Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, April 10, 2022
Shavuah Tov,

“He Is Risen, Just As He Said!” (Part 2),
Mysteries and Miracles of Yeshua’s Resurrection
by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: I continue discussing just some of the mysteries and miracles associated with Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection. Next Sunday, the holiest day of the year for Believers, marks the anniversary of the day Yeshua arose from death to resume His eternal life in Heaven. Had this miracle not occurred, Yeshua would be nothing more than a nice Man with kind words to say about others. By accomplishing the resurrection miracle, He confirmed His place in the Holy Trinity and proved as true His promise of eternal life for His Believers/ Followers.

The Apostle Paul based his evangelical message on Yeshua’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-8): Now I make known to you, brothers and sisters, the Good News which I proclaimed to you. You also received it, and you took your stand on it, and by it you are being saved if you hold firm to the word I proclaimed to you– unless you believed without proper consideration. For I also passed on to you first of all what I also received– that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Kefa [Peter], then to the Twelve [Disciples]. Then He appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time– most of them are still alive, though some have died. Then He appeared to Jacob, then to all the emissaries, and last of all, as to one untimely born, He also appeared to me.  [Emissaries, from Greek apostoloi = apostles– those sent with orders.]

PALM SUNDAY: Many celebrate today as Palm Sunday. In last Sunday’s RR, I explained Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) that foretold the very date nearly two millennia ago that Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfill Gabriel’s prophetic teaching of the Seventy Shavuot (Seventy “Sevens”). Read about Yeshua’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Matthew 21:1-11.

SIDELIGHT: Why did Yeshua ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Why did He not choose a white stallion? Or, why did He not just walk into Jerusalem? The Bible is filled with symbols, and this beautiful (but sad) act of riding on a donkey was highly symbolic, for at least the following reasons:

● God’s prophet foretold that Jerusalem’s King would come to the world, riding on a donkey (read Zechariah 9:9).

● King Solomon rode to his coronation on the back of a mule that had once belonged to King David (read 1 Kings 1:33-44).

● King Jehu rode into Samaria (a false Jerusalem) over his followers’ garments to destroy the temple of the false god Baal (read 2 Kings 9:11-10:28). This act prophesied an act of Yeshua upon entering Jerusalem to bring judgment to the Temple, which had become a den of thieves (read Matthew 21:12).

● In the ancient world, a king riding on a donkey (as opposed to riding on a warhorse) symbolized that he came in shalom.

● On Palm Sunday nearly two millennia ago, Yeshua rode on the back of a donkey (read Matthew 21:2-3) – which was His First Coming. When He returns at the end of the Tribulation– which will be His Second Coming– He, as King of kings and Lord of lords, will ride on the back of a white horse (read Revelation 19:11). That is, in His First Coming, Yeshua was a humble Prince, who appealed to the hearts and minds of sinners. In His Second Coming, Yeshua will be the fearless, conquering Warrior King who will destroy the Unholy Trinity and will be able to defeat any sin.

● Many Believers do not understand the two advents (comings to Earth) of the  Messiah. In His First Advent, Yeshua came as the Suffering Servant (see Isaiah, chapter 53). He was plain-looking; despised; rejected; a grieving, sorrowful Man; stricken, beaten, pierced, crushed; and killed for the sins of His people. In His Second Advent (see Revelation 19:11-16), Yeshua will come as a conquering, mighty Warrior King, riding a white stallion and followed by the armies of Heaven. His robes will be blood-stained, and with His weapons He will dispatch evil.

Jewish rabbis could not understand the Isaiah prophecy. If they considered it at all, they concluded that two Messiahs must come– a peaceful, suffering Messiah (HaMashiach ben Josef– The Messiah, Son of Joseph) and a warrior Messiah (HaMashiach ben David– The Messiah, Son of David). We Believers understand that there is only one Messiah, who came/ will come twice. END sidelight.

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 ribbons were used in this ritual. 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.

The name “Azazel” is of uncertain origin and uncertain translation. I have read various opinions of the meaning of “Azazel,” which usually means that no one has an iron-clad opinion.

The Mishna is an ancient Jewish commentary of rabbinical writings, also known as “the Oral Torah.” According to the Mishna (Yoma 39a), a scarlet ribbon was tied between the horns of the goat set apart for the LORD, and this goat was then sacrificed to God. After this, the priest took the goat for Azazel, tied a second scarlet ribbon around its neck, placed his hands upon the goat, and made the following confession upon the goat to God: “O God, thy people, the house of Israel, have sinned and transgressed before Thee.” The scapegoat was then handed to another priest, who would run this goat deep into the wilderness and push it off a steep, jagged cliff to its death. The scapegoat (the 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 ribbon was a well known part of the Yom Kippur feast. It was by this third ribbon that Israel knew whether Adonai had forgiven their sins through that year’s atonement sacrifices. Jewish historians wrote that on Yom Kippur this third scarlet ribbon was affixed to a public place, usually the Temple door. They  wrote that when the scapegoat (the goat for Azazel) died (and if Adonai  accepted that year’s sacrifices offered to Him), this ribbon supernaturally turned from scarlet to white. This change in color may reflect 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.”

The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology.  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.” We now know that 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), the generation’s great sin during this time was the refusal 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 sacrifice (sacrifice of a goat). 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). The Romans crucified enemies of the state (treason, insurrection, heinous crimes) for a public show of brutal punishment for their transgressions against Roman law. Horrendous execution of a few persons made docile believers of the remaining citizens, who would try not to commit the same offense and risk crucifixion.

A victim’s offense was written on a 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 in English translation, “Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The four words of the Hebrew charge began with the Hebrew letters yod-hey-vav-hey (יְהֹוָה || English equivalent = YHVH). 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 reword Yeshua’s charge. Adding or deleting letters or changing the order of any word would disrupt the Tetragrammaton. Pilate refused. Yeshua, then, was crucified under the Roman charge of being YHVH (Yehovah = יְהֹוָה ). Even in death for all to see, He was One with and of Father God. Recall Yeshua’s words to Philip (John 14:9b): “… He who has seen Me has seen the Father….”

MYSTERY OF CRUCIFIXION IN PALEO-HEBREW PICTOGRAPHY: Although not mentioned in Scriptures, another interesting relationship between Yeshua and Yehovah (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 || hey = behold || vav = nail || hey = behold. The name Yehovah, yod-hey-vav-hey, written in the earliest Hebrew (paleo-Hebrew), could be translated from the pictographs to read: “Behold the hand; behold the nail.” Was the future crucifixion of Yeshua, in which His “hands” were nailed to the cross, written into the ancient pictograph spelling of Yehovah? See pictographs and meanings at: https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Pictograms/pictograms.html .

BORN TO DIE: I am the father of four children. I remember the pride of the birth of my four children. I wished for them long, happy, healthy lives. I never looked at any of my children and thought, “Your mama and I had you because you are born to die.” From the moment of creation, though, Yeshua, Son of God, was born to die– to die for the sins of all mankind! And, Hebrew pictographs (see preceding section) may have foretold that nails driven into the Messiah’s wrists (“hands”) would secure Him to a Roman cross.

THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE PRAYERS: After the Passover Seder with His disciples, Yeshua retired to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46). This Garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives was used to grow olive trees. Olive trees are long-lived, and some of the trees there today are more than two-thousand years old. Yeshua saw and likely prayed beside some of these trees. “Gethsemane,” of Aramaic origin, translates to “oil press.”

Understandably greatly distressed by the crucifixion He must endure in just a few hours, Yeshua went to a private place in the Garden, taking three disciples (Peter and the two sons of Zebedee) with Him to pray. He prayed to Father God that “this cup” be removed from Him (Luke 22:42).

What cup? Four cups of wine traditionally are set before participants in a Passover Seder. Yeshua taught Communion to His disciples, using the red wine as a symbol of His blood probably in the third cup (Cup of Redemption). But, He declined to drink from the fourth cup (Cup of Praise), stating, (Matthew 26:29): “But I say to you, I will never drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.” These cups are named after Adonai’s promises to B’nei Yisrael in Exodus 6:6.

As stated in an earlier RR, Yeshua will drink from the fourth cup, the Cup of Praise, at the Marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9). It was then and is now an integral part of a Jewish wedding that the bridegroom and bride drink wine together, while standing under the wedding chuppah. Bridegroom Yeshua will drink from this Cup of Praise, reserved from the Seder centuries earlier, in a toast to His Bride (all Believers). In return, we will each drink wine from a silver chalice set before us. (Why silver? Silver is the metal of redemption in the Bible.)  An important and beautiful symbol will thus be closed. Mazel tov!

Yeshua was in great distress in the Garden. Because of the great pressure He experienced, He fittingly prayed in a place called “the oil press.” He prayed three times. Why three times? We learn from Scriptures (Isaiah, chapter 53, etc.) that Yeshua came to heal the broken three parts of humans– body, mind, and spirit. He likely prayed for the bodies of each Believer, and felt the physical ailments we must endure. He likely prayed for the minds of each Believer, and felt the mental and emotional pains we must endure. He likely prayed for the spirits of each Believer, and felt the spiritual assaults we must endure. الطاولة المحبوسة Body, mind, and spirit– Yeshua felt all of our problems. Father God then showed Yeshua that only His sacrificial death on the cross could heal or ameliorate these disorders.

It is significant that Yeshua was greatly distressed before and during His prayers. After the prayers, He was fully composed and faced His death bravely and calmly. What changed? Although the Gospels are silent on this matter, it does seem reasonable that Yeshua experienced the pain and suffering of humans’ body, and mind, and soul in each of His three prayers. Afterward, knowing the reason He must be crucified, He readily died for these three parts.

He willingly went to the cross, but love nailed Him there. He made no protests when the centurions arrested Him in the Garden. He offered no defense when tried by Pontius Pilate. By His resolute silence, He fulfilled a Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 53:7): He [the Messiah] was oppressed and He was afflicted yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, like a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. لعبة اونو الاصلية

WHY CRUCIFIXION? Crucifixion was a most inhumane form of execution. The victim was nailed through the wrists (forearms) and feet to a lumber frame. تتدحرج كرة بولنج The victim died in constant agony– the cruci- part of our English word “excruciating” comes from the Latin word for “cross” – as he tried to find relief from wrist pain by “standing” on his feet, and then tried to find relief from foot pain by pulling up on his arms. In addition to extreme pain, he was constantly gasping for air.

It would take hours for the victim to die of exhaustion and filling of the lungs and pleural spaces with fluid (acute heart failure). [WORD CLARIFICATION: “Pleural” refers to the glistening lining, the pleura, of the chest cavity, and the “pleural space” is a normally very thin space between a lung and the chest wall. “Plural” refers to “more than one.”]

The scourging before the crucifixion was intended to weaken the victim and hasten death. If the victim lived too long on the cross for the soldiers’ convenience, his leg bones (tibiae, or shins) would be broken so he could only slump on the cross and could not breathe deeply enough to sustain life for more than a few minutes. Yeshua’s legs were not broken, fulfilling a Psalm 34:20 prophecy (John 19:33, 36): Now when they [the soldiers] came to Yeshua and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. |…| These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of His shall be broken.”

It was necessary for Yeshua to die a bloody death to fulfill God’s requirement for sin forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22): And nearly everything is purified in blood according to the Torah, and apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. This requirement for sin forgiveness is the reason I used so much RR space on the shedding of blood and ceremonial drinking of wine (Communion). From the very beginning, Adonai knew that humans would sin and His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach, would need to shed His blood as our  (humankind’s) perfect sin sacrifice… our Scapegoat… our Passover Lamb.

There were two common types of crosses used in the first century. Artists usually depict Yeshua’s cross as the familiar Roman cross ( † ). More commonly used was a simpler cross, shaped like our letter “T” or the Greek letter Tau ( Τ ). [Tau is pronounced “tow,” as in the beginning of towel, not tow, as in tow a car.] The Tau ( Τ ) cross would be much easier to construct and stronger than the Roman cross ( † ). A struggling, fully grown man would put great stress on a Roman cross, and it might come apart. A Tau cross would be much more stable, stronger, and easily constructed because it would be built around a simple mortise and tenon joint. A tenon (wooden projection) would be cut in the permanently anchored, vertical stipes. A mortise (channel) would be chiseled in the horizontal patibulum. Soldiers could lift up the patibulum, to which the victim was nailed, and slip it over the stipes’ tenon. Perhaps this is what Yeshua saw in His future, when He spoke about being lifted up (John 3:14-15): [Yeshua said] “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life!”

SIDELIGHT: I use the Tree of Life Version (TLV) in these RRs because it seems to be popular with Shomair congregants, even though this translation is not my favorite. In verses related to Yeshua’s crucifixion, the TLV uses “execution stake” for the instrument upon which Yeshua was nailed. (Jehovah’s Witnesses also teach that Yeshua was killed on a “torture stake,” not a cross.) The Greek text uses the word stauros, which is usually rendered “cross.” Although a one-piece stake could have been used (Roman soldiers could improvise anything handy), Yeshua’s cross was almost certainly a two-piece cross. Simon of Cyrene carried the patibulum (horizontal member) to Golgotha for Yeshua, and Yeshua showed a doubting Thomas the nail wounds in His “hands.” (Hands may have been tied, rather than nailed, for a stake crucifixion.) The term “crucifixion” means “to make a cross,” which would be possible only with a two-member cross.

Incidentally Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, journeyed to the Holy Land to find artifacts related to Yeshua. And, sure enough, in ca AD 324, she located  Yeshua’s “true cross,” safely secured by crafty Arabian traders for nearly three centuries. As long as Helena’s gold held out, these Arabian traders found other holy sites and relics. I watched news reports of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 2019. Catholic officials were relieved that Yeshua’s “original crown of thorns,” housed in the Cathedral, survived the fire. Yeshua should live in the hearts and minds of Believers, not in such artifacts– dubious artifacts– as a Holy Grail, wooden cross pieces, thorns, and the like. END sidelight.

The Romans knew other methods to kill prisoners and shed blood other than crucifixion. Yeshua was crucified as much to humiliate Him, as to kill Him. After  being severely scourged (beaten), He carried His cross to the place of execution. He did not drag an entire cross, which may have weighed a few hundred pounds. The upright or vertical member (stipes) was solidly anchored in the ground, much like a short telephone pole. The horizontal member (patibulum) would be tied to His back. Yeshua, greatly weakened by scourging, would be forced “to take up His cross” and stumble to the place of execution.

With the patibulum on the ground and Yeshua placed on top of it, long nails were driven through the wrists (forearms) into the wooden beam. A few soldiers  lifted the patibulum, to which Yeshua was nailed, to the top of the stipes and secured the two together (with a mortise and tenon joint?). Then, the freely swinging feet were gathered together, and a single nail was driven through them into the upright beam. With three nails, Yeshua was secured to the cross. Then, the all-important YHVH title board (see above) was nailed to the cross.

The cross was probably placed by the side of a roadway leading into Jerusalem,  and was probably short (so the victim’s eyes would be at eye level for passersby and because hoisting a wooden beam and a body would be difficult for the soldiers). Artists depict Yeshua on a tall cross on top of a hill. The purpose of crucifixion was to humiliate and torture the victim, while sending a message to others not to run afoul of Roman law. As villagers went to market, they probably stared directly into the anguished face of a crucified victim. They may have known the victim as a neighbor, relative, friend, or merchant. It would be chilling to see your neighbor or friend, nailed to a cross and dying an agonizing death.

Notice the position of the cross and Yeshua’s body:
● The vertical cross member (stipes) extended from sky to earth. God on high came to us on Earth through the Yeshua crucified there that day.
● Two criminals were crucified with Yeshua. Yeshua’s arms extended toward the two criminals, symbolically offering salvation to both. One criminal accepted salvation, and Yeshua told him that he would be with Him that day in Paradise. The other criminal mocked Yeshua and refused salvation. All persons are offered salvation equally. Some accept– but others reject– this offer of salvation. Have you listened to the Ruach ha-Kodesh and accepted your salvation?
● Yeshua’s arms are still open and His hands are still outstretched, as an invitation for you. Just as He offered salvation to two criminals nearly two-thousand years ago, He offers salvation to you today!
● As Yeshua bled profusely on the cross, His blood covered much of the wooden beam. If you have accepted Yeshua’s offer of salvation, your sins have been nailed to His cross (read Colossians 2:13-14). Yeshua’s blood has covered your sins, and they are no longer visible to God the Father, even if He would want to look for them. (He will not look– forgiven sin is forgotten sin.) Yeshua paid the price for your sins, and you can forever live as a new, forgiven person.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CRUCIFIXION: Crucifixion probably started with the Persians. (Persia is Iran, today.) In early crucifixions, the victim was merely suspended to keep his feet from touching the ground. The Phoenicians, traders to many lands, copied this practice and spread it to other cultures, including the Greeks. The Greek Alexander the Great introduced crucifixion to Carthage, where it was learned and adopted by the Romans. The Romans started using this method of execution around the time Yeshua was born.

The Romans perfected crucifixion to maximize pain and suffering. Crucifixion is an inefficient way to execute someone, but its shock value on local residents cannot be overestimated. Crucifixion was not only horrifically painful, it was also most disgraceful and demeaning. Slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and vile criminals could be crucified, but Roman citizens could be crucified only for desertion from the army. The Apostle Paul, a Roman citizen, was executed (AD 68) by Emperor Nero probably by being beheaded, rather than crucified. Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 10-Apr-2022 9th of Nisan, 5782
Ex 12:21-24 Isa 37 Pr 18 (Mt 6) 1 Pet 2