Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, March 28, 2021

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun    28 Mar 2021     15th of Nisan, 5781 Pesach I
Ex 12:21-51    Nu 28:16-25        Jos 5:2-6:1        1 Pe 2:18-25

He Is Risen! Part 2 by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: I continue this three-part series about Resurrection Day, commonly called by its pagan name “Easter,” to be observed on April 4, 2021.

PROPHECY OF PALM SUNDAY: In 2021, today (March 28) is observed by many as Palm Sunday– the nearly two-thousand year anniversary of the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to prepare for His crucifixion (see Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19). In less than one week, He would observe Communion with His disciples; teach the symbolism of His death in the Communion meal of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine (wine); announce God’s New Covenant; and be arrested, tried, beaten, crucified, and buried. As He rode into Jerusalem, the crowds waved palm fronds (source of the name “Palm Sunday”) and shouted “Hōsanna!” [Hebrew Hōsanna! = English “Save (us)!”] Interestingly, this plea for salvation complements Yeshua’s name. [Hebrew Yeshua = Greek Iēsous = English Jesus = “Jehovah is salvation”]

The precise day for Palm Sunday in ca AD 33 was prophesied in the Book of Daniel, written more than six centuries earlier (ca 536 – 530 BC). In Daniel 9:24-27, we read that Daniel knew the Jews would be in captivity for seventy years from an earlier prophecy from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12 and 29:10).  As the seventy years were coming to an end, Daniel inquired of the LORD what would become of his people after captivity.

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel the prophecy of the seventy shavuot. [Shavuot = a collection of seven “shabuas” = seven Jewish years = 7 x 360 days. Thus, seventy shavuot = 490 Jewish years.] Shavuot is poorly rendered as “weeks” or “sevens” in some translations. After a decree from Persian King Artaxerxes I, in the twentieth year of his reign (mid-fourth century BC, or 445 BC), Artaxerxes’ cup-bearer, Nehemiah, was given permission and materials to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed First Jewish Temple and the walls of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 2:1-8). Then, began a several century span of distress in Jewish history. This span accounted for sixty-nine shavuot (69 shavuot x 7 Jewish years per shavuot x 360 days per shabua = 173,880 days). During this time, the Jews would rebuild the Temple, although a poor example of the original, during periods of distress. Jerusalem’s walls would be rebuilt. The Jewish nation would be conquered by Rome, which brings us to Yeshua’s time. Read Gabriel’s answer to Daniel’s prayers (Daniel 9:25-26): [Gabriel told Daniel] “So know and understand: From the issuing of the decree [Artaxexes’ decree to Nehemiah] to restore and to build Jerusalem until the time Mashiach, the Prince [Yeshua], there shall be seven weeks [shavuot] and 62 weeks [shavuot]. It will be rebuilt, with plaza and moat, but it will be in times of distress. Then after the 62 weeks [shavuot]  Mashiach [Messiah Yeshua] will be cut off and have nothing [by riding into Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday” to surrender to Roman authorities]. Then the people [Romans] of a prince who is to come [the Antichrist] will destroy the city and the sanctuary [accomplished in AD 70].”

Riding a donkey was a sign of extreme humility. A king would ride a white stallion. After Messiah was “cut off” (crucified), the timeline continues. There is an indefinite period of time unrelated to this particular prophecy. This gap in a prophecy is called a “parenthesis,” and corresponds to our present Age of Grace. Then, the final (seventieth) shabua will occur. This seven-year period will mark the Tribulation on Earth (when “the prince who is to come” [the Antichrist]) will rule on Earth and Mashiach [Yeshua] will rule in Paradise.

Daniel prophesied these events more than six centuries beforehand, events which happened exactly as Gabriel told Daniel. Bible scholars have taken the day of Artaxerxes’ decree to Nehemiah and performed mathematical computations (taking care to convert Jewish years of 360 days to our years of 365.25 days, remembering that there is no year zero, etc.), and they claim the day “Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing” is precisely the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem to lay down His life a few days later. We recognize this day as Palm Sunday. No wonder the Jews lined the street and shouted, “Hōsanna!”

JOSEPHUS’ HISTORY: The respected Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who was not a Christian/ Believer (that is, he was an observer who had no reason to write “fake news” to make Yeshua look better), recorded most unusual, seemingly impossible events that occurred mostly between AD 66 and AD 70. See Josephus: Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter V, Paragraph 3. Recall that the Second Jewish Temple (Zerubabbel’s Temple, Herod’s Temple) was destroyed in AD 70, forty years (the common length of a generation) after Yeshua began His ministry. Josephus’ history, written in ca AD 75, follows. You may not wish to read Josephus’ lengthy history in its entirety. I add footnotes to help you read more rapidly through the history by summarizing important points. These footnotes are marked as: <<See Footnote 2a, below.>>

Josephus wrote: “Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. <<See Footnote 2a, below.>> Thus also before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. <<See Footnote 2b, below.>> This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. <<See Footnote 2c, below.>> Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. <<See Footnote 2d, below.>> Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshadowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. <<See Footnote 2e, below.>> Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.” <<See Footnote 2f, below.>> But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” <<See Footnote 2g, below.>> Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.”

Question 1: What did Josephus tell us? Remember two things:

<<Footnote 1a>> Yeshua prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple a generation before its destruction (Matthew 24:1-2): Now when Yeshua went out and was going away from the Temple, His disciples came up to point out to Him the Temple buildings. “Don’t you see all these?” He responded to them. “Amen, I tell you, not one stone will be left here on top of another– every one will be torn down!” Yeshua’s prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, when Roman legions under Titus’ command destroyed Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple, and killed or enslaved the Jews. The Temple was a great storehouse of gold and silver, serving as both Judah’s national treasury and the “bank” of wealthy Jews. (Banks, as we know them, did not exist in the first century.) The Temple accidentally caught fire. The molten precious metal flowed between the joints of the floor’s paving stones, and the Roman soldiers dismantled the Temple by prying the stones apart to recover the cooled precious metals– exactly as Yeshua had prophesied (“… not one stone will be left here on top of another….”). The Romans erected arches to celebrate great victories. The Arch of Titus depicts Jewish captives; Temple treasury, including the menorah; and other spoils of war being carried from https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/arch-of-titus?phrase=arch%20of%20titus&sort=mostpopular  .

<<Footnote 1b>> Josephus described most unusual events (see following paragraphs), which occurred shortly before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple in AD 70. These events clearly were warnings and signs from God, which were neither understood nor heeded. THINK: Is God giving warnings and signs today for America? Will America be judged by God for our sins, as He judged Israel for her sins? Is America failing to understand and heed God’s warnings? Will America’s sins cause our nation to be destroyed?

Question 2: Now, what significant events did the historian Josephus record? Consider these comments about Josephus’ history:

<<Footnote 2a>> Josephus: “A star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.” God used/ uses heavenly signs to announce special events, such as, the star which announced Yeshua’s birth to the magi (see Matthew 2:2). These heavenly bodies recorded by Josephus portended disaster for the Jews. It is significant that this star resembled the symbol of war and death– a sword. God previously used a flaming sword to remove people from a land (Garden of Eden) He had given them (see Genesis 3:24). God once again was ready to drive His people from their homes in Israel, and He used the same symbol, a flaming sword.

<<Footnote 2b>> Josephus: “A great light shone round the altar and the holy house.” This light may mean that the Light of the world (Yeshua) shone around God’s altar and the Holy of Holies, providing yet another reference to our true High Priest (John 8:12): Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

<<Footnote 2c>> Josephus: “A heifer, being led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.” The sacrifice of a red heifer was necessary for Jewish purification rituals (see Numbers, chapter 19). There are certain symbolic similarities in the sacrifice of the red heifer and the crucifixion of Yeshua. However, many scholars believe that the red heifer is a type (prophecy, foreshadow) of Israel. Only a perfect, blemish-free, three year-old heifer could be sacrificed. A heifer is a virginal cow (one which has never been bred). The priests would have carefully examined the heifer before bringing her for sacrifice, and they certainly would not have brought a pregnant cow ready to calve. Even more supernaturally, the heifer gave birth to a lamb in the middle of the Temple. A cow can give birth only to a calf, and never a lamb. The symbol of this miracle is: The heifer (Israel) gave birth to a lamb (our Passover Lamb, Yeshua) in the Temple (the place of worship of God), affirming the change from the old Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood to the High Priesthood of Yeshua HaMashiach, our eternal High Priest on the order of Melchizedek.

<<Footnote 2d>> Josephus: “The massive eastern gate of the inner temple opened of its own accord.” The meaning of this event is obvious and has the same significance as the temple veil being torn in two at the death of Yeshua. God opened worship of Him to all men and women, without need for a special place of worship. (That is, God inhabits each person’s body, not a special Temple.) In New Covenant worship, we do not need an order of priests, because each person is his or her own priest, under the High Priest Yeshua. New Covenant worship does not require temple sacrifices of animals, because Yeshua is our one and only Passover Lamb sacrifice. This one-time sacrifice has been accomplished and will never need to be repeated. The heavy gate opened to show that God is always open to man’s worship and petitions. I may be placing too fine a point on Josephus’ account, but it is interesting that God opened the gate but “the captain of the temple” (a religious leader) closed it. Since early church organizations, we have had a constant parade of religious leaders who have had the audacity to insert themselves between man and God. They re-enact the Temple captain’s closing of the gate opened by God by closing that door again for the people listening to and following them. True worship of Yeshua is not a “religion,” but should be a movement of men and women who attempt to heed Yehua’s simple command, “Follow Me.” I have been asked, “Are you religious?” I answered, “I try very hard not to be religious, but I believe with all of my heart in Father God and His Son Yeshua.” Yeshua had harsher words for the religious leaders of His time than He had for “ordinary” sinners (prostitutes, thieves, murderers, and so forth). We are commanded to worship with and support a body of believers (Hebrews 10:24-25): And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds. And do not neglect our own meetings, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another– and all the more so as you see the Day approaching. Let no man or denomination get between you and the simple message of the Bible. You are personally responsible for your salvation (Philippians 2:12b-13): … [W]ork out your salvation with fear and trembling. For the One working in you is God– both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Any religious leader’s words or denomination’s doctrines or creeds which are contrary to the Bible come from man, not from God. Follow God, not man (see Acts 5:29).

<<Footnote 2e>> Josephus: “Chariots and troops of armored soldiers were seen running about among the clouds and surrounding cities.” This vision was probably a warning of the soon-to-come siege of Jerusalem, destruction of Jewish life in Judah, and carrying off of the Jews throughout the world. This dispersion of the Jewish nation, the Diaspora, extended from AD 70 to 1948.

<<Footnote 2f>> Josephus: “At the feast of Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner court of the temple, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’” God has frequently used earthquakes to accompany important messages to man. Pentecost (from Greek Pentekostē) has dual significance. “Pentecost” translates to “the fiftieth day.” In Judaism, Pentecost marks the day God gave His Law to Moses fifty days after the Israelites were delivered from bondage in Egypt. In New Covenant worship, Pentecost marks the day God gave birth to “the ones called out” in His name (from the Greek ékklēsía, commonly translated “Church”) fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection (see Acts, chapter 2). Is the command, “Let us remove hence,” a preview of the command Yeshua’s followers will hear as they are caught up in the clouds to meet Him– the Rapture? A Believer’s true “church” does not exist on Earth, but will be realized only in Heaven. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 4:1.)

<<Footnote 2g>> Josephus: “Jesus, son of Ananus, warning, ‘Woe, woe to Jerusalem!”” This Jesus (not Yeshua HaMashiach) may have been a prophet of God. God shows a pattern before allowing a judgment to befall any people. He gives warning; followed by grace to allow repentance; followed by judgment, if repentance does not occur. Jesus, son of Ananus, may have provided the warning for the Jews to repent. Notice the similarity in the two men named Jesus (Yeshua). Yeshua HaMashiach, Son of God, preached repentance, but was rejected, beaten, and crucified. Decades later, Jesus, son of Ananus, preached repentance, but was rejected, beaten, and killed. Hardened hearts of sinful mankind usually reject warnings from God to repent. God’s warnings flood America, calling for repentance. Is America– are you personally– repenting?

THE JEWS’ SIN OFFERING REJECTED BY GOD: God instructed His people to make an offering on the most somber of the Feasts of Israel’s days– the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:7-10): Then he [Aaron– and the priests who followed him] is to take the two goats and present them before Adonai at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Aaron will then cast lots for the two goats– one lot for Adonai, and the other lot for the scapegoat. Aaron is to present the goat on which the lot for Adonai fell and make it a sin offering. But the goat upon which the lot for the scapegoat fell is to be presented alive before Adonai, to make atonement upon it, by sending it away as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

Three scarlet threads were used in this observance. Jewish writings recorded that the two goats to be used on the Day of Atonement were to be as identical as possible. The High Priest drew two lots from a wooden box. One lot (a marker) was inscribed “For Azazel,” and the other lot (marker), “A sin offering for the LORD.” In nearly all cases, the first lot drawn was the lot for the LORD. (“Azazel” is apparently of uncertain origin. I have read various opinions of the meaning of “Azazel,” which usually means that no one has an iron-clad opinion.)  According to the Mishna (Yoma 39a), an ancient Jewish commentary, a scarlet thread was then tied between the horns of the goat set apart for the LORD, and this goat was sacrificed to God. After this, the priest took the goat for Azazel, tied a second scarlet thread around its neck, placed his hands upon the goat, and made the following confession to God upon the goat: “O God, thy people, the house of Israel, have sinned and transgressed before Thee.” The scapegoat was handed to another priest, who would run the goat deep into the wilderness and push it off a steep jagged cliff to its death. The scapegoat (goat for Azazel) vicariously took the sins of the people out of their presence and was killed in the wilderness, that the people’s sins might not come back to them.

A third scarlet thread, though not mentioned in the Torah, was a well known part of the Yom Kippur feast. It was by this third scarlet thread that Israel knew whether God had forgiven their sins through that year’s atonement sacrifices. Jewish historians wrote that on Yom Kippur a scarlet thread was affixed to a public place, usually the door of the Temple. Historians further wrote that when the scapegoat (“goat for Azazel”) died (and if God accepted that year’s sacrifices offered to Him), this scarlet thread supernaturally turned white. This change in color may represent what the prophet Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 1:18): “Come now, let us reason together,” says Adonai. “Though your sins be like scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they will become like wool.”

A Talmudic verse (Rosh Hashanah 31b) states: “For forty years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but it remained red.” This forty-year period was the time between the commencement of Yeshua’s ministry (ca AD 29-30) and the destruction of the Second Temple (AD 70). During this forty-year period (a common Biblical length for a generation– here, the generation which rejected Yeshua), God did not accept the scapegoat’s death as the sacrifice for the sins of the people. The generation during this time sinned by refusing to accept Messiah Yeshua. Is America’s current generation sinning by refusing to accept Messiah Yeshua? After Yeshua’s crucifixion, God would no longer accept an animal (the scapegoat) sacrifice. He would accept only the Lamb of God (Yeshua) as the sacrifice for the sins of all people for all time. (See Hebrews, chapters 9 and 10.)

MYSTERY OF “YEHOVAH” ON THE CROSS: John recorded what would seem to be an insignificant statement (John 19:19-22). Having discussed this event in last week’s RR, I will not discuss it in greater detail. In brief, the Romans crucified enemies of the state (treason, insurrection, heinous crimes) for show. Horrendous execution of a few persons made believers of the remaining citizens, who would try not to commit the same offense and risk crucifixion. A victim’s offense was written on the title board (Latin: titulus), which was nailed on the cross above the victim’s head. Pilate wrote Yeshua’s “crime” in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, which read “Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The four words of the Hebrew charge began with the Hebrew letters yod-hey-vav-hey (English equivalent = YHVH or YHWH). These letters spelled the sacred name of God– the Sacred Tetragrammaton, or Yehovah. This name was so special it was ineffable (unutterable) for Jews. The priests begged Pilate to re-word Yeshua’s charge. Adding, deleting, or changing the order of any word would disrupt the Tetragrammaton. Pilate refused. Yeshua, then, was crucified under the Roman charge of being Yehovah– One with and of Father God.

MYSTERY OF CRUCIFIXION IN PALEO-HEBREW PICTOGRAPHY: Although not mentioned in Scriptures, another interesting relationship between Yeshua and Jehovah may exist. The earliest Hebrew (paleo-Hebrew) writing was by pictographs. A pictograph was a drawing, which represented words, ideas, or phrases. The earliest Hebrew writing for the Holy Name of God, written in pictographs, was by pictograph symbols: Yod = arm/ hand (also, work, deed) || Hey = behold || Vav = nail || Hey = behold. The name Jehovah, written in the earliest Hebrew, could be translated from the pictographs: “Behold the hand; behold the nail.” Was the future crucifixion of Yeshua written into the ancient pictograph spelling of Jehovah? From the moment of creation, Yeshua, Son of God, apparently was born to die– to die for the sins of all mankind! And, Hebrew pictographs may have foretold that nails driven into the Messiah’s wrists (hands) would secure Him to a Roman cross. See pictographs and meanings at:

Hebrew Pictograms (hebrew4christians.com ) .

Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.