Month of Av: Tisha B’Av and Tu B’Av

“The Lord has rejected all my strong men In my midst; He has called an appointed time [moed] against me to crush my young men; The Lord has trodden as in a wine press The virgin daughter of Judah. (Lam. 1:15 NASB)

Chodesh AvThe month of Av is the eleventh month on the Hebrew civil calendar and the fifth month on the Hebrew biblical calendar. This corresponds to July/August for us. Av literally means “father” (aleph-beht). It is customary to add the name Menachem to Av, which means “comforter” when speaking about this month because it is associated with many tragic events, yet our Father brings us comfort. Thus, many refer to this month as “Menachem Av” (Comforting Father). We will explore this in more detail below.

According to tradition, each of the twelve (or thirteen) months on the Hebrew calendar corresponds to one of the tribes of Israel. The month of Av is associated with Simeon (Shimon). Shimon’s name means to “hear”.[1] When we examine the themes associated with the month of Av, it becomes increasingly obvious that our sense of hearing (or lack thereof) is indeed the vehicle by which we will find ourselves mourning or rejoicing. The question and consequent meditation for the month of Av is:

 “Will we heed the voice (Word) of YHWH? Or will we listen to evil reports and the desires of the flesh?

History and tradition records many events where the Children of Israel’s “hearing” was tested in the month of Av. Sadly, the testimony is usually a lack of hearing which resulted in great judgment. Consider the following list that is said to have occurred on the ninth of Av or Tisha B’Av.

  • During the time of Moses, the people believed the evil report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Israelites were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
  • The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
  • The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar – the Jews’ last stand against the Romans – was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)
  • The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city – renamed Aelia Capitolina – and access was forbidden to Jews.
  • The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B’Av in 1492.
  • World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B’Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
  • On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

the-destruction-of-the-temple-of-jerusalem-francesco-hayez-1867-282589_958x340These details from history makes one wonder if the timing of these calamities is mere coincidence. Does the LORD have an appointed time to “break” us?[2] According to Jewish tradition, He does and that date is associated with the ninth of Av. Reread the verse from Lamentations quoted at the beginning of this post. In Hebrew, YHWH indeed has a “moed” or appointed time to break His wayward people. The LORD allows these calamities to come upon those that are His in order to bring them to repentance. It is our rebellions, shortcomings, and stiff-necks that provokes His hand against us. Like any loving parent, YHWH uses punishment in order to guide, teach, and protect His children. And like Him, we often set aside a particular time to mete out certain reprimands to our own children.

Just as a father has compassion (mercy) on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (Ps. 103:13) 

Though the month of Av is connected with judgment and tragedy, it is equally linked to God’s mercy. The good news is that even when we are stiff necked or have closed ears, YHWH still loves us. So, though the focus of Tisha B’Av is denying oneself and repentance, there should be a transition in the observer that moves the soul from mourning to celebration. We may grieve over past tragedies and rebellions, but our hope is always in the Menachem Av (Comforting Father). It is His divine mercies that give us a hope for a good future. This is the essence of Tish b’Av. Remember the past, but move forward with an attitude of gratitude and a burning hope for a better future.

How to Listen

Most of my readers are aware of what it means in Hebrew to Shema. It means to hear/listen AND obey what is heard. The Jewish response to the tragedies enumerated above was to mark this infamous date as a day of fasting and repentance. It is important that we REMEMBER, so we do not repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. But our attitude in these matters is paramount. Listen to the question YHWH asks in Zechariah:

“Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? ‘When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves? (Zec. 7:5-6) 

Our mourning, fasting, and rejoicing must be sincere. Notice how hearing and a lack thereof leads to punishment and exile in the rest of this passage:

Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah saying, “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. “They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. “And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts; “but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land is desolated behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate.” (Zec. 7: 8-14)

It seems that most every Word from the LORD leads us back to the two greatest commandments: Love YHWH and love your neighbor. You want to really listen? You want to really hear the LORD? You want “ears that hear”? The Torah, the commandments, and the Word teach us how to love YHWH and our neighbor. We only must heed His voice.

How Not to Listen

Shimon, as the tribe of Av, and the name associated with hearing, has much to teach us this month. Let’s see if we can learn from Shimon’s and his descendant’s mistakes. I find it fascinating that the man whose name means to “hear” seemed to often have closed ears. It seems ironic, but is it? Are we any different?

First, if you will recall, it was Shimon and Levi that decided to take justice into their own hands when Shechem violated their sister Dinah.[3] This enraged Jacob and he reprimanded his sons for their rash behavior.[4] Later, when Jacob blesses his sons, Shimon and Levi receive more of a rebuke than a blessing:

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Their swords are implements of violence. “Let my soul not enter into their council; Let not my glory be united with their assembly; Because in their anger they slew men, And in their self-will they lamed oxen. “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel. (Gen. 49:5-7)

Notice that Jacob’s rebuke is similar to YHWH’s edicts against us when we are wayward. Exile, or scattering, is one result of sin. Shimon and Levi acted in unholy anger when they attacked the Shechemites. We must be careful when someone kindles anger in us (right or wrong), for more often than not, we become the greater sinner when we allow our actions to be ruled by inflamed flesh. A reddened face full of rage makes us more like an Esau (red) and no better than a hairy beast. This will only bring wrath upon our own head and division in our camps.

Later, it seems that the Levites find favor from HaShem and at least a stop to the rebuke given by Jacob. (Though as the LORD’s inheritance, they remained scattered throughout the tribes.) When Moses dishes out the tribal blessings, he says of Levi:

Of Levi he said, “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, Whom You proved at Massah, With whom You contended at the waters of Meribah; Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them'; And he did not acknowledge his brothers, Nor did he regard his own sons, For they observed Your word, And kept Your covenant. “They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, And Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, And whole burnt offerings on Your altar. “O LORD, bless his substance, And accept the work of his hands; Shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, And those who hate him, so that they will not rise again.” (Dt. 33: 8-11)

But Shimon doesn’t fair quite as well. Moses skips over Simeon altogether when he blesses the tribes of Israel.[5] Rashi states that this is because of what happened in Shittim when Israel played the harlot with the daughters of Moab. Two particular characters in this drama were Zimri (a Simeonite) and Cozbi (a Midianite). They were in the throes of passion when Pinchas skewered them at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting, which stayed the plague. (Numbers 25)

Again, we see the one that should have had ears to hear, given over to the passions of the flesh. Instead of boiling with anger, this time we see a Simeonite inflamed with a perverted sexual desire. Can you see a pattern developing here? The one that should have ears to hear is deaf to the instructions of the Creator. He is ruled by desire, his lower nature, making him no better than a beast of the field.

Unlike the other tribes (save Levi), Shimon didn’t receive a separate neighboring portion in the Promised Land. Instead, Shimon was scattered in various towns and cities within Judah’s allotment.[6] Jacob’s rebuke held true for both Levi and Shimon. Some of our actions have long lasting and dire consequences, even though we have found forgiveness.  This leads us back to the other themes for this month (Av): mourning, repentance, remembrance, and finally, joy. The good news is that one day, YHWH will turn all of our fast days into joyful celebrations for those that love truth and peace.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.’ (Zec. 8:19)

Meanwhile, We Remember

 Interestingly, there is only one person that the Torah records the exact date of their death. That man was the High Priest, Aaron.

Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the LORD, and died there in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come from the land of Egypt, on the first day in the fifth month. (Num. 33:38) 

Aaron passed from this life on the new moon of the fifth month of Av. It seems that from this point forward, Av would be associated with mourning. Since Aaron is directly connected to the Tabernacle and later Temple, I find it incredible that both Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples were later destroyed in the very month that her original High Priest passed away. There are many reasons for us to mourn these losses, but there are also reasons to wipe our tears and look forward to a better hope/future.

wipe-tears-550x320The move from mourning to celebration is mirrored in the traditional haftarah reading for the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av. This Sabbath is called “Shabbat Nachamu” or the Sabbath of Comforting. The haftarah reading is from Isaiah 40: 1-26 and speaks of comforting God’s people after their suffering.

Moreover, by the time the moon gets full during the month of Av, another traditional holiday emerges: Tu B’Av (fifteenth of Av). After all the mourning of Tisha B’Av, the people began to rejoice. Like the ninth of Av, there are several events that are associated wih this date in history; but instead of destruction, this date brought great reprieve and comfort to the people.

The first mention of Tu b’Av is in the Mishna (Taanit), where it says , “There were no better days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What they were saying: Young man, consider who you choose (to be your wife).” (Taanit 4:8). According to the Gemara, on this day the “tribes of Israel were permitted to mingle with each other” (Taanit 30b).

Here are few things that are said to have occurred on Tu B’Av:

  • The death of the generation that left Egypt ended. (Ending the judgment for believing the report of the 10 evil spies.)
  • The daughters of Zelophehad were granted an inheritance like sons.
  • Members of the Tribe of Benjamin were readmitted to the community (Judges 19-21)
  • King Hosea, the king of the Northern Kingdom, removed the restrictions of King Jereboam prohibiting the northerners to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
  • The Romans permitted the Jews to bury their dead who fell at Beitar.
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As you can see, the month of Av ebbs and flows with the themes of destruction (judgment) and renewal. While Jews refrain from marrying during the mourning period of Av, the later part of the month, beginning with the fifteenth, marks a strong transition in their countenance. So much so, that many do marry on or just after this date. (Or new courtships are started.) This is the epitome of mourning turning into joy! As such, Tu B’Av is said to be a festival of love— quite a contrast to Tisha B’Av.

I encourage you to do your own research on the Chodesh Av, Tisha B’Av, and Tu B’Av. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips you need only use them. For now, I thought it best to leave you with a few bullet points for ways to celebrate and meditate during the Rosh Chodesh of Av and the fast of Tisha B’Av.

Chodesh Av

  • Meaning: Av means Father. Mazel for this month is aryeh (the lion).[7] (A clever eye will notice that this month pictures both the Father and the Son.)
  • Major theme: Destruction and Renewal.
  • Meditation: Hear (Shema) the voice of Adonai. Discern between the voice of YHWH and the desires of the nephesh (flesh).
  • Remember: The Tabernacle, fallen Temples, and other rebellions of the past. Learn from them.
  • Look Forward: To our heavenly High Priest, Yeshua, the third Temple, and the eventual New Jerusalem.

Tisha B’Av

  • Fast from sundown to sundown on the ninth of Av (unless it falls on Shabbat, then fast the following day). Feel free to look up other traditional things to avoid during the fast such as not wearing leather shoes, perfume, and avoiding baths. (These are ways to “afflict your soul/nephesh” as you focus on lamenting and repentance.)
  • Confess the sins of our forefathers. (Remember that many of the atrocities that happened to the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av came by the hand of Christians.) Daniel 9 gives us a model of confessing the sins of others.
  • Read through Lamentations.
  • Search for Scriptures that speak about God’s mercy on His people and/or texts on fasting and repentance.

 

For more understanding of why nine (Tisha B’Av) is associated with both judgment and blessings click here and here. For more on the significance of five, as in the fifth month and fifteenth day (Tu B’Av), click here and here


[1] Gen. 29:33

For the month of Av being associated with Shimon, see Artscroll’s Wisdom in the Hebrew Months.

[2] The Hebrew word translated as “crush” in the Lamentations verse above is Strong’s number: H7665. It literally implies breaking or brokenness. Brown, Driver, and Brigg’s Hebrew defines it thusly:

שׁבר

shâbar

BDB Definition:

1) to break, break in pieces

1a) (Qal)

1a1) break, break in or down, rend violently, wreck, crush, quench

1a2) to break, rupture (figuratively)

1b) (Niphal)

1b1) to be broken, be maimed, be crippled, be wrecked

1b2) to be broken, be crushed (figuratively)

1c) (Piel) to shatter, break

1d) (Hiphil) to cause to break out, bring to the birth

1e) (Hophal) to be broken, be shattered

[3] Gen. 34:25

[4] Gen. 34:30

[5] Dt. 33. Shimon is absent from the blessings.

[6] It appears to me that Judah takes authority and care over the Simeonites. This is likened to Yeshua taking care of and covering us for our sinful mistakes. In other words, we didn’t “shema”, hear.

[7] This is NOT astrology! The enemy has twisted the monthly constellations into a perverted way to divine the future and/or disposition of a person. But, YHWH says the stars were put in the sky to mark the seasons (moedim), to be as signs, to distinguish day and night, and to give LIGHT upon the earth. The heavens declare the glory of God. This includes the stars and the constellations. A careful look at the Creator’s handiwork will reveal that the constellations proclaim the Gospel, and were never meant to divine your personal finances, love life, or the like.

Categories: Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Five Smooth Stones

He (David) took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. (1 Sam. 17:40)

K. Gallagher

K. Gallagher

My family recently visited the Cherokee National Forest to view the beautiful waterfall in Tellico Plains called Bald Creek Falls. Noted as one of the most scenic and impressive falls in eastern TN, it is also the most accessible. (You can get a great view and photography opportunity right from your car.) We decided to spend the day relaxing up the road along the Tellico River. Though the temperature outside was hot and humid, the river water was a chilling 60 degrees. (One of the reasons it is ideal for trout fish.) Needless to say, the stark contrast of the water and air temperature made this an ideal place to spend a hot summer afternoon.

As I sat on a large rock dangling my feet in the refreshing cold water, I took a survey of the thousands of smooth stones surrounding the riverbed. I bent down to examine stone after stone. Each had its own color, pattern, size, shape, and other unique characteristics. But nearly every single one had soft smooth edges. (Ideal for skipping, my husband and son would tell you.) Just gazing at the constant flow of the water or listening to its soothing rushing sound is enough to invoke feelings of relaxation and wonder. But dialing the lens in closer, looking at the seeming mundaneness of pebbles and stones, conjured up thoughts of another person that obviously enjoyed the brook, the young King David.

When faced with the threat of an enemy army and their champion giant, it wasn’t the king’s armor or sword that David chose to wield. No, this shepherd went with what he knew best, his trusty old sling shot. His choice of ammunition? Five smooth stones from the brook or river. Before we get into his choice of picking up five stones, let’s look at the Hebrew word used here for brook. It is different than the word for river used in Genesis 2:10, where I examined the The Rivers of Eden.

In Hebrew, the word is nachal spelled nun, chet, lamed.[1] It is indeed a stream, brook, or river. But what struck me is its verbal root, also nachal,[2] which means to inherit, to occupy, to bequeath, or to possess. In other words, David drew his ammo from the only trustworthy source: from the living waters of the promises of YHWH. David knew that Saul’s armor had not been tested, but there was One that had never failed David in the past. David took from the inheritance he had in YHWH Tz’vaot.

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17: 45-47)

What made David so sure that he could defeat the giant, Goliath? After all, he was the youngest of his brothers and was much smaller in stature than King Saul. I believe it was because he knew who he was in the eyes of Elohim (God). Shepherding the flocks of his father Jesse had given him valuable experience in not only tending to the vulnerable, but also in defeating mighty beasts. And that’s exactly what David compared Goliath with, an uncircumcised beast.[3]

David knew that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) would always prevail over the nephesh/flesh of a beast whether that beast is an actual beast of the field, or if it is a man living in the beast’s image. David had already chosen to live after the image of Elohim (God). Those made in the image of God RULE over all creatures, great and small.[4] Goliath was no exception and David had complete faith in this truth from the Word of YHWH.

Though the giant taunted Israel with threats for forty days[5], invoking great fear in the king and army of Israel, David could “see” beyond his natural sight. I believe this is figured not only in the source of his ammunition, but in the number of stones that he chose to wield.

Why Five?

In Hebrew, a stone or eben, is a contraction of the words father and son (av + ben).[6] This is why a stone is not only strong, but a far worthier choice of ammo against the enemy. What is stronger than the Father and the Son? Nothing! If this is true, why did David choose five stones when it only took ONE stone to defeat the great giant?

K. Gallagher

K. Gallagher

I believe that YHWH loves metaphors and figurative language. Literary devices such as these are what give depth and dimension to any story, report, poem, song, dream, or vision by conveying multiple facets and angles in very little space. Thus, details matter greatly and can often reveal a sharp angle that is cut just so that the story sparkles only when it is held and turned slowly in the LIGHT. A less diligent examination would miss this beautiful twinkle and some of the story’s dimension.[7]

Five is the number of strength and power as the fifth manifestation of the Holy Spirit. (Is. 11:2) This power is what fueled the first global migrations of the birds and fish created on the fifth day of creation. Just in case we missed this connection with creation and the number five, it says in 1 Sam. 17:48 that when Goliath went to meet David in battle, that David “ran quickly” to meet him. The word for ran (rutz) is the same root word used to describe the movement of the creatures created on day five. Quick flowing movement is a trademark of those filled with YHWH’s Spirit of Power.

For more symbolism found in the number five, please see my article: Hebrew Numbers 1-10. For now, consider that there are FIVE books of Moses or Torah. The Ten Commandments were written on two stone tablets, each with FIVE commands. FIVE is associated with grace, the gospel, and anointing.

Though it only took one smooth stone to defeat Goliath, David picked up five, a clear indication that the Torah (Word) is what defeats a beast. Our greater King David, the Messiah Yeshua, was likewise taunted (tempted) for forty days. Like David, He overcame the adversary with one smooth stone by quoting one of the FIVE books of Torah. (Deuteronomy, the fifth book) Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The hints of the number five are one example of many precious stones scattered throughout the Biblical text. When the Light hits them just right, our (spiritual) eyes see the connections that thread the entire Bible together in one seamless and flawless tapestry. The same story is told again and again in simple and progressively more detailed and varied ways. That story is the good news or the gospel.

So, Why Are the Stones “Smooth”?

The answer to this question came to me as I sat by the river examining the multitude of smooth stones and pebbles. If the Word is in us, we become the stones that cry out in triumph.[8] We have become One with the Father and the Son.[9] The constant washing of the water of the Word wears down all of our rough and crooked edges. Like the river stones, this is a slow process, a journey if you will, down the bumpy and twisted path of life.

K. Gallagher

K. Gallagher

Each impact, trial, and toss that the Living Water subjects us to, wears, carves, and sculpts us into the image of Elohim. The persistent and consistent rush of tiny water droplets beats things that offend off of us until we are as smooth as one of David’s five stones. (And the Word of God)

God chose the story of David and Goliath to be one of the first impressions we are given about King David. Why do you think this is so? Could it be that He wanted us to know how “a man after His own heart[10] defeated the beast without AND the beast within (nephesh/flesh)? We do see David battling both throughout his lifetime. One quality seems to stand out with David and it’s not perfection. He committed serious sin in his lifetime. But like the water, David was persistent and consistent to turn (repent) and let God continue the good work He began in David. As such, he became a “living stone” and a role model for us.

I think YHWH expects us to sit by a river and meditate on the smooth stones and the rushing water. This natural phenomenon has deep spiritual implications. The Father’s Light (water) is always trying to penetrate our thick skulls (and hearts). But like the hard rocks, we must yield to the soft water (of the Word). The will of God is evident: He desires for us to be the Living Stones in His House.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua the Messiah.” (1 Peter 2:5)

 I want to leave you with the following passage from the Book of Revelation. This section speaks about our future inheritance (nachal). Like David, we can draw from this truth right now when we have a giant to face. Life is hard and trying. If you find it easy, you might not be in the River getting worn and washed by the Word. Rejoice in your current battle, circumstances, and trials. Move fluidly and without fear as David did; for each step will only make you smoother in the New Jerusalem!

 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:9-27)


[1] Strong’s number 5158.

[2] Strong’s number 5157.

[3] 1 Sam. 17:34-37

[4] Gen. 1:26-28

[5] Forty is a time of completeness as a multiple of four. It especially marks a period of testing and trial. By the time David arrives on the scene, this period has reached its peak and David, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (4), is ready to move in strength and power (5) against this insolent head of a beast. For more on the symbolic meaning of numbers, see Hebrew Numbers 1-10 or Misparim.

[6] See Frank T. Seekins’ Hebrew Word Pictures under Aleph.

The Hebrew words “stone” (eben) and “son” (ben) were spoken by the Messiah in a play on words in Matthew 3:9, “And do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones (eben) God is able to raise up children (ben) to Abraham.”

Luke 19:37-40 records Yeshua making another comparison to His people (ben) and stones (eben).

[7] Don’t let this reality cause you or those you love to despair. The wisdom of YHWH is all encompassing. The plain, simple, one-dimensional surface meaning of His Word is enough for the smallest child and any of us. The joy is that no matter our I.Q. or developmental stage, the Word is Alive! From the shallow pools to deepest depths, the nuances, patterns, analogies, symbolism, chiasms, numbers, and codes are in His Word for the unearthing. No matter who or where you are, the Word has just what you need and more. There is something for everyone, no matter your maturity level. I don’t know about you, but I find this most extraordinary and exhilarating!

[8] See notes in footnote 6.

[9] “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23)

[10] 1 Sam. 13:14

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Hebrew Numbers 1-10

This is a reference post for those of you interested in Hebrew letter/number symbolism. You will be able to see related articles and reference information under the new menu heading Misparim — of which I will be adding to periodically. 

NL06-(1-10TRACK-TEACH)large

One Achat [f.], echad [m.] Oneness, Unity, Primacy, First, Beginning. Single and not plural, not subject to multiplicity or division. (1×1=1) One remains one, it does not change. God is One. (Dt. 6:4) There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father. (Eph. 4:4-6)

  • First Hebrew letter: Aleph (Meaning strength, ox, leader, first)
  • On day 1 of creation (one day), light is separated from darkness. Instead of indicating division, this demonstrates the set-apartness of God and His Light. This day is called tov or good. It is akin to being called out.
  • First Feast: Pesach (Passover) Lev. 23
  • First Spirit of God: Chokhmah (Wisdom) Is. 11:2
  • First Church of Revelation: Ephesus (Meaning First, Desirable, or Permitted)

Hebrew_NumbersTwo   Shtayim [f.], shnayim [m.] Divide, division, oppose, judge, discern, witness, conflict, blessing, abundance. Context determines meaning. Ideally, 2 should mirror 1, as in the “two shall become one flesh”: 2 great commandments (love God/love neighbor), 2 houses of Israel, 2 sticks, 2 sisters, 2 olive branches, 2 silver trumpets, 2 leavened loaves on Shavuot, 2 cherubim guard Ark of the Covenant, 2 good spies (Joshua and Caleb). What is opposite is meant to complement for a blessing, not bring division and conflict.

  • Second Hebrew letter: Beht (Meaning house, tent, sons/daughters, to build, as a preposition “in”) 1st letter of the Bible is an enlarged beht.
  • On day 2 of creation, the heavenly and earthly waters are separated; this creation day is not marked as tov (good). Heaven and earth are meant to reflect (mirror) one another in oneness.
  • Second Feast: Matzah (Unleavened Bread) Lev. 23
  • Second Spirit of God: Binah (Understanding) Is. 11:2
  • Second Church of Revelation: Smyrna (Meaning Myrrh)

Three   Shelosh [f.], sheloshah [m.] Gather, resurrection, balance, equilibrium, pattern, trees, counsel, and strength. Three brings harmony and unity to opposites like 1 and 2. Three creates a solid or a foundation and makes the first geometric shape (triangle). The sequence of 3 makes a chain of continuity: 3 patriarchs, 3 woes, 3rd day, 3 primary manifestations of the Godhead, 3 ply cord, 3 witnesses, 3 kings of united Israel, 3 primary missionary journeys of Shaul (Paul). Messiah was in grave for 3 days and 3 nights. (Sign of Jonah/resurrection)

  • Third Hebrew letter: Gimel (Meaning to ripen, reward, recompense, benefit, foot, camel)
  • On day 3 of creation, the waters are gathered together, dry land appears, and the first seeds, plants, and trees spring to life.
  • Third Feast: Yom HaBikkurim (Early Firstfruits of Barley) Lev. 23
  • Third Spirit of God: Etzah (Counsel) Is. 11:2 (Root for etzah is etz, a tree.)
  • Third Church of Revelation: Pergamum (Meaning height or elevation)

Four   Arbah [f.], arbahah [m.] Authority, government, rule, dominion, calendar, time, creation, kingdom, fullness, receiving Torah (Law) and Holy Spirit. Judah was 4th born son and has the scepter of rule. Pictures completeness much like seven. 4 matriarchs, 4 corners of the earth, 4 horns on altar, 4 tassles (tzit-tziyot), 4 living creatures, 4 horsemen, 4 rivers of Eden, 4 winds, 4 gospels, etc.

  • Fourth Hebrew letter: Dalet (Meaning door, draw out or in, knock, path, way, bough, branch)
  • 7 loaves fed four thousand with 7 baskets leftover. (Mt. 15:32-39)
  • On day 4 of creation, the sun, moon, and stars are placed in the sky (natural light) to govern the moedim (feast days). They mark time and give signs. Their natural light separates from the darkness.
  • Fourth Feast: Shavuot (Pentecost) Lev. 23
  • Fourth Spirit of God: Ruach Adonai (fullness of Holy Spirit) Is. 11:2
  • Fourth Church of Revelation: Thyatira (Meaning perfume, odor of affliction, sacrifice of labor, or castle Thya)

Five   Chamesh [f.], chameeshah [m.] Power, strength, alertness (wake-up!), Torah, grace, service, gospel, fruitfulness, going forth, fast movement. Incense and anointing oil had 5 ingredients. We are empowered by the Word (Torah) and the Spirit. All is given by God’s mercy and grace. 5 Books of Torah, 5-fold ministry, David’s 5 smooth stones defeat Goliath, fruit from fruit trees is fit to eat in the 5th year.

  • Five loaves fed five thousand, leaving 12 baskets leftover. (Mt. 14:16-21, a story in all 4 gospels)
  • Fifth Hebrew letter: Hey (Meaning breath, behold, definite article “the”, to make known)
  • On day 5 of creation, the birds and fish were created. They move fast and carry seed throughout the whole earth in their migrations. Like them, we are anointed and filled with the Spirit to carry God’s Seed, the Gospel throughout the earth.
  • Zelophehad had FIVE daughters and no sons. The daughters brought a case before Moses asking to receive an inheritance as sons. YHWH tells Moses that the women are right and they get an inheritance. (Num. 27:7)
  • Fifth Feast: Rosh Hashanah/ Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) Lev. 23
  • Fifth Spirit of God: Gvurah (Power) Is. 11:2
  • Fifth Church of Revelation: Sardis (Meaning red ones, prince of joy, escaping ones, or those who come out)

Six   Shesh [f.], sheeshah [m.] Image, man, beast, flesh, sacrifice, intimacy, finished work, knowledge, number of man and beast, antichrist, idol, and eternal judgment. Six usually refers to the works of man, but ideally represents sacrificial love and intimate knowledge. When the latter is forsaken, only idolatry and flesh remain. We are either projecting the image of God or the image of the beast (flesh).

  • Sixth Hebrew letter: Vav (Meaning hook, nail, to connect, tent peg, add to, as a conjunction = “and”)
  • On day 6 of creation, beasts of the field (land creatures) and mankind (male and female) were created. Mankind is designed to rule.
  • Peter had the vision of the sheet with unclean beasts at the sixth hour. (Acts 10:9) The vision was a parable; the beasts represented people (men), not food. He saw the sheet 3 times and 3 Gentile men (3+3=6) came to see him. (Acts 10:28-29)
  • Sixth Feast: Yom HaKippurim (Day of Atonements) Lev. 23
  • Sixth Spirit of God: Da’at (Knowledge; sacrificial love) Is. 11:2
  • Sixth Church of Revelation: Philadelphia (Meaning brotherly love)

Seven   Shvah [f.], sheevah [m.] wholeness, completeness, rest, and holiness. We rest in the finished work (6) of the Messiah. There are 7 days of creation, 7 Spirits of God, 7 feasts of God, 7 churches in Revelation, 7 stars in Yeshua’s hand, 7 golden lampstands, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, 7 eyes of the Lord, 7 horns & eyes on the Lamb, 7 abominations (wicked lamp spirits Pr. 6:16-19), Sampson has seven locks of hair in which lies his strength (Holy Spirit), etc.

  • Seventh Hebrew letter: Zayin (Meaning plowshare, weapon, sword, to arm, to adorn, to cut, to feed)
  • 1st verse of the Bible has 7 Hebrew words with 28 (4×7) letters.
  • Blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat 7 times on Yom Kippur. (Lev. 16:14) Blood of the chatat (sin) offering was sprinkled before the veil 7 times (Lev. 9:17)
  • 7 of the Ten Commandments are negative and begin with the Hebrew loh, or no/not, as in thy shall not.
  • 7 loaves fed four thousand with 7 baskets leftover. (Mt. 15:32-39)
  • On day 7 of creation, God rested from His work. He set the 7th day apart as holy. 7 transcends the natural and moves into the supernatural. We begin every week (and even every day as the day begins at sunset) by RESTING. This is the pattern from the very beginning. We rest first in the finished work of God, then we go to work.
  • Seventh Feast: Sukkot (Tabernacles) Lev. 23
  • Seventh Spirit of God: Yirat Adonai (Fear/reverence of God) Is. 11:2
  • Seventh Church of Revelation: Laodicea (Meaning justice or vengence of the people)

Eight   Shemoni [f.], shemonah [m.] Literally to “make fat”. New beginnings, not just complete (like 7), but satiated. Becoming “fat” is having more than enough. Full to overflowing. Moves from natural to supernatural.

  • Eighth Hebrew letter: Chet (Meaning wall, fence, protect, new beginning, separation, sin, outside, olam olam)
  • Covenant (pictured in circumcision on 8th day).
  • Righteous King Josiah began his rule of Judah at the age of eight. (2 Kings 22:1-2) In the eighth year of his reign, while still a boy, he sought YHWH and began to purge Judah of high places and Asherim. (2Chr. 34:3) He repaired the Temple, discovered the Torah, repented, and cleansed Judah further in the eighteenth year of his reign. (2 Kings 22:3 – 23:20) Also in his eighteenth year, he restored YHWH’s Passover (1st feast -see one). With Unleavened Bread, Passover is EIGHT days. (2 Kings 23: 21-25)
  • Eight days after His resurrection, Yeshua appeared again to the disciples and spoke to (doubting) Thomas. Thomas proclaimed Yeshua “My Lord and my God”. (John 20:26-29)
  • Transfiguration occurred on the 8th day (Luke 9:28); and Peter wanted to build 3 sukkot (tabernacles) for Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah. This is a direct reference to the season of the transfiguration: Sukkot – the 8-day feast of YHWH!
  • Torah (Law) is elevated to the spiritual realm in Ps. 119 by following an 8 verse alphabetical sequence. (See also Ps. 19:7) Paul says, “the Law is Spiritual” in Rom. 7:14 indicating that it is above the natural realm of carnal flesh.
  • Elijah performed 8 miracles; and Elisha doubled that with 16 (a multiple of 8).
  • Eight souls were saved from the flood in Noah’s day.
  • Chanukah (a late Sukkot festival) is eight days long. It’s major themes are overcoming darkness and heavenly miracles.
  • Shemini Atzeret, the last great 8th day of Sukkot asks us to linger (add to over flowing) one more day with YHWH.
  • King David, a prefigure of Messiah Yeshua, was the 8th son of Jesse (a multiple of 4 [number for scepter, government, authority, and rule]). (1 Sam. 17: 12-14)

Nine   Tehshah [f.], teeshah [m.]  Last and largest single digit. Signifies finality, judgment, harvest, fruitfulness, the womb, duality (good/evil), concealment, truth, loving-kindness, fruit of the Spirit, turn to look upon/gaze, hour of prayer, etc. When nine reveals what it conceals inside, we see fruitfulness, multiplication, and the building of the House.

  • Ninth Hebrew letter: Tet (Meaning basket, good/evil, snake, surround, knot, twist, spiral, fruitfulness, repentance, judgment)
  • There are 9 fruit and gifts of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23, 1 Cor. 12:8-10)
  • Human gestation lasts 9 months.
  • Feast cycle covers 9 months.
  • Chanukah falls in the ninth Hebrew month (Kislev).
  • 9th hour is hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1; 10:30)
  • Yeshua gave up His Spirit at the 9th hour. (Mt. 27:46)
  • Cornelius saw an angel of God in a vision at the ninth hour. (Acts 10:3, 30)
  • 9 has mathematical properties unlike any other number. (See this article.)
  • 1st recorded biblical war was 4 kings against 5 (4+5=9)
  • Abram was 99 when YHWH changed his name to Abraham, gave him the covenant of circumcision, and predicted Isaac’s birth. (Gen. 17)
  • Sarai was 90 when YHWH changed her name to Sarah and was promised a son (Isaac). (Gen. 17)
  • Yeshua will leave the 99 sheep to go after one. (Mt. 18:12)
  • Out of ten cleansed lepers, nine do not give praise to God. (Luke 17, one foreigner does give praise!)
  • End time harvest is marked by wars and rumors of war and great judgment. A harvest cannot be made without separating the wheat from the chaff or without putting a sickle to the heads of grain. (Hence, 9’s association with judgment.)

Ten   Esehr [f.], ahsahrah [m.] Divine order, completed cycle, measure, or group whether for good or evil, blessing or judgment. A tenth part represents the whole in a tithe.

  • Tenth Hebrew letter: Yohd (Meaning hand, work, worship, deeds, fist, power, congregation)
  • Ten Commandments
  • Ten Plagues
  • Abraham endured 10 trials.
  • For the sake of 10 righteous people, YHWH would have spared Sodom. (Gen. 18)
  • Abraham’s servant brought 10 camels as gifts to Rebecca. He knew she was the one because she watered them. (Gen, 24) Her brother (Laban) and her mother wanted her tarry with them for ten days.
  • Laban changed Jacob’s wages ten times. (Gen. 31:7)
  • Ten of Joseph’s brothers had to go down to Egypt to buy grain because of famine. (Gen. 42:3) Joseph sen them back with ten donkeys loaded with goods and ten female donkeys loaded with grain. (Gen, 45:23)
  • Israel rebelled 10 times in the wilderness. (Num. 14:22)
  • Israelites gathered at least 10 homers of quail in the wilderness. Those that ate it died with the meat between their teeth. (Num. 11:32)
  • There were 10 of 12 spies that gave a bad report to Israel, costing them a generation in the wilderness.
  • Foundation of Tabernacle was made from 10 x 10 silver sockets.
  • Fire came down from heaven 10 times (6 were in judgment).
  • Ten Virgins (5 wise, 5 foolish).
  • Ten lost tribes of Israel.
  • Tenth generation represented whole. (Dt. 23:3)
  • Ten generations from Adam to Noah.
  • Minyan is made complete with 10 men.
  • Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
  • Day of Atonement falls on 10th day of Tishrei.

For references, please see footnotes on this page: Misparim

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Creation Gospel | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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