Posts Tagged ‘mikveh’

Parashah 27: Tzaria (She conceives)

Leviticus 12:1-13:59
(In a regular year, read with Parashah 28; in a leap year read separately.)

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Tell the people of Isra’el: If a woman conceives …” (Leviticus 12:1-2).

This parashah begins with Adonai’s instructions for women after they have babies, thus the title, ‘she conceives.’ The regulations covered miscarriage and stillbirths as many conceived babies that did not make it to term or were born lifeless. These instructions protected a woman’s body after childbirth so that her womb would heal and she could conceive again.

Today many women give birth and, as soon as possible, return to the rat race of life. After my first child, I rushed back into life after the first week; after my second child, I wanted to set the record and was in church only several days after giving birth. Though my doctor told me that it would be approximately six weeks until my body had returned to normal, it didn’t stop me (or any other new mothers I knew) from trying to prove we were ‘super women.’

Then, my life changed. Over the next several years I experienced numerous miscarriages and a molar pregnancy that turned malignant.  During those trying times, I studied Torah and learned that Adonai had regulations for me and my body after childbirth, instructions that even my doctor had acknowledged. Many women will claim we no longer have to follow these instructions, but that is saying the Word is no longer valid because women and childbirth have somehow evolved. My heart was convicted by what I read and I decided the next time I had a child, I would do exactly as Adonai outlined.

“If a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she will be unclean for seven days with the same uncleanness as niddah, when she is having her menstrual period” (Leviticus 12:2).

Niddah is the Hebrew word describing the seven days when a woman is ‘unclean’ during her period and has not completed a mikveh or ritual bath. ‘Unclean’ means being ‘in a state of ritual impurity.’ These seven days are also known as tumah which refers to the period of time when sexual relations between a husband and wife are not to occur. Being ‘ritually impure’ or ‘unclean’ does not mean a woman is in a sinful state or inferior.  It is quite the opposite.  Scripture emphasizes the holiness inherent in a woman’s cycle to create and nurture a new life within her womb.  When as woman is ‘ritually impure,’ it only means she is incapable of conceiving a child.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Menses or niddah – נדה – nun, dalet, hey
– life pathway revealed

Ritually Impure or tumah – יומה – yod, vav, mem, hey
– finished work of the mighty binding, revealed

Ritual Bath or mikveh – מקווה – mem, kof, vav, vav, hey
– what is behind the mighty sign of the covenant, revealed

Niddah is different from zivah or an unnatural flow of blood. This was the condition of the woman in Mark chapter 8 who grabbed hold of Yeshua’s tzizit in order to be healed.   Niddah is a natural impurity necessary for the creation of human life while zivah is unnatural and has different regulations. Specific to niddah, a woman would mikveh or have a cleansing bath at the end of her menstrual cycle as a sign that she was ‘clean’ and capable of conceiving a child.   This is what Batsheva (Bathsheba) was doing when King David saw her bathing on her rooftop and why she conceived a child so quickly. Her body was ready to conceive.

After having a baby boy, a woman is ritually impure for seven days. Purification from blood requires a mikveh or ‘ritual bath.’  The word mikveh has been translated to ‘baptism’ with the idea of a ‘once and done’ immersion; however, in the Bible, a mikveh was done often and for many  different reasons. 

“She is to wait an additional thirty-three days to be purified from her blood; she is not to touch any holy thing or come into the sanctuary until the time of her purification is over” (Leviticus 12:4).

The new mother is to wait another 33 days until she is purified from blood and ready to conceive again. The complete time of purification for a son was 40 days or six weeks; the number of days my doctor said it would take for my body to return to ‘normal.‘   It seems that science supports Adonai’s instructions!

During a woman’s time of ritual impurity, she is not to touch any holy thing or come into the sanctuary until the time of her purification is over (something I strived to do).  On the eighth day, when a baby boy is circumcised, the father presents the child to the priest because the mother is still not purified from blood. This is why Joseph took Yeshua to the Temple for his b’rit milah. Miryam was still in her days of purification. Today, baby boys are circumcised before they come home from the hospital. They are given an injection so their blood will coagulate. This is what happened with my first son. However, when a baby boy is circumcised on the eighth day, the baby begins to naturally produce the hormone for blood clotting and does not need this injection.

Staying away from the sanctuary, a woman would not come in contact with anything holy. Over the centuries, man-made rules, some even based on Torah, became more of a burden for both men and women, especially married couples. During the time of niddah, a woman was not to sleep in the same bed as her husband, use the same blankets or even touch her husband. Strict Orthodox Jewish men and women do not pass objects to each other, flirt with one another or watch each other undress. There are even some sects who have separate chairs so that a man will not use the same furniture as a woman during her time of niddah. Some Orthodox men do not shake a woman’s hand because he is never sure if she is ‘ritually unclean’ and it’s impolite to ask.

If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she is ritually impure for two weeks as in her time of niddah. Sixty-six days later or 11 ½ weeks, she is purified from blood. The difference between the son and daughter is because a baby girl carries a higher degree of holiness due to her own biological capability of conceiving children. Not only did the woman need a longer time of purification from blood, but she purified her daughter too.

After the days of a woman’s purification were complete, she was to bring a lamb in its first year as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or dove as a sin offering to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. If a woman was too poor for a lamb, doves or pigeons would be accepted as the offering.

“When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to Adonai (as it is written in the Torah of Adonai, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to Adonai)” and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai” (Luke 2:22-24).

My third child was a boy. My husband and I made the decision to follow the instructions for childbirth. We waited for his circumcision until he was eight days old. He did not have a hormone injection as we knew it was already in his body. The name of our doctor was Cohen, so a Jewish priest actually circumcised our son on the eighth day. At that time, we publicly named our son, Jacob. I stayed at home with him, not leaving for church or even grocery shopping, for the next 33 days. I allowed my body to cleanse and purify itself for six weeks.

The blessings I received during that time were very different from my first two children. Not being in public places, I had no worries about my son getting sick or being stressed. Nursing was more relaxed and my son established a daily routine that worked for both of us. I had a happy and contented baby and created a bond with him that was and still remains unique. When I finally took him out into the world, he was ready to meet people and I was aware of how he expressed his needs.

As for the mikveh, I still had some way to go in my sanctification process. I decided with my next child, I would do the purification mikveh. Unfortunately, circumstances in our lives at the time of my second daughter’s birth did not allow it. Our house was for sale and it sold on the day she was born. We were given six weeks to pack and move as the new owner wanted to occupy it as soon as possible. Though I did all that I could to maintain a quiet home for my baby girl, packing and moving was not conducive to allowing my body to heal nor bond with my daughter the way I desired. All the blessings that I received with my son, I did experience with my daughter. However, at my time of purification for a girl, 11 weeks later, I was cleansing my new house from an infestation of insects. In the process, I found the remains of a bird that had died in the chimney. I started a fire in the fireplace and burned it up. Perhaps that was Adonai’s intervention for my desire to purify myself and present a purification offering!

Tzara’at

“The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man unclean” (Matthew 15:18-20).

The Hebrew word tzara’at is translated as ‘leprosy,’ but it is not what would be considered leprosy today. Tzara’at describes a skin condition that includes swelling and whitish red spots on the torso.  Tzara’at and metzorah, the word for ‘leper,’ have the same Hebrew root. The rabbis believed tzara’at which literally means ‘one who spreads slander’ was a physical manifestation of a person’s spiritual condition or a supernatural discipline. In other words, tzara’at is brought on by sins like lying, false vows, pride, and slander.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Tzara’at (Skin Infection) – צרעת – tzade, resh, ayin, tav
– pull toward to the highest authority, understand the sign

Metzorah (One Diseased) – מצרע – mem, tzade, resh, ayin
– pull toward the chaos, the highest authority see

Lashon harah (Evil Tongue) – לשון הרה – lamed, shin, vav, nun – hey, resh hey
– urge forward and consume the binding of life
– behold the highest authority revealed

Aaron and Miryam, Moshe’s brother and sister, were afflicted with tzara’at because they slandered their brother’s Ethiopian wife, and became arrogant over Moshe as leader of Isra’el. They felt they were just as important as their brother because they also heard Elohim speak. In Hebrew, this is called lashon hara or an ‘evil tongue’ and includes gossip and backbiting as well as slander. Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh burned with anger against them, came down in a column of cloud, and stood at the entrance to the Mishkan.

“Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, Adonai, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. But it isn’t that way with my servant Moshe. He is the only one who is faithful in my entire household. With him I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles he sees the image of Adonai. So why weren’t you afraid to criticize my servant Moshe?” (Leviticus 12:6-8)

When the cloud lifted from above the Mishkan, Miryam had tzara’at as white as snow. Aaron looked at his sister and immediately understood that they had acted with lashon hara. Moshe cried to Adonai and Miryam was healed. However, she was sent out of the camp for seven days, not because she was contagious, but because she needed to be alone and meditate on her sin and the Rapha-El – the Healer.

Adonai does not take lashon hara lightly because our words edify or tear down an individual or a leader.   In the case of Moshe, the chosen leader of Elohim’s people, lashon hara could not be tolerated because gossip and slander spread like a disease.

“An ungodly man digs up evil, and his lips is a scorching fire.  A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:27-28).

Selah
The Sack Full of Feathers

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was sorry. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage.

After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi.

“Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do.

After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.”

“That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.”

“Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

Where’s the Doctor?

Among the people of Isra’el there were no doctors. Allopathic medicine through drug use was condemned by Adonai as sorcery; natural remedies from plants and essential oils were used for some illnesses (Isaiah 6:1, Ezekiel 16:9, James 5:14). Though Luke was a doctor, there is no record of him treating any patients, and Yeshua never sent anyone to Luke or any other doctor for healing.

Diagnosing disease, especially skin disease, was the responsibility of the priests because only a priest could declare someone ‘clean’ or healed from their ‘uncleanness.’ When presented with a skin issue, a bright spot on their skin, the priests isolated the individual for observation until they could determine whether or not it was an infectious disease or the individual was ‘clean.’  

This was a traumatic event as the individual had to live outside the camp in isolation. They had to wear torn clothes or filthy rags,  have unbound hair, and cover their upper lip while crying out to anyone they may see, “Unclean, unclean…” (Leviticus 13:45). This is probably what Miryam had to do at the sudden appearance of tzara’at. She was publicly marked by her sin and had to declare that she was ‘unclean’ and needed to repent. Only after Miryam’s seven-day isolation had been completed was she allowed back into camp allowing Isra’el to move.

When people get sick today, rather than isolate themselves, they continue to congregate at work or other social events and infect others.   Epidemics begin this way, but Elohim’s regulations minimized the spreading of disease.

This list of skin conditions and sores the priests had to observe is quite long and involved, but basically the priest asked four questions to determine whether the skin issue was ‘clean’ or ‘unclean.’ Was the skin color red or white? Was there swelling? What was the color of the hair in the sore? Was it a scab or a blemish?

For example, if an individual had a sore that appeared to go deep into the skin and the hair had turned white, the infection was tzara’at and the person was ‘unclean.’ If the bright spot on the skin was white, but did not appear to go deep into the skin and its hair had not turned white, the person was isolated for seven days. After the seven days, the sore was reexamined. If the sore had not changed, the person was isolated for another seven days. If after 14 days of isolation, the sore had faded and did not spread, it was considered a scab. The individual would be ‘clean’ and was required to wash his clothes. If the scab spread after being declared ‘clean,’ the sore would have to be examined again. If the priest determined the sore had spread, it was considered a skin disease.

If a person had a sore and the priest saw it was white and inflamed with swelling on the flesh and the hair had turned white, it was considered a chronic skin condition. The individual was declared ‘unclean,’ but not isolated because it was not going to spread.

If a skin condition broke out all over a person’s body from head to toe, the priest was to examine him. If the tzara’at covered the entire body and turned white, the individual was considered ‘clean.’ If one day, the flesh appeared inflamed, the individual was declared ‘unclean’ with a skin infection.

Boils, Burns, Sores and Rashes

Boils or eruptions, shechin, that had healed needed to be inspected by the priest to determine if a skin disease had broken out in the boil. If it spread, the individual was ‘unclean,’ if it didn’t, it was considered a scar from the boil.

A burn caused by a fire that became a bright spot, reddish-white or white was examined by a priest to determine if a skin infection had made the individual ‘unclean.’  If the burned area became faded and was not lower than the skin around it, the individual was isolated for seven days to make sure there was no infection that could spread. If the area remained faded, it was considered a scar from the burn.

If a sore was on the head or in the beard of a man, it had to be observed by the priest. Yellow was a sign of puss, an infection, and the man would be isolated for seven days.  If the infection had not spread and was no longer yellow, the man would shave and be isolated for seven more days.  If the infection had not spread, the priest would declare the man ‘clean.’  The man washed his clothes and had a time of purification. If, after the time of purification, the crusted area spread, with or without pus, the man was declared ‘unclean.’  If there was a black hair in the crusted area, it was considered healed and the person was ‘clean.’

Dull white spots on the skin were considered a rash and the individual was ‘clean.’ If a man’s hair fell from his scalp or the front part of his forehead, his baldness was considered ‘clean.’ If the man developed a sore on his head that was reddish-white and swollen, it was a skin disease and the man was considered ‘unclean.’

From some of the descriptions of skin diseases, it is possible to recognize chicken pox (raised sores turning to scabs), measles (a rash) and rubella (red blotches that turn the hair white). Whether or not these exact diseases existed in the days of Moshe, they could become an epidemic unlike a raised and itchy mosquito bite, a pimple, heat rash or blisters from walking miles in the wilderness.

According to Adonai’s regulations, tzara’at can affect clothing with a red or greenish stain whether it is wool, linen or leather. If a garment had such a stain, it was taken to the priest who would isolate the garment for seven days.  After seven days, if the stain had spread, the garment was to be completely burned.  If it had not spread, the garment was washed and isolated for seven more days.   If the stain remained, it was rotten material and was burned.   If the stain faded after being washed, then the stain was torn out of the garment.  If it completely disappeared after being washed, it was washed again in order to be determined ‘clean.’

Hebrew Word Pictures
Baheres (Bright spot) – בהרת – bet, hey, resh, tav
– family reveals the highest authority sign
Spiritual root: the attempt to exonerate oneself by speaking against another,
to clarify or rationalize a behavior that was sinful

Sapachas (Swelling): – ספחס – samech, peh, chet, samech
– support the source and protect, support
Spiritual root: joining a group of people who speak against others

Seeth (Rising spot in the skin, scab) – שאת – shin, alef, tav
– consume the first strength sign
Spiritual root: speaking against others in order to raise one’s own stature

A Humble Man

“Now this man Moshe was very humble, more so than anyone on earth” (Numbers 12:3).

The Hebrew word anav means ‘humble or meek.’ Meek is defined as quiet, gentle, and submissive. This is how Adonai describes Moshe.

Moshe had grown up in Egypt in Pharaoh’s palace. From the evidence of the new Pharaoh’s character when Moshe returned to Egypt, he was arrogant over the Elohim of Isra’el and the Hebrew people. It was from this 40-year Egyptian lifestyle that Moshe ran and ended up in Midian. During the next 40 years, he lived with the family of the priest of Midian putting his royal past behind and learning to be a shepherd.

When Adonai called to him from the burning bush, Moshe prostrated himself and took off his shoes as he stood on holy ground. Whether or not he knew of Elohim from his father-in-law or had childhood memories from his mother is not known, but he understood protocol in the presence of holiness and submitted to Elohim’s command.

Called from shepherding sheep to lead the enslaved sheep of Isra’el from Egypt, Moshe made excuses, not because of pride, but because he understood he was not a leader of men, but a man who herded sheep. With Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh’s promise to be with him, he returned to Egypt and encouraged the Hebrews to trust in Adonai. In front of Pharaoh, he remained resolute and spoke only the words that Adonai told him. Throughout the judgments on Egypt, his faith never wavered and he remained submissive to Adonai. His respect for Elohim brought him to anger when Pharaoh’s hardened heart initiated the death of the firstborn of Egypt.

After the Israelites left Egypt, Moshe continued to be steadfast in his responsibility to bring the Hebrews to the mountain and worship Adonai. He willingly became the mediator between Isra’el and Elohim though he wanted the people to see and understand the compassion and faithfulness of their Deliverer. In righteous anger, with the humility of a man who could not comprehend why the Israelites would sin against Adonai, he destroyed the first stone tablets. When Adonai’s anger was about to destroy the nation, Moshe interceded for their lives, not for their sake, but for the sake of the name of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Moshe embraced Adonai’s instructions and passed them onto Isra’el with faithfulness. Through his leadership, the Tabernacle was perfectly made, so perfectly the glory of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh descended and made His dwelling with His chosen people.

Moshe was an example of a true prophet, serving and honoring Adonai. He was given the privilege of speaking with Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh panim el panim unlike any other prophet before or since. It is to Moshe that Yeshua is compared so when Aaron and Miryam lashon hara this meek, humble man of faith, they were judged with tzara’at.

Yeshua, the Rafa-El

“But to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings; and you will break out leaping, like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

The allusion in Malachi is to the Messiah, the ‘sun of righteousness.’ Wearing a talit or ‘prayer shawl,’ it would appear as if he had kanap or ‘wings’ when he raised or lowered his arms. By touching the tassels or tzizit on the four corners of his talit, one would receive healing.

“Among them was a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years and had suffered a great deal under many physicians. She had spent her life savings; yet instead of improving, she had grown worse. She had heard about Yeshua, so she came up behind him in the crowd and touched the tzizit on his robe; for she said, ‘If I touch even his clothes, I will be healed.’ Instantly the hemorrhaging stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed from the disease. At the same time, Yeshua, aware that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His talmidim responded, ‘You see the people pressing in on you; and still you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ But he kept looking around to see who had done it. The woman, frightened and trembling, because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell down in front of him and told him the whole truth; confessed in front of everyone why she had touched him. ‘Courage daughter,’ he said to her, ‘your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Matthew 9:20, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48).

After 12 years of living in isolation due to an issue of blood, this woman went into a crowd and reached out in faith to touch the only One who could heal her body and save her from the humiliation of living as an outcast. In the process, she touched other people inadvertently and made them all ‘unclean.’ In Luke’s account, she is forced to publicly confess her ‘unclean’ state and how she had been immediately healed. In Matthew’s account, Yeshua commends her courage and sends her away saying, “My daughter, your trust has saved you; go in shalom.”

“Once, when Yeshua was in one of the towns, there came a man completely covered with tzara‘at. On seeing Yeshua, he fell on his face and begged him, ‘Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Yeshua reached out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing! Be cleansed!’ Immediately the tzara‘at left him. Then Yeshua warned him not to tell anyone. ‘Instead, as a testimony to the people, go straight to the cohen and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moshe commanded’” (Luke 5:12-16).

“On his way to Yerushalayim, Yeshua passed along the border country between Shomron [Samaria] and the Galil. As he entered one of the villages, ten men afflicted with tzara‘at met him. They stood at a distance and called out, ‘Yeshua! Rabbi! Have pity on us!’ On seeing them, he said, ‘Go and let the cohanim examine you!’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, as soon as he noticed that he had been healed, returned shouting praises to God, and fell on his face at Yeshua’s feet to thank him. Now he was from Shomron. Yeshua said, ‘Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found coming back to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And to the man from Shomron he said, ‘Get up, you may go; your trust has saved you’” (Luke 11:17-19).

Selah
Yeshua followed Torah by telling the ‘cleansed’ men to go to the priest. The only man who returned is from Samaria, a foreigner.

In Matthew 9:5, Yeshua asks, “Tell me, which is easier to say, ’Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’?” showing that sin in the heart does cause illness, disease and even handicaps. True healing, not the management of disease, comes only through the power of Adonai.

As the royal priesthood, it is important to read the Scriptures and analyze disease and illness through a spiritual lens. We are instructed to go to an elder, not a medical doctor, for prayer and anointing. Most ‘elders’ do not understand the spiritual roots of disease so they can’t deal wit the iniquity in the heart. To learn more about healing illness in the body by discovering their spiritual roots, read A More Excellent Way by Henry J. Wright.

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Parashah 8: Vayishlach (He sent)

Genesis 32:3-36:43

“Ya’akov sent messengers ahead of him to ‘Esav his brother toward the land of Se’ir, the country of Edom, with these instructions …” (Genesis 32:3).

Jacob heads toward the land of Seir in Edom, the land of his brother Esau. He has become a wealthy man with wives, children, and livestock. Because he fears that his brother may attack him, he divides his family into two camps so if he is attacked, one camp may escape. He prays to Elohim: “I’m not worthy of all the love and faithfulness you have shown your servant, since I crossed the Yarden with only my staff. But now I have become two camps. Please! Rescue me from my brother ‘Esav!” (Genesis 32:10-11)

While messengers are sent to Esau, Jacob divides his camp and sends his two wives and two concubines along with his 11 sons to the other side of the Jabbok River. Jabbok in Hebrew means ‘to empty itself.’ The source of this river was in Edom (modern-day Jordan) where his brother lived. When Esau is seen in the distance, Jacob further divides the camp. The concubines and their children are sent out first, followed by Leah and her children; Rachel and Joseph are last.

Jacob divides his family to protect them as sometimes division is necessary for protection, but the division is prophetic. Joseph, along with his mother (Benjamin has not yet been born), were kept behind the other mothers and Jacob’s other ten sons. The separation of the ‘ten northern tribes’ from the ‘two southern tribes’ was part of Elohim’s plan to keep the nation of Isra’el protected from complete destruction.  At the ‘appointed time,’ all of the tribes will be brought back together as the nation of Isra’el (Ezekiel 37:17).

Jacob, the Overcomer

Once the camps are divided, Jacob is alone. During the night, a man comes to him and begins to wrestle with him. When the man sees that he will not defeat Jacob, he strikes his hip socket so that it becomes dislocated. At sunrise, the man requests that Jacob let him go, but Jacob refuses unless he receives a blessing. The man asks his name and Jacob replies, “Ya’akov.”

The man blesses him, “From now on you will no longer be called Ya’akov, but Isra’el; because you have shown your strength to God and men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28). Jacob asks the man his name, but he refuses to reveal it.

Jacob names the place Peni-El or ‘Face of Elohim’ because he had seen Elohim ‘face to face’ and his life had been spared. The ‘man’ who wrestles with Jacob is the Elohim of Hosts or the Commander of Elohim’s army –– Yeshua. This is a personal encounter with Yeshua and the reason Jacob can be ‘face to face’ with Elohim and live.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Peni’el (Face of Elohim) – פני – אל – peh, nun, yod, alef, lamed
– source of life, finished work of first strength urging forward

Up until Jacob wrestles with Yeshua, he lives his life in the flesh doing things his own way, which always includes some form of deception.  As he fears the meeting with his brother, he separates himself from his family and flocks.  Alone and sitting by the Jabbok River, he ‘empties himself’ before Elohim.   His carnal ways of life battle with the strength of Elohim’s hand on him.  He releases his carnality, limping for the rest of his life, and takes on Elohim’s strength, the Ruach Elohim, and receives a new name –– Isra’el.

“That is why, to this day, the people of Isra’el do not eat the thigh muscle that passes along the hip socket – because the man struck Ya’akov’s hip at its socket” (Genesis 32:32).

Isra’el means ‘because you have shown your strength both to Elohim and men and have overcome.’ In the book of Revelation, Yeshua rewards those in the Messianic congregations who ‘overcome’ with the right to eat from the Tree of Life, not being hurt by the second death, hidden manna, a new name, authority, white clothing, an eternal name, a pillar in the Temple, the name of Elohim, the New Jerusalem, and to sit down on his Father’s Throne.  To ‘overcome’ the flesh and its unspiritual desires has everything to do with ‘becoming’ Isra’el.

There are now two ‘persons’ within the same physical man: Jacob, the carnal man; and Isra’el, the spiritual man. In the physical world, Jacob receives a land inheritance and physical descendants; in the spiritual world, Isra’el receives the inheritance of the coming eternal Kingdom.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Jacob (Supplanter) or Ya’akov–יעקו –yod, ayin, kof, bet
– finished work, understand what is behind the family

Isra’el (Overcomer) or Yisra’el –ישראל–yod, shin, resh, alef, lamed
– finished work consumes the highest authority, first strength urges foward

Jacob Meets Esau

“A person’s gift clears his way and gives him access to the great” (Proverbs 18:16).

Esau has also grown into a nation of people. He brings 400 men with him to meet his brother. His cry to Isaac, “Have you only one blessing, my father,” has proven unfounded. He has become a wealthy man and, as a physical descendant of Abraham, Elohim blessed him just as He blessed Ishmael. Esau seems to have forgotten what happened in the past and is not interested in Jacob’s gifts or his wealth. He is just grateful to have shalom with his brother.

Sukkoth

Jacob leaves his brother and travels on to Sukkoth where he builds himself a temporary dwelling and puts up shelters for his cattle. Sukkoth is a city located east of the Jordan River in the plain north of the Jabbok River. It is known today as Tel Deir Alla. As there is a fall ‘appointed time’ called Sukkot, the site of this temporary dwelling may be an allusion to the season when Jacob and his family camped at Sukkoth.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Sukkoth (Shelter) or Sukkot – סוכות– samech, vav, kaf, vav, tav
– support the finished work, allowing the binding of the covenant

The Account of Dinah

“Here is what Adonai says: ‘Don’t learn the way of the Goyim [pagan nations]…’” (Jeremiah 10:2).

Dinah is the only daughter of Jacob and Leah. In Genesis 34:1, it is written that she went out to visit the local girls in Shechem. She leaves the security of the camp, her father, her mothers, and her brothers. The implication given by Josephus, the Jewish historian, is that Dinah wanted to observe, and probably copy, the customs of her neighbors.

“Now as the Shechemites were keeping a [pagan] festival,  Dinah, who was the only daughter of Ya’akov, went into the city to see the finery of the women of that country.”

Shechem, a descendant of Canaan who was cursed because of his father’s sexual sin, rapes Dinah, but then falls in love with her and wants to marry her.  Shechem’s father goes to Jacob to arrange a marriage.  Jacob maintains his personal shalom while his sons, Dinah’s brothers, are outraged. Their immaturity in dealing with jealousy and anger will lead them to sell their younger brother into slavery.
There has been no direct command given by Elohim against intermarriage. Abraham and Isaac desired their sons not marry Canaanite women, suggesting there was a generational understanding about intermarriage with the cursed descendants of Canaan.

The negotiation plan presented by Shechem’s father to Jacob had five options:

  1. Begin the intermingling of the two nations. This was irrelevant because Shechem was the first place where Abraham pitched his tents. There had been intermingling between the two nations since that time.
  2. Sign a treaty of peaceful co-existence. Jacob had lived in this area for about 11 years before the event with Dinah. The problem between Shechem and Dinah is the first recorded problem between the two nations. A treaty was irrelevant to the negotiations.
  3. Jacob would be given the right of land possession in the territory. Jacob had already paid 100 pieces of silver for the land on which he lived. He already had the right of physical ownership. Spiritually, he had taken possession of the land when he built an altar to Elohim in Beit-el. This suggestion was irrelevant to the negotiation.
  4. Shechem was part of the great trading route between the Far East, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea.  Shechem’s father knew of Jacob’s wealth and perhaps wanted a share in it so he offered a trade agreement. This could be relevant to the negotiations and would be a perk when Shechem married Dinah. However, Jacob did not accept this offer.
  5. The last option was a bride price to be set by Dinah’s family. A bride price was definitely relevant to the negotiations as Dinah has been raped, which was the reason negotiations had to take place. It is not Jacob, Dinah’s father, who sets the bride price; it is her brothers. They require the circumcision of Shechem and all the men of the city as Dinah’s bride price.   Shechem is willing to do whatever they ask because he is “honorable of all the men in his father’s house” and, he loves Dinah.

Selah
Shechem’s circumcision could be the first example of the nations entering into the covenant given to Abraham because of a love for a virgin daughter of Isra’el.

Circumcision was the ‘sign’ of the covenant given to Abraham, a symbol of his faith and obedience, and his heart for El Shaddai. Circumcision set Jacob’s sons apart from the uncircumcised men around them, a separation instituted by Elohim. Shechem and the men of the city did not have a heart for Elohim; therefore, circumcision was not something they should have been asked to do. The sons of Jacob perverted the act of circumcision and used it in a deceitful way, not only to humble the men of the city, but to destroy them.

Three days after the men are circumcised and in pain, Simeon and Levi take their swords and descend on the city and slaughter all the males, including Hamor and Shechem. The remaining brothers climb over the dead bodies Simeon and Levi had killed and plunder the city as revenge for defiling their sister.

Dinah is found in Shechem’s house, which means she was betrothed, even married, and believed the bride price had been paid in full with the circumcisions. Shechem had done what was honorable and paid the required bride price. Dinah’s brothers, however, respond with vengeance and murder Shechem.

Simeon and Levi do not regret killing the men of Shechem.  They viewed it has an honor killing for their sister.  Jacob is not pleased with their behavior and says they made him a “stink in the opinion of the local inhabitants” (Genesis 34:30). Jacob makes it quite clear and it becomes written in Torah that honor killings are an abomination to Elohim and an unacceptable way for Isra’el to solve problems with their neighbors.

Judah and Reuben do not take part in the murders. Later, it is Judah who saves Joseph’s life and Reuben repents for everything done to their brother. In spite of their shortcomings (Reuben sinning with his father’s concubine and Judah’s rejection of Tamar), they have a deeper sense of value for human life, especially when it comes to family.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Dinah (Controversy) – דינה – dalet, yod, nun, hey
– pathway of finished work of life, revealed

Shechem (Shoulder) – שכם – shin, kaf, mem
– consume and open chaos

Immersion and Purification

“Get rid of the foreign gods that you have with you, purify yourselves, and put on fresh clothes.  We’re going to move on and go up to Beit-El.  There I will build an altar to God, who answered me when I was in such distress and stayed with me wherever I went” (Genesis 35:2-3). 

Elohim tells Jacob to return to Beit-el.  Before the camps set out, he instructs everyone to get rid of their foreign gods.  Apparently while living near Shechem, his family collected more foreign gods.   The household teraphim, along with all the women’s earrings, were collected and buried under a Pistachio tree.

The Pistachio tree in Hebrew is terebinth and is often translated in the Scriptures as ‘oak’  as in the ‘oaks of Mamre.’ The Hebrew word for pistachio is elah.  It was in the Valley of Elah, also known as the Valley of Pistachio trees, where David fought Goliath.

Jacob tells his family to purify themselves and put on fresh clothing. The Torah still has not been written, yet Isra’el and his family know the requirements for purification. They obviously understand there are ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ physical issues even before Elohim gives His written instructions.

Many teach there are no longer ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ regulations because the Torah was abolished at the cross. They claim Yeshua did everything for us; therefore, we have no need to purify ourselves. This is not a Biblically sound argument when both John and James support purifying oneself even after the resurrection of Yeshua.

“And everyone who has this hope in him continues purifying himself, since God is pure” (1 John 3:3).

“Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded people!” (James 4:8)

Purification or cleansing refers to ritual washing long before Torah. Ritual washing was more than just taking a bath; it was symbolic of repentance and removing the impurities that pollute the soul through immersion in water. A ritual immersion takes place in a mikvah. A mikvah is a pool of water that must be connected in some way to natural or spring water. Putting on clean clothes is part of the purification required to attend a holy event. Jacob’s family is heading to Beit-el to meet with the Holy One of Isra’el. They need to wash and dress accordingly; they need to prepare their souls.

El Shaddai

Wherever Jacob and his family traveled, the fear of Elohim fell on the people so no one followed or tried to attack them.  During their travels, Elohim appears to Jacob a second time and blesses him.  By repeating that Jacob’s name is changed to Isra’el, there is a witness of two and the nation of Isra’el is established forever.

“Your name is Ya’akov, but you will be called Ya’akov no longer, your name will be Isra’el.  Thus he named him Isra’el. God further said to him, ‘I am El Shaddai.  Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed a group of nations, will come from you; kings will be descended from you.  Moreover, the land which I gave Avraham and Yitz’ak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you’” (Genesis 35:10-12).

This is the second time Elohim refers to Himself as El Shaddai. The first time occurs when He changes Abram’s name to Abraham. El Shaddai emphasizes His all-pervasive power, influence, and authority in all of creation while still having the nuance of being a ‘bosom friend.’ It is El Shaddai who makes promises of Land and descendants to Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob.

Jacob sets up a second stone pillar. Along with anointing it with oil, he pours out a drink offering. This is the first time a drink offering is mentioned in Scripture. A drink offering was offered on the Sabbath as a symbol of rest. Only after El Shaddai defeated the enemies of Isra’el and gave them rest in the Promised Land did He accept drink offerings, but even then, the people did not drink the offerings as they were not the ones who defeated their enemies. El Shaddai defeated them by His arm of salvation –– Yeshua.

Jacob is now at rest.  He has shalom with his brother and his neighbors. His enemies have been subdued and he has received the eternal covenant given to his grandfather and father. Since drink offerings were poured out on the Sabbath, it may be inferred that he set the stone and poured out the drink offering on this day.

The drink offering was only given to Elohim.  While portions of animal sacrifices were set aside to be eaten by the priest and the person offering the sacrifice, the entire drink offering was poured out on the Altar.  This prevented the priesthood from drinking in the Tabernacle. As there is no Tabernacle at this time, there are no prescribed animal sacrifices or rules for drink offerings. On the  stone altar that Jacob makes, he does not offer an animal; he pours out a drink offering for El Shaddai and Him alone.

The drink offering symbolizes the life of the worshiper.  Sha’ul refers to his life as being “poured out like a drink offering” (Philippians 2:17).  Jacob has definitely ‘poured out his life’ to be at the place he has arrived, and now acknowledges the work was done through El Shaddai. He cannot deny that he wrestled with Yeshua and had his name changed –– he limps!

At Yeshua’s last Passover seder, he takes a cup of wine and refers to it as his blood being ‘poured out’ as drink offering (Matthew 26:26-28). This drink offering would occur on the cross as the required offering with the ‘meat’ of the lamb. Yeshua also said that he would not drink from the fruit of the vine again until the Kingdom of Elohim comes.

“I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; my heart has become like wax — it melts inside me; my mouth is as dry as a fragment of a pot, my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me down in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:14-15).

“I tell you, I will not drink this ‘fruit of the vine’ again until the day I drink new wine with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).

Rachel Dies

While traveling to Efrat (Bethlehem), Rachel goes into labor.  She dies soon after giving birth to Jacob’s last son, but not before she names him Ben Oni (Son of My Grief).  Jacob changes the baby’s name to Benjamin (Son of the Right Hand). Rachel is buried near Bethlehem; Jacob continues to travel.

Selah
Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) in Hebrew means ‘House of Bread.’

Isra’el pitches his tent on the other side of the Migdal Eder near Bethlehem.   Migdal Eder means ‘Tower of Eder.’  The prophet Micah referred to this place as the ‘watchtower of the flock.’ This is the location where sheep were raised for the Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.  On the night that Yeshua was born, the shepherds at the Migdal Eder, who raised the sheep for the sacrifices, received the good news from the angels that the Messiah had been born.

“You, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Tziyon, to you your former sovereignty will return, the royal power of the daughter of Yerushalayim” (Micah 4:8).

“But you, Beit-Lechem near Efrat, so small among the clans of Y’hudah, out of you will come forth to me the future ruler of Isra’el, whose origins are far in the past, back in ancient times. Therefore he will give up [Isra’el] only until she who is in labor gives birth. Then the rest of his kinsmen will return to the people of Isra’el. He will stand and feed his flock in the strength of Adonai, in the majesty of the name of Adonai his God; and they will stay put, as he grows great to the very ends of the earth; and this will be peace …” (Micah 5:2-5).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Ephratha or Efrat (Fruitful) – אפרת – alef, peh, resh, tav
– first strength source of the highest authority of the covenant

Bethlehem or Beit-Lechem – בית לחם – bet, yod, tav – lamed, chet, mem
– house of the finished work of the covenant
urging forward to protect the mighty

Esau and the Edomites

The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, have an interesting Biblical history. Esau took many Canaanite women as wives against his parents‘ wishes.  None of the marriages were blessed by Isaac or Rebekah and created an ongoing conflict between Isra’el (sons of Jacob) and Edom (sons of Esau). 

Though Esau was blessed in terms of physical wealth, he was not part of the spiritually blessed lineage. He behaved corruptly through sexual immorality and godlessness (Hebrews 12:15-17). One of Esau’s wives, Adah, gave birth to Amalek from whom descended the Amalekites, Isra’el’s greatest enemy. King Saul was commanded destroy the Amalekites, but disobeyed. An Amalekite named Haman came to power in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus and wanted to destroy the Jewish people from the kingdom (Esther 3).

Elohim commanded Isra’el to regard the Edomites as brothers despite their unwillingness to let them pass through their land (Deuteronomy 23:7).  During the reign of King Saul, Edom became a subject nation of Isra’el (1 Samuel 14:47); and King David established a military fort there (2 Samuel 8:14).  In the days of Yoram, the son of Ahab, the Edomites became an independent nation.  Herod the Great, who wanted Yeshua killed, was an Edomite.  Since the Muslims conquered the region of Edom, the area has been virtually unoccupied, except by Bedouins.

Isra’el and the Edomites

This parashah contains the genealogy of Esau because it is important to know one’s enemies. Understanding the battles between the two nations of Edom and Isra’el is important for understanding prophecies against Edom in the ‘last days.’ The Edomites, along with the Ishmaelites, are the first of many nations mentioned in Scripture that desire the destruction of Isra’el.

“God, don’t remain silent! Don’t stay quiet, God, or still; because here are your enemies, causing an uproar; those who hate you are raising their heads, craftily conspiring against your people, consulting together against those you treasure. They say, ‘Come, let’s wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Isra’el be remembered no more!’ With one mind they plot their schemes; the covenant they have made is against you — the tents of Edom and the Yishmaelim”… (Psalm 83:1-8).

“Therefore Adonai Elohim says, ‘I will stretch my hand out over Edom and Eliminate both its humans and its animals. I will make it a ruin; from Teman to D’dan they will die by the sword. Moreover, I will lay my vengeance on Edom through my people Isra’el; they will treat Edom in accordance with my anger and my fury; and they will know my vengeance’” … (Ezekiel 25:13-14).

The prophet Obadiah states that Edom will be completely destroyed for his hatred of his kinsman, Judah.

“You whose homes are caves in the cliffs, who live on the heights and say to yourselves, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’” (Obadiah 3)

Mount Seir was the hill country where Esau took his wives and children to live. The Edomites held the rock fortress of what is known today as Petra, modern-day Bozrah, Jordan, which can only be reached through a narrow, winding gorge. The fortress was so protected that it was said only twelve men were needed to defend it against an entire army.

“Your warriors, Teman, will be so distraught that everyone on Mount Esau will be slaughtered” (Obadiah 9).

Teman is a city in southern Edom to the east of Isra’el.  It was named after the grandson of Esau and became synonymous with the region of Edom.   Teman is possibly the modern-day Ma’an located about 135 miles southwest of Ammon, Jordan.

“For the violence done to our kinsman Ya’akov, shame will cover you …” (Obadiah 10).

The word ‘violence’ is the Hebrew word chamas or, as it is spelled today, Hamas.  It refers not only to violent crimes like robbing and extortion, but also false witness.  Hamas is an Arabic acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya, which means ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement.’ Hamas in Arabic means ‘zeal.’

“Here is what Adonai says: ‘For Edom’s three crimes, no, four — I will not reverse it — because with sword he pursued his kinsman and threw aside all pity, constantly nursing his anger, forever fomenting his fury; I will send fire on Teman, and it will consume the palaces of Botzrah’” (Amos 1:11-12).

“Who is this, coming from Edom, from Botzrah with clothing stained crimson, so magnificently dressed, so stately in his great strength? ‘It is I, who speak victoriously, I, well able to save.’ Why is your apparel red, your clothes like someone treading a winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; from the peoples, not one was with me. So I trod them in my anger, trampled them in my fury; so their lifeblood spurted out on my clothing, and I have stained all my garments; for the day of vengeance that was in my heart and my year of redemption have come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I was appalled that no one upheld me. Therefore my own arm brought me salvation, and my own fury upheld me. In my anger I trod down the peoples, made them drunk with my fury, then poured out their lifeblood on the earth’” (Isaiah 63:1-6).

The prophet Isaiah asks, “Who is coming from Edom?” Revelation 19:12-14 reveals the answer: Yeshua, stained with blood of his enemies. He is not coming from ‘heaven,’ but from Edom in southern Jordan, and the stronghold of Petra, where he finally judges the Edomites for their chamas against Isra’el.

“Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, ‘THE WORD OF GOD’” (Revelation 19:11-14).

Esau became a great nation, but he lived a faithless life and passed his godlessness onto his descendants ultimately bringing complete destruction to his own progeny by none other than Yeshua, his brother.  The same may be said of Ishmael who also became a wealthy man, but left the faith of his father Abraham. His descendants have become the ever-increasing Arab population who embrace chamas and perpetuate violence on Isra’el. Their destruction is prophesied along with Edom.

Yeshua’s Immersion

“The [Jewish] people were in a state of great expectancy, and everyone was wondering whether perhaps Yochanan himself might be the Messiah; so Yochanan answered them all, ‘I am immersing you in water, but he who is coming is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy to untie his sandals! He will immerse you in the Ruach haKodesh and in fire. He has with him his winnowing fork to clear out his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the straw with unquenchable fire!’ While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened; the Ruach haKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you’” (Luke 3:15-22).

“Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim [disciples], immersing them into the reality [authority] of the Father, the Son and the Ruach haKodesh” (Matthew 28:19).

“They replied, ‘When you are in your glory, let us sit with you, one on your right and the other on your left.’ But Yeshua answered, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup that I am drinking? Or be immersed with the immersion that I must undergo?’ They said to him, ‘We can.’ Yeshua replied, ‘The cup that I am drinking, you will drink; and the immersion I am being immersed with, you will undergo’” (Mark 10:37-39).

“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now six stone water-jars were standing there for the Jewish ceremonial washings [immersion], each with a capacity of twenty or thirty gallons. Yeshua told them, ‘Fill the jars with water,’ and they filled them to the brim” (John 2:5-7).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Hebrews 6 – Elementary Teachings

“Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about washings, s’mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do” (Hebrews 6:1-3, Complete Jewish Bible).  

Sin that Leads to Death

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Sin is defined in 1 John 3:4 as breaking the commands of God.  Yeshua refers to this lawlessness as living contrary to Torah, his Father’s instructions for living in this world and preparing for the coming Kingdom (Matthew 7:23, Luke 13:27).  The consequence for sin is eternal spiritual death.  This was the result of Adam’s sin in the Garden and as his offspring, the consequence of our own sin.

After Yeshua was tested in the wilderness by the Adversary, he went back to the Galilee to live in Capernaum and began preaching the gospel, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). In Hebrew, ‘repentance’ is teshuvah and means ‘to return to God.’   By repenting from sin’s lawless deeds, we turn away from actions that lead to spiritual death and return to God and His ways (Luke 5:31-32).

This basic gospel message is considered one of the elementary teachings. This is the gospel message preached by Peter on Shavuot (Pentecost) in Jerusalem.  Sha’ul (Paul) preached the same gospel message gentiles who were putting their faith in Yeshua.

“Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God [teshuvah], and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit]! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” (Acts 2:38-39). 

“You know that I [Sha’ul] held back nothing that could be helpful to you, and that I taught you both in public and from house to house, declaring with utmost seriousness the same message to Jews and Greeks alike: turn from sin to God; and put your trust in our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah” (Acts 20:20-21)

Faith in God

“Be assured, then, that it is those who live by trusting and being faithful who are really children of Avraham” (Galatians 3:7).

Faith or emunah is defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  Our certainty of God’s existence is basic to the gospel message and considered the second elementary teaching.  

Abraham believed he was too old to have an heir, but God promised him he would have an heir.  He told him to count the stars in the sky, if he could, and his descendants would be as numerous.  “He [Abraham] believed in Adonai, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:4-6).  God tested Abraham with this heir.  He was told to take his son, his only son whom he loved, to Mount Moriah and offer him on an altar.  Abraham obeyed God because he believed God could raise his son from the dead, the greatest example of his faith (Romans 4:17).  This unwavering trust in God’s promise made Abraham the ‘father of faith.’ 

Yeshua taught that those who followed him must put their faith in God, first and foremost (Mark 11:22).  They must love God, first and foremost (Matthew 22:27).   This is a foundation stone of his salvation message.  Separating faith in Yeshua from faith in his Father leaves an incomplete and misdirected faith. There can never be two gods.  Yeshua’s purpose was to glorify his Father,  to bring salvation to the world, and to show people the correct way to have a relationship with God (1 John 4:14, John 14:6, John 17:1,6,22).

During Hanukkah in Jerusalem, Yeshua states to his Jewish brothers and sisters, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  In Hebrew, echad means ‘one’ in unity.  He made this statement to make sure they understood that he was not another god to be worshiped or even a separate ‘person’ from his Father. By embracing Yeshua’s relationship his Father, we can put our faith in the “visible image of the invisible God” because that is who Yeshua is (Colossians 1:15).

Once a person turns from sin, they put their faith in God, Yeshua. Sha’ul preached that repentance and faith in God is for both Jews and gentiles.

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Yeshua”  (Acts 20:26).

Instruction about Washings

“Now before the coming of Yeshua, Yochanan [John] proclaimed to all the people of Isra’el an immersion [mikveh] in connection with turning to God from sin” (Acts 13:24).”

The Complete Jewish Bible translates ‘baptism’ as ‘instructions about washings’ or a mikveh.  mikveh is an immersion for purification and done numerous times throughout a person’s life for various reasons.  During the month of Elul (August/September) there was an immersion for the repentance of sins before the arrival of the Days of Awe and the Day of Atonement.  This repentance immersion was nothing new. When John preached repentance from sins at the Jordan River, the men and women of Israel were taking part in the repentance immersion during the month of Elul. It was at this same time that Yeshua was immersed and the Spirit of Adonai came down and rested on him like a dove (Luke 3:20-22).

When the whole house of Israel was “stung in their hearts” after hearing about Yeshua who is Lord and Messiah, they asked Peter what they should do.  He responded with the first three elementary teachings.

“Kefa [Peter] answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” (Acts 2:36-39). 

After Yeshua ascended to heaven, another dimension was added to the mikveh.  The purpose for the repentance immersion was for purification, a pledge of a good conscience towards God through Yeshua’s resurrection (1 Peter 3:21). Immersion became a personal illustration of sharing in Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection.  The immersion became an expression of being set free from the ‘law of sin and death’ and resurrecting into a new life (Romans 6:4-5). It was an immersion into Yeshua and his resurrection.

Though there are many reasons to continue to mikveh, there is only one that expresses our faith in Yeshua. Repentance, faith in God, and teachings about mikveh lead us into the next elementary teaching.

Laying on of Hands

Do not be hasty in the laying on of  hands, and do not share in the sins of others” (1 Timothy 5:22).

Sh’mikah is the fourth elementary teaching. In Hebrew, the word sh’mikah means ‘authority’ and came through ‘laying on of hands.’  Throughout the Bible there are many examples of sh’mikah from Isaac blessing Jacob to Yeshua blessing little children (Luke 18:15-17).  One of the more significant sh’mikah is when Moshe passed his authority onto Joshua to take the Israelites into the Promised Land (Numbers 27:18-20).

One spiritual aspect of sh’mikah is physical healing through the forgiveness of sins.  Yeshua had the authority to forgive sins, and soon after his resurrection, Yeshua passed this authority onto his disciples by breathing on him.   If they forgave an individual’s sins, their sins were forgiven.  If they didn’t, the sins remained on the person (John 20:20-23).

Yeshua gave his disciples the authority to release men and women from the bondage of guilt. To hear Your sins are forgiven” releases anger, bitterness, guilt, and removes the stronghold of the Adversary. Once those deeply-rooted issues were removed, physical healing could begin (Matthew 9:5-6).   The authority that Yeshua gave to the apostles was so powerful that even their shadows healed the sick and set free the demon possessed (Acts 5:15-16).

After Yeshua ascended to his Father, the power and authority of the Ruach HaKodesh was received through laying on of hands (Acts 8:15-17).   Believers in Yeshua rejoiced when they received this power and it was so great that even ‘unsaved’ men desired. They offered the apostles money to have the power because it resulted in healing they could use to become rich (Acts 8:18-19).

Sha’ul warns Timothy about laying hands too quickly on an individual because there is always the potential of distorting the sh’mikah given to the apostles by Yeshua.  He also conveys the idea that when there is sh’imikah for forgiveness of sin, there is the danger the sins of one person being placed upon another.

Resurrection of the Dead

Resurrection of the dead is the sixth elementary teaching.  Resurrection, like mikveh, was not a new concept. Isaiah prophesied about the resurrection: “Your dead will live, my corpses will rise; awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life” (Isaiah 26:19). Daniel also prophesied about those who would ‘awaken’ to eternal life or shame:  “Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence” (Daniel 12:2). 

The prophets Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22, 2 Kings 4:32-35, 2 Kings 13:20-21).  Yeshua raised the widow’s son from the dead and the daughter of the synagogue leader (Luke 7:11-15, Luke 8:41-42, 49-55).  Peter raised Dorcas from the dead; Sha’ul raised Eutychus (Acts 9:36-41, Acts 20:9-10).

When Lazarus died, his sister Martha believed that she would see him again in the resurrection at the ‘last day’ in the Messianic Era.  She also knew that she stood in the presence of the Messiah and her faith in Yeshua brought her brother back to life (John 11:24-26). Many holy people were brought out of their tombs by the same power of God (Matthew 27:50-53).

This elementary teaching about the resurrection was not embraced by everyone in Israel.  The Pharisees believed in the eternal soul and a resurrection of the dead; the Sadducees did not.  This is the reason they tested Yeshua about Levirate marriage and the seven brothers who married the same woman. Whose wife she would be in the resurrection? (Luke 20:27-30). Peter and John irritated the Sadducees by using Yeshua as proof of the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:1-2). Sha’ul claimed his religious affiliation with the Pharisees and their view of the resurrection (Acts 23:6).

According to the book of Revelation, there are two resurrections.  Those who take part in the first resurrection will reign with Yeshua as priests of God during the Messianic Era (Revelation 20:6-7).   The second death will have no power over these saints; they will have already entered eternal life.  The second resurrection is of all people from the beginning of time who have died. As the prophet Daniel said, some will rise to eternal life, others to eternal death.

“But if it is preached that Messiah has been raised from  the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Messiah has been raised.  And if Messiah has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

Eternal Punishment

As Sha’ul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now!” (Acts 24:25)

Eternal punishment is the seventh elementary teaching. In the days of Noah, the heavens and earth were judged by water; wicked and ungodly men were destroyed in the flood.  This present heaven and earth will be judged by fire destroying wicked and ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7).

“Just as the weeds are collected and burned up in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age” (Matthew 13:40).

The godless will experience spiritual death or eternal separation from God.  On the Day of Judgment, books will be opened and everyone will be judged by their works.  Some will find their name has been blotted out of the book of life and are no longer listed with the righteous (Psalm 69:28).  Anyone’s name that is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the Adversary, the beast, the false prophet and even Jezebel (Revelation 20:11-15).

There is also an eternal judgment for some who received eternal life, but lived contrary to God’s commands.  They remain in the outer darkness, outside the gates of the New Jerusalem, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12, Luke 13:28).  Gnashing of teeth implies these people knew the Truth, heard the Truth, but chose not to obey the Truth. They have escaped the lake of fire as through flames. They do not lose their free gift of eternal life, but lose entrance to the Kingdom (Revelation 22:15).

In the days of Yeshua, gentiles were referred to as ‘dogs’ (Matthew 7:6, 15:26).  Though many gentiles receive salvation through Yeshua, they refuse to repent from pagan traditions and idolatry based on lies and deception. ‘Evildoers’ and ‘workers of lawlessness’ are those who disobey Torah or teach others to disobey ‘the law.’   These people will be least in the Kingdom according to Yeshua: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day [of Judgment], many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!'”  (Matthew 7:21-23).

 “If anyone hears what I am saying and does not observe it, I don’t judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. Those who reject me and don’t accept what I say have a judge — the word which I have spoken will judge them on the Last Day [of Judgment]” (John 12:47-48)

These are the elementary teachings: repentance, faith in God, mikveh, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. We are to leave behind these the teachings so that we can go on to maturity.

©2005 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.