LEARN THE BIBLE IN 52 WEEKS
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– Week 12 –
The scroll of the Torah/ Pentateuch is the oldest (other than Job) and most sacred of all our Scriptures. It contains the “five books of Moses”. The Hebrew name for the first one is B’reisheet (בראשית). It is also the first word of the book in the Hebrew text, as well as the name for the first Bible Study (the first week’s reading). B’reisheet means “in the beginning.” The first 12 Bible studies start in B’reisheet…
As we close out our studies in the first book, it is impossible for me to overstate the importance of what you are about to begin learning. The 12th and last reading (next week we will start in Exodus) starting from the book of Genesis to Revelation in this yearly Bible Study is named “and he lived”, or Vayechi (ויחי). The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which says in English, “Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years” (Genesis 47:28). In this Bible study finishing off Genesis, Jacob prepares for his death by securing a double portion of inheritance for Joseph. In this study we also see Jacob/ Israel prophesy Ephraim and Manasseh’s roles in the last days, adopting his grandsons as his own. Then he continues to prophesy the rest of his childrens’ futures and then blesses each of his sons. The book of Genesis ends with the death of Jacob, followed shortly by the death of Joseph and a promise of redemption from Egypt . . Continue the study below.
You will also find study guides by chapter and advanced study of the original languages following the Bible study outline. While it is our belief that many of the letters of the New Testament were originally written in Aramaic and/ or Hebrew, the Greek texts are used for study even when there are known Hebrew manuscripts (eg. Mathew and Hebrews).
Learn the Bible in 52 Weeks. How It Works:
On the 1st day of every week (Sunday), I release the next week’s front-to-back WHOLE Bible study on the mobile App and website: It will take you all week to get through it if you even do. By the 7th day of the week (Saturday), you should have finished it and met to fellowship and discuss it in a HomeGroup. All of our HomeGroups subscribers gather on different days to discuss the Bible studies, so after the majority of our subscribers have finished their Sunday services, we update for the next week. More resources are available in the mobile App and website than you could get from seminary, for free.
Quick Bible Audio & Text:
Listen to all the Bible study below or click the link to read them at biblegateway.com in your favorite translation. The mobile App has every translation:
Review from last 2 weeks
Israel, Judah (Two Olive Trees, Two Houses, Two Witnesses, Two Candlesticks) and the Mystery of the Gentiles Grafting in
This Week’s Bible Outlines & Study Guides
Jacob’s Last Days
- (English Text) English Audio:
- (Hebrew Text) (Interlinear) Hebrew Audio:
Ge 47:28 | Jacob’s age.
Ge 47:29-31. He swears Joseph to bury him with his fathers.
Genesis chapter 48
Ge 48:1. Joseph with his sons visits his sick father.
Ge 48:2. Jacob strengthens himself to bless them.
Ge 48:3-4. He repeats God’s promise.
Ge 48:5-6. He takes Ephraim and Manasseh as his own sons.
Ge 48:7. He tells Joseph of his mother’s grave.
Ge 48:8-16. He blesses Ephraim and Manasseh.
Ge 48:17-20. He prefers the younger before the elder.
Ge 48:21-22. He prophesies their return to Canaan.
Genesis chapter 49
Ge 49:1-2. Jacob calls his sons to bless them.
Ge 49:3-28. Their blessing in particular.
Ge 49:29-32. He charges them about his burial.
Ge 49:33. He dies.
Genesis chapter 50
Ge 50:1-3. The mourning for Jacob.
Ge 50:4-6. Joseph gets leave of Pharaoh to go to bury him.
Ge 50:7-14. The funeral.
Ge 50:15-21. Joseph comforts his brethren, who crave his pardon.
Ge 50:22. His age.
Ge 50:23. He sees the third generation of his sons.
Ge 50:24. He prophesies unto his brethren of their return.
Ge 50:25. He takes an oath of them concerning his bones.
Ge 50:26. He dies, and is put into a coffin.
- (English Text) (Hebrew Text) (Interlinear)
Prophets & Writings
Solomon’s Throne Secured
- (English Text) English Audio:
- (Hebrew Text) (Interlinear) Hebrew Audio:
1Ki 2:1-2. David, having given a charge to Solomon,
1Ki 2:3-4. of religiousness;
1Ki 2:5-6. of Joab;
1Ki 2:7. of Barzillai;
1Ki 2:8-9. of Shimei;
1Ki 2:10-11. dies.
1Ki 2:12. Solomon succeeds.
- (English Text) (Hebrew Text) (Interlinear)
Yeshua (Jesus) Reveals His Betrayer, Judah (Judas)
- (English Text) English Audio:
- (Greek Text) (Interlinear) Greek Audio:
Joh 13:1-17. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, and exhorts them to humility and charity.
Joh 13:18-30. He foretells and discovers to John by a token, that Judas should betray him;
Joh 13:31-35. commands them to love one another;
Joh 13:36-38. and forewarns Peter of his denials.
- (English Text) (Greek Text) (Interlinear)
ReSTORING the original priesthood
- (English Text) English Audio:
- (Greek Text) (Interlinear) Greek Audio:
- Study Guide Printouts:
Chapter 7 Printout
Heb 7:1-10. Christ Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchisedec;
Heb 7:11-28. and so far more excellent than the priests of Aaron’s order.
- (English Text) (Greek Text) (Interlinear)
- (English Text) English Audio:
- (Greek Text) (Interlinear) Greek Audio:
- Study Guide Printouts
Revelation Overview Printout
Chapter 9 Printout
Re 9:1 | At the sounding of the fifth angel, a star falls from heaven, to whom is given the key to the bottomless pit.
Re 9:2-11 | He opens the pit, and there come forth locusts like scorpions.
Re 9:12 | The first woe past.
Re 9:13 | The sixth trumpet sounds.
Re 9:14-21 | Four angels are let loose, that were bound.
- (English Text) (Greek Text) (Interlinear)
This Week’s Bible Study Commentary
Some cynics say that religion is a crutch for people who fear death. That may sometimes be the case, but it certainly does not apply to those who study the Bible. The Bible does not say much about life after death. It’s really not a book about how to go to heaven or what happens after we die. The Bible is more concerned with how we live in this lifetime, not the next. It is possible to read the entire Bible and conclude that there is no afterlife or resurrection from the dead. In the days of the apostles, a sect of Judaism called the Sadducees did exactly that. They read the Bible, did not see anything about an afterlife, and concluded that there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, no resurrection from the dead. (As Sunday School teachers are quick to quip, “That is why they were Sad-you-see.”)
Another sect of Judaism from the days of the apostles disagreed. They were called the Pharisees. They read the same Torah as the Sadducees, but came to a different conclusion. Though the Torah/ Pentateuch is not textually about the afterlife or how to receive eternal life, the Pharisees found many hints and clues that pointed toward the afterlife and the resurrection from the dead.
There was another sect of Judaism still that did not view the Herodian priests as valid. They are called Ebionites or Nazarines. James (Jacob) the brother of Jesus (Yeshua) is said to be leader of them in the first century.
Many Christians today do not see that Genesis is also a prophetic book. After looking at the last days of Jacob, Joseph and David we then look at the last days of Jesus/ Yeshua and Jacob/ James. The final blessings of the 12 sons in Genesis are some of the most powerful introductions to prophecy in the books of what many call the “Old Testament”.
As we see the prophecies of the future of the 12 tribes, we then see in 1 Kings that as David prepares to leave the 12 tribes’ kingdom to be ruled under King Solomon, they were already divided into 2 armies
—Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah—
Solomon will soon be the last king of a unified Israel until the last days when we see the 2 houses restored that we have studied the last 2 weeks:
Israel, Judah (Two Olive Trees, Two Houses, Two Witnesses) and the Mystery of the Gentile Grafting in
No longer will there be 2 houses, but the 2 houses will unite under King Messiah ben David at the return of Jesus, the Christ (Yeshua haMashiach). This is one of the powerful keys to unlocking prophecy in the Bible. Without understanding that there are 2 houses, it is almost impossible to understand end times, or the “new testament”.
The Lion of Judah
The Torah predicts a warrior-Messiah who will battle against Israel’s enemies and a peaceful Messiah who will bring world peace. The Lion of Judah symbolizes both.
Jacob compared the future victory and ascension of Judah to a lion resting after a kill. He compared Judah’s enemies to the lion’s slain prey. A parallel prophecy in the Torah says the lion
“will not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain” (Numbers 23:24).
Like a sleeping lion, satiated after the kill, Judah will be at peace. Just as the surviving animals would never dare to rouse the slumbering lion, neither will any of the surviving nations dare to challenge Judah again. Rashi explains the prophecies of the lion as referring to the era of King David and King Solomon. The lion tearing the prey symbolizes King David, who made war on Israel’s enemies and subdued them. The lion lying down to rest refers to David’s son King Solomon, who enjoyed an era of peace and prosperity, as Scripture says,
“So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:25).
King David and his son Solomon prefigure the wars of Messiah followed by the peace of the Messianic Era. The lion-prophecies also speak of the time of peace that will come after the wars of Messiah. The Messiah son of David will defeat the enemies of Israel and usher in an era of peace during which no nation will dare rise up against Israel. The people of Israel will enjoy a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity—the Messianic Kingdom.
As the conquering hero who will defeat Judah’s enemies, Yeshua receives the title Lion of the Tribe of Judah:
Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome. (Revelation 5:5)
A lion fears nothing, but everything fears the lion: “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8). This is King Messiah. (Lekach Tov)
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
From the first sentence of John, it is immediately obvious it is on a different level than the Synoptic Gospels. Mark begins his account at the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry, proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew traces the genealogy of Yeshua to Abraham, the beginning of the nation of Israel. Luke’s genealogy digs to the very root of the human family tree to Adam HaRishonֹ, the First Man. John begins with B’resheet, the Beginning, the very origins of the Universe, revealing Mashiach as the embodiment of the Living Torah, the Instrument of all Creation.
While all of the events in John are true, and literally happened, he did not write his Gospel on a literal level. Like the Torah itself, it is not even chronological. John arranged his book to explore Yeshua through the Sod Level. In John 21, the disciples are fishing on the “sea of Tiberius.” In the Bible and in Rabbinic literature, ‘sea’ refers to the nations, or gentiles, as the book of Revelation (also written by John), illustrates,
“He said to me, “The waters which you saw… are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.” Revelation 17:15
It then states that the disciples have been fishing in the darkness, as it says “That night, they caught nothing.” In the morning, Yeshua was revealed upon the seashore. Light represents Messiah,
“God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” There was evening and there was morning, day one.” Genesis 1:5
Yeshua/ Jesus then told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat.” Why the right side and not the left side? The “right side” in the Jewish thought mindset represents mercy, while the left represents judgment. In the Midrash, when God created the Garden of Eden it was on His right, while Gey-hinnom was on his left. The net was then full of fish being drawn out of the waters to the land:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea, and gathered some fish of every kind, which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach. They sat down, and gathered the good into containers, but the bad they threw away. So will it be in the end of the world. The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked from among the righteous. ” Matthew 13:47-51
The net represents the Kingdom of Heaven, drawing his people out of the nations to the land – that is Israel. One of the missions of Messiah is to gather the exiles. Yeshua said to the disciples,
“I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
EPHRAIM AND MENASHE
In our study Jacob says a blessing over Ephraim and Menashe, which forms the basis for the blessing spoken over children on every Sabbath evening, by Jewish believers.
For the Boys: Yesimkha Elokim k’Ephraim v’khi Menashe
“May G-d make you like Ephraim and Manasseh
For the Girls: Yesmeich Elokim k’Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v’Leah
“May G-d make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”
Jacob recounts his history to Joseph,
“Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a congregation of peoples, and will give this land to your seed after you for an everlasting possession.’ Genesis 48:3-4
The phrase in Hebrew for a “congregation of peoples” is the word קְהַל עַמִּים (kahal amim). The Septuagint renders word as συναγωγὰς ἐθνῶν (sunagoge ethnos), a synagogue of peoples. The word kahal was later translated into Greek as ekklesia, which today is often translated as ‘church.’ Today, with theologies based on translation, the “church” has become a separate entity from Israel, and it is even taught that the “church” was born in the book of Acts, chapter 2. Yet, the “church,” that is the mystical body of Israel, existed far before this. Even the King James translation speaks of Moses, being “in the church,”
“This is [Moses], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Acts 7:38
Jacob continues and makes a remarkable declaration,
“Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you into Egypt, are mine. Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, will be mine. Your issue, whom you become the father of after them, will be yours. They will be called after the name of their brothers in their inheritance.” Genesis 48:5-6
Jacob adopted the two sons of Joseph, to be counted among the tribes of Israel. While in Egypt, Joseph married Osnat, the daughter of Poti-phera. Like the wives of Moshe and Boaz, Joseph’s wife was raised in a Gentile world. Ephraim and Menashe, were raised in Egypt apart from Israel.
“Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head… “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked. . . the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads, and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Genesis 48:14-16
The phrase “let them grow into a multitude” in Hebrew is the word וְיִדְגּו (v’yidgu). This is etymologically related to the word for fish, דָּג. The visual picture that the Hebrew is communicating is that the Ephraim and Menashe will teem like a gigantic school of fish. Jacob them speaks of Ephraim that he “shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen 48:19). This phrase translates the Hebrew, מְלֹא־הַגֹּויִם – m’lo hagoyim. This is the same exact Hebrew phrase that Paul uses when he says,
“For I don’t desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won’t be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:25-26
It is the author’s opinion that Ephraim symbolically also represents the non-Israel believers on a deeper level, and not necessarily a literal bloodline via the Ten Lost Tribes. Taken this way, this passage beautifully illustrates the relationship of Israel, Jews and non-Jews in the body of the Messiah, which may be the most controversial topic in the Messianic movement today, dividing it between Two-House and Non-Two House movements. Attempting to connect oneself via genetics to Israel diminishes the work of the Messiah, who has made the non-Jewish believer an adopted son or daughter of Israel. Like Ephraim and Menashe, Gentile believers have a special connection to Israel though Yosef. Isaiah 56 says,
“Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself HaShem, speak, saying, ‘Hashem will surely separate me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’ For thus says HaShem, ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant: to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the foreigners who join themselves to HaShem, to minister to him, and to love the name of HaShem, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Ad-nai HaShem, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, ‘Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own who are gathered.’ Isaiah 56:3-8
Yeshua quotes this passage,
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own, and Im known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
Paul explains this in Ephesians chapter 2. It appears that Ezekiel prophesied of this,
“It shall happen, that you shall divide it by lot for an inheritance to you and to the aliens who live among you, who shall father children among you; and they shall be to you as the native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. It shall happen, that in what tribe the stranger lives, there you shall give him his inheritance, says Ad-nai HaShem.” Ezekiel 47:22-23
Paul explains these ideas in Ephesians 2,
“Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called circumcision, (in the flesh, made by hands); that you were at that time separate from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Messiah. For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition…”Ephesians 2:11-14
He also explains to the adopted children, the non-Jews, not to boast against the natural branches (Romans 11:8), but to support them. Unfortunately, throughout history Christianity has done just the opposite, and many in the Two-House movement have followed suit. Non-Jewish believers should support the Jewish people and have nothing but gratitude and honor for them, as they are brothers, but also as Yeshua said to the Samaritan woman,
“You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22
This Week’s Hidden Aleph-Tav’s
In the Hebrew Scriptures there are hidden aleph-tav’s [את] that aren’t usually translated into English. But they are very enlightening when we read them in the Hebrew, especially because Jesus/ Yeshua said He WAS the aleph-tav. These are the ones we find in this week’s study:
As Jacob’s (Israel’s) life is coming to a close Joseph brings him his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim for him to bless. In Gen 48:1 and 13 we see that both Manasseh and Ephraim belong to את. In Gen 48:5 Jacob tells Joseph that Manasseh and Ephraim are now his sons and in verse 11 Jacob reveals that Elohim has revealed to him what will happen to את seed, his descendants. When Jacob lays his hands on Manasseh and Ephraim in Gen 48:14 to bless them, Jacob’s hands are now את Yeshua’s hands as Jacob crosses his forearms making the sign of the Paleo-Hebrew Tav (covenant) and grafts Joseph’s two sons into the covenant tribes of Israel. In Gen 49:1 it is את Yeshua that reveals to the sons of Jacob what will befall them in the last days and it is interesting to notice through the prophecy where the few את with adjoining Hebrew letters are placed and their possible meaning. In chapter 50 it is interesting to see that the word father is used 13 times to describe Jacob (Israel) after his death and 6 times there is an את in front of his title reflecting respect to Jacob’s authority and covenant position relative to Yeshua the Messiah as Father of the 12 tribes.
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Hebrew “Word of the Week” by Hebrew4Christians.com
Greek “Greek of the Week”
“Moses said to the children of Israel, “Behold, Godhas called by name Betzalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of workmanship; and to make skillful works, to work in gold, in silver, in brass, in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all kinds of skillful workmanship.” Exodus 35:30-33
Betzalel was the builder of the Tabernacle on earth. He was of the Tribe of Judah, and filled with the Spirit of God. This verse connects with a prophecy regarding the Messiah,
“A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of God will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of God.” Isaiah 11:1-2
Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-40 CE) makes this statement regarding Betzalel,
“…God also calls Betzalel by name, and says that “He will give him wisdom and knowledge, and that He will make him the builder and the architect of all things which are in his tabernacle” . . . Now, Betzalel, being interpreted, means God in his shadow. But the Shadow of God is his Word, which he used like an instrument when he was making the world. And this Shadow, as it were, is the archetype of all other things. . . . “And God made man according to the image of God,” as the Image was modeled according to God, man was modeled according to the Image, which thus received the power and character of the model.” Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, II:31:95
Betzalel the son of Uri (My Light) was a shadow (tzal) of things to come. The Talmud makes the observation:
“Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: Bezalel knew how to combine the letters by which the heavens and earth were created. It is written here, And He hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom and in understanding, and in knowledge, and it is written elsewhere, HaShem by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens, and it is also written, By His knowledge the depths were broken up.” Berakhot 55a, Soncino Press Edition
It is fascinating to note that the Messiah is called a “carpenter” in Judaism,
“And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he said to me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” Then YHVH showed me four craftsmen. And I said, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one raised his head. And these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it.” Zechariah 2:13 (Hebrew), 1:19-21 (English)
The Talmud comments on this unusual passage,
“And the L-rd showed me four craftsmen. Who are these ‘four craftsmen’? — R. Hana b. Bizna citing R. Simeon Hasida replied: “The Messiah the son of David, the Messiah the son of Joseph, Elijah and the Righteous Priest.” Sukkah 52b, Soncino Press Edition
ארבעה חרשים. נגרים היודעים לנסר את הקרנות ורבותינו פירשו במסכת סוכה מי הם
“four craftsmen: Carpenters who know how to saw the horns. And our Rabbis explained in Tractate Sukkah (52b) who they are.” Rashi on Zechariah 2, Chabad.org
In the Gospels, the question is asked,
“Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Miriam, and brother of Jacob, Yosi, Judah, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” They were offended at him.” Mark 6:3
The Gospel of Matthew adds an interesting detail,
“Isn’t he the carpenter’s son?” Matthew 13:55
Yeshua is revealed to be the carpenter, the son of the carpenter. The Greek word for carpenter in the Gospels is the word tekton(τέκτων), which literally means ‘builder’, and is related to the word, “architecture” and “architect,” the ‘master builder.’
Proverbs chapter 8 reveals an amazing secret about the nature of the Torah:
“YHVH possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his deeds of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth existed. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he set a circle on the surface of the deep, when he established the clouds above, when the springs of the deep became strong, when he gave to the sea its boundary, that the waters should not violate his commandment, when he marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was the craftsman by his side. I was a delight day by day, always rejoicing before him, rejoicing in his whole world. My delight was with the sons of men.” Proverbs 8:22-31
Based on this remarkable passage, Chazal  say that the name of the Torah is רֵאשִׁית Reisheet, or Beginning, as it states,
יי קָנָנִי רֵאשִׁית דַּרְכֹּו
“YHVH possessed me, the Beginning of His Way” Proverbs 8:22
Using the Jewish principles of interpretation, the word “Beginning” links to Genesis 1:1,
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹקים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָֽרֶץ
“In the Beginning, G־d created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
The letter beit, which begins B‘resheet, can mean “in” or “with.” In fact, this is exactly how the Jerusalem Targum renders the passage,
“In wisdom (be-hukema) the L-rd created.” Jerusalem Targum
Therefore, the interpretation follows that if name of the Torah is “Beginning,” then the passage may be interpreted,
‘With the Torah, YHVH created the heavens and the earth.”
This statement is source for the Johannine Prologue,
“In the beginning (בְּרֵאשִׁית) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1
In the Zohar, based on the Midrash, a fascinating statement is spoken by the Torah,
“The Torah proclaims: I was by Him an architect, through me He created the world!” Zohar II:161a, Soncino Press Edition
The Torah is the Instrument of creation. Here in Proverbs 8, the Torah describes itself as the “Uman”, or Craftsman,
וָאֶהְיֶה אֶצְלֹו אָמֹון
“…then I was the craftsman by his side.” Proverbs 8:30
The Midrash Rabbah describes this multifaceted word אומן (amon) as a nursling, covered, hidden, great, and craftsman. The Artscroll commentary to Proverbs comments on the word ‘nursling,’
“I was a nursing beside him. The Torah was like God’s beloved child, nurtured by Him and His source of constant delight (Metzudos).” Artscroll Commentary to Proverbs 8:30, Volume I, Mesorah Publishers, pg 156
Genesis Rabbah says,
“R’ Hoshayah the Great opened his discourse on our passage with the following exposition: The Torah describes its relationship with God before the advent of Creation: I was then His “amon”…The word “amon” is to be understood in the sense of “uman” אומן, a craftsman…Thus in this verse the Torah declares, “I was the craftsman’s tool, so to speak, in the hands of the Holy One, blessed is He, through which He created the world.” Artscroll Genesis Rabbah 1:1, Mesorah Publishers, pg.3
R’ Aryeh Kaplan comments,
“The Torah is Wisdom, and is therefore the “head” of creation . . . It might be thought that the Torah was created only to rectify creation as it already exists. If this were so, the Torah would have been created after the earth. But actually, the Torah was the blueprint of creation, and therefore preceded it.” Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, the Bahir, pg. 96
Michael Munk elucidates the concept of the Torah in the Wisdom of the Hebrew Alefbet,
“The sum total of human knowledge derives from the Torah because the universe is a product of Torah which is the blueprint of the world…When His Ineffable Word took physical form, heaven and earth became the clothing for the word of God which infuses Creation, and without which Creation would not continue to exist. The spiritual Torah which preceded the world became clothed in ink and parchment…the wisdom of God took for the form of the 613 commandments. But the precepts are not isolated phenomena; they are all interrelated aspects of a single Torah, like the organs and vessels of a single human body to which the totality of the commandments are likened.” The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Artscroll, Michael L. Munk, pg. 47
“The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
The Zohar says explains the unity between YHVH and the Torah,
“…the Holy One and the Torah are one.” Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 60a, Soncino Press Edition
The Zohar also explains that the Torah is the Name of God, and “He and his Name are one,”
“For the Torah is the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He. As the Name of the Holy One is engraved in the Ten Words (creative utterances) of Creation, so is the whole Torah engraved in the Ten Words (Decalogue), and these Ten Words are the Name of the Holy One, and the whole Torah is thus one Name, the Holy Name of God Himself. Blessed is he who is worthy of her, the Torah, for he will be worthy of the Holy Name. Said R. Jose: “This means that he will be worthy of the Holy One Himself, as He and His Name are one. Blessed be His Name for ever and ever. Amen.” Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 90b, Soncino Press Edition
Yeshua/ Jesus says,
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
The word “Torah” is one of the titles given to Zeir Anpin,
אָמַר רִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, אִינּוּן נָפְקוּ לְמַדְבְּרָא לְאִסְתַּכְּלָא, קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא נָטַל זִיוָא יְקָרָא דִּילֵיהּ מִתַּמָּן, וְאִינּוּן אָזְלוּ לְאִסְתַּכְּלָא בֵּיהּ, וְלָא אַשְׁכְּחוּהוּ. וְאוֹלִיפְנָא דְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא תּוֹרָה אִקְרֵי, וְאֵין מַיִם אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה, וְאֵין תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא
“Rabbi Elazar said, ‘They went out into the wilderness to gaze and perceive, but the Holy One, blessed be He, removed His precious splendor from there. They went in order to conceive Him, but did not find Him. We have learned that the Holy One, blessed be He, is called ‘Torah’. Therefore, water is Torah, and Torah is the Holy One, blessed be He.” Zohar, Shemot, Beshalach, Zohar.com
THE TABERNACLE OF THE UNIVERSE
Chabad.org makes a startling observation in regarding the Universe and its relationship to the Mishkan, the Tabernacle,
“No less than 13 chapters in the Book of Exodus are filled with the details of the Sanctuary’s construction, from the dimensions of every pillar to the colors in every tapestry. In contrast, the Torah devotes one chapter to its account of the creation of the universe and three chapters to the revelation at Mount Sinai.” Chabad.org, The Anatomy of a Dwelling
The Midrash understands the Mishkan(Temple) as microcosmic universe. Numbers Rabbah 12:13 brilliantly weaves the two together with the following verses:
The Bible does not need to elaborate the the details of Creation in Genesis, because using gezera shavah, the details are hidden in the Tabernacle. As Betzalel oversaw the construction the Tabernacle below, he and the Tabernacle are a shadow of what happened above.
Exodus 31:1 says that Betzalel built the Aron HaBrit, the Ark of the Covenant,
וַיַּעַשׂ בְּצַלְאֵל אֶת־הָאָרֹן
“Betzalel made the Ark…” Exodus 31:1
The Baal HaTurim comments,
“The name Betzalel is not mentioned in conjunction with any of the furnishings [of the Mishkan], except regarding the Ark. This teaches us that he was [as his name implies] בצל אל, in God’s Shadow, i.e. he knew the secret of the Ark and of the Chariot, for the Ark corresponds to the Throne of Glory.” Artscroll Baal HaTurim Chumash Exodus 37:1, pg 948
On earth, the Tabernacle was built by Betzalel just as the universe was built by God through the Torah. Betzalel was the tekton of the earthly Tabernacle, and he is the earthly shadow of the heavenly reality. The Zohar makes the fascinating statement commenting on “Betzalel”,
“The son of Uri – the son of primeval light (ohr) . . . The son of Hur – the son of absolute freedom (herut); or the son of the whitest (havra) of all colors. And he is appropriately of the tribe of Judah.” Zohar, Vol II:152a, Soncino Press Edition
The numerical value (gematria) of Betzalel equals 153. Interestingly, there are 153 verses in Parashat Noach. The Artscroll Chumash comments on the Masoretic note:
קנ”ג פסוקים. בצלאל סימן. אבי יסכה לוט סימן
“This Masoretic note means: There are 153 verses in the Sidrah, numerically corresponding to mnemonics, בצלאל , Bezalel, and אבי יסכה לוט, father of Iscah and Lot. The name alludes to the Sidrah of Noach in two ways: (a) The name בצלאל compounded of בצל אל, in the protective shelter of God, an allusion to Noah and his family in the ark (R’ David Feinstein); and (b) just as Noah was ordered to build a ark, to house his family aand thus preserve humanity from the ravages of the flood, so was Bezalel the son of Uri instructed to build a תבה ark, to house the Tablets of the Ten Commandments.” The Stone Edition Chumash, Mesorah Publishers, pg. 52
The secret of the 153 fish is revealed in the King Messiah, who is calling the fisherman (the disciples) to cast the net (the Gospel of the Kingdom) to bring the fish (the exiles, Jews and non-Jews) back to the Land (Israel), out of the seas (nations), to be together on the seashore amidst the grains of sand (the sons of Abraham), to inherit the land, as it is written,
“…Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish. Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad..” John 11:49-54
Yeshua therefore is the Heavenly Betzalel, who is gathering the exiles of the houses of Israel and Judah, and inviting the nations to grasp onto the tzitzit of the Jewish people and follow him to the Land grafting us in to the whole house of Israel. He is calling us all up to His Holy Mountain, that every person who desires the Kingdom of Heaven will become a supernatural stone within the Heavenly Temple, as He is the Tekton(τέκτων), the Architect, the Builder of the Tabernacle assembling all the stones to fit together whose purpose is to bring Heaven to earth.
“Putting away therefore all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speaking, as newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that YHVH is gracious: coming to him, a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, precious. You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Yeshua the Messiah.” 1 Peter 2:1-5
When He calls us be the stones of the Heavenly Temple, this also means He calls to become His sons,
“… as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
The Heavenly Torah, the Architect, is not only revealed as the Instrument of the Builder, but also the Restorer. Through his merit, he has accomplished and will complete the ultimate tikkun olam, the Repair of the World. He prepares a place for us, that is Pardes, the Paradise of YHVH. The exile is coming to an end, and redemption is about to be revealed. We must open our eyes, and look as John the Immerser proclaimed,
הִנֵּה שֵׂה הָאֱלֹקים הַנֹּשֵׂא חַטַּאת הָעוֹלָם
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
The words “in days to come” translate the Hebrew “b’acharit hayamim”, that is, in the “last days”, prophetically referring to the end of the current age and the onset of the Messianic Era. As Yaakov speaks his blessing over the twelve tribes, he settles upon Yosef, of whom he says,
“Joseph[‘s]…arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel….” Genesis 49:22-26, ESV
Each blessing of the twelve tribes is a gate, a doorway to an entire universe to explore, and beyond the scope of this article. Therefore we will zoom in and focus on the specific words, “the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.”
E PLURIBUS UNUM
Unless you’re into geology, rocks and stones are not exactly interesting. However, throughout Scripture, there are many examples of “Rocks” and “Stones”, scattered (or perhaps precisely positioned) from Genesis to Revelation, each linking to fascinating concepts embedded in the text. There are many Hebrew words for ‘Rock’ or ‘Stone’ such as:
Even (pronounced “eh-vehn”) – אבן – Stone
Tzur – צור – Rock
Sela – סלה – Rock
Rosh Pinah – ראש פנה – Cornerstone
One of the earliest examples occurs right before Yaakov dreams of the Ladder of Jacob. The Torah says,
“He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place (וַיִּקַּח מֵאַבנֵי הַמָּקוֹם), he put it under his head and lay down in that place…Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone (אבן) that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.” Genesis 28:11
When Jacob begins to rest, he takes of the stones (plural), and places them under his head. When he awakes, he takes of the Stone (singular). In this transition from plural to singular, the Rabbis unlocked an interesting connection,
“The first verse indicates that Jacob took several stones, whereas the latter verse indicates that he took only one stone. Rabbi Yitzḥak says: This teaches that all those stones gathered to one place and each one said: Let this righteous man place his head upon me. And it was taught: And all of them were absorbed into one large rock.” Chullin 91b, The William Davidson Talmud, Sefaria.org
Out of the many stones, YHVH fused them into one. One interpretation is that there were twelve stones, each representing a tribe, that when fused into one, represent Israel. Stones representing the tribes is a recurrent theme in the Torah, and is beautifully represented in the Choshen Mishpat, the Breastplate of Judgment. According to the Temple Institute, there are over 30 different opinions as to what these stones actually were. Modern Bible translations use best guesses to identify the stones. “After many years of exhaustive research, the scholars of the Temple Institute have come to a final and conclusive identification of the twelve stones of the breastplate of the High Priest”. The Twelve Stones are as listed follows on the Temple Institute website using the conventional names,:
Ruby – Reuben – Red
Jade – Shimon – Green
Agate – Levi – Red, White and Black
Carbuncle – Judah – Teal
Lapis-Lazuli – Yissachar – Blue
Quartz Crystal – Zebulun – Clear
Turquoise – Dan – Blue
Amethyst – Naftali – Purple
Agate – Gad – Grey
Aquamarine – Asher – Blue-Green
Onyx – Yosef – Black
Opal – Binyamin – All colors
These twelve stones in the Choshen Mishpat are the same twelve stones in the New Jerusalem, and the Choshen’s square design forms somewhat of a lower-dimensional picture of the future Holy City. The Zohar comments,
“He took of the stones of the place. . . – precious stones, fine pearls, twelve supernal stones, as is written: twelve stones (Joshua 4:3), underneath which lie twelve thousand, myriads of hewn stones, all stones.” Zohar, Va-Yetse, Volume II, translated by Daniel C. Matt, Pritzker Edition, pg. 323
In the Choshen (Breastplate) we see a connection to Mashiach via gematria,
חשן = משיח = 358
Choshen = Mashiach = 358
With this in mind, let us examine when Yaakov awoke,
“So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.” Genesis 28:18
This is the first mention of “anointing” in the Torah. The word Mashiach, Messiah means the “Anointed One”. Thus this Unified Stone has a special connection to the Messiah, and is itself a “Mashiach” of sorts. Throughout the Torah, we will see that many of the different “rocks” and “stones” are actually all one. We will only begin to scratch the surface of this Stone.
The ‘Mashiach Stone’ of Yaakov is incredibly special. Besides the fact that is the yechida of the stones of Israel, the aggadic-midrashic work, Pirkei de’Rebbi Eliezer cited by the Chizkuni, says that this was the Even Shetiyah (The Foundation Stone),
“He took the stone” according to the sages in Pirkey de’Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 35, this stone was the one known in later generations as the even shetiyah symbolising the navel of the globe a mystical stone at the site where the Holy Ark had stood in the Holy of Holies during the first Temple.” Chizkuni on Gen 28, Sefaria.org
This stone exists today. The Even Shetyiah is the stone located under the ‘Dome of the Rock’ on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Even Shetiyah (Foundation Stone) on the Temple Mount. Click for Full Resolution.
R’ Yehoshua Starrett comments,
“The Foundation Stone is reality’s singularity point – it symbolizes the Center of Creation.” The Inner Temple, Breslov Research Institute, pg 47
According to tradition, it was this stone that was the first rock in the planetary formation of the Earth. This is also the location of the Kodesh HaKodashim, the Holy of Holies, and the place of the Aron HaBrit, the Ark of the Covenant. This is the site of where Abraham (nearly) sacrificed Yitzhak, as the R’ Hezekiah ben Manoach, known as the Chizkuni says,
“According to tradition these stones had been part of the altar on which his father Yitzchok had been bound on the occasion of the Akeydah.” Chizkuni on Genesis 28:11, Sefaria.org
The word “Even” for Stone is made up of three letters, אבן – (Alef-Beit-Nun). Rebbe Nachman, following the Rashbam, comments that the word is a combination of the words “Av” (Father) and “Ben” Son,
“This is (Genesis 49:24) “…from there the Shepherd, the evan (the Rock) of Israel.” Onkelos translates [“EVaN” as a composite of] AV and VeN (father and son). This is the complete-statement: father and son as one. For a half-statement corresponds to the son alone, but the complete-statement is father and son as one. Everything is encompassed there, and through this one can come to the concept of shepherds, as above. Hence this is the meaning of, “from there the Shepherd, the EVaN of Israel.” R’ Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan I, 22:10, Volume 3, published by the Breslov Research Institute, pg 381
Knowing that the Even Shetiyah is the foundation of the world, we can now read Proverbs in a new light,
צַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם
“The Tzaddik is the Foundation of the World.” Proverbs 10:25
The “Tzaddik” (Righteous One) has a special connection to the Even Shetiyah. It is in his merit that the world stands.
When building a structure of stone, the most important stone is the cornerstone, called in Hebrew, Rosh Pinah. “All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure…the rite of laying a cornerstone is an important cultural component of eastern architecture and metaphorically in sacred architecture generally”. In the Temple, the cornerstone is incredibly important, as is referenced in Zechariah,
“Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace חן, grace חן to it!” Zechariah 4:7
These doubled shouts of chen, chen (grace, grace) are mirrored in Parashat Noach, where the name Noach is doubled. According to Sefer Chizonyot, this verse has messianic applications. Likewise, Midrash Tanchuma links this verse to the Messiah,
“A song of ascents. I will lift up mine eyes to the mountains (Ps. 121:1). Scripture alludes here to the verse Who are you, O great mountain before. Zerubbabel? You will become a plain (Zech. 4:7). This verse refers to the Messiah, the descendant of David. Why was he called a great mountain? Because he will be greater than the patriarchs, as is said: Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13). He shall be exalted above Abraham; lifted up above Isaac; and shall be very high above Jacob. He shall be exalted above Abraham, concerning whom it is said: I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord (Gen. 14:22); lifted up above Moses, of whom it is said: That you should say unto me: Carry them in your bosom (Num. 11:12); and shall be very high like the ministering angels, concerning whom it is said: As for their wings, they were high (Ezek. 1:18). Hence Scripture says: Who are you, O great mountain?” Midrash Tanchuma, Siman 14, translated by Samuel Berman, Sefaria.org
The exaltedness of the Messiah in this passage is stunning. He is above Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. Not only that, but higher than Moshe and the ministering angels! The midrash Pesikta Rabbati explains,
“It is taught, moreover, that in the month of Nisan the Patriarchs will arise and say to the Messiah: Ephraim, our true Messiah, even though we are your forbears, you are greater than we are because you suffered for the iniquities of our children…for the sake of Israel you became a laughingstock and a derision among the nations of the earth. And you sat in darkness, in thick darkness, and your eyes saw no light, and your skin cleaved to your bones, and your body was as dry as a piece of wood; and your eyes grew dim from fasting, and your strength was dried up like a potsherd (Psalm 22) – all these afflictions on account of our children…be content with what you have done, for you have made content the mind of your Maker and our minds also. . . . the Holy One blessed be He, will lift the Messiah to the heaven of heavens and will cloak him in something of the splendor of His own glory…” Pesikta Rabbati 37.1, translated by R’ William G. Braude, Yale University Press, Volume 2, pgs 685-686
In the Midrash, Avraham Avinu becomes the Foundation Stone for the people of Israel,
“…when the Holy One, blessed be He, saw Abraham arise in the future, he said, “Behold I have found petra (stone) to build upon and to lay the foundation of the world.” Thus he called Abraham “Rock” (צור) as it says in Isaiah 51:2, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn,” and he called Israel “rocks, צורים (tzurim).” Yalkut Shimoni II.766, cited in Torah Club, Chronicles of the Messiah, Volume 3, pg. 791
John the Immerser seems to allude to this when he says,
“Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance. Do not think that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Avraham as our father’! For I tell you that from these stones God can raise up children for Avraham.” Matthew 3:8, TLV
In Hebrew, the word play is evident:
Do not say, “We have Avraham as avinu (our father)! For I tell you that from these avanim (stones) God can raise up banim (sons) to Avraham.”
It is not enough to simply be halachically Jewish with an outward circumcision. Those who are Jewish must be Jewish outside and inside. For non-Jews, they too must repent to be connected to Abraham. Our heritage is not an automatic pass to live however we wish. Everyone – Jew and non-Jew must live righteous lives, founded in teshuvah (repentance). Yeshua also seemingly quotes this Midrash, applying it to Shimon Kefa, Simon Petros,
“When Yeshua came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Immerser, others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He said, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Yeshua said to him, “Blessed are you, Shimon bar Yonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven! And I also tell you that you are Peter (Rock), and upon this rock I will build My community; and the gates of Sheol will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:13-18
The word “Petros” meaning Rock, has passed into English, with words like “petrification” i.e. the process of turning into stone. David says in Psalms,
אבן מאסו הבונים היתה לראשׁ פנה
“This is the gate of HaShem; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is YHVH’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalms 118:20-23
According to the Targum, and the Talmud, this verse refers to King David,
“The boy the builders rejected; he was among the sons of Jesse and he was privileged to be appointed as king and ruler. “This is from HaShem,” said the builders; “It is marvelous before us,” said the sons of Jesse.” Aramaic Targum to Psalms 118:22
Like Yosef , David was rejected by his brothers. Rashi comments on Micah 5, and connects this verse,
ממך לי יצא. משיח בן דוד וכה”א (תהילים קי״ח:כ״ב) אבן מאסו הבונים
“From you shall emerge for Me: the Messiah, son of David, and so Scripture says (Ps. 118:22): “The stone the builders had rejected became a cornerstone.” Rashi on Micah 5, cited at Chabad.org
This gives us the prophetic blueprint with what will happen to the Messiah. According to Jewish tradition, Mashiach ben Yosef will be concealed from his brothers and Mashiach ben David will be rejected of men. Isaiah says,
וְהָיָה לְמִקְדָּשׁ וּלְאֶ֣בֶן נֶגֶף וּלְצוּר מִכְשׁוֹל לִשְׁנֵי בָתֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְפַח וּלְמוֹקֵשׁ לְיוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃
“And he will become a sanctuary (mikdash) and a stone of offense (even negef) and a rock of stumbling (tzur michshol) to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Isaiah 8:14
Analyzing the verse, we know that this Stone will be a Sanctuary, but also offensive and cause Israel to stumble. Notice the words “tzur michshol” (stone of stumbling). Interestingly, the Rambam, R’ Moshe ben Maimon, in his epic Mishneh Torah, discusses Yeshua in a negative fashion, explaining that he tried to become the Messiah but was killed. He then says coincidentally, speaking of Yeshua,
?וְכִי יֵשׁ מִכְשׁוֹל גָּדוֹל מִזֶּה
“Can there be a greater stumbling block (michshol) than this one?” Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim u’Milchamot,
Later in the book of Isaiah, he says,
לָכֵ֗ן כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי ה׳ הִנְנִי יִסַּד בְּצִיּוֹן אָבֶן אֶבֶן בֹּחַן פִּנַּת יִקְרַת מוּסָד מוּסָּד הַֽמַּאֲמִין לֹא יָחִישׁ׃
’Therefore thus says the Lord HaShem, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” Isaiah 28:16, NASB
We see the following words used in description of this foundation stone, the term “Even Bohan” (Stone of Bohan) is referenced in Joshua 15:6 and 18:17 as a boundary marker between the territories of Judah and Benjamin. This stone in Isaiah serves as a symbol, of placing trust in something tried, tested, and unmovable. The New Testament fuses the verses in Isaiah into one, applying this tried and tested stone to Yeshua of Nazareth,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:33, ESV
A few years ago, on social media, an anti-missionary commented on how Paul took this verse out of context, in his application to Yeshua. He was quickly pointed to a source from the Talmud that destroyed his position. The source cited was as follows,
“Judah and Hezekiah, the sons of R. Hiyya, once sat at a table with Rabbi and uttered not a word. Whereupon he said: ‘Give the young men plenty of strong wine, so that they may say something.’ When the wine took effect, they began by saying: ‘The son of David cannot appear before the two ruling houses in Israel shall have come to an end, viz., the Exilarchate, in Babylon and the Patriarchate in Palestine, for it is written, ‘And he shall be for a Sanctuary, for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both houses of Israel.’ Thereupon he [Rabbi] exclaimed: ‘You throw thorns in my eyes, my children!’ At this, R. Hiyya [his disciple] remarked: ‘Master, be not angered, for the numerical value of the letters of yayin is seventy, and likewise the letters of sod: When yayin [wine] goes in, sod [secrets] comes out.” Sanhedrin 38a, Soncino Press Edition
It is beyond the scope of this article to analyze this passage, but suffice to say that the Talmud records the passage as referring to the Messiah. This illustrates a larger problem within the two religious worlds of Judaism and Christianity, a problem shared equally on both sides:
On the Christian side of the equation, most Christians do not know what the Talmud is. They have never been exposed to, nor educated regarding the Jewish sources and their relation to the New Testament. For those who are aware of the Talmud, most of their knowledge is based on second-hand sources, oftentimes from anti-Semitic websites. Very few have actually read or studied the Talmud, but automatically assume that it is an “evil” book. It is not simply a book, it is a compendium of books, but even far beyond that. The Talmud is an ocean, an ocean of tradition, containing the soil from which the New Testament itself sprang. Educated Christian scholars have studied it, from John Gill to Franz Delitzsch, to Strack and Billerbeck, and many into the modern era. Their studies have been invaluable and have advanced New Testament studies greatly, unlocking the text and revealing it as fully rooted in Second Temple Judaism.
Almost exactly parallel to the Christian world’s relationship to the Talmud, the Jewish world seems to be in the exact same boat when it comes to the New Testament. Most do not even consider it relevant to their faith, and those that have engaged it have done so from a critical, polemic point of view. However, Jewish scholars from Joseph Klausner to David Flusser to Amy Jill-Levine have penetrated its words, revealing the threads that comprise the Jewish tapestry of the New Testament.
This creates problems for those who wish to maintain the status-quo of the Berlin Wall separating Judaism and Yeshua. One must be true to oneself, and logically consistent, free from sinat chinam, baseless hatred. We must accept truth no matter from what source it comes. Therefore, if the Talmud says “A” and the New Testament says “A” – then the Christian must accept that the Talmud is correct on the point. The Jew must also acknowledge the New Testament is correct on the matter. Now compound this principle of consistency by the overwhelming number of parallels found between the New Testament and the Talmud. In fact, it may be possible to reconstruct an entire “New Testament” solely from the parallels found in Jewish literature. When R’ Ignaz Lichtenstein picked up the New Testament, and began to read its words, he commented,
“Not the half had been told me of the greatness, power and glory of this Book, formerly a sealed book to me. All seemed so new, arid yet it did me good, like the sight of an old friend who has laid aside his dusty, travel-worn garments, and appears in festive attire, like a bridegroom in wedding robes, or a bride adorned with her jewels.” R’ Yitzhak Lichtenstein, cited at the Yinon Blog, R’ Joshua Brumbach
Returning to the ‘Stone that The Builders Rejected’, we must ask what is the identity of the “builders”? The Talmud refers to “builders” as the “disciples of the wise”,
“R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanina: The disciples of the wise increase peace in the world, as it says, And all your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. (Isa. LIV, 13) Read not banayik [your children] but bonayik [your builders]. Great peace have they that love Your law, and there is no stumbling for them. (Ps. 119:165)” Berachot 64a, Soncino Press Edition
Based on this, it appears that Tikkunei HaZohar states,
“[So too,] about the heavenly beasts it is said (Isaiah 6:3) “One (zeh) would call to the other (zeh), Holy! Holy! Holy! The Lord of Hosts! His presence fills the earth.” Certainly, they are called “zeh and zeh“, just like the two sides of the tablets of Torah, inscribed on one side and the other. These are inscribed tablets of stone, and that stone is the Foundation Stone from which the earth is formed. And this is the pupil of the eye, of which it is written (Zechariah 3:9) “A single stone with seven eyes.” These are the seven skins of the eye, of which it is said (Psalms 119:164) “I praise you seven times a day.” And this is the Holy Regency, as it is written, (Psalms 118:22) “The stone that the builders rejected will be the chief cornerstone.” Who are these ‘builders’? They are they masters of the Mishnah who built structures in the world, and the deciders of law (Halachah) who rejected Her in exile. [Therefore,] it is written of Her, “will be the chief cornerstone. For she is Moses’ Halachah from Sinai, received by Moses. Although Her pupil was black, through it and from it will the Holy One light up the world, for He will illuminate Her.” Tikkunei Zohar 146b, Sefaria.org
This is a commentary on the Sod level of the Torah, and is not literal. Tikkunei Zohar appears to build upon the previous traditions that King David was rejected by his brothers. In the language and symbolism of the Zohar, King David represents the lower Shekhinah, the Sefirah Malchut. This is also symbolized by the Moon, the Bride, the Oral Torah and Rachel. Ultimately, it is puzzling that it says the builders were the Masters of the Mishnah, the leadership, who rejected the Cornerstone. This strangely agrees with what Shimon Kefa said in Acts,
“This Yeshua is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Acts 4:11
All of this is to fulfill the pattern of Yosef and David, who were rejected by their brothers. Moshe, too, was rejected by the leadership of Israel at times. Yeshua says,
“But he looked directly at them (the chief priests and scribes) and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Luke 20:17-18, cf Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10
Like the Even Shetiyah, the Rosh Pinah in the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, is an important piece. It essentially is the equivalent of a miraculous beam in the Tabernacle, which was a part that held the entire structure together, unifying all of the different parts, fusing it into one.
A STONE CUT WITHOUT HANDS
In the famous story of David versus Goliath, David picks up five smooth stones,
וַיִּבחַר־לוֹ חֲמִשָּׁה חַלֻּקֵי־אֲבָנִים
“Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones (chamisha chalukei avanim) from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine…And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.” 1 Samuel 17:40, 49
With a single stone, King David destroyed the enemy of Israel. The word for ‘five’ in Hebrew is chamisha, which is like the word Chumash, which is a reference to the Five Books of the Torah. When Israel entered into the land, they faced an entire army of Goliaths, giants in the land of Canaan, including Sichon and Og. The giants blocking entry to the land represent the Galut, and the kingdoms of the world.
In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which none could interpret. Unlike Pharoah before him, he refused to tell the details of the dream, yet wanted his wise men to interpret it! Like Yosef before him, Daniel was exiled to a foreign land, brought before the king reveal the interpretation. After praying with his three friends, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, YHVH revealed the dream to Daniel. Daniel spoke to the king,
“You looked, O king, and behold, there before you stood a huge statue—an enormous and dazzling image, whose appearance was awesome. The 1) head of that statue was of pure gold, 2) its breast and its arms of silver, 3) its belly and its thighs of bronze, 4) its legs of iron, and 5) its feet partly iron and partly clay. While you were watching, a stone was cut out, but not by hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from summer threshing-floors that the wind blows away. Not a trace of them could be found. Then the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:31-35
The different parts of the statue are interpreted by Daniel as follows,
“You (Nebuchadnezzar) are the head of gold. Now after you another kingdom will arise, one inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over all the earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron shatters and breaks everything—and just as iron smashes everything, so will it shatter and crush all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly potter’s clay and partly iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the strength of the iron, for you saw the iron mixed with clay.” Daniel 2:38-41
The first four elements are generally agreed upon in Biblical interpretation, the fifth part is a bit more mysterious,
Gold Head – Babylon
Silver Chest and Arms – Medo-Persia
Bronze Belly and Upper Legs – Greece
Iron Lower Legs – Rome
Mixed Iron and Clay Feet and Toes – Final Kingdom, which is an extension of Rome, but a mixture of weaker nations
Regarding this final kingdom, the Artscroll Commentary to Daniel says,
“This refers to the distant end of the divided kingdom, just like the toes are the ends of the feet. . . Both camps will include strong nations and weak nations. . . The different nations will intermarry with each other, but these intermarriages will not bring about a blending of the different ethnic, racial and religious divisions. Each group will retain its distinctive features, just like iron, which does not blend with earthenware (Rashi, Ibn Ezra). Though they will intermarry, this will not cause them to love one another. There will still be hatred and strife among these nations.” (R’ Saadiah).” Daniel, Artscroll Tanach Series, Mesorah Publications, Ltd., pgs. 108-109
This commentary is stunning, because that is exactly what is happening in the world now. The Western world, which is an extension of Rome (Iron), is certainly ethnically mixed together with the East, yet is so divided across political, religious and racial lines. The divisions are not healing, they are worsening, increasing the evil of racism and hatred. The Ibn Ezra says the Fourth Kingdom is actually that of Ishmael (Islam), and that Rome is part of the the Third Kingdom. While he appears to be incorrect in this, he is not totally wrong, as it appears this mixed kingdom may be part of two elements that do not blend, that is Edom (Christianity or the West) and Ishmael (Islam representing the East). The East has experienced massive destabilization from Africa, Syria, Iraq to Burma has led to numerous refugee crises, causing a massive influx of immigration into the West. To be clear, we are not xenophobic, we are merely pointing out the facts. The fact that we have to clarify this point also shows the level of division in our society. This is exactly what Daniel interpreted of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. We are in the acharit hayamim, the Last Days. All of this will center upon Jerusalem,
“On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.” Zechariah 12:3
Daniel then says,
“As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces…Just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” Daniel 2:34, 45
Just like a Goliath, a single stone strikes the towering figure, yet not on the head, but on its feet. The Final Kingdom is destroyed by the Stone. But who is this Stone? The Midrash says,
“Stone” this is the King as it is said [in Isaiah 29:16], “Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,: and [in Daniel 2:45] “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out.” The stone in Isaiah and the stone in Daniel are King Messiah.” Midrash Aggadah, cited in Yalkut Moshiach: Vayechi 451 | 339, cited in Torah Club: Shadows of Messiah, Volume 1, pg. 301
By this we know that we are about to experience the Revelation of the Stone, the Shepherd of Israel, whose kingdom will grow into a great mountain filling the earth. The Midrash Tanchuma says,
“He (Daniel) saw the coming of the Messiah (in his vision), as Daniel said: You saw that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces (Dan. 2:34). R. Simeon the son of Lakish contended: This verse refers to the Messiah. Smote the image alludes to all the kingdoms that serve idols. Why is the rule of the Messiah likened to stone? It is likened to stone because of the Torah in which Israel labors, as it is said: The two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Exod. 31:18). Another explanation as to why it is likened to a stone. It is because of the merit of Jacob, concerning whom it is written: From thence, from the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:24).” Midrash Tanchuma, Terumah, Siman 7:4
This Mashiach-Stone is likened to the Torah, made of Tablets of Stone. Midrash Tanchuma continues,
“Another explanation. He is likened to stone because it destroyed a heart of stone, as it is written: And I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:21). Which smote the image (Dan. 2:34) indicates that He will put an end to all the nations, as is said: And he shall smite the land with the rod of His mouth (Isa. 11:4). At that time Israel will dwell in ease and security in the world, as it is stated: And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards therein; yea, they shall dwell safely (Ezek. 28:26).” Midrash Tanchuma, Terumah, Siman 7:5
Mashiach not only destroys the kingdoms of the world, he destroys the stony heart, and replaces it with a heart of flesh. He doesn’t only take Israel out of “Egypt”, he takes “Egypt” out of Israel.
THE STONE WITH SEVEN EYES
The book of Zechariah says,
“For mark well this stone which I place before Yehoshua, a single stone with seven eyes. I will execute its engraving—declares YHVH of Hosts—and I will remove that country’s guilt in a single day.” Zechariah 3:9
The Artscroll commentary says,
“This stone is the foundation stone of the Temple that was laid immediately after Cyrus permitted the reconstruction of the Temple. This stone seemed small in Joshua’s eyes because the enemies of the Jews prevented the people from building upon it. However, it shall now be widened sevenfold, where one stone stood, seven shall appear (Rashi). . . alternatively it is the foundation stone that will be laid in the times of the Third Temple by a Kohen who will be a descendant of Joshua (Metzudos).” Daniel, Artscroll Tanach Series, Mesorah Publishing, Ltd., pg. 218
Note that the stone “seemed small”, unimpressive. The process of the restoration of Israel began slowly, yet even those who despised the “day of small things” will rejoice,
“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that YHVH of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of YHVH, which range through the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:9-10, ESV Modified
Like this, the process of Redemption begun by Mashiach ben Yosef seems small, but continues to expand and grow, and will overtake the earth. Kol HaTor (The Voice of the Turtledove), written by R’ Hillel Shklover, says,
“According to the Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna, below are the seven major principles connected with the approach called the footsteps of the Mashiach, which is based on the sentence, “on each stone were seven eyes [apertures]” [Zach. 3:9].” Kol HaTor 1:8
In the book of Revelation, it links the Seven-Eyes with those of Lamb,
“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6
The Lamb with Seven Eyes is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel. Looking into this Mashiach-Stone, we see the following:
It is the Yechida, the Unification, of all the Stones of Israel
It is Anointed and Engraved
Is Connected to the Sacrifice of Yitzhak
Connected to removing the guilt of Israel
Appeared small and unimpressive at first
It has been despised and rejected
Was Rejected by the Builders
Has become the Corner Stone
Is the Foundation Stone (Even Shetiyah) of the world, and therefore is connected to the Tzaddik
Destroys the Kingdoms of the Earth
Will Grow into a Mountain
Symbolizes the Mashiach
Returning the original text, “the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel,” the Ralbag, R’ Levi ben Gershom (1288CE–1344CE), comments on our phrase,
משם רועה אבן ישראל. זה רמז למשיח בן יוסף לפי דעתי והרצון בו שמיוסף יצא האיש שיהיה רועה אבן ישראל
“From there, the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” This is a hint to Mashiach ben Yosef, in my opinion, and the will within him who is from Yosef, comes forth to be the man who will be the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” Ralbag Beur HaMilot on Torah, Genesis 49:25
In Zechariah it says,
“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness . . . Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,” says YHVH Tzva’ot. “Strike (nakah) the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Zechariah 13:1, 7
And as we have learned in the blessing of Joseph, the Stone and the Shepherd are one. In the book of Exodus, Moshe is told to strike the rock that it spring forth water. The people of Israel, having been slaves in Egypt, understood the language of “striking”. However, after the giving of the Torah, in the book of Numbers, Moshe is told to speak to the Rock before Israel,
“YHVH spoke to Moshe, saying, “Take the rod, and gather the assembly together, you, and Aharon you brother, and speak to the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth its water…Moshe lifted his hand and struck (nakah) the rock.” Numbers 20:8
Midrash Rabbah, following Targum Yonatan, makes an unusual commentary on Psalm 78:20, regarding Moshe striking the Rock,
“He smote the rock and brought forth blood, as it is said: ‘Behold, He smote the rock, that waters gushed out – wayazubu’ (Ps. 78:20), and the the word wayazubu is an expression used of blood, as it is said: ‘And if a woman have an issue (yazub) of her blood’ (Lev. 15:25). For this reason did he smite the rock twice, because at first he brought forth blood and finally water.” Exodus Rabbah 3:13, Soncino Press Edition
This Rock, when struck, brought forth blood and water. The Gospels say of Yeshua’s death,
“When they came to Yeshua and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” John 19:33-34
In 1 Corinthians, it says,
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were immersed into Moshe in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Mashiach.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, ESV Modified
THE WHITE STONE
Returning to the stones that Yaakov Avinu placed under his head. Out of the many, emerge the One Stone. 1st Peter says,
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua the Messiah. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:4-10
Our world is consumed with darkness, hatred and division, and these fires are even stoked by those claiming to fight against them. Anti-Semitism is increasing, as nation rises against nation, people against people (Matthew 24:7). The antidote to the division in our world today is to see the face of Mashiach Yeshua in each person, to recognize that everyone has a place in YHVH’s Heavenly Temple, if they receive the plan He has for them. Today, even among Israel, who is to be the light of the world, there exists sinat chinam, baseless hatred, chas v’shalom. We must love one another as Mashiach has loved us. R’ Starrett says,
“The world is a hologram, each part containing the whole (Oheiv YIsrael, Shekalim). Each stone of the Temple contains the whole thing – but the real whole is greater than its parts. Each stone of the Temple is a separate soul – a soul that is one of us. All together we make the Temple whole, yet each one retains his uniqueness. It takes a great tzaddik, a Moses-Mashiach, to put all the parts together. May God grant each of us the wisdom, the courage and the humility to build his own inner Temple, and to have a part in the collective one. Amen.” R’ Yehoshua Starrett, The Inner Temple, Breslov Research Institute, pg xiv
Like the stones under the head of Yaakov Avinu, all of Israel (and eventually the entire world) will fuse into one under the guidance of Yeshua, the True Tzaddik, the King Messiah, the Foundation Stone, as he says,
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the communities. To the one who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’” Revelation 2:17