul. Without continuous study of the sacred texts, the soul does not receive an absolutely essential element of its nourishment. And from a kabbalistic viewpoint, I want to emphasize that study of the Zohar is especially crucial.”
It is also clear from such statements that these Qabalists have a greater love for the books of Qabalah than for the Holy Scriptures. Furthermore, it would seem that they have greater respect for their Qabalistic rabbis than Moses and the prophets. I hate to say it, but it looks like they have departed from the Word to embrace the idolatry of man-made traditions, as per Mat. 15:8-9,
“This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.”
Interestingly, much of the aforementioned information came from the book The Way, Using the Wisdom of Kabbalah for Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment by Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre, a Los Angeles-based organization that has attracted numerous affluent celebrities to its teachings. (31) Over time, it also has gained a reputation for certain questionable financial practices. (32) The book features a front-cover endorsement by Madonna, probably its best known patron and the most recognized proponent worldwide of living the Qabalistic lifestyle.
Admittedly, there is much that is appealing about this book. Sometimes it seemed like I was reading about an eastern philosophy with its emphasis on doing good toward others. Many of the teachings are even in agreement with what Yah’shua and the Apostles taught. For instance, humility and selflessness are encouraged. Nevertheless, for the discerning, leaven can be found within its pages.
If I might ask, why should we as Bible believers and servants of the Master, Yah’shua the Messiah, follow these Qabalists in their errors? Have we not been fed with the Bread of Life? Why do we wish to eat spiritual bread that has been corrupted by the “leaven of the Pharisees,” i.e. unScriptural rabbinic teachings and traditions?
Likewise, Yah’shua also rebuked the Sadducees, telling them that they “…do err, not knowing the Scriptures,” Mat. 22:29.
Nevertheless, it would seem that there are fellow believers who are not content with the pure teachings from the Bible and turn to the Qabalah in pursuit of “deeper truths.”
Among the criticisms of the Qabalah is that it exposes the nakedness of the Father, as symbolized in the story of Noah in Gen. 9. In this chapter, the patriarch lay exposed in his tent. Afterward, Ham sinned against his father and Canaan was cursed as a result. There may be validity to this criticism since the Scriptures indicate that YHWH the Father is not inclined to manifest Himself in an overtly revealing manner to mankind, Exd. 19:10-25, 33:17-23; John 1:18.
When Moses spoke to YHWH “face to face,” evidently he spoke with the Son, not the Father, Exd. 33:1, Deu. 34:10. Likewise, when Moses, Aaron, and the 70 elders went to meet YHWH, they communed with the Son, not the Father, Exd. 24:9-11.
Nevertheless, to know the Son is to know the Father, John 10:38, 14:8-11.
It is not for mankind “to take” – one of the meanings of the root word qabal from which “Qabalah” is derived. Moreover, when the concept of a battering ram or siege engine is taken into consideration, as defined by Strong’s H6905, it suggests that Qabalists may be attempting to force a mystical union (devekut) with Almighty YHWH against His wishes. Or, as the meaning in H6906 suggests, are they attempting to rob Elohim of His privacy?
In Exd. 19:12-13, those who overstepped the bounds and drew too close to YHWH, beyond what was permitted, were condemned to die as a result. It would be interesting to see how the Qabalistic commentaries interpret this passage.
Commenting on that same incident in Gen. 9 in which Noah planted a vineyard and becomes drunk with wine, the Zohar reportedly says that after the flood, the Angel of Darkness (apparently Satan) approached Noah and attempted to seal a bond with him by sacrificing four animals: a lamb, a lion, a monkey, and a pig.
This is retold in the book The Essential Zohar: The Source of Kabbalistic Wisdom by Rav P.S. Berg: (33)
“All this was very puzzling to Noah, but in truth the Angel was presenting him with an allegory of exactly what was about to happen. He was showing how self-serving desire carried to excess becomes self-destruction. With respect to wine, one cup makes us docile as a lamb. Then, after two cups, we may believe ourselves to be as powerful as the king of beasts. But it is all downhill from there. Soon enough we are making monkeys of ourselves, until before we know it we are rolling in the mud like pigs.”
The author continues: “It is the potable version of the ‘second bite’ syndrome that befell Adam – and as in the earlier instance, nakedness emerges as a theme. But while Adam and Eve realized they were naked and covered themselves, Noah went in the opposite direction. He took off his clothes and lay on the floor of his tent.”
While this may all be very interesting, frankly I would rather not waste my time with these fables. (34) As a certain Torah teacher I knew once remarked about Bible commentaries, “Stick with the original: it’s better.” On the same subject, he also quipped, “The key to interpreting the Bible is to let it interpret itself.”
So, when commentaries go in the direction of fictionalizing Biblical accounts or embellishing them with dubious details, it might be best to set them aside and just say “Enough already!”
As part of the Qabalistic commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures, a four-fold system of interpretation was developed, called by the acronym PaRDeS. The word Pardes refers to “orchard,” “garden,” or “paradise.” The notion is that coming to a complete interpretation of a passage would figuratively place one in a paradise-like condition inhabited with trees, including the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Garden of Eden.
The Sefirotic Tree, and one’s spiritual journey upward from Malkhut toward Keter, or crown, is likened to the Tree of Life. The various explanations for the co-existence of good and evil are linked to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (35)
The orchard symbolism leads me to wonder if there isn’t a connection to the Asherim, or sacred groves, connected with the ancient worship of Ba’al and his consort Asherah. In the Wiccan belief system, great importance is attached to nature worship among certain groves of trees.
Under the PaRDeS system of Biblical interpretation, the following four methods of exegesis are employed: (36)
1. Peshat: “plain” or “simple” — essentially the direct, contextual meaning of the text.
2. Remez: “hints” at a deeper, symbolic, or allegorical meaning beyond the literal meaning.
3. Derash: from the Hebrew word darash, to “inquire” or “seek” – the homiletical sense arrived at through discourse (“midrash”).
4. Sod: “‘secret’ (‘mystery’) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.” (Incidentally, the “o” in Sod is long.) (37)
While using the PaRDeS system has expanded Biblical exegesis to new levels, it has also created controversy. Allegations have been made that the Derash and Sod approaches have opened the door to Biblical unsound doctrines. Those who use these approaches have been allowed to force new meanings on the text that are not necessarily in harmony with the rest of Scripture.
It seems some have gone so far as to say that it is essential that we study Torah at the Sod level: “The obligation to study, and practice Torah at the Kabbalistic (sod) level is a requirement for every Yisraelite soul. For this we were ‘chosen.’ The importance of this aspect of Torah learning and practice cannot be overly emphasized.” (38)
In opposition to this trend toward Jewish mysticism within the Hebraic Roots and Messianic movements, self-described Messianic apologist J.K. McKee responded, “However, we must point out that those who believe that a mystical level of interpretation is the pinnacle of Biblical examination are often making the mistake of trying to find hidden meanings in Scripture when the answers we need are often right before us in plain sight.” (39)
McKee argues that the effect of using Sod level interpretations is intended to “tickle the ears” of many in the movement, an apparent reference to 2Ti. 4:3,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” (NASB)
While Qabalah proponents will see mysteries to be unlocked throughout the pages of the NT, others will argue that the Nazarene message was essentially very simple and could be summed up in the following verse:
“Here is the patience (i.e. the steadfast hope) of the saints, they that keep the commandments of (Elohim), and the faith of (Yah’shua),” Rev. 14:12.
The Qabalistic works-based system would have us believe that redemption comes through our study of the Qabalah. This statement suggests that the study of other books, such as Holy Scripture, is somehow less important. Furthermore, according to one Jewish rabbinic authority, “(O)nly by the learning of Kabbalah will we merit the redemption. All Halakhic authorities agree with this.” (40)
Furthermore, it is alleged under the Lurianic Qabalistic system that those who fail to learn the secrets of Qabalah using the PaRDeS system will be condemned to reincarnate until they do. (41)
It is not my intention to unfairly criticize others for their belief systems. In writing this article, I’m not trying to be unfairly critical. I recognize that each person is entitled to believe and practice within the parameters of law what he or she is convinced is true.
Nevertheless, I have included these quotes to show the direction they have chosen to go. This direction probably differs from many of us who have taken a course in life to live by every word of Scripture, Deu. 8:3; Mat. 4:4; Luke 4:4.
The Nazarene Faith was never intended to be a mystery religion, an exclusive belief system understood only by the elite initiated few. To be sure, Yah’shua and His disciples did not go from town to town preaching the Ein Sof and the Sefirotic Tree. Rather, Yah’shua declared the coming Kingdom: the hope of mankind in bondage to sin. His death broke down the wall of partition that separated mankind from that blessed hope. Mankind is totally dependent on YHWH for redemption.
Sadly, it would seem that some have lost sight of this good news message to mankind. Instead, they have replaced it with one that emphasizes a mystical embrace of non-Scriptural books written by proponents of a “received rabbinic tradition” that has questionable origins. As far as we know, these same proponents rejected Yeshua’s Messiahship and the Nazarene message of repentance.
To those who accept a plain, rather than mystical, understanding of the Apostolic writings, Yah’shua has already paid the price of redemption in full. Contrary to Qabalistic thought, there is nothing mankind can do to earn redemption. But for Qabalists, their hope is that their actions will help bring about the coming of the messiah to complete the restoration (tikkun) of the world from its fallen state. To the non-Qabalist, though, Yah’shua will return to usher in YHWH’s Kingdom at the set time. (42) Our duty is to announce His return to the world and prepare for that day.
A QABALISTIC SPIRIT OF ANTI-MESSIAH?
An undercurrent of false messianism emerges as one researches the history of Qabalah. This messianism begins with the Qabalistic connections to Rabbi Akiva – he was the student of Nekhunia ben HaKanah, the alleged author of the Book of Illumination, and also taught as his disciple Shimon bar Yokhai, the supposed author of the Zohar.
During his lifetime, Akiva proclaimed Shimon bar Kokhba as the conquering messiah. He also actively opposed the Nazarene movement. In the end, Bar Kokhba failed to defeat the Romans, not to mention that he did not fulfill messianic prophecies. But was Akiva denounced as a fraud for proclaiming a false messiah? Hardly! He is still venerated in Judaism as one of its leading rabbinic authorities of all time.
One of the hallmarks of the Chabad movement and other ultra-Orthodox sects of Chassidism is their zeal for the Qabalah. In reading some of the Qabalistic rabbinic tales, I observed how rabbis claimed to have encounters with the messiah himself or with Elijah the prophet. From these encounters, one might think that perhaps some of them might have ascertained the Messiah’s identity — but that never is the case. These tales remind me of young, starry eyed children who emerge from their beds on Christmas morning with fanciful stories of waking up during the night only to find Santa Claus in their homes delivering gifts.
Over time, some of the teachers of the Qabalah began to see themselves as being the messiah. Perhaps they imagined themselves to have magic powers, acquired from Qabalastic spells and incantations. Among them were Isaac Luria, (43) Shabbatai Zevi, and Jacob Frank. Luria, known as “Ari,” the lion, is considered one of the all-time chief exponents of Qabalistic theory.
One encyclopedia said the following of Luria: “As part of that “search for meaning” in their lives, Kabbalah received its biggest boost in the Jewish world when the explication of the Kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) (known as the ARI) by his disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital who published the ARI’s teachings gained wide-spread popularity. It was Rabbi Isaac Luria who popularized and gave credence to the teachings of the Zohar which had until then been a little-known work.” (44)
Perhaps the most influential of these false Jewish messiahs was Shabbatai Zevi (or Z’vi), based his claim to messiahship by publicly pronouncing the Name of YHWH, something considered unheard of in the Jewish world since the time of the 2nd Temple. (45) Zevi converted to Islam in 1666, causing shockwaves through the Jewish world, especially among Qabalists who looked upon him with such high expectations.
Frank, who rejected the Talmud early in life, considered himself the reincarnations of both Zevi and King David. He was a self-proclaimed messiah whose beliefs led to the development of his own new religion, or cult, known as Frankism, which combined elements of Judaism with Christianity. During his lifetime, he claimed to have revelations from heaven that led him and his followers to convert to Catholic Christianity as part of an expected transition to the future “messianic religion.” (46)
From the disillusion that arose from Zevi’s apostasy and Frank’s cultism arose the Chassidic (or Hasidic) movement under the mystical teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, who first gained fame as a type of traveling faith healer and miracle worker.
In contemporary times, the late Chabad Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson was proclaimed by a faction of his followers as the messiah. To his credit, the Lubavitcher Rebbe had many teachings that were spiritually edifying and even in agreement with teachings espoused in the NT. Sadly, the yearnings for a messiah were so great among these followers that they ignored virtually all the Biblical requirements for messiahship. Schneerson had never even set foot in the Holy Land during his lifetime. Since 1994 he has remained in his grave in New York City unresurrected.
When one looks at the history of Jewish Messianic claimants, only Yah’shua of Nazareth fulfills the Scriptural requirements for the Suffering Servant, which corresponds to the Messiah ben Joseph. Jewish tradition teaches that there will be two messiahs: the first, Messiah ben Joseph, will be slain. Afterward, he will be followed by the conquering messiah, Messiah ben David.
It seems that nearly two millennia of Christian hypocrisy and anti-Semitic hatred have led to an adamant rejection among Jews of Yah’shua as the prophesied Suffering Servant. In this sense, Christianity has failed miserably in presenting Yeshua’s Messianic credentials to His own people: the Jews. Churches need to acknowledge that Christian history is stained with Jewish blood, so to say, and make amends. Perhaps the first step toward achieving a measure of reconciliation is widespread support for the nation of Israel, especially in its struggles for survival among hostile neighbors and those who have embraced terrorism in the name of a false god.
Looking ahead, if one wished to create a global religion, as it would seem the Anti-Messiah will do, Qabalism would be an ample starting point. There is much in the Qabalistic tradition that is said to coincide with other religious systems, particularly with mystical Sufi Islam, and also with Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age beliefs, Theosophy, Wicca, Unitarianism, as well as Christianity, which has its own Christian form of Qabalism. Jewish Qabalists, especially members of the Chassidim, claim to be working actively toward ushering in the messiah’s appearance.
Would this be a repeat of history? As we look back, Christianity, which had been significantly altered from its original 1st Century Nazarene-Judeo roots, was promoted by Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century as a means to unify the Roman Empire. Henceforth, the imperial state religion became known as the Roman Catholic (universal) faith.
In the books 1 & 2 John, we see the Apostle expressing concerns about the spirit of the Anti-Messiah, which he says in 1Jn. 4:3 is in the world already. Various Christian heresies, including Gnosticism, were already circulating by the end of John’s life.
Numerous standard reference works have shown there is a connection between Qabalism and Gnosticism. (47) Nevertheless, if we see the term Anti-Messiah as one who stands in the place of the Messiah, certainly this spirit of messianism had already manifested itself within Judaism and would continue to do so down through our time. (48)
Nevertheless, could John have been sending a warning primarily for believers at the end of the age? In his salutation of his second epistle, just who is meant by “the elect lady and her children,” 2Jn. 1:1?” As we see from the epistle, heresy is a main concern. Another is that the brethren show love for one another. Certainly these concerns apply now perhaps more than ever.
An emphatic concern that emerges from examining the Qabalah is the danger of exposing ourselves to “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons” and the consequences of doing so. Paul warns of this in 1Ti. 4:1-2,
“But the Spirit says expressly, that in the later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.”
What are our heart’s intents: to show our love for the Most High by keeping His commandments or doing our thing by seeking “secret knowledge” promoted by anti-Yah’shua and anti-Nazarene rabbis who taught that their rabbinic traditions take precedence over YHWH’s Written Word? This is the Quest for Qabalah, knowing where our heart lies in this matter. Do we love YHWH most by keeping His commandments, or do we love the RECEIVED religious traditions of men more?
As “globalism” becomes part of our daily vernacular, we can see international leaders continue to entertain various proposals for unification. At what point do these types of proposals turn into binding legislation and are enforced upon us? Before you know it, our national sovereignty will be gone and we will find ourselves part of a larger collective advancing toward a final one-world solution.
Think about it, for someone to unite the world under one syncretistic ecumenical religious umbrella would go far in promoting an illusory world peace. If or when we come to such a point where it is criminal to be a Bible believer, we must ask ourselves whom do we love more: YHWH or man-made religion? To whom is our heart’s allegiance?
(NOTE: In the follow-up article, “Queen Jezebel and the Quest for Qabalah,” the author will examine Jezebel’s connection to the Qabalah and the spiritual dangers it presents in these end times.)
(1) This author’s chosen spelling of “Qabalah,” which may seem quixotic to some, represents an English transliteration from the Hebrew spelling of the word, which begins with the letter qoph ?, not kaph, ?. This is discussed in greater detail later in the article.
(2) Often spelled “magick” with a “k” at the end to distinguish it from entertainment magic.
(3) Unless indicated otherwise and in accordance with the author’s linguistic preferences, all quotations from the Bible are from the American Standard Version (ASV) with the names YHWH and Yah’shua and the Hebrew title Elohim and the Hebrew-derived term Messiah used respectively in the English translation in place of Jehovah (or The LORD), Yeshua, God, and Christ. Published in 1901, the ASV is renowned for its emphasis on conservative literal translational accuracy. Preference also is given in NT passages to using “Master” instead of “Lord” in references to Yah’shua. These changes are not done in violation of the prohibition in Deu. 4:2 from adding or diminishing from the Word. The modification is made to the English translation, not to the words in the original text. While the author is accustomed to pronouncing YHWH as “Yahweh,” he acknowledges that others may be convinced of differing pronunciations of the Almighty’s revealed name. Thus, the Tetragrammaton is rendered in English letters as “YHWH.” If we accept as true Josephus’ claim that the Almighty’s name consisted of four vowels, then perhaps none of the many common pronunciation attempts is absolutely correct. Furthermore, the author maintains that despite having many titles and appellations, YHWH is the Almighty’s one name, Psa. 83:18. This thought is further elucidated in the NKJV translation of this verse.
(4) “Witchcraft” entry, Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.
(5) As we shall see, this is not necessarily always the case. Much of the research done for this article revealed that teachings and practices identified as Kabbalah or Kabala with a “K” often was not Scripturally kosher. An example can be found viewing the Website of a certain rabbi, at kabalatalisman.com. As the site notes, this rabbi “is fully committed to kabbalah magic. He writes special talismans for people to ensure their success in love and business. Some of these protective talismans include kabbalah bracelets, or rather the famous kabbalah red bracelets. A kabbalah red string bracelet provides health and protection from evil forces, specifically evil eye and black magic.” Is this hardly any different than the teraphim idolatry practiced in Biblical times intended to bring prosperity upon a household? Such idolatry is strongly denounced in 1Sa. 15:23 in Samuel’s condemnation of Saul.
(6) Mat. 23 alone shows that Yah’shua had numerous contentions with the Pharisees. By branding them as “hypocrites,” He undoubtedly heightened their animosity toward Him. It is evident by pronouncing “woes” that He does not consider these differences to be mere minor offenses.
(7) “The Everything Kabbalah Book” by Mark Elber. Adams Media, 2006, p. 7.
(8) As reported in Kabbalah: Three Thousand Years of Mystic Tradition by Kenneth Hanson, Ph.D. Council Oak Books, 1983.
(9) “Kabbalah” online article by Avram Yehoshua.
(10) “Cabal” entry, Online Etymological Dictionary, at etymonline.com.
(11) “The Effects of Mysticism and Gnosticism on the Messianic Movement” online article by J.K. McKee.
(13) Elber, pp. 72-73. Other sources list the emanations with some variations.
(14) Ibid, p. 74.
(15) Ibid, p. 76.
(16) Ibid, pp. 78-79.
(17) The Apostle Paul seems to refer to a similar type of spiritual union in Eph. 5:31-33 but not a union between the Shekinah and man but between the Assembly, as the bride, and the Messiah, as her husband.
(18) More about the significance of this painting and other riddles of the Washington architecture can be found in the fascinating book “Apollyon Rising 2012” by Thomas Horn. Defender, 2009.
(19) Horn finds this especially interesting in view of the account of the Nephilim in Gen. 6:2-4.
(20) See the related award-winning DVD documentary, “Riddles in Stone,” written and directed by Christian Pinto.
(22) See “Freemasonry, A Journey through Ritual and Symbol” by W. Kirk MacNulty. Thames and Hudson, 1991. The same author also has written an essay entitled “Kabbalah and Freemasonry,” which further shows the Masonic connection to Qabalism.
(23) Elber, pp. 43-44.
(24) Ibid, p. 61.
(25) Ibid, pp. 82-83.
(26) Ibid, p. 83.
(27) Elber, p. 81.
(28) Ibid, p. 83.
(29) “The Way, Using the Wisdom of the Kabbalah for Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment,” by Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre. John Wiley & Sons, 2001. pp. 201, 204-205.
(30) Ibid, p. 200.
(31) Among the celebrities reportedly connected with the Kabbalah Centre are Lindsay Lohan, Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard, Anthony Kiedis, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Lucy Liu, Rosie O’Donnell, Naomi Campbell, Pierre Lewis, Alex Rodriguez, Donna Karan, Mischa Barton, Britney Spears, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, James Van Der Beek, Heather McComb, Zac Efron, and Lauren Conrad. Cited from “Kabbalah Centre,” article, Wikipedia.org.
(33) Publication by Bell Tower, 2002.
(34) Tts. 1:13-14 warns against those who give heed to “Jewish fables and the commandments of men.”
(35) Elber, pp. 75-76.
(36) “Pardes (Jewish exegesis)” article, Wikipedia.org.
(37) Ibid. The exact wording for the meaning of Sod is quoted here.
(38) “The Original State of Adam Previous to the Fall” online article by Rabbi Levi bar Ido/B’nai Avraham
(39) “The Effect of Mysticism and Gnosticism on the Messianic Movement” online article by J.K. McKee.
(40) Quote attributed to Rabbi Chayim (or Chaim) Vital, cited by Rabbi Levi bar Ido in his “Original State of Adam” article.
(41) Ibid. A statement also attributed to Rabbi Chayim Vital, who was the disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria. Incidentally, the word “transmigration” is often used by Qabalistic authors to refer to reincarnation. Heb. 9:27 effectively refutes the reincarnation doctrine.
(42) Evidently, faith is not a factor in hastening the Messiah’s coming, as per Luke 18:8.
(43) Hanson, p. 158. The author writes: “Luria was privately convinced that he was in fact the Messiah of the House of Joseph, though how he reconciled this idea with the statement that Messiah son of Joseph was slain is a mystery. In any case, Luria saw himself as one sent to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah of the House of David. And prepare them he did.”
(44) “Kabbalah” article, academickids.com online encyclopedia
(45) “Sabbatai Zevi” article, Wikipedia.org.
(46) “Jacob Frank” article, Wikipedia.org.
(47) In his “Confessions of an Ex-Qabalist” online article, William Schnoebelen maintains that Qabalism and Gnosticism actually have few similarities. Nevertheless, aside from having dissimilar belief systems about the nature of the Almighty, both emphasize acquiring secret, esoteric knowledge.
(48) “Jewish Messiah claimants” article, Wikipedia.org.
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading which can be found at
We are now in our 21st week of this 3 ½ year study.
As you read this week’s Study about the Mountains of Moriah to which Abraham took Isaac, keep in mind that back in chapter 14 Abraham gave a tenth to Melchezidek King of Salem. Melchezidek was King of a city and that city was Salem. Jeru is Canaanite for city. The Jeru-City of Salem or city of peace; Jerusalem. This city already existed when Abraham took Isaac to the Mountains plural of Moriah.
I have just realized that once again as we study Genesis a similar teaching comes from Mathew. Again in Mathew we are focussing on the Mount of Moriah.
In verse 8 we get another example of the faith of Abraham, when he states that Yahovah will provide His own lamb for a burnt offering. In verse 13 we read of the Ram being caught in a thicket. So now you know the area was not a city but a forested area. But the Ram was symbolic of Yeshua the Lamb of Yahovah.
In Exodus 12 we are told that they should take a lamb for the Passover sacrifice. It is a Male lamb otherwise known as a Ram.
1 And ???? spoke to Mosheh and to Aharon in the land of Mitsrayim, saying, 2 “This month is the beginning of months for you, it is the first month of the year for you. 3 “Speak to all the congregation of Yisra’?l, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month each one of them is to take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 ‘And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next to his house take it according to the number of the beings, according to each man’s need you make your count for the lamb. 5 ‘Let the lamb be a perfect one, a year old male.
We also can read in John about Yeshua being that male Lamb.
John 1: 29 On the next day Yoh?anan saw ????? coming toward him, and said, “See, the Lamb of Elohim who takes away the sin of the world!
We are told right from the beginning that Yeshua was to deliver us from sin.
Mt. 1:21 21 “And she shall give birth to a Son, and you shall call His Name ????? for He shall save1 His people from their sins.” Footnote: 1This is the precise meaning of the Heb?rew of His Name.
This is the symbolic purpose of the sin offering, to save us from our sins. Yah-shua means God Save us. And this is why I use the name Yeshua and not the name Jesus. Jesus has no meaning to it when you try to translate it.
Titus 2: 11 For the saving Gift of Elohim has appeared to all men, 12 instructing us to renounce wickedness and worldly lusts, and to live sensibly, righteously, and reverently in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed expectation and esteemed appearance of the great Elohim and our Saviour ????? Messiah, 14 who gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness1 and to cleanse for Himself a people, His own possession, ardent for good works.2 Footnotes: 1Lawlessness is a synonym for sin (1 John 3:4), Mt. 1:21, Acts 3:19 & 26, Acts 26:18, Rom. 6:1-22, Eph. 2:1-10, 1 John 3:8, Titus 3:5. 2Mt. 16:27. 15 Speak these matters, urge, and reprove1 with all authority. Let no one despise you.
1 John 3:5 & 8. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Everyone staying in Him does not sin. Everyone sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him.1 Footnote: 1See 2:4 & 3 John v. 11. 7 Little children, let no one lead you astray. The one doing righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.1 Footnote: 1See 2:29. 8 The one doing sin is of the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested: to destroy the works of the devil.
Now where was the place for the sin offerings to be made?
Exodus 29:14 But the flesh of the bull, with its skin and its offal, you shall burn with fire outside the camp. It is a sin offering.
Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar from which those serving the Tent have no authority to eat. 11 For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Set-apart Place by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 And so ????? also suffered outside the gate, to set apart the people with His own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
For this reason each time I go to Jerusalem I go to this place outside the camp to pray.
There was an area for burning the bodies of the sacrifices outside of the city gate. This location is referred to in the Old Testament as a place “without [outside of] the camp” of Israel. After the Temple was built , this place for burning the bodies of the sacrifices had a specific location outside of the city. According to the Mishnah, a second-century Judean commentary, a bridge had been built over the Kidron Valley from the Temple area eastward to the Mount of Olives leading to this location for burning the bodies.
“They made a causeway from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives, an arched way built over an arched way, with an arch directly above each pier [of the arch below], for fear of any grave in the depths below. By it the priest that was to burn the Heifer, and the Heifer, and all that aided him went forth to the Mount of Olives.” – Herbert Danby, trans., The Mishnah (Oxford University Press, 1933), p.700.
The bridge led from the east Temple gate to a place near the summit of the Mount of Olives. The priest could pass over this bridge uncontaminated by the graves below in order to burn the bodies of the animals outside the city.
Yeshua was crucified near the Temple.
John 19:20 … for the place where Yeshua was crucified was nigh to the city:…
According to John 19:20, “the place where Yeshua was crucified was nigh to the city.” This is a mistranslation. The word place in the Greek is associated with “the city,” so that this verse should be translated, “Yeshua was crucified near the place of the city.” “The Place of the city” was the Temple, which is also called “the place.”
Ezekiel 43:21 – Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary. (The house is also a term used for the Temple.)
John 11:48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
“The text reads – take away the place and the nation. By the place – the Pharisees meant the Temple. The area of burning on the Mount of Olives east of the city was considered part of “the place.” This location was outside the city and yet near (and part of) the Temple proper.
“Golgotha” refers to a place of registry where heads were counted and not a place that looks like a skull as the King James version implies.
John 19:17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.
Ezekiel 43:21 – Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary.
The words “appointed place” in the Hebrew is the word “miphqad.” Miphqad comes from the verb paqad which means to number. The gate of the city that led to the “appointed place” was called the Miphkad Gate.
The Miphkad Gate (referred to in Nehemiah 3:31) was located on the east wall just north of the east gate leading to the Temple.
The Miphkad Gate opened onto the road leading up the Mount of Olives just north of the place where the bodies were burned. This road led to the Miphkad, or “appointed place,” where people registered for the Temple tax. Each person [head count] was taxed at this location. The word “Golgotha,” used in the Gospels to describe the place of the crucifixion, is an Aramaic word which suggests this area of registry known as Miphkad. The related Hebrew word bears the same meaning. It is gulgoleth, which means “skull, head, or poll.” It is a head count.
Exodus 38:25-26 And the silver of them that were numbered [paqad, to appoint or number] of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: A bekah for every man [gulgoleth, head], that is half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered [paqad]…
In the time of Yeshua, this place of numbering, or registration, for the Temple tax was called Golgotha. This was the Miphkad area on the Mount of Olives east of the Temple and near the place outside the city where the bodies of sacrifices were burned.
Taken from http://www.cortright.org/locatcru.htm
Now before I leave this subject take a look at this in Ezekiel.
The glory of the LORD [“Cavod YHVH”] went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house [Temple]; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory [“Cavod YHVH”].
However, YAHOVAH God was making preparations to REMOVE the “Shekinah” from the Temple and then from the very city itself:
And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight; when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the EAST GATE of the LORD’S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. — Ezekiel 10:19.
Then, in Ezekiel 11:23, we read of the actual DEPARTURE of YAHOVAH’s “Shekinah” from the MOUNT OF OLIVES —
And the glory of the LORD [“Cavod YHVH”] went up from the midst of the city, and stood on the mountain which is on the east side of the city [Mount of Olives].
Ezekiel 11:22 And the kerub?im lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the esteem of the Elohim of Yisra’?l was high above them. 23 And the esteem of ???? went up from the midst of the city and stood upon the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.
YEHOVAH’s “Shekinah” remained in the Temple all through the life and death of the Messiah and up to the year 66 A.D. — when it was seen leaving the Temple and alighting on the Mount of Olives. Notice!
There is also another reason why Christians in the first century were very interested in the Mount of Olives. This is because it was believed that the Shekinah Glory of God which supposedly dwelt inside the Holy of Holies at the Temple left the sanctuary and went to the Mount of Olives and hovered over that spot at the time of the Roman/Jewish War which ended in A.D. 70. The fact that the Shekinah Glory left the old Temple and migrated to the top of the Mount of Olives was an important event to Eusebius [church historian and scholar A.D. 260?-340?]. — Secrets of Golgotha, by Ernest L. Martin. 1988: ASK Publications, Alhambra, CA. P. 83.
In Eusebius’ book Proof of the Gospel we find this passage —
Believers in Christ congregate from all parts of the world, not as of old time because of the glory of Jerusalem, nor that they may worship in the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, but…that they may worship at the Mount of Olives opposite to the city, whither the glory [the Shekinah Glory] of the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] migrated when it left the former city. (Book VI, Chapter 18 (288)).
According to Eusebius the “Shekinah” Glory left the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives during “the siege of Jerusalem” (66 A.D. to 70). However, Eusebius was not the only observer who mentioned that the “Shekinah” Glory left the Temple before the destruction of the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives. A Jewish rabbi named Jonathan — who was an eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem — said the “Shekinah” Glory left the Temple and for three and a half years
“abode on the MOUNT OF OLIVES hoping that Israel would repent, but they did not; while a Bet Kol [a supernatural voice from heaven] issued forth announcing, Return, O backsliding children [Jer. 3:14]. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you [Mal. 3:7], when they did not repent, it said, I WILL RETURN TO MY PLACE [Hosea 5:15]” (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations 2:11). — Secrets of Golgotha, by Ernest L. Martin. 84.
There was yet another writer who recorded the fact of the “Shekinah” presence of YEHOVAH God moving from the Temple in Jerusalem just before the war with the Romans. Josephus mentioned that in the Spring of 66 A.D. some astonishing events took place within the Temple. He recorded three miracles associated with YEHOVAH’s “Shekinah” and the Temple — and each one showed clearly that the “Shekinah” was departing from the Holy of Holies. In War VI, 290 he stated “that a GREAT LIGHT shone over the altar for thirty minutes at 3 o’clock in the morning (a week before Passover in A.D. 66) and then it DEPARTED. He said the sacred scribes interpreted this sign as a bad omen for the Temple. It was like the Shekinah Glory moving away from the Tabernacle in the wilderness as a sign to disassemble the Tabernacle and transport it to another location” (ibid.).
Josephus goes on to say that “a few days later (during Passover itself) the enormous brass gates of Nicanor, requiring twenty men to open and close them, opened at midnight of their own accord (War VI, 293-295). This was also interpreted as showing a desolation coming upon the Temple. And then, about fifty days later, on Pentecost, the final sign was given which definitely showed that the Shekinah Glory was departing the Temple as the other signs indicated (ibid.):
Moreover, at the festival which is called Pentecost, the priests on entering the inner court of the Temple at nightfall, as their custom was in accomplishment of their ministrations, stated that they first became aware of a commotion and a roar, and after that the voice of a great multitude saying “We are departing hence” (War VI, 299).
When we couple Josephus’ information with that of Rabbi Jonathan (also an eyewitness) we can see that the “Shekinah” went directly to the Mount of Olives and remained over the top of the mountain for 3 and 1/2 years — from late Spring in 66 A.D to about December of 69 A.D, some eight months before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. It then went back to heaven and had not returned to earth up to the time he wrote.
These miraculous events had much more significance to the early Christians than may meet the eye today. Eusebius, as we have just seen, mentioned the importance of this removal of the Shekinah glory. It was clearly a sign that YEHOVAH’s physical presence had departed from the Temple on the western hill of Jerusalem and had retreated to the MOUNT OF OLIVES on the EAST as the new place of His divine residence. This event of the “Shekinah” glory leaving the Temple and residing on the Mount of Olives became highly significant to the early Christians because this is the mountain where YEHOVAH’s holy “Shekinah” will RETURN in the near future!
Concerning this mountain on the east of Jerusalem we have the following information that the Mount of Olives where Solomon erected all the shrines to the pagan gods of his wives was also known as the Mount of Oil and then you will read below that this Mount of Oil is also the same place where the Red Heifer was sacrificed.
Mount Olivet (Latin, Mons Olivertus .)
Occurring also in the English Bibles as the Mount of Olives ( Mons Olivarum ), is the name applied to “the hill that is over against Jerusalem ” ( 1 Kings 11:7 ), that is, “on the east side of the city” ( Ezekiel 11:23 ), beyond the torrent Cedron ( 2 Samuel 15:23, 30 ), “a sabbath day’s journey” from the city ( Acts 1:12 ). The passages of the books of the Kings show the high antiquity of the name, undoubtedly suggested by the groves of olive trees which flourished there, traces of which still remain. In the Middle Ages it was called by Arabic writers: Tur ez-Zeitun, Tur Zeita, or Jebel Tur Zeitun, of which the modern name, Jebel et-Tur, appears to be an abbreviation. Mt. Olivet is not so much a hill as a range of hills separated by low depressions. The range includes, from N. to S., the Ras el-Musharif (Scopus; 2686 ft. above the sea-level), Ras el-Madbase (2690 ft.) and Ras et-Te la cah (2663 ft.); south of the latter, between the old and the new road from Jerusalem to Jericho, is the Jebel et-Tur, or Mt. Olivet proper, rising in three summits called by Christians, respectively: the Men of Galilee ( Karem es-Sayyad , “the vineyard of the hunter”, 2732 ft.), the Ascension (on which the village Kafr et-Tur is built), and the Prophets, a spur of the preceding owing its name to the old rock-tombs known as the Tombs of the Prophets ; south-west of the new road to Jericho, the range terminates in the Jebel Batn el-Hawa, called by Christians the Mount of Offence, tradition locating there Solomon’s idolatrous shrines ( 2 Kings 23:13 ).
Mt. Olivet has been the scene of many famous events of Biblical history. In David’s time there was there a holy place dedicated to Yahweh ; its exact location is not known; but it was near the road to the Jordan, possibly on the summit of the Karem es-Sayyad ( 2 Samuel 15:32 ). The site of the village of Bahurim ( 2 Samuel 3:16 ) lay no doubt on the same road. We have already mentioned the tradition pointing to the Jebel Batn el-Hawa as the place where Solomon erected his idolatrous shrines destroyed by Josias ( 1 Kings 11:7 ; 2 Kings 23:13 ); this identification is supported by the Targum which suggests in 2 Kings 23:13 , the reading “Mount of Oil”, a good synonym of Mt. Olivet, instead of the traditional “Mount of Offence“, found nowhere else. Accordingly the idolatrous sanctuaries were on the south side of Mt. Olivet proper. Finally we learn from the Jewish rabbis that the Mount of Oil was the traditional place for sacrificing the red heifer ( Numbers 19 ; cf. Maimonodes, “Treat. of the red heifer”, 3:1). But to Christians especially is Mt. Olivet a most hallowed place, because it was, during the last days of Our Lord’s public life, the preferred resort of the Saviour. In connection therewith several spots are singled out in the Gospels : Bethania, the home of Lazarus and of Simon the Leper ( Mark 14:3 ; Matthew 26:6 ); Bethphage, whence started the triumphal procession to Jerusalem ( Matthew 21:1 ), identified with some probability by Federlin with the ruins called Habalat el-Amira or Kehf Abu Layan; the site of the Franciscan Chapel of Bethphage, about 1 mile west of El-Azariyeh, is not well chosen; the place where the fig-tree cursed by Our Lord stood ( Matthew 21:18-22 ; Mark 11:12-14 ; 20-21 ); the spot where Jesus wept over Jerusalem ( Luke 19:41 ); the site where He prophesied the destruction of the Temple, the ruin of the city and the end of the world ( Matthew 24:1 sqq. ); the Garden of Gethsemani ; lastly the place where the Lord imparted His farewell blessing to the Apostles and ascended into heaven ( Luke 24:50-51 ). All these spots the piety of Christian ages has, with more or less success, endeavoured to locate and to consecrate by erecting sanctuaries thereon.
Brethren I have shared all of this to show you that the place where Abraham offered Isaac, is the same place on the Mountains of Moriah where Yeshua was killed at Passover and where the Shekinah moved from the Temple. It is also the same place where the red heifer was killed and all sin offerings were made. If you meet me in Jerusalem I take people to this exact place.
In chapter 23 we read of the death of Sarah at 127 years and how Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah from the children of Heth. From Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite .
Hittites, Hethites or Children of Heth are English terms used for a people mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament, Tanakh), which apparently lived in or near Palestine from the time of Abraham (presumably between 2000 BC and 1500 BC) to the time of Ezra after the return from the Babylonian exile (around 450 BC).
The following are all occurrences of the word “Heth”, “Hittite” or “Hittites” in the King James Bible (KJB), found through a University of Virginia search service . For more information about those peoples and their conjectured relationship with the Anatolian Hittite civilization, see the Hittites article.
The citations were arranged approximately in chronological order, more precisely according to the epoch in which the events in question are supposed to have occurred. Note that this is not always the time in which the words were supposedly or actually written. (In particular, the covenant with Abraham about the future conquest of Canaan is sorted as if it were contemporary with the latter.) The epochs are indicated by the names of the Biblical characters (Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, or Prophets) prominent at the time.
It must be cautioned that “Heth” in the original (consonant-only) Hebrew script is written with only two letters, HT; and “Hittite” is HTY, the Y being a derivational suffix meaning roughly “people of …”. Thus it is hazardous to assume that every occurrence of HT refers to the same people or place, across the ten to fifteen centuries of history spanned by those occurrences.
The Biblical view of humanity is set forth in Genesis:10, where various peoples are described as different lines of descent from Noah. In particular, Canaan is one of the sons of Ham, who is also said to be the ancestor of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Philistine. The sons of Canaan are given as Sidon, Heth, then the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgasites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and the Hamathites. From Noah’s third son Shem descend “Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram”.
The Genesis description of mankind is repeated again in 1Chronicles:1, except for a minor spelling differences: Sidon becomes Zidon, the Girgasites become Girgashites, etc. These differences may have been invisible in the original Hebrew.
In this period, which is conjectured to start sometime after 2000 BC and end sometime before 1200 BC, the “sons of Heth” or “children of Heth” (BNY-HT) and the label “Hittite” (HTY) are mentioned multiple times, but referring to essentially only two events.
In Genesis:23:2, towards the end of Abraham’s life, he was staying in Hebron, on lands belonging to the “children of Heth”, and from them he obtained a plot of land with a cave to bury his wife Sarah. One of them (Ephron) is labeled “the Hittite”, several times. This deal is mentioned three more times (with almost the same words), upon the deaths of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.
Decades later, in Genesis:26:34, Abraham’s nephew Esau is said to have taken two Hittite wives, and a Hivite one. This claim is repeated, with somewhat different names, in Genesis:36:2. In Genesis:27:46, Rebbeccah is worried that Jacob will do the same.
This period is conjectured to start sometime after 1800 BC and end sometime before 1000 BC. In this period (in which can be included the promise made to Abraham, centuries earlier, and its recall by Nehemias half a millennium later), the Hittites are mentioned about a dozen times as part of an almost fixed formula that lists the “seven nations greater and mightier than [the Hebrews]” whose lands will be eventually conquered. Five other “major nations” are mentioned in almost all instances of the formula: Canaanites, Amorites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Perizzites. The Girgashites are mentioned only five times. Abraham’s covenant in Genesis:15:18 omits the Hivites but includes the Kadmonites, Kenites, Kenizzites, and Rephaims.
Among the five references to the Hittites that cannot be classified as a variant of that formula, two (Numbers:13:29 and Joshua:11:3) declare that the Hittites “dwell in the mountains”, together with the Jebusites, Amorites, and Perizzites, whereas the Canaanites live “on the east and on the west”, on the coast of Jordan, and the Amalekhites live “in the south”. In Joshua:1:4 the land of the Hittites is said to extend “from the wilderness and this Lebanon”, from “the Euphrates unto the great sea”. In Judges:1:18, the Bethel traitor who led the Hebrew into the city is said to have gone to live among the Hittites where he built a city called Luz. Finally in Judges:3:5 it is said that the Hebrew lived and intermarried with the Hittites as well as with the other five “major nations”.
In this period the Hittites are mentioned as the ethnic label of two military commanders under king David (around 1000 BC), Ahimelech and Uriah; the latter is murdered by David for the sake of his wife Bathsheba.
In Solomon’s reign (around 950 BC), the Hittites are listed as people whom the Hebrew had not been able “utterly to destroy” in their conquest of Canaan and who paid tribute to Israel. The kings of the Hittites are mentioned (in two smilar passages), together with Egypt and the kings of Syria, as senders of lavish tribute to Solomon. Then Hittites are said to be among the “strange women” that Solomon loved, along with “the daughter of the pharaoh” and women from the other peoples in the region.
In the time of prophet Elisha (around 850 BC) there is a passage in 2Kings:7:6 where the Syrians flee in the night after hearing a terrible noise of horses and chariots, believing that Israel had hired “the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians”.
In Ezekiel:16:1, Jerusalem is said to be the daughter of an Hittite mother and an Amorite father, sister of Samaria and Sodom.
The intent is clearly offensive, but it is not clear whether the reference to the Hitittes is concrete or only symbolic. However, a century later, Ezra is dismayed to learn, on his arrival from Babylon, that the leaders who had remained on the land had been “polluted” by mixing with other people, including the Hittites.
Now cutting into a great article about the German and Assyrian connections is the following bit of information.
The ancient capital of the land of Hatti was popularly known among the Romans as “Ninus Vetus —the old Nineveh” (“History of Art in Sardinia, Judaea, Syria and Asia Minor”, by G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, Vol. II, page 272). Nineveh was Assyria’s capital! The Empire of Hatti and the Empire of Assyria were the same Empire — not two empires existing five centuries apart as historians assume.
Excavated records from Bible times PROVE that the great rulers of the land of Hatti were not only contemporary with the famous kings of Assyria, but were also federated with them. All ancient Greek writers agreed that Assyria and Anatolia (the land of Hatti) were allies.
The chief supporters of famous Troy in Asia Minor were the Assyrians. In fact, the Trojan War was a struggle between Greeks and Assyrians for possession of Western Asia Minor. These Hessian or Assyrian kings are even mentioned in the Bible in I Kings 10:29 and II Kings 7:6.
The Hebrews called them “kings of the Hittites.” The Assyrian Hessians were called “kings of the Hittites” because the Canaanite Hittites, driven out by Joshua, migrated into Asia Minor where the Assyrians also dwelt. All historians recognize that there were at least two distinct peoples in Asia Minor who came to be known by the same name — Chatti or Hittite. The first were the Assyrians. The second were the Canaanite sons of Heth. Heth’s sons received the name Hittite or Chatti because they too were warriors. Centuries later, after Alexander the Great conquered Asia, those Canaanites migrated out of Asia Minor — to Europe, and then, across the Atlantic to North America where the colonists rediscovered them as the Chatti Indians of the Central Plains. Is it a mere coincidence that the United States — a birthright tribe of the House of Israel — should have inherited this land from Canaanite Hittites?
We now read of the great war between Israel and Benjamin-400,000 against 26,000 plus the 700 left handed of Gibeah who could sling a stone and not miss.
On the first day of the battle Benjamin killed, 22,000 Israelites, and on the second day they killed 18,000 more. On the third day 25,100 Benjamites were killed. After this they destroyed all of Benjamin’s cities and livestock so that only 600 men of Benjamin were left with no women. 2% of the men were left.
Remember that the thing that brought everyone together was the cutting up of the concubine which was sent to all of Israel. It required you to respond to this. But Jabesh Gilead did not respond. They ignored it and for doing so everyone of the people from this city were destroyed, except for 400 virgins to give to the remaining Benjamites.
This is the same Jabesh Gilead that Saul saves in 1 Samuel 11 and the same city that would later go out and retrieve the body of Saul and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 31.
But the Benjamites were still 200 virgins short. The solution because all of Israel vowed they would not give their daughters to Benjamin was to go to Shiloh and kidnap them at the Feast of Yahovah.
There was something special about Shiloh because it was while the Tabernacle was in Shiloh that Yahovah gave His people “rest all around according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; Yahovah delivered all their enemies into their hand” (Joshua 21:44). This occurred in the place where Yahovah said He was to set His name: Shiloh (Deuteronomy 12:5,11,21; 14:23-24; 16:6,11; 26:2; Jeremiah 7:12), a place designated by Him where He was to be worshipped by His people Israel. It was while the Ark of the Covenant was in the Tabernacle at Shiloh that all the tribes were able to assemble in peace because all the land was subdued before them, and they finally had rest in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1).
The Ark was in Shiloh and we are told to go up to the Place Where Yahovah places his name three times in the year. This is why Benjamin was told to go there to take 200 virgins during the Feast of Tabernacles when they came out to dance.
Exodus 23: 14 “Three1 times in the year you are to observe a festival to Me: Footnote: 1The Festivals of ???? are grouped in three, for three different times of the year. 15 “Guard the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Ab?ib? – for in it you came out of Mitsrayim – and do not appear before Me empty-handed; 16 and the Festival of the Harvest, the first-fruits of your labours which you have sown in the field; and the Festival of the Ingathering at the outgoing of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labours from the field.
17 “Three times in the year all your males are to appear before the Master ????.
Deuteronomy 16: 16 “Three times a year all your males appear before ???? your Elohim in the place which He chooses: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and at the Festival of Weeks, and at the Festival of Booths.
What is the moral of this story?
Hosea 9:7 The days of punishment have come, the days of retribution have come. Yisra’?l knows! The prophet is a fool, the ‘man of the Spirit’ is mad, because of the greatness of your crookedness, and great is the enmity. 8 Elohim’s watchman over you, Ephrayim, is the prophet, but a trapper’s snare is in all his ways. Enmity is in the House of his Elohim. 9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gib?ah. He remembers their crookedness, He punishes their sins. 10 “I found Yisra’?l like grapes in the wilderness. I saw your fathers as the first-fruits on the fig tree in its beginning. They themselves have gone to Ba?al Pe?or, and separated themselves to shame, and became as abominable as that which they loved.
Hosea the prophet told us that the events of our generation will be just as it was in Gibeah when this Levite passed through and spent the night and was attacked the same way that the Angels were attacked in Sodom and Gomorrah. So as you read the rest of this chapter, we will see a mirror image as our generation will view the world, our nation and those around us today. We will see that the hospitality in this town was not the greatest and we have been reading in recent weeks of how important hospitality was to Abraham and to Lot.
How would you like to drive into our cities today and have to spend the night on the street? You dare not sleep in the city streets toady for fear of your life. Now you can compare the events of today, with the things that took place here at Gibeah.
Remember that when you see these things happening, Hosea says that we are very near the return of Yeshua. This was a city of our own people, it was citizens of the tribe of Benjamin.
Even this past week here in Toronto there was a 17 year shot by two 17 year olds and one 15 year old, then dumped into the river, another young man was shot in the head on another day, and still another stabbed in broad daylight. A twenty year old woman was thrown from the 11th floor of an apartment building.
Each night, and it is the same for most of your larger cities, but each night some one gets killed, women get raped, things are stolen, and what is the the reaction of everyone to hearing this on the news so many times. Complacency! We no longer care; as long as it does not affect us then life is OK. This is the sin of Gibeah. Complacency. A complete lack of empathy.
Now read what Yahovah says to His angels as they enter Jerusalem; Ezekiel 9:1 And He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let the punishers of the city draw near, each with his weapon of destruction in his hand.” 2 And look, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-axe in his hand. And one man in their midst was clothed with linen and had a writer’s ink-horn at his side. And they came in and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 And the esteem of the Elohim of Yisra’?l went up from the kerub?, where it had been, to the threshold of the House. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s ink-horn at his side, 4 and ???? said to him, “Pass on into the midst of the city, into the midst of Yerushalayim, and you shall put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” 5 And to the others He said in my hearing, “Pass on into the city after him and smite, do not let your eye pardon nor spare. 6 “Slay to destruction old, young men, maidens and children and women, but do not come near anyone upon whom is the mark, and begin at My set-apart place.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the House.
How many of us cry over the abominations that are done in our cities each night? How many of us cry over the wrongs we hear on the news? Those who have lost thier compassion, and become complacent, need to to start to look for these men of Yahovah who will punish the rest of us who just do not care any more. We as a society have become like Gibeah and lost all empathy and become complacent with others dying all around us. Shame on us all.
Nearly 3,000 years ago, Isaiah delivered to the rebellious children of Israel prophecies that have clear implications for generations living at the end of the age. Yahovah warned: “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them… the child will be insolent [rude, disrespectful, defiant] toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable… as for My people, children are their oppressors” (Isaiah 3:4, 5, 12). Jeremiah wrote of children who would not receive correction and have forgotten Yahovah (Jeremiah 2:30, 32). Ezekiel wrote of children who “rebelled against Me” and “did not walk in My statutes” (Ezekiel 20:21). While these prophecies had an initial fulfillment in ancient times, the ultimate fulfillment is erupting in today’s headlines!
Do not become complacent!
Psalm 48 locates the Great King’s throne in Mount Zion—Jerusalem. It is referred to as God’s “holy mountain” (verse 1), yet this should also be understood as figurative of God’s Kingdom—a mountain being symbolic of a kingdom in prophecy (compare Daniel 2:35, 44-45; Isaiah 2:2-4).
Note the phrase in Psalm 48:2, “beautiful in elevation” or “beautiful in its loftiness” (NIV). Neither the original fortress of Zion, David’s city, nor the Temple Mount area he later incorporated, formed the highest peak in the area. Today the Mount of Olives looks down over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount—as it did then.[ Note in David’s Day Zion did tower over the other mountains in the area] However, we should understand that the general area of Jerusalem was of higher elevation than the surrounding land of Judah and central Israel so that people in pilgrimage to the holy city would ascend to it.
Nevertheless, the main idea here concerns Jerusalem’s spiritual exaltation. As the city of God’s tabernacle and temple, and of the throne of God’s anointed king over Israel and Judah, Jerusalem was the peak spiritual location on earth—and it will be on a much grander scale in the future. Even today, Jewish immigration to the Holy Land from anywhere in the world is referred to as aliyah—”ascent.”
In the same vein, another focus of the passage is the physical city of Jerusalem as representative of the city of God now presently in heaven to later descend: “Mount Zion…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22; see Revelation 21-22). The reference to the “sides of the north” in verse 2 could signify the Temple Mount and royal palace being on the north side of David’s city. Yet it may also signify the heavenly “mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north…above the heights of the clouds” (see Isaiah 14:13-14).
The verses here would also appear to portray on some level the spiritual Zion or Jerusalem of today—Israel, wherein God now dwells through His Spirit and which He greatly blesses and protects (compare Hebrews 12:22-23).
Yet the primary focus of Psalm 48 is the future time of Christ’s reign over all nations as in the previous psalm, when Jerusalem, as the capital of God’s Kingdom, will truly be “the joy of the whole earth” (verse 2). God in the person of Christ will literally dwell bodily in Jerusalem’s palaces or citadels—governing the earth from there.
That this is the principal backdrop we discern from the message of the previous two psalms as well as the apparent time setting of Psalm 48:4-7. “This section describes from a different point of view the final battle [at Christ’s return] referred to in Ps. 2; 110. Psalm 48 describes the approach and hasty retreat of the errant kings. The connection between this text and Ps. 2 is heightened by the use of an unusual Hebrew word for fear—a term meaning ‘trembling’ or ‘quaking terror’—which is found in both places (2:11)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 48:4-7). The imagery of God breaking ships of Tarshish in verse 7 is later found in Ezekiel 27, where the figure is meant to symbolize the destruction of ancient Tyre and its commercial system as well as, chiefly, the destruction of end-time Tyre, the international power bloc also known as Babylon—the parallel account of its destruction being found in Revelation 18 (see the Bible Reading Program comments on Ezekiel 27).
Why Germans Call Themselves “Deutsche”
The Germans refer to themselves as DEUTSCHE, and to their country as DEUTSCHLAND. Why? Let’s turn back the pages of history for the answer. The Assyrians anciently called their land “Athur” — the Indo-Germanic form of the Semitic word “Asshur” (“Encyclopedia Britannica”, article, “Mesopotamia”). Sometimes the name “Athur” was shortened simply to “Tyr” in the Indo-European tongue.Asshur or Tyr was worshipped as the god of war by all the ancient world. His name was placed on the THIRD DAY of the week — called “Tuesday” in the English-speaking world. Tuesday is Asshur’s day. Tuesday is from an old Saxon word meaning “Tiw’s day.” Tiw was the god of war of the Germanic people of Europe. Tiw, or Tiwe, was also known by the name Tyr — that is, Asshur. Tiw is another name of Asshur!
The Assyrians knew Asshur or Tyr was their ancestor. We should expect, therefore, that when they migrated to Europe they would still be known as the sons of Tyr or Tiw, that is, Asshur. And what do we find? When the Germans appeared in Europe, they claimed Tyr or Tiw as their ancestor! But what has the name “Deutsche” to do with Tiw? The modern German word “Deutsche” — as educated Germans know — is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word Tiw. (See any thorough book on etymology and word derivations.) Whenever a German calls himself Deutsche, he is saying he is Tiw’s or Asshur’s son — an Assyrian. And when he terms his country Deutschland, he is saying Tiw’s or Asshur’s land — Assyria! Even ancient Hindu literature uses both the word “Asgras” and “Daityas” to refer to the Assyrians.”Daityas” is but a Sanskrit word for “Deutsch” — a name applied to the Assyrians over 1500 years before the birth of Christ!]
Beyond the wars and assaults, Jerusalem will be safe because God will be her refuge (Psalm 48:3)—repeating the message of Psalm 46. Coming to the splendor and magnificence of God’s holy city, and the wonderful way of life proclaimed from there, visiting pilgrims will remark, “As we have heard, so we have seen…” (48:8). These words call to mind the reaction of the Queen of Sheba in visiting King Solomon: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard” (1 Kings 10:6-7). How much more will this be true of Jerusalem during the reign of the Great King, Jesus Christ.
Visitors are encouraged to walk about and enjoy the city’s awesome beauty (Psalm 48:12-13). Parents will tell their children that the city, a bastion of righteousness and justice, exemplifies the Everlasting God (see verse 14). Just as God provides evidence that He is the Creator (Romans 1:18-20), in Jerusalem He provides evidence that He is the King. In its note on Psalm 48:9-11, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states that Jerusalem will be “a God-given visual aid, encouraging [visitors] to imagine and to reflect on the long history of God’s involvement with Israel and of the evidences of his ‘unfailing love’ (hesed).”
Though verses 9-14 paint a vivid picture of the future, the words here also applied well to the experience of the Israelites in ancient times as they came to Jerusalem and its temple to worship. Just the same, these words can have immediacy for us today as we ponder being part of spiritual Zion, God’s Church, and what that entails—and as we consider what God will yet do for us in the wonderful age to come.
Finally it should be pointed out that some have objected to the last words of this psalm, which in the NKJV state that God “will be our guide even to death.” If the interpolated word “even” is left out, this would seem to make God “our guide to death”—as if to say He leads us to death. This may be why the Septuagint translators changed the final words to “forever,” which is used earlier in the verse. However, the phrase “even to death” is certainly true—that God is with us and guides us through all our lives even to the point of death. Of course, God will ultimately guide us even beyond death. It may be, as some have argued, that “to death” is actually part of a postscript to this psalm or of a prescript to the next, a cue phrase meaning set to the tune of another song titled “Death”—perhaps an abbreviated form of “Death of the Son,” mentioned in the superscription of Psalm 9.
Pilot sat on the judgement seat in verse 19. We will cover just this one aspect in this study and when we get to the other gospels we will cover the rest of the chapter in more detail. But this one bit of information which I show you in Jerusalem will change so much of how you think of the current situation in Israel, so please bare with me.
Matthew 27:19 19 And as he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have none at all to do with that righteous Man, for I have suffered much today in a dream because of Him.”
John 19:13 13 Therefore, when Pilate heard these words, he brought ????? out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called Pavement, but in Heb?rew, Gabbatha.
The Secret Key to the Dome of the Rock
There is a key message found within two inscriptions in Arabic inscribed on the first cornice supported by large columns that encircles the interior region of the Dome of the Rock. One inscription is found on the outside area of the cornice and the other on the inside area. Both writings provide the real secret to the meaning of the significance behind the Dome of the Rock.
Once that secret is known, a whole new understanding of early Islam in its relation to Christianity comes on the scene that greatly enhances our comprehension of the theological history of the period. It reveals religious attitudes that existed between early Muslims, Jews and Christians.
There is a linguistic key that has great relevance in knowing why the Dome of the Rock was constructed and it provides the true meaning for its existence. Once this is realized, it will help divert Muslim attention away from their present attitude of reverent holiness toward the Dome and it will redirect their attention to the Al Aqsa Mosque located to the south, and it will further emphasize the importance of Mecca in the eyes of all Muslims. This new information will also aid Christians to know that the Dome of the Rock was actually built by Abd al-Malik in 692 A.D. as a rebuilt Christian Church that once stood in its place. The Rock that sanctified the shrine was first an important Christian holy place and NOT an early Jewish sacred spot (nor was it the site of the former Temples).
The first inscription on the outside is meant for all Muslims and the inner inscription is written for Christians ALONE. Jews are not even considered in the context of the inner (or even the outer) inscription. The analysis of these two inscriptions shows that Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock t o satisfy Christian religious matters and it shows that the Dome of the Rock HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH JEWISH MATTERS WHATEVER! The historical evidence shows conclusively that no Jewish person was ever interested in any religious or national manner to the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock until the time of the First Crusade. The area was NEVER considered a sacred spot of Jews until the time of Benjamin of Tudela in the twelfth century (check other articles on the ASK Web Page on the Internet for proof of this). The site of the Dome of the Rock was ONLY of Christian significance BEFORE the time of Omar and Abd al-Malik. It only became important to Muslims in the eighth century to the eleventh, and only important to Jews in the twelfth century.
In actual fact, Omar (the Second Caliph and the first Muslim leader to enter Jerusalem) and Abd al-Malik about 50 years later actually honored the real site of the Jewish Temple that were shown to them on the southeast ridge and over the Gihon Spring (that is the very thing that Omar came to Jerusalem to accomplish) but these early Muslim leaders did NOT show the same type of reverence to the Rock now under the Dome of the Rock. The Dome was built by Muslims to wean Christians from the site, NOT to make it a more sanctified spot in Islam nor did the building of the Dome of the Rock have anything to do with Jewish religious matters or aspirations. Indeed, the “rock” underneath the Dome of the Rock was specifically and significantly of Christian importance and that the Jews up to the time of the Crusades showed no interest whatever in this former Christian spot that Abd al-Malik rebuilt as a Christian type of building (with its characteristic Byzantine dome) in order to wean Christians (who comprised at least 90% of the population of Jerusalem in the seventh century) from New Testament teachings and to win them over to the doctrines then being taught by Islam in and through the Koran.
Now for a question: What was happening at the time the Dome was built that inspired this display of theological symbolism in the erection of certain buildings in Jerusalem and also in Mecca? The answer has relevance in knowing prophecy for us today.
One of the most volatile geopolitical hot spots on earth today revolves around the national or religious possession of this natural outcropping of an oblong rock located in the City of Jerusalem. That spot is the Rock that is presently situated under the building now known as the Dome of the Rock. The building itself is without doubt the most beautiful piece of architecture in the City of Jerusalem and it represents the centerpiece of religious importance in the Holy City for both Muslims and Jews. But strange as it may seem, history shows that Christians also have a stake in its symbolic relevance. Little do Christians know, but that “Rock” was at first considered by both Muslims and Jews (in the early days of Islam) as being a Christian holy place and NOT one that Muslims or Jews thought as having high religious value. That’s right! The spot is actually of Christian importance. The real story behind the significance of the site of the Dome of the Rock will cause Muslims and Jews to reevaluate its meaning in relation to their own belief systems that they have erroneously accepted over the centuries since the beginning of Islam.
The proper identity of the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock will truly be a revelation to all modern religious groups when they discover the truth of its biblical relevance. They will be amazed when they realize that the area was NOT the site of the former Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod. It was a “Rock” purely of Christian importance and it was formerly recognized by Christians until the seventh century (and even historically until the time of the Crusades) as a most prominent Christian site that was singled out in the Gospel of John as a “Rock” that dealt directly with the mission of Christ Jesus to this earth. The early Christians, Jews and Muslims knew this. The reason the Dome was built by Abd al-Malik in 692 A.D. was to direct Christians away from that “Rock” and to orient them toward the newly constructed Al Aqsa Mosque (which they reckoned to be the re-christened Muslim Temple of Solomon) that was located near the south wall of the Haram esh-Sharif. This in turn was intended to further lead Christians directly toward the City of Mecca where Allah (the Arabic for “God”) now had symbolic residence.
To understand why the Dome of the Rock was built by Abd al-Malik, we first have to understand how Muslims looked (and still look) upon the significance of their central shrine in Mecca that is shaped as a cube (as was the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple). That holy building of the Muslims contains the black meteorite stone that the ancient Arabs used to worship in their pagan days but which Muhammad placed in the southeast corner of his building called the Ka’aba toward which all Muslims must pray five times a day (and, if possible, visit on pilgrimage at least once). Wherever Muslims find themselves in the world, they must direct their prayers toward the Ka’aba in Mecca. When they go on their pilgrimage, they gather at the southeast angle of the cube-style sanctuary. Though the ground level design is a perfect square, the building is angled so that the corner where the meteorite stone is located is just south of east (at about 100 degrees in direction). The required circumambulation (walking or trotting around) the building begins opposite this stone with the people at first facing north toward the region of the heavens to which all biblical peoples believed God dwelt in His heavenly abode (Psalm 75:6). The Muslim ritual at the Ka’aba has profound astronomical (that is, astrological) significance and it is designed to mimic the motions of the inner and outer planets within our solar system. The Temple at Jerusalem had a similar astronomical basis but with an entirely different liturgical motif. There was in both sanctuaries deep symbolism involved and what was ritualistically accomplished was of religious value.
What did Muslim pilgrims perform at the Ka’aba in Mecca? In the monumental work by Sir Richard Francis Burton in the last century (who was the first Christian or European to clandestinely enter the sacred area of Mecca and describe it in detail), we are informed of the liturgical factors that Muslims were expected to perform when they made their pilgrimage to Mecca. They were to assemble at the southeast corner of the Ka’aba and face northward. Each person’s left shoulder was always to be toward the building housing the meteorite stone (idol) as they circle the structure in a counterclockwise fashion (this is the same manner the Jews entered the Temple and exited it). They are required to circle the building seven times (the first three with a slow pace “like walking in sand” and the last four with a faster pace). This represents the movements of the heavenly bodies. The three outer planets as viewed from the earth (Saturn, Jupiter and Mars) move slowly in the heavens relative to the fixed stars, while the inner celestial bodies (Sun, Mercury, Venus and Moon) appear to move faster. In early astrological view, the earth was believed to be the center of the universe with Saturn being the furthest planet away from earth, with Jupiter nearer and Mars nearer still. Then came the Sun, Mercury, Venus and the nearest of all was the Moon. Thus, the first circuit of the Ka’aba was in honor of Saturn, the second Jupiter and on through to the seventh, the Moon. The last circuit symbolically confirmed the pilgrims as being true Muslims and their astronomical symbol became the Moon (the Moon was singled out in the seventh circuit of the Ka’aba). At the end of the seventh circling (and after having recited certain prescribed prayers at various points in their seven circlings), the Muslim pilgrims found themselves back at the place they started opposite the black stone and again facing north to where God was actually thought to have His residence in heaven. There was much mimicking by early Muslims of the Temple rituals performed in Jerusalem by the Jews as demanded in the Scriptures and in Jewish tradition. Muhammad kept the same themes in his ritualistic interpretations. This is important to know in viewing the architectural design of the Dome of the Rock and the ritual focus intended by Abd al-Malik.
The “Rock” at the Dome of the Rock Was of Christian Value, NOT Jewish or Muslim
The “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock is the most conspicuous natural feature within the whole of the Haram esh-Sharif. For anyone to build a magnificent shrine over it shows that the “Rock” must have had great significance. And it did. The first Christian pilgrim that has left us a record of his journey to Jerusalem was the Bordeaux Pilgrim who in 333 A.D. mentioned that the most significant building east of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (then being built) was the Roman Praetorium where Pilate sentenced Jesus. This structure had its walls centered directly within the Tyropoeon Valley. This was NOT the site of the Temple in the eyes of the Bordeaux Pilgrim. He had already described the Temple site (and several other buildings around it) a few paragraphs before. But only later (after concluding his account of the Temple and its associated buildings) did the Bordeaux Pilgrim mention the imposing structure to the east of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with its walls within the valley which he called the Praetorium where Pilate judged Jesus (see John Wilkinson’s excellent translation of the Bordeaux Pilgrim in his book Egeria’s Travels, p.158).
Clearly, the Pilgrim was describing the Haram esh-Sharif as being the Praetorium. He was looking mainly toward the southwest
angle of the Haram and northward toward the spot where the “Wailing Wall” of the Jews is presently located. The Pilgrim said this “walled area” contained the residence of Pilate. It was the Roman Praetorium that also went by the name of “Fort Antonia.” In Roman usage, the Praetorium was the headquarters of a military unit and could refer to the whole camp or to the commander’s tent. There was associated with the military fort a prominent “Rock” The apostle John was well aware of its significance in Christian history. Within this walled enclosure of the Praetorium was the “Rock” called in John’s Gospel (John 19:13) “the Pavement-Stone” (in Greek, lithostrotos and in Hebrew Gabbatha).
This particular “Rock” within the Praetorium area had a “Pavement” or flagstones around it. The “Rock” was associated with the Praetorium and was part of Fort Antonia, the permanent Roman Camp that was located in Jerusalem in the time of Pilate and Jesus. And what did Josephus say (he was the Jewish historian of the first century and an eyewitness to the early Praetorium of the Romans called Fort Antonia)? He stated that the central feature of Fort Antonia was a major rock. He said: “The tower of Antonia…was built upon [around] a rock fifty cubits high and on all sides precipitous…the rock was covered from its base upwards with smooth flagstones” (Jewish War, V.v,8 para.238). Before construction of the fortress, the “Rock” was 50 cubits high (75 feet), but Herod later built a platform around it (when it became the north/south center of the walled fortress) and this made it not as high and it became accessible for judicial purposes. That “Rock” around which Fort Antonia was built (and mentioned by Josephus) was the chief geographical feature of the site. It was near this “Rock” that Pilate had his residence at the time of Jesus’ trial. Later Christians believed that some indentions in that “Rock” must have come from the footprints of Jesus as he stood before Pilate and God supposedly allowed his feet to sink into the “Rock.” Though these indentions were not the actual footprints of Jesus (a great deal of Christian folklore became associated with the “Rock”), early Christians came to believe they were the literal outlines of Jesus’ feet. It is easy to explain how this conclusion came to be associated with the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock.
The so-called footprints came into vogue when later Christians noticed in the New Testament that a “Judgment Seat” was placed by Pilate on the “Rock” (called in Greek a bematos). That word comes from the root word bema that literally means footprint, or by common usage a footstool where a king or a ruler in judgment would place his feet when he sat on a throne in order to sentence people in any official judicial event. Indeed, even the throne of God was reckoned in the Bible as a spot where God placed His feet below the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple when He sat or stood to make His divine judgments (Psalms 99:5; 132:7; Lamentations 2:1). Each military governor of the Romans carried his official bema or bematos with him in order to make his judgments on behalf of the emperor, and Julius Caesar carried one with him everywhere he went in order to render official judgments (see “Praetorium,” Hasting’s Bible Dictionary). Later Christians simply confused the literal meaning of bema [footprint] and the indentions they saw in the natural outcropping of rock became “Jesus’ footprints.” Though this was error, the reckoning became an indelible identifying mark associated with the “Rock” where Pilate made his judgment against Jesus. This “Rock” (called “the Pavement” by the apostle John) was well known in the time of Constantine. The records show that Helena, the mother of Constantine, ordered that a small Christian Church with the name “St.Cyrus and St.John” be built over that “Rock” (see Life of Constantine in Wilkinson’s Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, p. 204). This small church was later enlarged probably in the fifth century to become a major church in Jerusalem called “The Church of the Holy Wisdom.” This church is described very well (and accurately) in a sixth century work written by the Piacenza Pilgrim. He said (with words in brackets mine):
“We also prayed at the Praetorium, where the Lord’s case was heard: what is there now is the basilica of Saint Sophia [the Holy Wisdom Church], which is in front [north] of the Temple of Solomon [located] below the street [east and downslope] which runs down to the spring of Siloam outside of Solomon’s porch [the eastern wall of Solomon’s Temple]. In this basilica is the seat where Pilate sat to hear the Lord’s case, and there is also the oblong stone [I emphasize this point about the “oblong stone” to help identify the spot] which used to be in the center of the Praetorium [the Praetorium tent was moveable]. The accused person whose case was being heard was made to mount this stone so that everyone could hear and see him. The Lord mounted it when he was heard by Pilate, and his footprints [italicized for emphasis] are still on it. He had a well-shaped foot, small and delicate.”
This Church of the Holy Wisdom (which the Pilgrim had just described) was built over “the oblong stone” which the people thought had the footprints of Jesus embedded in it. Just as Josephus stated that the “Rock” was the most prominent part of Fort Antonia [the Praetorium area], so this “oblong stone” was the central feature of the Church of the Holy Wisdom (that was destroyed by the Persians and Jewish soldiers in 614 A.D.). This is the same “Rock” that is now under the Dome of the Rock in the Haram esh-Sharif. The fact that later Christians thought the footprints of Jesus were embedded in this “Rock,” is a key for identification. There are historical references both Christian and Muslim that attest that the “Rock” over which the Dome of the Rock now stands was the same “Rock or Stone” that had the footprints of Jesus inlayed as foot-like depressions sunk into the “Rock.”
Indeed, even as late as the period of the Crusades we read that the court recorder of Saladin (the Muslim who reconquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 A.D.) made mention that Jesus’ footprints had been embedded in the “Rock” underneath the Dome of the Rock (see article “Saladin” in Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam). There are several other Muslim references to these footprints of Jesus in the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock that I have present in a more extended context in my new book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot.” In fact, in the book I will show in a future article that those footprints of Jesus were sawed away from the “Rock” and placed in a location within the Haram esh-Sharif about 200 yards north of the Dome of the Rock. This later fact is a most interesting and important aspect of the story.
In short, there can be no doubt of the identification. The “Rock” of the Dome of the Rock (which is clearly oblong in shape) and the “oblong stone” within the Church of the Holy Wisdom were one and the same “Rock/Stone.” Sophronius, the Archbishop of Jerusalem in the time of Omar when the Muslims first conquered Jerusalem, called the Church of the Holy Wisdom (when it was yet standing before its destruction in 614 A.D.) as “the House and the Stone” (Sophronius, Antacroeontica as translated by John Wilkinson in Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, p.91). This fact shows that Sophronius saw great significance in the “Rock/ Stone.” That “Rock” that later became the spot for the Dome of the Rock to Sophronius was the very stone called “the Pavement” mentioned in John 19:13 (rendered in Greek as the Lithostrotos, and in Hebrew Gabbatha).
Why the Dome of the Rock Was Built by Abd al-Malik in 692 A.D.
During the first hundred years of Muslim rule in Jerusalem (since more than 90% of the population was Christian) was one of conciliation and ecumenism between Muslims and Christians and between Muslims and Jews. This does not mean that the Muslims wanted to embrace some of the teachings of Christianity. The Muslims abhorred what they believed to be outright idolatry among Christians with their statues, pictures and pagan practices within the Christian community, but they still thought in this early period that they could wean Christians away from their religious beliefs unto the new Islam that God had now revealed to the world by Muhammad. This was the central reason why Abd al-Malik first devised and designed the building called the Dome of the Rock to be built over the Christian spot where once the Church of the Holy Wisdom had stood. His attempt was ecumenical in its spiritual intent, but still to show the superiority of Islam over what Abd al-Malik believed to be a decadent type of Christianity.
The fact is, the Dome of the Rock was built exclusively to vie with (and to appeal to) Christians in Jerusalem to accept the new truth of Islam which was (in the Muslim view) a major advance in proper religious interpretation that the “Peoples of the Book” (the Christians and Jews) ought to have enough sense to accept. And though Jews were also accounted as being “People of the Book,” the construction of the Dome of the Rock was NOT intended in any manner to influence Jews. After all, Jews would NOT have reckoned as important a “Rock” that was exclusively a Christian religious site because it was identified with “the Pavement” recorded in the Gospel of John (John 19:13). In a word, Abd al-Malik and the early Muslims felt they could effectively (in an intellectual and philosophical way) convince Christians that Islam was correct by constructing the Dome of the Rock and to include within it a message from Islam that would glorify Muslim theology.
So, Abd al-Malik set out in 692 A.D. to woo the Christians to Islam. What he did was to rebuild in the exact spot and in the precise form “The Church of the Holy Wisdom” that had been destroyed by the Persians and Jews in 614 A.D. (and he desired it to have as much architectural grandeur as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). He then built what looked like a grand Byzantine “Church” directly over the very “Rock” that Christians believed contained the footprints of Jesus. Abd al-Malik did not design the Dome of the Rock as a Muslim type of building. He wanted it to appear as a rebuilt Church of the Holy Wisdom (the reason for this I will explain in my new book on the Temples). The Muslim Caliph designed the building to be like a “Church,” but one that contained the new and advanced teaching of Islam. Within this new (or renewed) “Church,” Abd al-Malik placed two inscriptions in Arabic. One was to Muslims in general (the outer inscription), and the other was exclusively for Christians (the inner inscription next to the “Rock” itself). That inner inscription specifically mentions Jesus and the supposed errors of some Christian doctrines. Abd al-Malik was appealing exclusively to Christians by emphasizing this Christian holy spot through Muslim eyes, NOT to Jews who did not yet accept Jesus as the Messiah as did Muslims and Christians. And in attempting to wean the Christians from their former beliefs unto the new Islam, Abd al-Malik used every architectural artifice and symbolic nuance he knew in a brilliant maneuver to woo the Christians of Jerusalem to accept Islam in a non-offensive way. He did so with a deliberate and steadfast allegiance to Muhammad that made Islam the dominant religion for all mankind, including those who then accepted Christianity.
One must carefully notice every architectural device used by Abd al-Malik to see what his intentions were and they must be minutely observed with utmost precision to the dotting of an “I” to the crossing of a “T.” Every detail of the architecture that the Caliph designed was meant to systematically lead Christians (NOT Jews, in this case) to the advanced teachings of Islam as he believed them to be. And what a master he was in his endeavor! Though he built the Dome of the Rock as a facsimile of the Church of the Holy Wisdom (there was NOT the slightest intention on the part of Abd al-Malik to give heed to ANY JEWISH PERSON OR EDIFICE WHATEVER in the architectural design of the Dome of the Rock), he changed the entrance to the octagonal building from its original design with its entrance on the west. Abd al-Malik deliberately altered the entrance to Dome of the Rock to be from the south. This is most UN-Muslim! The ideal for those north of Mecca is (like the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem) to enter from the north and pray toward the qibla (the direction to Mecca) in the south. Not so the Dome of the Rock! Abd al-Malik designed it to be entered from the south with one’s back to Mecca (at the start of the liturgical theme)! Why do we know this? Because the two inscriptions in Arabic (containing vital information from cardinal verses in the Koran and also a religious commentary by Abd al-Malik himself as the successor of Muhammad) are a direct appeal to Muslims in general (the outer inscription) and then to Christians exclusively (the inner inscription that is written closer to the “Rock”). A significant feature of the inner inscription is the fact that it can only be read with one’s back to the “Rock.” This was intended to give a negative emotional reaction to the reader of the inscription that the architecture was designed to evoke. The inner inscription was not designed to be read by Jews who did not believe in Jesus in the first place (like the Muslims and Christians). The writings on the cornice were to give definite and decisive positive and negative psychological impressions through liturgical and ritualistic themes that Abd al-Malik designed into the architecture. Again (and it is important to note) the Caliph did NOT address any Jews nor did he show the slightest interest in Jewish matters or religious beliefs when he designed the Dome of the Rock. He built the Dome of the Rock to appeal strictly to Christians, NOT Jews! [To read what the two inscriptions state in English, read the excellent translations with outstanding pictures and explanatory text in Professor Oleg Grabar’s book titled The Shape of the Holy.]
A Historical Review of What Happened Surrounding the Site of the “Rock.”
In 638 A.D., when Omar (the Second Caliph) went to Jerusalem, he asked Sophronius the archbishop to show him where King David had prayed before the building of the Temple. Omar said he wished to pray in the same spot. Sophronius showed him, first, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which Omar rejected. Then Sophronius took the Caliph to the traditional Zion on the southwest hill. Omar rejected that spot too. Then, when Omar stated that he wished to build a shrine at the place where David prayed, Sophronius then took him to the place over and near the Gihon Spring where the Jews had attempted to rebuild the Temple in the time of Constantine (as permitted in the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. and with construction continuing to 325 A.D.) and also in the time of Julian the Apostate (362 A.D.). At that former Temple site over the Gihon Spring, Omar was impressed. He dug through the filth and found a stone that he removed and took it through the South Gate of the Haram esh-Sharif. There he placed it near the qibla [the site toward which Muslim pray as they bow toward Mecca] on the elevated platform directly abutting the southern wall. He called the place the Al Aqsa (and a Mosque was soon built there). But one of Omar’s generals named Ka’ab (a recent convert from Judaism who had extensive Christian indoctrination) found the place of the “Rock” where the former Church of the Holy Wisdom once stood. He told Omar that it would be better to place the qibla NORTH of this “Rock” and NOT down at the southern end of the Haram. Omar rejected this suggestion of Ka’ab and chided the general for making such a suggestion. That would have given much prestige to that “Rock” in the north, and Omar steadfastly refused. He turned his back on that “Rock” where the Christian church once stood, and went back south to the qibla of the Al Aqsa area. The truth is, Omar (in his role as the Second Caliph and the divine successor of Muhammad in Muslim theology) totally rejected that northern “Rock.” And later, Abd al-Malik wanted to show a further rejection by building the Dome over that northern “Rock” some fifty years afterwards.
Let me explain how this rejection is designed into the Dome. The original entrance designed by Abd al-Malik was from the southern most octant of the octagonal design. Once a person entered the Dome, he was directed to read the start of the first inscription that was located at the top of the cornice on the far right side of the southern octant. Since Arabic (like Hebrew) is written from right to left, the first inscription contained no message for Christians and it was meant for Muslims in general. To read the whole inscription one must start with one’s back to Mecca (this is important to note), but then circle around the whole of the Dome clockwise (just the opposite from what Muslims do in circling the Ka’aba at Mecca) until one comes to the exact spot where one commenced his reading (when one returns to this southern point the person can conveniently turn his back to the “Rock” and pray directly toward Mecca in the south). The design of the outer message is to circle the “Rock” in the wrong direction (which gives a negative impression to any early Muslim, Jew or Christian). But the complete encirclement requires one to return to the south once again and the person is forced to face Mecca when one leaves the Dome with one’s back to the “Rock” as Omar insisted one must do (and Abd al-Malik designed this symbolic stance – with one’s back to the “Rock” – into the liturgy associated with the architecture of the Dome of the Rock).
The inner inscription is different. One must go further into the Dome to the other side of the same cornice and look upward at the same southern octant, but to its far-left side if one is facing the “Rock” (indeed, one must look at its far left side only when facing the “Rock” itself, but inside the inner area of the Dome one must look southerly and also upwards at the start of the inscription which will be seen on one’s upper right side – this requires a person to have his back to the “Rock” and looking toward Mecca). To read the inner inscription one must crane the neck upward to see the start of the inscription that is circling and facing the “Rock.” One then begins to read the inscription in Arabic devoted strictly to Christians (NOT to Jews) because the whole emphasis of the message is about the importance of Jesus in Muslim theology. One must read this inscription which completely encircles the Dome (like the outer one in the opposite direction), but one must do so in a counterclockwise manner as one does at Mecca (a positive sign) but this time with one’s back to the “Rock” (another positive sign from a Muslim point of view, and a negative one as Christians would view it).
Now note this important point. All the time a Christian is reading the teaching from Abd al-Malik in the inner inscription, he has to do so with his back deliberately turned away from the “Rock” and with his head craned upward in the most uncomfortable position that one can imagine. The whole anatomical awkwardness forced upon the human observer is a deliberate attempt to show disdain for the symbolic meaning that Christians had placed on the “Rock.” The original symbolism for Christians was different. The Christian entered the Domed Church from the west and looked eastward toward the Mount of Olives. Once the circuit of the “Rock” was made, the Christian could again look through the “Rock” eastward toward Olivet in symbolic anticipation for the Second Advent (Christ is to come back from the east – as the sun in its circuit of the earth).
However, Abd al-Malik designed the Dome of the Rock to be entered from the southern octant. But even if a Christian entered from the south (as designed by Abd al-Malik), though his circuit around the “Rock” would be all negative to Christianity because his or her back would always be away from the “Rock” (while reading the inner inscription), the Christian upon completing the circuit could simply refuse to face Mecca when his circuit ended in the south. He could then turn directly northward and pray through the “Rock” (which symbolized the rule of Christ in his or her life) and direct his ultimate attention to the north quarter of the sky where all people knew God the Father had His residence. If Abd al-Malik saw a Christian do this after the circuit deposited the person in the south, then Abd al-Malik knew that the person would never be a Muslim and the Christian would be accepted as a “Person of the Book” (the Holy Scriptures) but inferior to Muslims. Thus, the person would then pay the poll tax to the Muslims and carry on with his own beliefs.
Still, when one completed the circuit by reading either the outer or the inner inscription in order to exit the Dome of the Rock as intended by Abd al-Malik, the person is forced to face directly toward Mecca. But there is one other thing. The person is also facing directly toward the Al Aqsa Mosque established by Omar the Second Caliph, and directly through the former site of the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple (because the Muslims knew then where Solomon’s Temple was formerly located over the Gihon Spring). The prayer of the Muslim would transverse Solomon’s Temple and focus onward to the Ka’aba in Mecca. Every device imaginable was used by Abd al-Malik in his building of the Dome of the Rock to direct people (both Muslims and Christians) AWAY FROM any significance of the “Rock” (just as Omar had demanded when he was first in Jerusalem). This is because it was well known in the seventh century that the “Rock” was actually a Christian holy spot.
What is most important for us of modern times to realize is the fact that the site of the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock is purely and simply a Christian holy place (before the time of Omar and Abd al-Malik), and it did not become a Muslim holy site until many folklore traditions about the “Night Journey” of Muhammad began to be associated with the “Rock” from the eighth century on to the time of the Crusades. I explain in my book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot” how the many Muslim mythic accounts (which were outright fables and lies that even Muslim historians admit to be so) erroneously got attached to the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock. As for the Jews, NO JEW showed any interest whatever in the “Rock” and the Dome of the Rock until the time of the First Crusade. This is a fact! For more information see further articles on this subject on our ASK Web Site.
So, the Dome of the Rock was built over a prime Christian holy place (where the Church of the Holy Wisdom was once situated). Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock with the intended purpose of getting Christians to forget the “Rock” on which Jesus was judged at the time of Pilate. Abd al-Malik wanted Christians to abandon the Christian significance to the “Rock” by having them turn their “backs” on it and he wanted Christians to convert to Islam and then to focus on the Ka’aba stone where Muslims supposed Abraham erected at Mecca in Arabia for the true worship of God. My book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot” provides more details to this important historical fact.
The 613 Mitzvot
We are also going to continue to study the 613 laws of Torah which we can read at http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm
We are doing 7 laws each week and this week we shall study laws 142-148. We also have commentary, with editing from me, again from http://theownersmanual.net/The_Owners_Manual_02_The_Law_of_Love.Torah
142. To dwell in booths seven days during Sukkot (Lev. 23:42) (CCA35). See Sukkot.
(142)Dwell in booths seven days during Sukkot. “You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths.” (Leviticus 23:42) Seven is the number for completion, of perfection. Thus a seven-day festival is indicative of something that has eternal ramifications: Yahweh will dwell with man for eternity. Yes, only the first thousand years of it will be on this earth, but a change in environment doesn’t signal a change in relationship. Our old mortal bodies were built for this earth. Our new immortal bodies (like the one Yeshua had when he rose from the tomb) will be built to inhabit an entirely different kind of universe.
If you ask a hundred Christians if the dietary laws of the Old Testament are still valid for us today, ninety-five of them will say “No,” and point out a couple of places in the New Testament that seem to prove their case. For example, in an incident recorded in both Matthew and Mark, Yeshua answered the Pharisees’ criticism of His disciples’ eating with unwashed hands with what seems like a refutation of the Levitical dietary precepts:
“Jesus called to the crowds and said, ‘Listen to what I say and try to understand. You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do.’” His point here is actually that the Pharisees didn’t understand the nature of defilement—that which makes you unclean or unholy. They thought that neglecting the traditional ceremonial hand washing before meals would somehow separate you from God. “Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowds, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the statement he had made.” Yeshua’s disciples didn’t quite get it either, apparently. “‘Don’t you understand either?’ he asked. ‘Can’t you see that what you eat won’t defile you? Food doesn’t come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then comes out again.’ (The Christians say ‘By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.’)” We’ll come back to this last sentence. It’s the heart of the argument, but there are problems with it.
“And then he added, ‘It is the thought-life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God.’” In other words, neither the food you eat nor the way you prepare it can make you unholy. What separates you from God is your sin. “Then the disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?’ Jesus replied, ‘Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be rooted up, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.’” (Matthew 15:10-13 NLT, Mark 7:14-23 NLT, blended) Yeshua didn’t care if He offended the Pharisees’ delicate sensibilities. They were leading people astray; the record needed to be corrected. And He was just the Guy to do it.
The Pharisees were doing their best to follow the strict letter of the Mosaic Law, including the dietary part. So far, so good. The problem was that they were relying on their strict outward observance of the rules to earn favor with Yahweh—Who sees what’s in our hearts. Yeshua wasn’t saying that it was wrong to follow the precepts of Moses, or that they had somehow been rendered obsolete by His coming. He was only saying that observance of the Law could not and would not reconcile us to a holy God. Just as “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” so was the rest of the Torah: the dietary laws were there for our benefit, not God’s.
But what about that incriminating parenthetical, “(By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.)”? Isn’t this saying that all bets are off, that we have been given divine permission to eat whatever we want? Not exactly. The primary passage defining the dietary laws is found in Leviticus 11. The summary verse reads, “This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:46-47) Two things, it says, have been defined in the preceding passage. First are those things which are clean (as opposed to unclean).
If an Israelite were even to touch anything on this list, he would be ceremonially defiled, or “unclean until evening,” that is, temporarily disqualified from certain duties or privileges that required ceremonial cleanliness. Second, those things which are edible (as opposed to inedible) are identified. Thus any animal that was prohibited in the Leviticus 11 list was, by definition, not food. So Yeshua is not saying, “Go ahead and eat spiders and mice—I’m telling you it’s okay, never mind what the Torah said.”
He is, rather, saying, “Nothing you put in your mouth can establish or destroy your relationship with Yahweh. Only the condition of your heart—your love, faith, and trust in Him—has any bearing on this relationship.” The things that were not considered “food” in the first place never even entered into the discussion.
I should point out that the New Living Translation is probably guilty of unwarranted extrapolation at this point: “(By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable)” isn’t not in the Greek text in any recognizable way. The bottom line is that the Mark 7 passage does nothing to abrogate the Levitical dietary laws: that which is not food is not purified.
Okay, then, what about I Timothy 4? Surely that’ll prove the case. “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods.” See? See? The people telling us it’s “wrong to eat certain foods” are hypocrites and liars! “But God created those foods to be eaten with thanksgiving by people who know and believe the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts. For we know it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (I Timothy 4:1-5 NLT) Hold on a minute here. What’s God’s definition of “food?” It’s all the stuff on the “okay” list in Leviticus 11. The items on the no-no list aren’t classified as food at all. But when the rabbis tell you not to eat beef or lamb that was butchered by someone other than a duly authorized shochet, or when the Catholic Church tells you (as they did for centuries) that you can’t eat meat on Fridays, you can be relatively certain you’re dealing with “hypocrites and liars.” Again, things that aren’t defined as food in the Torah aren’t even part of the discussion. I know you were probably all watered up for some barbecued buzzard breast with minced mousemeat stuffing, but neither this passage nor the Mark 7 statement has authorized any such culinary adventures. Sorry.
Alright then, what about Peter’s vision of the sheet with all the non-kosher sandwich fixin’s on it? Rule number one: don’t take my word for anything. Let’s look up the passage. The day after Cornelius, a devout Roman centurion, received a vision about Peter, “Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” (Acts 10:9-15) Peter, like the Pharisees and indeed, most Jews of his time, made an effort to follow the Mosaic dietary laws. They were such an ingrained religious tradition, nobody really thought about them much—they were second nature, as they should have been. But certain rabbinical prejudices had become equally ingrained in the culture, among them that gentiles were unclean dogs whom Jews were to despise and look down upon as lesser creatures.
So as Pete was puzzling over the meaning of his non-kosher vision, Cornelius’ messengers arrived and asked him to go with them to visit this gentile they worked for. Peter may have been impetuous, but he was teachable. He saw immediately what Yahweh was trying to tell him. He relates his conclusion in Acts 10:34-35, 43: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation, whoever [i.e., not only Jews, but gentiles as well] fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him….
Whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Was Peter’s vision about food? No. It was about dropping errant prejudices about other people whom God loved. Note that God wasn’t telling Peter to be tolerant of other people’s false beliefs. Cornelius was a believer, or at the very least, an honest searcher, and Yahweh never slams the door shut on these folks, no matter what their cultural background is. The problem was on Peter’s end. He had assumed that because Yahweh had told the Israelites to keep themselves set apart from the nations, that gentiles could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, at least not without becoming Jews first. God was showing him that this just wasn’t true. Peter got the message. Why don’t we?
As we examine Maimonides’ take on the Levitical dietary laws, then, let us bear in mind that nothing Yahweh instructed in the Torah has been abrogated, diminished, or otherwise done away with. There are, however, several ceremonial cleanliness issues, mentioned in Leviticus in the context of dietary law, that have been fulfilled in the person of the Messiah. Maimonides doesn’t distinguish these from what and what not to eat, so I will, briefly. These seem to be indicative of whether or not an Israelite was to be admitted into the camp, to be a part of the congregation. If a person was ceremonially unclean, he was to remain outside the camp, separated from those who were not contaminated. It’s never really spelled out, but we are given a picture of how it worked in Deuteronomy 23:10-11. “If there is any man among you who becomes unclean by some occurrence in the night, then he shall go outside the camp; he shall not come inside the camp. But it shall be, when evening comes, that he shall wash with water; and when the sun sets, he may come into the camp.” Being admitted “into the camp” is a picture of entering the Kingdom of God. There is no shortage of ways we can “defile ourselves,” making us unfit for the Kingdom. But the blood of the Messiah has washed us clean, allowing us to come into God’s very presence “when the sun sets,” that is, upon our death .
As we read the Torah, it becomes plain that there’s really no way to avoid becoming ceremonially unclean from time to time. (Actually, it’s worse than that: it’s next to impossible to remain ceremonially undefiled for longer than a New York minute.) Interestingly enough, Yahweh never commanded the Israelites to completely avoid this state, though being ceremonially clean is clearly to be preferred—a goal to shoot for. He said far less about how to avoid becoming “defiled” than He did about the subsequent purification process—typically, the washing of the body or clothes with water and the passage of time.
But as I said, Maimonides stuck pretty much to the practical dietary side of the subject—what and what not to eat and how to prepare it. Sadly, this makes perfect sense, because ever since the wilderness wanderings ended, there was no practical way to “go outside the camp.” God’s instructions in that regard became purely symbolic, and the symbols pointed toward Yeshua the Messiah. Therefore, it served the interests of the rabbis who’d rejected Him to bury the truth. But we’re following Maimonides’ list for organizational purposes, so the dietary rules are where we’re going next…
143. To examine the marks in cattle (so as to distinguish the clean from the unclean) (Lev. 11:2) (affirmative). See Animals that may not be eaten.
(143) Examine the marks in cattle (in order to distinguish the clean from the unclean). “Now Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth…” (Leviticus 11:1-2) What follows these verses is a litany of not just “cattle,” but all sorts of animals that might or might not be considered edible. The people weren’t so much to examine the marks or characteristics on individual animals as to separate different kinds of beasts from each other: it wasn’t that Angus beef might be okay but not Holstein, but rather that cows were clean and camels weren’t. Yahweh would go on to speak not only of mammals, but also of sea creatures, bugs, reptiles, and birds. As we will see, the more complicated an animal’s digestive system and the more “discriminating” its typical diet, the more likely it would be that its kind would be included in the “edible” category.
This was not the first time the issue of “clean” versus “unclean” animals was ever raised. 1,500 years (give or take) before the Law was handed down through Moses, Noah was instructed to “take with you [into the ark] seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 7:2-3) How did Noah know which was which? Either Yahweh told him specifically for this occasion, or more likely, Noah already knew because he had made sacrificial offerings to Yahweh of these kinds of animals in the past, as had his ancestors—going back to Adam. It isn’t even hinted that what Noah did in Genesis 8:20 was an unprecedented act: “Then Noah built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” However, using these animals for food—instead of eating only plants—was possibly a post-diluvian innovation. Yahweh told Noah after the flood subsided, “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:2-4)
144. Not to eat the flesh of unclean beasts (Lev. 11:4) (CCN93). See Animals that may not be eaten.
(144) Do not eat the flesh of unclean beasts. “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:2-8) Yahweh made it easy to determine what animals were “edible” and which were not: of mammals, only those with divided hooves that also chewed the cud were to be used as food. This includes cattle (plus oxen, buffalos, bison, etc.), sheep (both wild and domestic), goats, and deer (including a broad range of wild herding animals inhabiting grasslands from one end of earth to the other). In Deuteronomy 14:4-5, the list looked like this: “These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep.”
Specifically excluded because they did not meet the dual criteria are several animals that would have been quite familiar to the Israelites: notably, pigs and camels. Horses, donkeys, zebras, and onagers (the indigenous wild asses to which Ishmael was prophetically compared in Genesis 16:12) are among other potentially familiar hoofed beasts that didn’t make the cut. Carnivorous or omnivorous hunters and scavengers (e.g. lions, wolves, apes) were not to be eaten, nor were omnivorous or vegetarian species that were susceptible to various diseases, such as the hyrax and the rabbit. In clarification, Yahweh stated, “Whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:27)
Since horsemeat and ’possum aren’t protein staples for most folks, it would seem eating Torah-Kosher isn’t a real big problem for the most part. In fact, as far as the typical American diet is concerned, there are only two food types on the “forbidden” list that are problematical—pork and shellfish. We’ll cover seafood a bit later, but for now, let’s take a close look at the “other white meat,” pork. I know, pigs are quite intelligent, they’re kind of cute, and their reputation as being “filthy” animals is somewhat exaggerated. More to the point (be honest, now), pork can be mighty tasty: bacon, chops, ribs, ham, sausage—why should we have to give it up just because of some moldy 3,000-year-old dietary guidelines? I don’t mind abstaining from vulture meat and barbecued rat, but…
Yes, we have a fondness for our carnitas and pork chow mein, don’t we? So we scour the Bible looking for loopholes. An Israeli friend of mine who would never openly admit to a fondness for pork nevertheless refers to pigs as “short cows.” Wink wink, nudge nudge. And because we like the taste of pork products, we Christians desperately cling to passages like Mark 7 that seem to abrogate the inconvenient portions of the Torah.
Remember, the Torah is our Owner’s Manual. It was written for our benefit, not Yahweh’s. Why doesn’t he want us to eat pigs? It’s because of what he designed them to be—barnyard garbage disposals, made to cleanse the world of spoilage and death. Pigs raised for consumption these days are mostly fed corn, but left to themselves, they’ll eat almost anything, including rotting garbage and the feces of other animals. It’s their job. Being “food” isn’t. They have no mechanism in their digestive tracts to filter out the toxins they ingest—it ends up being secreted through their skin or hooves (pickled pigs’ feet, anyone?) or absorbed into the meat. A cow or sheep will take between twelve and sixteen hours to digest and process its food; a pig’s digestive system is so simple, it’ll get the job done in three or four hours.
And disease? Everybody seems to know that pork needs to be cooked thoroughly in order to kill the worms that infest the meat, but hardly anybody actually gets out the ol’ meat thermometer to check to see if the requisite minimum of 170 degrees Fahrenheit has actually been reached. That’s what it takes (if you’re lucky) to kill trichinella spiralis—the trichina worm, one of nineteen such worms commonly found in pork. Merely cooking your pork chops until they have the consistency of a baseball mitt is no guarantee that the worms are dead. And don’t take comfort in the USDA stamp: all that means is that the pigs have been inspected. But trichinae are microscopic and nearly transparent—it takes an expert to find them, and the government inspectors aren’t even looking.
The journal Healthwise reported that there are 150,000 new cases of trichinosis in the U.S. each year. Some authorities estimate that as many as twenty-five percent of the American population is infected. So why isn’t this epidemic recognized and dealt with? Two reasons: first, the obvious—there’s money to be made, and lots of it, if the pork industry is allowed to continue doing business as usual. The second reason is the stealthy nature of the disease. “Trichinosis is the chameleon of diseases,” said the Saturday Evening Post (7/8/82). “The number and variety of ailments with which it is more or less commonly confused approach the encyclopedic.” The journal goes on to list 41 disorders ranging from commonplace to esoteric that are frequently misdiagnosed instead of the real culprit, trichinosis—everything from arthritis and asthma to typhus and cholera.
I think it’s safe to say that this is one place where our “Christian” traditions have led us into error. We should never have taken the Church’s word over Yahweh’s. But I’m afraid there’s a sinister plot afoot there as well, and it’s not over anything as trivial as money. You see, the original Babylonian mystery religion was predicated on the tragic death and miraculous rebirth of Tammuz (Satan’s prototypical Messiah counterfeit), who was, the legend goes, killed by a wild boar in his fortieth year. Devotees of the religion would therefore symbolically “weep for Tammuz” for a forty-day Lenten period each year (cf. Ezekiel 8:14), at the end of which they would ritually slaughter the pig that killed Tammuz and celebrate his (Tammuz’, not the pig’s) resurrection as a god—in the form of an egg-laying rabbit (I’m not making this stuff up, I swear). Does any of this sound familiar? It should. After Constantine declared Christianity legal at the Council of Nicaea in 325, all sorts of pagan sun-god traditions were woven into the fabric of “Christianity,” including the oh-so-popular “Easter” ham. It was an often-stated objective of the “Church” hierarchy at this stage to separate itself from all things Jewish. But you can’t do that without separating yourself from Yahweh. It was a really stupid thing to do.
Satan’s not stupid, of course. He’s got something for everybody. And so we observe that the entire Muslim world is deathly afraid of pigs. Are they following the word of Yahweh, then? Hardly. They’re merely buying into another of Satan’s counterfeits. There’s more to the Mosaic dietary laws than just pigs. Ask ’em about camels—specifically declared unclean in the Torah. Middle Eastern Muslims not only eat them, they sacrifice them in droves to Allah every year at the Ka’aba.
145. To examine the marks in fishes (so as to distinguish the clean from the unclean (Lev. 11:9) (affirmative). See Animals that may not be eaten.
(145)Examine the marks in fishes (to distinguish the clean from the unclean. “These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:9-10) As He did with mammals, Yahweh has provided very clear, simple instructions as to what aquatic creatures are to be considered “edible” and which are not. As before, there are two criteria, both of which must be met: both fins and scales had to be present, which pretty much restricted the category of seafood to true fish—i.e., the bony fishes. Cartilaginous “fish” like sharks and rays have fins but no scales. Sea snakes and certain sea creatures that might be construed to have scales (like shrimps or lobsters) don’t have fins. Both types are thus prohibited. All shellfish (clams, oysters, scallops, mussels, etc.) are out of bounds, as are crustaceans like crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and crayfish. Aquatic mammals like whales, dolphins, and porpoises don’t have scales, so they’re not to be eaten, nor are the more exotic sea creatures like octopi, squids, sea cucumbers…you get the idea.
Once again, we don’t have to look too far to find practical reasons for nixing everything but regular fish. Most of the prohibited sea creatures are scavengers, no matter which end of the food chain they occupy. Their God-given job in life is to clean the waters of death and decay. Anybody who’s ever had a successful aquarium knows that one of the secrets of maintaining balance is to have a few scavengers and snails in with the pretty fish to keep the tank clean. Shellfish and mollusks filter pollutants out of their environment, but their simple digestive systems have no capacity for keeping these toxins out of their own tissues. Though they themselves are not normally adversely affected by the nasty stuff they ingest, their flesh retains the accumulated toxins. The bottom line: you never really know if they’re “safe.” So God made the decision easy for us. Fins and scales, or forget it. Caveat emptor.
146. Not to eat unclean fish (Lev. 11:11) (CCN95). See Animals that may not be eaten.
(146)Do not eat unclean fish. “They [whatever in the water does not have fins and scales] shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:11-12) Here we see the negatively stated converse to Mitzvah #145. It’s not a separate precept. But as long as we’re here, let me point out another detail that forces us to look beyond the mere letter of the law. We see here (as in other places) that not only weren’t the Israelites to eat the forbidden flesh, they weren’t even to touch the carcasses of these creatures after they had died. The consequences of touching the carcass of any unclean animal are summarized in verses 24-25: “By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening; whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.”
“Whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them?” I hate to tell you this, but Yahweh commanded every Israelite to do precisely that—or something very close to it. Remember Mitzvah #41? The Jews were instructed to attach tassels—called tsitzits—to the corners of their garments, each containing a single blue thread, the purpose of which was “that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yahweh and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined.” (Numbers 15:39) Where did the blue dye come from? There was only one source, the cerulean mussel, a.k.a. the murex. So by wearing the tsitzit with the required blue thread, the Israelites were in a sense “carrying part of the carcass” of an unclean creature. At the very least, their keeping of the law of the tsitzit had required someone else to become ceremonially unclean for their benefit—processing the dye from the shellfish corpses. When they saw the blue threads in their tsitzits, they should have been reminded that somebody had borne their uncleanness for them. The blue thread was prophetic of the Messiah.
Yahweh was practically screaming that “whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight….” Did God purposely build this glitch into His Law, making it impossible to remain ceremonially clean? I believe He did. Paul goes on to explain: “For by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:19-23) We are all unclean, and keeping the Law cannot make us clean. Only the blood of Christ can do that.
147. To examine the marks in fowl, so as to distinguish the clean from the unclean (Deut. 14:11) (affirmative). See Animals that may not be eaten.
(147)Examine the marks in fowl, to distinguish the clean from the unclean. “All clean birds you may eat. But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds; every raven after its kind; the ostrich [a mistranslation in the NKJV: it’s ossifrage (Hebrew: peres), i.e. a lammergeyer or osprey], the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds; the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl, the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.” (Deuteronomy 14:11-18) In Deuteronomy, Moses repeated many of the instructions he had delivered previously in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Here we see a list of forbidden fowl—although the precise species intended by Moses are in question, the picture’s pretty clear: all of these are carnivorous birds of prey, scavengers, or otherwise indiscriminant in their dietary habits. The bat, of course, is not a bird (nor did Moses say it was) but it’s listed here because it flies like one.
That leaves an unspecified litany of “clean” birds that were okay for food and sacrifices. Yahweh Himself provided quail to eat (Exodus 16:13, Numbers 11:31-32) and turtledoves and pigeons were specified as acceptable sacrifices—thus clean—in Leviticus 5:7, etc. Partridges are mentioned in passing in I Samuel 26:20. It’s pretty clear that domestic fowl like chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese would have been considered clean as well, although they’re not specifically listed.
148. Not to eat unclean fowl (Lev. 11:13) (CCN94). See Animals that may not be eaten.
(148)Do not eat unclean fowl. “And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich [wrong word: see the note on #147], the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:13-19) This is the negative permutation of the previous mitzvah, and the Leviticus passage supporting it is almost identical to the one we saw in Deuteronomy. It’s no particular surprise that scripture agrees with scripture. But does science agree? We’ve (unfairly, perhaps) come to view science as somehow antithetical to matters of faith. But as time marches on, honest researchers perceive a growing correlation between the data of science (though not necessarily the common interpretation of that data) and the words of scripture (though not necessarily the spin put on them by the religious establishment). Our ignorance of this correlation is the fault of neither science nor scripture, but rather of scientists and clerics with agendas to advance.
So, does science agree with scripture in regard to the Torah’s dietary precepts? In a word, yes. In 1953 (that’s right, the facts have been available for over half a century now), the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine published an article in their “Bulletin of the History of Medicine” by a Jewish physician named David I. Macht, M.D. It was given the unwieldy title An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciation of V’yrikra XI and D’varim XIV. Perhaps if he had entitled the article The Health Ramifications of the Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 Dietary Laws, it might have received more attention (or have been rejected for publication altogether). At any rate, Dr. Macht set about testing extracts of the flesh and blood of a wide range of animals, including fifty-four different kinds of fish, identified as “clean” or “unclean” in the Torah. Under controlled laboratory conditions, he subjected each sample to the same standard toxicological analysis. The results were, depending on your point of view, either yawningly predictable or stunningly revealing: every single sample that the Torah listed as “clean” or edible was shown to be non-toxic, while every subject tested from the Mosaic Law’s “unclean” or inedible list turned out to be toxic. There was a one hundred percent correlation between Yahweh’s instructions and Dr. Macht’s experiments. Pigs, by the way, ranked way up there in toxicity with rats and groundhogs.