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The Voice of the Holy Spirit

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There is nothing like the voice of a mother calling for her children to come home.  A child can always hear her voice no matter the circumstance.  That is because her voice is unique, distinct and imprinted on the soul of every child.  In Judaism the Holy Spirit is that voice, equated with the Shekinah, and the mother aspect of God.  Scholars are recognizing more and more the Holy Spirit as the "female vehicle" for the outpouring of higher teaching and spiritual rebirth.  We recognize the Holy Spirit as the power of God manifested in the world.

All the matriarchs represent the voice of God or the Holy Spirit in some way.  Each has a special message from the heart of the Father to His children.  The name of Rachel is a great example of that.  Rachel’s name in Hebrew is Rach’el. Rach means to follow a prescribed path or regular routine and El means God.  The wind follows a prescribed path each season just as the Spirit follows the path the Father has designed.  Rachel is sometimes even called “Ruach El” by the sages or literally Spirit of God.

Genesis 1:2 describes the “Spirit of God” hovering over the waters.  The word for hovering is “merachfet” which has the same root “rach” from Rachel’s name.  It is the eighteenth word of the Torah and points to the concept of life.  The word “chai”means life and has a value of eighteen in gematria.  The concept of hovering alludes to the shakings of a bird over the nest caring for her young.   The mother bird is giving life to her young by feeding them as well as protecting and defending them.There is also an idiom for hovering, which compares the throne of divine glory hovering over the surface of the waters as a dove hovers over its nest.

The Hebrew word for the Spirit is a feminine nounThe Spirit embodies a variety of feminine qualities and characteristics.  Mother Rachel is described as being intuitive and sensitive.  She is the comforter and the one who determines the peace and tranquility in her home.  She is the bridge to healthy relationships and she is the patient one when her children rebel.  She brings forth fruit that reflects the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness,kindness and self-control.

“For the fruit of the Spirit is in every kind of goodness, rightness and truth”.

Ephesians 5:9 CJB

So ladies let us make sure this Mother’s Day that our voice in the home is a reflection of the fruit of the Spirit.  Let us strive to manifest and model the good work of the Holy Spirit to those around us who are in our sphere of influence.

Israel as the Fish

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The conventional understanding of “fish” in John 21:1-14 views this symbol as representing the redemptive salvation of the Christian Church.  A review of the literature of the last thirty-five years finds this conclusion is often based on a tendency to interpret the NT from the NT.  However, a review of the literature also offers periodic glimpses of veiled meaning from the Hebrew Scriptures (HS).  For example, Edersheim suggests the fish symbolize the great harvest of souls at the end of days, and Trudinger explores, through the Hebrew system of gematria, the meaning of the number 153, which were the number of fish caught in the net.[1]

 This paper continues an approach to further uncover the veiled meaning.  It proceeds with the assumption that NT symbolism of fish is derived from (HS), and that the original recipients of John’s letter would have understood this relationship.  The methodology of the study identifies particular passages, first in Genesis 1-4, which is the first mention of the symbol, then in the Torah, and finally in the prophets and writings, before returning to the NT to consider the relationship between the two testaments.  This approach is based on the ancient practice of pearl-stringing; a method used by the sages, that starts with the first usage of a word or concept and then puts related passages together to search for deeper meaning.

The study proceeds with a three-step process for each section of scripture. The first step examines the meaning of a passage from the perspective of the Hebraic culture and context of the time. The second step involves a comprehensive look at the Hebrew language by examining three-letter roots, individual letters, doubles (that is, two words meaning the same thing), gematria, (numerical equivalents for letters), numerical symbols or any other anomalies.  The third step, found only in the passages in Genesis 1 and John 21, evaluates framework concepts such as the Hebrew Calendar with its festival cycle, and the seven thousand year plan of God.

This methodology searches for deeper meaning in the Hebrew Scriptures to which the passage in John 21 is likely pointing, and which the disciples undoubtedly heard. Furthermore, by examining additional ancient interpretive literature, which may not have been available to the disciples, the finding of this paper may penetrate more deeply than the likely understanding of the first century disciples. To accomplish this, the study accompanies the three step approach in the HS with an examination of the relevant references in Second Temple Literature, the Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Jewish prayer liturgy.

After following this methodology, the study finds that “fish” is an allusion to the House of Israel, which has been hidden in the nations and protected by God, and will be fished out of the sea and brought back to her land in the future Messianic Kingdom.  The paper does not address the relationship of the Church to the symbolism of “fish”.

The first mention of fish, as a symbol, is found in Genesis 1:20 on the fifth day of creation.  Josephus captures the essence of this verse as viewed in ancient Jewish literature. He explains the verse saying, “God produced the living creatures in the sea and sorted them as to society and mixture for procreation so that their kinds might increase and multiply.[2] Thus, the fish represent living beings that multiply.

The Scriptures and the Jewish commentaries reinforce this perspective of Josephus. Genesis speaks of the “waters swarming with living beings” or beings that are alive (nephesh hiya).[3]  The root of swarming is “sheretz,” which means to abound in a place like the sea and to multiply souls as fish do.  According to Rashi, souls are teeming in great confused numbers, and this particular term describes any living creature that is the smallest of its species. Targum Jonathan refers to these living beings as the bringing forth of progeny.  Rabbi Hirsch concludes that the water itself would actually produce living bodies.[4]

Furthermore, fish were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the water in the seas. To the Jewish sages, to fill, maleh was associated with a sovereign act of God and meant to fill to abundance, to be complete or satisfied, and ultimately to represent (as a Hebrew idiom) the future days of the Messiah.[5]  But to the ancient Hebrews, the sea was a place of darkness, restlessness, instability and sin.  Since the Israelites were not a sea-faring people, they were frightened by the sea and spoke of the vast amounts of water with images of terror.  The deepest waters held mythical monsters and unclean fish.[6]  To fill the seas came to represent the filling of the nations with people who were considered unclean.  Furthermore, yam, the Hebrew word for sea, which is made up of a yod meaning hand or west, and a mem meaning water or sea, means a hand working in the sea.

The rabbis found significance in numbers. The gematria for sea is fifty and fish were created on the fifth day.  According to E.W. Bullinger, the number five and its multiples have great spiritual significance and there are numerous examples in Scripture.  Nearly all the measurements in the Tabernacle are multiples of five.[7]  Exodus 13:18 declares, “Israel came out of Egypt by five in rank.” Psalm 8:9 offers a further explanation of this verse by identifying fish as mankind traversing the lanes of the sea”[8].  The fifth letter of the aleph-bet is hey, which when added to Avram, changes the meaning of Abraham’s name to father of many nations signifying abundance of progeny.  The fifth kingdom is the perfect Messianic Kingdom, which will overcome and absorb the preceding four great world powers or nations.[9]

These four preceding worldly kingdoms are inhabited by “pagans.” The Hebrew for “pagans” is goyim (plural), meaning “the nations.” However, the singular goy first appears in Genesis 35:11.[10] Rashi concludes that the word goy in this verse refers, not to the pagan nations but to Israel when she returns to idolatry and is absorbed into the nations.  Interestingly, goy is a derivative from the root word gvah, which means “in the middle of something” and Ephraim, which in Scripture often signifies Israel, received a tribal portion that was in the middle of the land of Israel.[11] There is still another connection between fish, which represent living beings that multiply and Ephraim.  The tribe of Ephraim encamped on the west side of the Tabernacle, and “west” is the root word for sea. Thus God has placed Ephraim (that is, Israel) in the middle of the nations because Israel is not yet prepared to enter the final Messianic Kingdom when there will be an exploding abundance of progeny.

The imagery continues.  The Hebrew word for fish is dag from the root dagah which means to multiply progeny quickly.  Now, looking at the individual letters, an emerging meaning will become significant when we examine the prophecy in Ezekiel 47:1-10. But now, let us simply acknowledge that each individual letter has meaning.  Rabbi Munk concludes from the Jewish literature that the letter dalet in dag means door, specifically the door of the tent of meeting.  The letter gimmel means the foot of a man and represents mankind on his feet working, traveling, playing or gathering at a watering hole.  Taken together these letters reveal that the people would be gathered to the door of the tent to the place where water is provided.  Dagen, (with a nun added) means the continuation of a new generation.  In the Talmud, the Messiah, whose appearance is said to bring fruitfulness to the whole world, is also called Nun or “fish”. [12]

Continuing with the Hebrew language, the gematria for dag is seven, which is the number for the seventh day, the Sabbath, and also the seventh thousand year, which is the Messianic kingdom.  Fish have been identified with the Sabbath throughout the ages.  The custom of eating fish on the Sabbath apparently goes back to the very early times.[13]   B’nei Yisoskhor concludes that fish were blessed on the fifth day of creation, mankind on the sixth day, and the Sabbath on the seventh day.  The reason man eats fish on the Sabbath, suggests Yisoskhor, is to receive a triple blessing because the Hebrew word for “green pastures” (Psalm 23) is deshe from the first letter of fish, Sabbath and mankind.  These three are joined on the Sabbath, the seventh day.[14] It appears that these three, the Sabbath, the fish and mankind, will all be joined in the Messianic Kingdom in the seventh thousand year.

The framework concept of the seven thousand year plan of G-d comes from the creation story.  The seven thousand years is referred to in rabbinic sources, the HS and the NT, and is a period of six thousand years when the world will work, and a seventh in which the world will rest. This is patterned after the seven days of the creation week.  Psalm 90:4 speaks of a day as being one thousand years, and 2 Peter 3:8 refers to Psalm 90:4.  The last one thousand years is referred to as “that day” and a Sabbath rest. The culmination of God’s seven thousand year plan is the Messianic kingdom when redemption will be delivered by the Messiah.

Having finished exploring the first use of fish at the time of creation, we will turn next to the symbol of the fish found in the Torah, specifically in Genesis 48:16.  But first we will look at the Hebraic culture and context in which we can understand the symbolism of the fish.

Scripture portrays Israel settled in the land of Egypt, before the Exodus, where the people acquired much property and had indeed become fruitful and multiplied in number.  They saw themselves as permanent residents.  The books of Midrash from the Talmud, indicates that because of this Egyptian settlement, the people slowly became “grasped” by the land of Egypt and to culture because they had begun the slide into assimilation during their exile.[15]

As the time of Jacob’s death is approaching, Jacob prepares to bestow a special blessing on the sons of Joseph, who are Manasseh and Ephraim.  Even though he knows them, Jacob asks who they are.  The rabbis believed that Jacob saw prophetically into the future to a time when the wicked king Jeroboam would descend from Ephraim.[16]  Jeroboam was the king who separated himself from the United Kingdom of David and Solomon, and moved the center of worship away from Jerusalem to the north of the country.  Jeroboam also set up different days for observing the festivals and regressed into pagan practices. The rabbis further believed that Jacob could see to a time when the descendants of Ephraim would be assimilated into the nations with their identity lost.[17]   This actually happened when the Assyrian Empire conquered the ten northern tribes.

Jacob then blessed both Manasseh and Ephraim and elevated them to the status of own sons, transferring to them Joseph’s double portion of inheritance.  Joseph’s two sons were now full-fledged tribal fathers whose descendants became the ten tribes of Israel.  One of the Jewish sages, The Ramban, comments that this blessing was a major change in the composition of the Jewish people and marked the spiritual success of Joseph by his bringing spiritual integrity to the land of Egypt.[18]   Jacob further elevated the younger son, Ephraim, to the first born position by placing his right hand upon him.  The rabbis believed that the right hand on Ephraim would bless him with superior wisdom and knowledge, and spiritual supremacy.[19]

In this same passage, Jacob also blessed them in “that day”, which we have already seen is a picture of the Sabbath rest in the future Messianic Kingdom.  This blessing itself and the timing of it lead to a development in the Jewish prayer liturgy where the prayer, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh” is recited on the eve of every Sabbath.  Furthermore, in the reciting of this prayer, the people are given the strength to maintain their faith in the face of hostility and the temptation of assimilation into other cultures.  This same prayer also became an important testament to their fruitfulness in their own land.

Turning to the Hebrew language, we see that, Ephraim, whose name means fruitful has descendants described as “fish”, although various Bible versions have translated fish as “proliferate” or “teeming multitudes”.  Ephraim receives a blessing but this is apparently prophetic of a future time because he is further described as katan (small) and insignificant.  When we come to the NT passages, we will discover that the seven loaves and “one” fish are also describing the fish as small.  According to the Talmud, descendants of Ephraim “will be like fishes in the midst of the earth and in the sea covered by water”.  It is the prophetic fame of Ephraim’s offspring that will fill the nations (milo hagoyim).[20]  This fruitfulness of the seed of Ephraim is also described here as a congregation of peoples, which the sages identify as a people belonging to God.[21]

Another unusual element is the use of a Hebrew double, which repeats a word or phrase.  In this case the phrase is “I know” or yadati.  We will see shortly another double in Jeremiah 16:16 and yet again it in Ezekiel 47:10.  The general view from commentators like Rashi and Radak explain the double yadati as signifying the preeminence of Ephraim.  Even though Manasseh will be great in his own right, Jacob’s prophecy identifies the progeny of Ephraim as fish.  In fact, the entire northern kingdom of the ten tribes was called Ephraim, whereas the two southern tribes belonged to Judah.  The sages viewed this repetition as an intensity of the blessing from Jacob, which was necessary for Ephraim to carry out his mission successfully.[22]  The Rabbis also see the double as a picture of the two redemptions of Israel, the first from Egypt and the second at the end of days.[23]

We turn next to the mention of fish in the prophets and the description of the idolatry of Israel in the context of fish, which is the background for Jeremiah 16:16.  Israel is admonished for prostituting herself, committing adultery, and defiling the land because of her assimilation into pagan cultures.  She was exiled from the land, by God, for her failure to follow the Torah and its commandments.  However, God would honor his promise to Jacob when he declared he would “send for many fishermen and they will fish for them” in speaking of how he would rescue Israel from her exile in the nations and bring her back to the land. [24]

Continuing in this verse, there appears to be an anomaly.  In this case the Hebrew word for fisherman has a different spelling that uses a vav instead of a yod.  According to Rabbi Munk, the vav represents physical completion and the yod is a reference to life in the world to come.[25]  This reference could possibly point again to the two redemptions of Israel.  The first redemption, represented by the vav, was a physical rescue from slavery in Egypt brought about by Moses.  The second redemption, represented by the you, will be a future spiritual redemption brought about by the Messiah.  The fishermen are the agents who help bring about the redemption by rescuing Israel out of the depths of the sea.  These agents are identified by the sages with the patriarchs in the HS and possibly the disciples in the NT.  The concept of the fishermen as agents will be further explained in the section on the NT.  Strangely enough this double is followed by the small letter quoof, which according to the sages, alludes to the attribute of holiness.[26]  Israel will be cleansed, set apart and removed from the contamination (out of the sea) of the whole world in both redemptions.

Ezekiel 47: 1-10 describes some of the events that will take place in the time of the future redemption.  The word for fish, dag, was noted earlier in this paper to signify people gathering at the door of the tent where water is provided.  Ezekiel describes water flowing from under the door of the Temple, running down from the right side.   This is said to be life giving water that will flow into the Dead Sea, making it become fresh, and allowing it to swarm with all kinds of living creatures.  In reviving the Dead Sea with this life giving water, everything will be restored and able to live again, and the fish will be exceedingly abundant.  Fishermen will stand on its shores spreading their nets, catching many more varieties of fish.  The fish, like living souls, will be healed by the water that gives life to the dead.  The place where life giving water is offered is the place for the unity of the whole house of Israel. (at the door to the Temple)  This unity extends to the nations, who are personified by all the different kinds of fish that will be restored.  Just as Jacob, who is called Israel, extended his right hand and laid it on Ephraim, so too Jesus told his disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat.

This passage in Ezekiel contains yet another double, that is, one word stand that appears in two different tenses.  The first is in a future tense and the second in a past tense.  “Stand” refers to the fisherman.  The root amad means to stand in preparation to act, and further suggests the idea of remaining and enduring as opposed to perishing.[27]  This again is most likely a picture of the two redemptions of Israel, the past rescue from Egypt and a future redemption.  The work of the fishermen helps accomplish this.

We are now ready to apply our understanding from the HS to the passage in John.  Starting with the Hebraic culture and context of the time, we note that fish was a basis of the diet for the people of the Galilee.  A high demand pushed up the price and placed fresh fish out of the reach of the poor.  The fishing industry on the lake was a highly competitive one.  Scripture suggests that the disciples, who were fishermen, probably came from prosperous, perhaps assimilated, Jewish middle-class families that spoke both Aramaic and Greek.  These disciples served in an administrative, as well as a practical role in that major fishing industry and were experienced businessmen capable of handling the competition.  Apparently the reality of business and profit did not satisfy, for the reason they searched for something more spiritual and fulfilling.[28]

Most Jewish fisherman did, in fact, follow the torah in their business practices by distinguishing between clean fish (with scales) and unclean fish.  For fishermen in the Galilee, all the unkosher fish could be sold to the Gentiles in the Decapolis region, which was considered by the rabbis to be the home of the pagans.  But the fish sold by the Gentiles was presumed to be unclean, so Jewish buyers only went to Jewish suppliers.[29]    In Matthew 7:10, which may have been mistranslated, Yeshua asks who would give their son a catfish (not a snake) if he asked for a fish.[30]  The catfish was considered unkosher and Jews of the time would not have eaten this fish and certainly would not have given it to their children to eat.  This helps explain the meaning of the parable of the net in which the net is compared to the Kingdom of God.  Once the fish were brought in, the fisherman had to separate the good fish from the bad.[31]

In ancient times, net fishing was the main method used to catch fish.  According to Mendel Nun, the men were using a trammel net, which he describes as a compound net built from three layers.  “Hauling the net ashore, disentangling the fish, sorting them and repairing the many breaks during the day took a lot of work,[32] explains Burge who met with Nun.  The fishermen who used a trammel net fished at night, and stopped working at the first light of day because the fish could see the netting.  Yeshua arrived at the shore while the disciples were washing their nets after a night of failing to catch any fish.  Part of the miracle of the great catch was not only that there were a large number of fish where there hadn’t been earlier, but also that fish swam blindly into the net.  Under normal circumstances they had to be scared into the nets after the nets were put into place.  Yeshua, after his resurrection, rescued them from the tragedy of not having caught anything and blessed them with an abundance that normally would have taken weeks to catch.[33]

Turning to step three, framework concepts, we see a strong allusion to the Hebrew calendar and its accompanying festival.  Yeshua’s resurrection coincided with the Feast of First fruits and the start of the counting of the omer.  Scripture commands a counting of the omer each day for seven weeks from “the morrow of the Sabbath”[34], making 49 days plus one or 50.  The counting of the omer begins with the offering of the new barley that was brought to the Temple.  Each and every day the omer is to be counted in a prayer until the fiftieth day, which is Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.  The omer is a community offering, not an individual one, and part of the worship ceremony was to raise the omer and wave it in all four directions in honor of God who is everywhere.  According to the tractate Pesachim, in the Mishnah, the people of Israel asked Moses when they should worship God and he replied at “the end of fifty days”.

The number seven grows in significance. According to the sages, seven attributes were replanted in the world by each of their great ancestors, the patriarchs.  These seven patriarchs from Abraham to David were called the seven shepherds.  They were to bring redemption to Israel.  It is possible that the seven disciples in John reflect these seven shepherds of Israel.  During each week of the counting of the omer, one of the seven attributes related to one of these patriarchs reigned supreme.  Since John 21 took place during the second week of the counting of the omer, the emphasis was on the attribute of Isaac who personified strength and immortality, pointing to the resurrection of Yeshua.  Furthermore, according to the sages, the knowledge of man ended at the 49th day of the counting of the omer and the knowledge of God appeared on the 50th day.[35]  It was said that in this last day, Israel will achieve complete sovereignty and the whole world will become a kingdom of heaven sanctified by the Torah.[36]

This complete sovereignty of Israel is more deeply expressed in the gematria for Betzalel, the builder and designer of the Tabernacle because the numerical value of the letters in his name is 153, which is the number of fish in John 21:11 [37]  The meaning of the name Betzalel is “in the shadow of El”, which signifies the shadow of God falling on him with the wisdom and knowledge of the 50th day, the day of the Feast of Weeks.  Betzalel was the great-grandson of Caleb who was originally a Kenizzite.  These Kenizzites were an ancient Canaanite people, considered pagans by the rabbis, who mingled with the other Canaanites, and eventually lost their identity.  However, Caleb, a pagan Kenizzite, joined himself to Israel, becoming a leader of the tribe of Judah and following God and His commandments.  In addition, Bullinger identified the gematria of b’nei Elohim (children of God) as 153 signifying the unity of the nation.

In the same way, Jacob, in his blessing over Ephraim, prophesied that Ephraim would abound in the same superior wisdom and knowledge.  Jacob’s blessing further confirmed that even though Israel would mingle with the pagan nations, she would come out of those nations, repent, and turn back to God.  At the final redemption, in the time of the Messianic kingdom, Israel will be in the shadow of God with the same spirit of wisdom and knowledge upon them.  They will join themselves back to Judah so that the whole community will achieve sovereignty on the 50th day.

Continuing to explore the Hebrew language, we find in the Greek of the Gospel of John (and in other versions in the NT that mention fish), numerous words and phrases and concepts that are translations of Hebrew idioms.  In John, Yeshua invites his disciples to eat some of the fish they have caught.  The expression to “come” meant to draw near to the kingdom, and to “eat” meant to go beyond this present age to the Messianic Kingdom and the “world to come” [38]

In the feeding of the five thousand, the multitudes eat from five loaves and two fish with twelve baskets remaining.  We find an explanation of the Hebrew idioms for “eat” and were “filled” and some were “leftover” in the Talmud (Shabbat 113b), which interprets “to eat” as in this world, were “filled” as in the days of the Messiah, and “leftover” in the world to come.  Bullinger suggests, the five loaves represent the fifth kingdom, that is, the Messianic kingdom, the time of the final redemption when people will be called out for the last time.[39]   The seven thousand year plan of God suggests the two fish are a picture of two days or two thousand years.  The time Israel is hidden in the nations is two thousand years is from Yeshua’s resurrection until the time of the Messianic Kingdom.  The twelve baskets left over represent that complete union of the twelve tribes which is prophesied in Ezekiel 37.[40]

The narrative of the feeding of the four thousand shows the crowd eating from seven loaves and a “little” fish.  The seven loaves are equated with the completion of the seven thousand year plan of God.  The word used for “little” in describing the fish reminds us of the same word katan used to describe Ephraim as small in Genesis 48.  The seven baskets that are leftover are a picture of the seven shepherds and the seven disciples who act as agents to help Israel, who is identified with Ephraim.  In the end of days, Israel will achieve complete sovereignty at the time of the final redemption.

In conclusion, from all the associations in the HS, the symbol of the fish in John 21 refers to Ephraim, the house of Israel.  From the first mention of fish in Genesis, fish are described as living beings in the sea, which represents the nations.  They are commanded to fill the seas.  In the Torah passage, Ephraim is identified as fish that will be protected by God until the final redemption and is the prophecy of Jacob that shows they will fill the nations (milo hagoyim). The prophets continue the theme that, although Israel will be assimilated into the nations for a time, she will be brought forth by fishermen for the time of her redemption.  The fish coming out of the sea in John 21 represent the house of Israel coming out of the nations, being delivered, and returning to her land in the future.  When Israel fills the nations (milo hagoyim), and when her blindness is removed as Paul says in Romans 11, then “all Israel will be delivered”.

This interpretation represents a deeper meaning that has not been previously considered. There are certainly other meanings for the symbol of the fish as well as numerous other rich pictures in this passage of John.  Further study into this rich symbolism will reveal an even greater depth of understanding than what has been presented here.  For example, it is possible that the bread has its symbolism in the fulfillment of the house of Judah.  Other topics to explore are the meaning of daybreak, the net, the fire of burning coals, the shoreline, and the garment Peter threw on as he made his way to shore.  This paper has covered only a very small portion of what the passage is hinting through its association to the HS.  There remains much available for further study.



[1] Alfred Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1988), pp. 646-650. Paul Trudinger, “John 21 Revisited Once Again,” Downside Review 106 (YEAR): 145-148.

[2] The Works of Josephu:Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 29.

[3] This and future citations of the HS and the Jewish literature (unless otherwise noted) are from The Artscroll Series:Stone ed. .of the Tanakh, ed. R. N. Scherman (NY: Mesorah, 1996).

[4] Reference to Jewish literature in this paragraph is taken from The Artscroll Series: Bereshit, which is an excellent source for rabbinic interpretation.  It includes opinions from Rashi, the Targumim, Rabbi Hirsch and many others.

[5] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody:  Hendrickson, 1883) 715. Midrash Rabbah for Ruth 2:14.

[6] N. McEleney, “153 Great Fishes-Gematriacal Atbash,” Biblia 58 (1977): 411.

[7] Bullinger, E. W. (1967). Number in Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Publications. p. 135

[8] Psalms 8:9 … the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea; for man even transverses the lanes of the sea.

[9] Bullinger, E. W. (1967). Number in Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Publications. p. 135

[10] Gen 35:11 Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a congregation of nations shall descend from you.

[11] Joshua 21:20-21 … the cities of their lottery were from the tribe of Ephraim.  They gave them the city of refuge for killers, Shechem and its open spaces in Mt Ephraim.  The city of Shechem is the physical center of  the land of Israel

[12] Yoma 75a

[13] Sotah 11b When the pious women went to draw water, the Holy one, blessed be He, summoned little fishes into their pitchers

Shabbat 118b He who delights in the Sabbath will be granted his heart’s desire.  How does one delight in the Sabbath. With a large fish, a pie of fish hash – small fish prepared with flour and fish jelly

Shabbat 119a the Head of the academy in Mehosa seasoned fish in honor of the sabbath

[14] Yisoskhor, B. n. (1975). Maamarei HaShabbat. New York, Chaim Ubracha Pub. 1:11.3:16.8:20.

[15] (2007). Interlinear Chumash:  Bereshit. Brooklyn, NY, Mesorah Publications. p. 294

[16] Ibid. p. 298

[17] (1996). Bereshit. The Artscroll Series. R. N. Scherman. New York, Mesorah Publications. p. 2105

[18] (2007). Interlinear Chumash:  Bereshit. Brooklyn, NY, Mesorah Publications. p. 296

[19] Ibid. p. 299

[20] The Hebrew term for fill the nations is milo hagoyim

[21] Gesenius, H. (1979). Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House. P. 635

[22] (1996). Bereshit. The Artscroll Series. R. N. Scherman. New York, Mesorah Publications. p. 2120

[23] Ezekiel commentary

[24] Jeremiah 16:16

[25] Munk, R. M. L. (1983). The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet The Sacred letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. New York, Mesorah Publications. P. 94-95, 125

[26] Ibid. p. 194-195

[27] Gesenius, H. (1979). Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House. P. 637

[28] Ibid. p. 48

[29] J. Murphy-O’Connor. “Fishers of Men:  What we Know of the First Disciples from Their Profession.” Bible Review June, 1999. 23-27

[30] Burge, G. M. (1998). "Fishers of Men:  The Maritime Life of Galilee's North Shore, Jesus' Headquarters." Christian History(NO. 59): 36-37.

[31] Matt. 13:47-50

[32] Burge, G. M. (1998). "Fishers of Men:  The Maritime Life of Galilee's North Shore, Jesus' Headquarters." Christian History(NO. 59): 36-37. p. 36-37

[33] Biven, D. (2004). "The Miraculous Catch (Luke 5:1-11):  Reflections on the Research of Mendel Nun."

[34] There is much controversy over the actual date of “morrow after the Sabbath”.  Some believe it is the day after the weekly Sabbath and others believe it is the day after the High Sabbath.

[35] (1996). Bereshit. The Artscroll Series. R. N. Scherman. New York, Mesorah Publications. p. xxxiii

[36] Kitov, E. (1968). The Book of our Heritage:  The Jewish Year and its Days of Significance. Jerusalem, Israel, Feldheim Publishers. p. 680-690

[37]Jastrow, M. J., Kent, Charles Foster, Ginzberg, Louis Bezalel. Jewish Encyclopedia.com, Welsford, P. "Gematria." Scimednet.org Volume,  DOI:

[38] Edersheim, A. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers. p. 715 from Midrash Rabbah Ruth on Ruth 2:14  Daube, D. (1998). The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism. Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers.

[39] Bullinger, E. W. (1967). Number in Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Publications. p. 134

[40] Ezek. 37:19 I am taking the wood of Joseph which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel, his comrades and I am placing them and him together with the wood of Judah; and I will make them into one piece of wood, and they will become one in My hand.


(1977). Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Book House.

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(1987). The Works of Josephus. The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged.

Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers

(1994). Mishnah:  Seder Moed A. Tomaschoff. Jerusalem, Maor Wallach Press. 3.      

(1994). Seder Kodashim Volume I  Menahot. A. Tomaschoff. Israel, Maor Wallach Press. I.

         

(1996). Bereshit. The Artscroll Series. R. N. Scherman. New York, Mesorah Publications.

(2007). Interlinear Chumash:  Bereshit. Brooklyn, NY, Mesorah Publications.

Biven, D. (2004). "The Miraculous Catch (Luke 5:1-11):  Reflections on the Research of Mendel Nun."

Bullinger, E. W. (1967). Number in Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Publications.

Burge, G. M. (1998). "Fishers of Men:  The Maritime Life of Galilee's North Shore, Jesus' Headquarters." Christian History(NO. 59): 36-37.

Daube, D. (1998). The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism. Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers.

Edersheim, A. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers.

Gesenius, H. (1979). Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House.

Jastrow, M. J., Kent, Charles Foster, Ginzberg, Louis Bezalel. Jewish Encyclopedia.com.

Kitov, E. (1968). The Book of our Heritage:  The Jewish Year and its Days of Significance. Jerusalem, Israel, Feldheim Publishers.

Munk, R. M. L. (1983). The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet The Sacred letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. New York, Mesorah Publications.

Welsford, P. "Gematria." Scimednet.org Volume,  DOI:

Yisoskhor, B. n. (1975). Maamarei HaShabbat. New York, Chaim Ubracha Pub.

 


        

The Color Blue is the Center of the Universe

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The color blue is said to rule the mind, our reasoning ability and the intellect as well as represent knowledge, dignity and intuition. The color blue also plays an important role in the Bible.  The blue dye, called “techelet” (תכלת), was used in the special garments of the high priest, in the cloth that covered the vessels in the Holy Place, in the curtains in the Tabernacle, and as a covering over the Ark of the Covenant (ארון) in preparation for transport.  In addition, a twisted blue thread of “techelet” was woven within the fringes or “tzitzit” on the corners of the garments of the children of Israel.  This blue was made from a dye extracted from a sea creature called the “chilazon”.

Blue generally symbolized divinity for the ancient Israelites because blue was the color of the sky and sea. According to Rabbi Hirsch, “the blue in many ways symbolizes the presence of heaven on earth, the essence of the entire Temple.” From the Talmud Chullin 89a, “Techelet, turquoise/blue, is the color of the sea, which resembles the color of the sky, which resembles the color of sapphire, which resembles the color of the Throne of Glory”. Chullin 89a also tells us, “God’s throne of glory is nothing other than the Temple itself.  As such, techelet is not just an indispensable material of the Temple; it is, as it were, the very color of the Temple.”

The Ark(ארון) of the Covenant in the Temple represented the Throne of Glory. It was the only vessel covered on the outside with the blue when Israel had to prepare to transport the Tabernacle.  First the partition curtain or parokhet was placed over the ark, followed by the skin or “takhash” and only then was everything covered with the techelet (תכלת). It is quite significant that the ark was completely covered with the blue.

The Temple was designed like a body and the Holy of Holies represented the brain.  The Ark (Aron) inside the Holy of Holies was not only the center of the Temple but the Universe.  From the Ark went out all knowledge and light to the whole world. Even the word Aron (ארון) containsthe word light (אור).  The Ark can also be compared to the Pineal gland in the human brain.

The center of brain function in the human body is the Pineal, which is a tiny organ located in the actual center of the brain that is stimulated by the nerves from the eyes.  It is activated by light and controls a variety of functions in the body.  It is also the storehouse of the imagination and creation.

The Pineal gland is called the “blue pearl” even though it is more reddish than blue.  It communicates information about light to various parts of the body.  The light-transducing ability of the pineal has led some to call it the “third eye”.  Even New Age mystics have identified the Pineal gland as the organ of spiritual vision and the connecting link between the physical and spiritual worlds.  It is not hard to see the connection with the Ark of the Covenant.

According to Descartes, the Pineal was the principal seat of the soul and the place in which all our thoughts are formed.  He identified it as the place of imagination, memory and the causation of bodily movements. Descartes emphasized that here was where the soul joined to the whole body.  The sages also understood thatthe Ark was the element in the Temple that connected the outside to the inside, the infinite to the finite, the bridge between this world and the World to Come, and ultimately between the physical and the spiritual.

The commandments of God were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant.  Ramban saw the color blue as representing all the commandments.  He declared that, “the remembrance of the commandments is through the blue thread, which alludes to the all inclusive attribute, which is BA-KOL and which is the aim of all.”  “Therefore”, he said, “that you may look upon it and remember KOL (all).

In conclusion, it is interesting that the word KOL (כל), which means all or everything are the letters inside the word techelet (תכלת).  The two outside letters is the “tav” which means a sign. The blue on the outside of the ark is a sign to the whole worldof all the commandments of God.  The commandments represent the only true knowledge in the Universe.  The commandments will go forth to the whole world from the Ark, the center of the Universe, and therefore from the very mind of God.  How truly remarkable is the color blue!!

Cleaning out the Leaven

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There’s nothing like Passover for a spiritual spring cleaning and getting the leaven or Chametz out of our homes and ultimately out of our lives.  Chametz is a term Rav Shaul used in Corinthians to compare sin with leaven.  He said, “It takes only a little Chametz to leaven a whole batch of dough.  So let us celebrate Chag HaMatzah not with leftover Chametz, the Chametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth.

The word Chametz is composed of the three-letter root Chet, Mem, Tsadee.  It literally means to make sour referring to the harsh taste of something that has fermented.  The process of fermenting comes from a heat source when applied to food.  Also, the word for vinegar is Chometz and comes from the same root.  We are certainly reminded of the gall or vinegar given to Yeshua when he was hanging on the tree.

The evening before Pesach it was necessary to rid the home of all leaven.   The last portions of bread containing the Chametz were to be burned in the fire after being removed from the house.  This ceremony for the removal of leaven is called Bedikat Chametz.  Traditionally the father would lead the family in search of the remaining leaven in the house with a candle, a feather and a wooden spoon.  Ten pieces of leaven were intentionally left for the family to find.  The Father would then sweep the leaven onto a wooden spoon with a feather.  The spoon, the leaven and the feather were wrapped in a linen cloth and cast outside.  The Father then took the linen cloth to the synagogue where a fire had been built.  As he threw the entire bundle into the fire he recited a blessing. Getting rid of or destroying the leaven was considered the same as “burning the leaven”.  It is not hard to see the imagery of Yeshua, and His death, burial and resurrection.

The Talmud tells us “leaven represented the evil impulse of the heart”.  After reciting the Amidah, Rabbi Alexandri added, “Sovereign of the Universe, you are well aware that our will is to perform your will.  What keeps us from doing it?  The yeast in the dough…The yeast in the dough is the evil impulse, which causes ferment in the heart.” (Berakhot 17a)

So the process of searching for the Chametz and eliminating it was seen as a reminder to man that he should search through his deeds and purify his actions.  The ten pieces of Chametz that were placed around the home before the search was a reminder that, “there is not a person in the world who does only good and never sins.”

“May it be your will O Lord my God and God of my forefathers, that just as I have removed leaven from my house so may you remove all evil forces and the spirit of wickedness may you remove from the world.  You remove from us all evil inclinations and give to us a pure heart.”

The reality, of course, is that without the work of Yeshua the Messiah on the tree it is not possible to remove the evil inclinations from our heart and restore in us a pure heart.  He was the sinless one who took on Chametz, and experienced the heat of the Father by fire.  He was the burnt offering completely consumed by fire on the altar.

This is what is prophesied in Zechariah.  Y’hoshua, the Cohen haGadol (HP) is standing before the accuser (HaSatan).  “Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”  Yehoshua was clothed in garments of dung.  His filthy garments were a metaphor for sin.  The Lord said I am taking your guilt away.  I will clothe you in fine robes. Once sins are removed, one’s merit is clean garments. The Lord tells Y’hoshua that He is bringing His servant the Tzemach (sprout) and it is Hethat will remove the guilt of this land in one day.

It is very interesting that the word for the righteous sprout, Tzemach, is actually the word Chametz in reverse order.According to the Talmud (Sandhedrin 93a) Y’hoshua was thrown into the fire along with two false prophets, but he survived.  The Angel said, “Seeing that he miraculously survived the fire he must be worthy.  If so then how can you accuse him.” (Rashi)

It is the time of year for introspection and soul searching to identify sinful passions and behaviors and it is time to allow the Holy Spirit to remove them. So even though Chametz symbolizes wickedness and evil, let us remember as we eat the matzah,that the matzahrepresents purity and truth.

Rachel and The Holy Spirit

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“A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping.  Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children, because there are none…but they will return from the enemy’s land.  There is hope for your future – your children will return to their border”.

Jeremiah 31:14-16 Stone Ed

Rachel is weeping for her children because “there are none”. This is an idiomatic expression for the non-existent world, which has yet to come into being (Rabbi Hirsch). It is by the Spirit of God the world comes into existence and Rachel, is a picture of that Spirit. She is the “voice” of the Spirit lamenting for children to come forth.  She is in labor crying out for the birth of spiritual children that belong to the Kingdom of God. She is the “voice” that cries in the wilderness that the long period of exile is over, and it is time to make straight the road in the desert to return to the mountain of the Lord.  In the physical realm, the Kingdom of Heaven has not yet materialized.  But in the Spiritual realm, Rachel’s cries are the cries of the Spirit of God for her spiritual children to return.  Mother Rachel moves the community of Israel to weep with her.  She mourns for her children who are separated from her and scattered in the nations just as the Ruach Hakodesh weeps for the birth of the sons of the Kingdom of God.

Rachel’s children are those born of the Spirit of God, for it is by the Ruach HaKodesh that spiritual children come forth.  Their future home is “Eretz Israel”. It is the placewhere the Kingdom of Heaven will be restored with its throne established in Tziyon (Zion). The border of Israel is the landmark for their return.God declares He will return His captivity and that Israel will be redeemed in the merit of Rachel.

“Make road markers for yourself, set up landmarks for yourself; set your heart upon the road, the route you are walking.  Return O Virgin of Israel, return to your cities.”

Jeremiah 31:20 Stone Ed

The Holy One responds to her weeping with a promise to re-gather all the exiles from the nations where they are scattered and to return to the land.  This will be the time of the final fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven.  When the exiles pass by her tomb, it is said, this would arouse God’s mercy to forgive them.  God promised that He would return and re-gather the exiles to the land not only in a physical sense, but also in a spiritual sense as they return and gather to the faith of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  By faith, spiritual seed will come forth in labor as a woman in childbirth.  Seed born of the Spirit will eventually outnumber the stars in the heavens and the grains of sand on the seashore.

According to a midrash (rabbinic story) there are “three keys that remain with God that were not entrusted to any agent: thekey of rain, the key of the woman giving birth and the key of the resurrection of the dead.  God would retain the key of the woman giving birth from Rachel, of whom it is said: “Now God remembered Rachel; God heeded her and opened her womb” (BT Taanit 2a–b)”.  The “key” to the Kingdom of Heaven is the opening of Rachel’s womb, by the Spirit of God, to produce new life for the Kingdom.

We are reminded of the words of Yeshua, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted heaven”.  Healso declared that, “on this rock I will build my community”. The rock is identified, from a Hebraic understanding, as Abraham our forefather.

“Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug - consider Abraham your father and Sarah who gave birth to you, in that I called him when he was only one person, then blessed him and made him many.”

Isaiah 51:1-3 Stone Ed

 

“When the Holy One wanted to create the world he passed over the generations of Enoch and the flood; but when he saw Abraham who was to arise, he said.  Behold, I have found a rock on which I can build and establish the world.  Therefore he called Abraham a rock, as it is said, look to the rock from which you were hewn.”

Yalkut shim’oni

The sages explain that the Rachel represents the malchut(kingdom) throughout the Torah and Tanakh and conclude, “this is why she has been chosen to unite all the dispersed of the children of Israel of the world” who have been scattered to the four corners of the earth.  In Rachel, acting as the Spirit, the physical and spiritual essence of mankind come together as one whole, unique community.

Rachel’s name in Hebrew is Rach’el.  She is sometimes called “Ruach El” or literally Spirit of God. Rach means to follow a prescribed path or regular routine and El means God.  The wind follows a prescribed path each season just as the Spirit follows the paths the Father has designed.  Those who live in the Southwestern United States understand all too well the regular, prescribed path of the spring winds each year.  Ruachalso means a breath as in inhaling and exhaling air.  It is the breath, which gives life to the physical body and the breath of the Spirit, which gives life to the spiritual body.

The Spirit embodies a variety of feminine qualities and characteristics.  Mother Rachel is described as intuitive and sensitive.  She is the comforter and the one who determines the peace and tranquility in her home.  She is the bridge to healthy relationships and she is the patient one when her children rebel.  She brings forth fruit that reflect the qualities of love, joy, peace, goodness and kindness.Rachel is the bride of promise given to Jacob before he completed seven years of work for her father Laban.  The Spirit is described in Acts chapter one as the promise of the Father that would restore the Kingdom to Israel.

The Ruach El(Spirit of God) is pictured as hovering over the waters in the first chapter of Genesis.  The word for hovering is rachafmeaning a mother bird fluttering over the nest to protect and feed her young. Rachaf is also defined as a mouth that follows a prescribed path.  That is, a mouth speaks forth words, and a mouth is the instrument for inhaling and exhaling breath.The sages further explain that rachaf is an idiom for the throne of glory.

The Kiseh haKevod (throne of Glory) stood suspended in the air hovering above the surface of the waters by the breath of the mouth of the Holy One - just as a dove hovers over its nest”.

(Babylonian Talmud Chaggigah 15a)

I, John, immerse you in water but he will immerse you in the Ruach Hakodesh. Immediately after that,Yeshua was immersed in the Yarden by Yochanan; immediately upon coming out of the water he saw heaven torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove, then a voice (as Rachel) came from heaven.  You are my son whom I love.

Mark 1:9 CJB

The dove that descended and remained on Yeshua is connected to the dove that returned to Noah as the waters receded from the earth after the flood.Waters or seas typically represent mankind or the sea of humanity, which is associated with death. The sages identify immersion in a mikvah (immersion bath) with the grave.  It is associated with death because there is no possibility of breathing in water.When submerged the individual enters the realm of death and then emerges like one who is reborn. That same power came upon Miriam, the mother of Yeshua.  The Ruach “overshadowed” her as a dove covered the nest.  New life came forth in the person of Yeshua, the first fruit of the children of Israel born into the Kingdom by the Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit, as personified by Rachel, whichwill bringforth the rest of her children.

Although the immersion of the world through the flood brought death to those outside the ark of Noah, the Ruach Hakodesh brought forth new life for those inside.  A midrash teaches that the “Spirit of God” which hovered over the waters is the Spirit of the Messiah.  The ark, which is compared to a womb, represented the Spirit of God hovering over the waters.  It was the place where spiritual seed was preserved in order to produce new life.

The talmidim (disciples) were to remain in Jerusalem to wait to be immersed by the Spirit.  The word “wait” in this verse comes from the root kavah meaning “to gather in one place”.  This is the same root in mikvah (immersion bath), which means the gathering of water.  They were to be immersed only after they were gathered together as one.

Behold I will bring them from the land of the North and gather them from the ends of the earth.  Among them will be the blind and the lame, the pregnant and the birthing together; a great congregation will return here.

Jeremiah 31:7 Stone Ed

The number four is associated with this great return in the physical realm.  The captives will return from the four corners of the earth.  There are forty weeks to a pregnancy. According to the sages, there are forty days in which an embryo takes to attain human form.  Yeshua explains to his talmidim thatthe Spirit will come upon them in forty days.  In the Gospels, during a period of forty days, the talmidim saw the Messiah and He spoke with them about the Kingdom God.  Yeshua went out into the wilderness, which is compared to a womb in the rabbinic literature, for forty days in order to be tested by the enemy.  The children of Israel were forty years in the wilderness. A mikveh (immersion bath) holds forty se’ahs of water.  A woman, who gives birth to a male child, goes through a forty-day period of ritual cleansing.  The value of the letter “mem”, which means water, is forty and the sages associate “mem” with the womb.

The physical realm gives way to the spiritual realm as children come forth in the pain of childbirth.  This new life is associated with the resurrection of the dead.Just as Lazarus was four days in the tomb before he was resurrected, so too the Israelites were fourhundred years in exile before passing through the water of the Yam Suf.  When they came through the water it was as if they were born again. But they were born again from below.

I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.  I tell you unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born from the flesh is flesh and what is born from the Spirit is Spirit.  You must be born again from above.

John 3:3,5,6 CJB

The womb, like the mikvah,is a picture of the death and the grave.  Immersion in water is designed for the physical man to raise his spiritual status only temporarily, but immersion in the Spirit is for the spiritual man to raise his spiritual status eternally.

Look I will tell you a secret – not all of us will die! But we will all be changed!  In the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Shofar.  For the shofar will sound and the dead will be raised to live forever.

1 Corinthians 15:51,52 CJB