Monthly Archives: February 2014

Miriam’s Cup Part III

 

For the best context, read Part I and Part II of Miriam’s Cup. This little study on water, the heavens, the Holy Spirit, Miriam, Baptism, and Pesach can only take us to one place: the fountain of Living Waters found in our Messiah! Please join me in drinking deeply from this wonderful well of life.

© Dnally

© Dnally

Before we proceed to the Living Waters and the Messiah, I would like to revisit Baptism or immersing in a Mikvah. While many Christians (falsely) assume that this ritual began in the Brit Chadashah (N.T.), those that have been returning to their Hebraic Roots are fully aware that this custom is far more ancient.

Genesis begins with water and Revelation ends with a river. The Spirit broods over the Creation waters and the angel shows John (Rev. 22: 1-2) a river of water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Notice that it is the Spirit AND the Bride that say, “Come!” They call to the thirsty and freely allow them to partake of the waters of life (Rev. 22:17). This calling action echoes the woman of wisdom in the Book of Proverbs. Later Solomon compares this woman to a precious fountain.[1]

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. (Pr. 18:4)

From the beginning, water has been associated with YHWH’s Spirit. What better imagery is there for the Spirit of God than that which causes all plant life to grow, nourishes all livestock, cleanses our bodies and garments, and sustains our overall well-being? Aryeh Kaplan, in his book Waters of Eden, states that, “Water is the primary connection that we have with the Garden of Eden.”[2] We seem to have been given a mystical link to this truth in the Genesis narrative. (Gen. 2) This story is strangely interrupted by an account of a river that is sourced in Eden. It breaks off into 4 tributaries that surround and water the entire garden. There may be a scarlet thread that runs throughout the Bible, but there is also a river of life — for those that look for it.

There is an old Midrash that has fallen Adam repenting by sitting in a river. Whether or not this is true is not the point. The emphasis is on the cleansing power of water, literally and figuratively. The waters of Eden are the waters that flow from the throne of God. Therefore, physical water is both literally and figuratively a cleanser. This is the same imagery used with Baptism’s washing away sins.[3] We repent because we desire to return to a clean state. Ultimately, our hope is resurrection unto eternal life and a permanent residence in the Kingdom from which crystal waters flow.

Water, Water, Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink

Have you ever been on a ship in the ocean so far from shore that you can no longer see land? It’s quite an eerie feeling the first time you experience this wonder. There is an overwhelming sense of smallness and vulnerability. The fear of what would happen if you became stranded is daunting. Perhaps you’ve watched movies or read books where this happened to someone. Not long ago, I watched the Life of Pi where an Indian boy is trapped for weeks on a small life boat with a tiger (he had been travelling with zoo animals on a ship that sank). Though he was surrounded by water, there was not a drop to drink. Dependence on condensation and rain water became a very real source of life for the boy and the tiger.

I think we often feel as (spiritually) thirsty as this unlikely pair. We perceive that the waters of salvation are everywhere, yet here we are dying from dehydration. We scramble to suck up the little bit of condensation we find and pray for rain. What we wouldn’t give to have a river of fresh water to quench our insatiable thirst!

Now, you may believe I’ve described an unbeliever or a lost person, but if you’re like me (human), then you too know this “dry soul” feeling even after coming to Messiah. Whether you find yourself in this place because of sin or because of testing, it is a very real campsite for the people of YHWH.[4] But the good news is that it is a temporary stop along the journey. Once we repent or learn the lesson, He refreshes us with the only thing that can really satisfy our souls, which is the Springs of Salvation, the Living Waters.

Is. 12:1-6  Then you will say on that day, “I will give thanks to You, O LORD; For although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me.  (2)  “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.”  (3)  Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation.  (4)  And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.”  (5)  Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth.  (6)  Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Women and Wells

We live in a world of chaos. The waters offered by the world and false religion leaves us dry and thirsty. But the Father knew this from the very beginning. His Spirit brings order and Living Waters to our chaos if only we will drink. In Genesis, these waters are brooded over by the “woman” of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we would expect a significant amount of prophetic testimonies to occur at wells (especially with women). Consider the most famous Biblical woman at a well, the Samaritan. Speaking to her, Yeshua says:

John 4:10-14  Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  (11)  She *said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?  (12)  “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”  (13)  Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  (14)  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.

The Samaritan woman gets all the press as being the “woman at the well” because Yeshua spoke very plainly to her about not only who she was, but who He is! However, that doesn’t mean that her story is the only story of a woman at a well that we should appreciate. In fact, I don’t believe we can fully grasp the Samaritan’s encounter unless we first understand her predecessors. The first century people that heard the testimony of this woman or even those that had just heard a retelling of these events would have had a very specific paradigm in which they would filter this story. That paradigm was the Torah of Moses.

Yeshua’s encounter with this woman is meant to remind you of other stories of women at wells. Have you ever considered that Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all found their WIVES at a WELL of WATER? We’ve already looked at Miriam’s connection to water and wells. I don’t think this repetitive theme is arbitrary. If you are the Bride of Yeshua, He will meet you at a well also. Perhaps this is why so many have a hard time separating Baptism and Salvation.

Yeshua tells the Samaritan woman that He can give her “living water”. What makes water “living”? And why and how does this water become a “well that springs up eternal life” once it is ingested? In order for waters to be considered “living”, they must be moving or flowing. Stagnant or still pools do not have “life” in Hebraic thought. Mayim Chayim (living waters) are characterized by MOVEMENT. Does this remind you of the Spirit of Elohim in Genesis?

We looked at the Song of Songs in the Biblical Role of Women Part III. As we discovered in that post, the imagery in this book is of both a complete and restored MAN and WOMAN. Both are functioning in their purpose and living righteously in the Garden (of Eden). Notice in the verse below that there is yet another association of a woman and life giving water. This is one of the godly functions of the female. A holy and restored woman will reflect the Holy Spirit by giving “water” and nurture to the seed that promotes growth and maturity.[5] Speaking of the woman, the man calls her:

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. (SOS 4:15)

Since the Song of Songs portrays a redeemed man and woman, we could say that both men and women as Yeshua’s Bride are a well of Living Waters. This is, in fact, exactly what Yeshua tells the Samaritan woman. We are often so focused on receiving Living Waters, that we forget that we are to be Living Waters! We water YHWH’s people just as the matriarchs gave drink to the patriarchs and watered the livestock. You are a Spring of Salvation and a fountain of Living Waters, because you belong to Messiah. We already have everything we need, but we still have a choice to make. Will we live it out, today? The choice is ours.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39) 

This truth is why both blood and water gushed from the “side” of Messiah as He hung on the tree. Like the first Adam, Messiah’s Bride comes forth from His side.

But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. (John 19:34) 

John later describes three things that testify who Messiah is.

It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.  (7)  For there are three that testify:  (8)  the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. (1Jn 5:6b-8) 

Since Messiah is returning for a Bride of like kind, we also will have these three witnesses: spirit, water, and blood. He meets us at well. We drink from the fountain. Like the Samaritan woman, we drop our water pots and run and witness to as many as we can about Messiah; thus, we become the springs leading others to Salvation. This theme is repeated again and again. We can see it in the Creation Days. We can see it in the Moedim (Feast Days). We can see it in the movement of the 7 Spirits of Elohim (Is. 11:2). The ancient matriarchs teach us how to be His Majesty’s Bride. We first give water to the patriarchs (minister to YHWH), and then we water the livestock (YHWH’s people). This is the essence of the Cup of Miriam.

Applying the Cup

Miriam’s Cup is filled with WATER, not wine. Wine can represent joy, judgment, or even the blood of Messiah. But there are three that testify. Water symbolizes both mayim and the Holy Spirit. By incorporating the Cup of Miriam into our Seder or even our weekly kiddush, we partake of all three symbols. Since the Cup of Elijah comes near the end of the Seder, we include the Cup of Miriam just after the candle lighting. This way, our four cups of wine will be flanked by the prophetess Miriam and the prophet Elijah. Miriam will represent the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we are continually watered and washed by the Word as we journey throughout this life, and Elijah will remind us of our coming complete redemption at the Messianic Age.

Hopefully, Miriam’s Cup will be a spring board for you to do more study. I would love to hear your thoughts on this tradition and any “connections” you may find. What does Miriam mean to you? How will can Miriam contribute to your families’ understanding of the Exodus?

Haggadah Ideas

  • After the women (or a woman) lights the Shabbat Candles, Have everyone partake of the WATER of Miriam’s Cup. Explain all the wonderful imagery in the patriarchs meeting their brides at wells.
  • Correlate this with the Holy Spirit, Baptism, the Springs of Salvation, Yeshua’s pierced side, the 3 that testify, and the Living Waters.
  • Relate all of this imagery with Pesach and Sukkot (The beginning and the end).
  • Praise YHWH for the women at your Seder and their contribution in rebelling at Pharaoh’s evil decrees.
  • Praise Yeshua for choosing you to be a spotless Bride.

 

 

 


[1] Proverbs 9:1-6

[2] Kaplan, Aryeh, Waters of Eden, New York (2003) p. 35

[3] ‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ (Acts 22:16)

[4] Remember the bitter waters at Marah? They were to test the people.

[5] Dr. Skip Moen teaches that the “living waters” provided by the woman are also a picture of her role as the ezer kenegdo: http://skipmoen.com/2009/11/28/connections/

 

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Miriam’s Cup Part II

In Miriam’s Cup Part I, we looked at the rather new custom of drinking WATER from a goblet inscribed with Miriam’s name during the Passover Seder. We explored where this tradition originated and why it may be important to incorporate into your own Seder. We also discovered the strong connection of Miriam with water. In this post, we will look at how the Holy Spirit is also linked to the imagery of water, wisdom, Pesach, and women.

© Lakis Fourouklas

© Lakis Fourouklas

The Three Leaders of Israel and the Godhead

“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam. (Micah 6:4)

The rabbis teach us that there are three good gifts that were extended to the children of Israel– the well, the clouds, and the manna.  The well was provided due to the merit of Miriam, the clouds of glory because of Aaron, and the manna on account of Moses.[1]

The link between the clouds of glory and Aaron is understandable when considering his specific role. Aaron officiated as High Priest in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that was perpetually covered with the protective pillar of cloud that shielded it by day.  He also ministered daily at the burning altar, just as the parallel pillar of fire hovered over the Mishkan at night.[2] Moses’ association with the heavenly manna is equally fathomable. He was the lawgiver and became synonymous with the Torah or Word of God. Bread (manna) has long been a symbol for the Torah and the Word.

What might not be immediately apparent is why the rabbis attribute the well or rock that gushed forth water in the wilderness with Miriam. In the Brit Chadashah (N.T.), we learn that the rock that followed them was in fact, Messiah.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (1Cor. 10:1-4)

Is there a contradiction between what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians and what the rabbi’s say about this “rock” or “well”? I hope to show you the harmony in their teachings with all three leaders (Moses, Aaron, and Miriam) and the glorious gifts (clouds, manna, and the well). In Part I, we started building the foundation as to why Miriam is linked to water. I hope to continue with this premise here. In the Book of Numbers, the water from the rock dries up immediately following Miriam’s death.

Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. (Num. 20:1-2)

The Torah seems to beg one to ask the question as to why the congregation had no water immediately following the death of Miriam. In Hebrew, these thoughts run together with a rhythmic flow. Indeed, the people viewed her as a source of life giving waters. Hopefully, you too can make this connection after reading Part I.

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam represented the King of the Universe on the earth. Is it not fitting that there were 3 of them? Isn’t the godhead most often manifested in 3 (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? Perhaps what may be eating at you is that Elohim would choose a female to represent one of His roles. Moses is clearly the strong father figure to Israel (as Law giver), Aaron is clearly a mediator and priest (like the Son, Yeshua), so Miriam and the life giving waters must represent the Holy Spirit. If you’ve read the Role of Women, this idea isn’t as threatening as it may first appear.

Hebrew students are fully aware that the Spirit of Elohim is always in the feminine form. (This is true of all spirits.) Thus, its not surprising to find God’s Spirit paired with feminine attributes or given to feminine metaphors quite frequently in the Bible. YHWH is neither male nor female, yet He has qualities that we would associate with each sex. This is why it takes BOTH a male and a female to display the image of Elohim in the natural.

The Ruach Hakodesh in Heaven and Earth

To better understand how Miriam, water, and the Holy Spirit can be equivalent expressions, review the first occurrence of Elohim’s Spirit is in Genesis.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

What is the Spirit of Elohim doing in the beginning? It is hovering or moving over the WATERS. Thus, our first association of the Ruach Hakodesh is with water. The primordial waters are separated into earthly waters (mayim) and heavenly waters (shamayim). Did you notice how waters and heavens sound alike in Hebrew? Can you see mayim in the shamayim?

Interestingly, the word for heavens, shamayim, denotes “fire waters” as it is a compound of the word water (mayim) and fire (esh).[4] We will explore this idea some more in a moment. But first,  look at the word for Spirit in Hebrew: ruach. Most of you already know that ruach is also the word for wind or breath. What might not be immediately obvious is that the air and wind are the heavenly counterparts to the earthly water currents. Wind powers most ocean and air currents. In Hebraic thought these “currents” of the mayim and shamayim reflect one another. Or you could say that “it is on earth as it is in heaven”.

Consider how the birds and fish move, migrate, school, or flock as they follow these currents across the globe — carrying seed. If you find these connections fascinating, I urge you to study Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s Creation Gospel.[5] You’ll never look at creation week or the whole of scripture again without noticing these often repeated themes. Waters and heavens are mirrors of one another; therefore, the notion that the Holy Spirit is both like wind and water is natural in Hebraic thought.

In the Gen. 1:2 verse above, God’s Spirit is moving, hovering, or brooding over the waters. Indeed, the Spirit of YHWH is active like the wind/birds and the water/fish. The Hebrew verb used is rachaph; the AHLB[6] defines it as the following:

Strongs #7363: AHLB#: 2763 (V) Flutter: The stirrings and shakings of a bird in the nest – Flutter: [freq. 3] (vf: Paal, Piel) |KJV: shake, move, flutter| {str: 7363}

Did you notice the tangible picture of a mother bird fluttering, shaking, and stirring her nest? Does this bring other verses to mind about Elohim being a protective mother bird?

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. (Dt. 32:11)

Like flying birds so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it. (Is. 31:5)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Mt. 23:37)

These movements are mimicked in the word for Passover, Pesach. It is a derivative of the protective fluttering actions of a mother bird.[7] [8] Indeed, our Great Elohim moves, flutters, leaps, and hovers over His Creation and His people like a mother protecting her precious chicks. This nurturing aspect of YHWH is divinely displayed in the female creatures of His creation. The Exodus story and the original Passover speak to our initial redemption, which is the Father calling us out for Himself. The “immature” state of the people (and us!) at this initial point of salvation necessitates the tenderness that can only be offered by a mother. Thus, we see YHWH’s Spirit pesach(ing) over the homes of His newborn chicks in Israel.

Pesach and Baptism

By carefully examining what happened when the “death angel” came through Egypt, we see that the same Spirit of YHWH that protected the Israelites also killed the first born of Egypt.

‘The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Ex. 12:13)

Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. (Ex. 12:29)

The Ruach HaKodesh can nurture and protect and at the same time bring destruction on His enemies. The Spirit is truly like the “waters” that we discussed in Part I. The difference is that the Holy Spirit is always acting with righteousness, even in judgment. After the Children of Israel are released from the grip of Pharaoh, they flee to the wilderness. Without a constant and considerable food and water source, the fledgling nation would be sure to die.

What happens is follows:

  • After 3 days without water, they reach Marah. The waters are bitter (undrinkable). Moses casts a branch in the waters and they are “sweetened”. (Ex. 15) This was YHWH testing the people.
  • They then find an oasis at Elim where 12 streams water the 12 tribes. (Ex. 15)
  • The people begin to cry out for food. YHWH provides them with the heavenly manna. (Ex. 16)
  • They reach Rephidim and again cry out for water. YHWH instructs Moses to strike the rock at Mt. Horeb and water gushes out for the people. (Ex. 17)

A person can live far longer without food than water. The beginning of Israel’s wilderness journey seems to center around issues of water. Miracles and judgments happen with water. Rejoicing and praise are performed by the edge of water. Bitter water is sweetened as a test. The twelve tribes each find their own refreshing stream at Elim. A miraculous “rock” becomes a well that can sustain millions. That same rock FOLLOWS them!

Water, water everywhere! Though the children can’t see it in the natural, they are surrounded with life giving water. (Does this remind you of the Rivers of Eden?) Is this not just like the Holy Spirit? We can’t see the “Spirit”, yet it is everywhere. One connection to the Spirit and water that is tangible to most all Believers is Baptism (or immersing in a Mikveh).

Baptism is a natural picture of the work of the Holy Spirit in the very beginning. The movement and separation of the mayim (water) and shamayim (fire waters) is the same moving and separating that happens when we experience this ritual.[9] It may be an outward symbol of an inward work, but to assume the Holy Spirit isn’t directly involved (and often in a very visible way) is not true. The washing and filling is pictured by both the water and the holy fire! Sometimes these are simultaneous experiences, and sometimes they are separate. Nevertheless, they reflect one another like the waters and the heavens and like the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. Unlike some, I fully believe this process is in continual motion and cyclical even in our individual lives.

But this still leaves us with our original question. Why are Messiah and Miriam both equated to the rock or well of water in the wilderness? Speaking of Messiah, Paul also has this to say:

  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2:9 KJV)

Elohim is One (Shema Dt. 6:4). When Yeshua walked the earth, He was the tangible form of the fullness of YHWH. Thus, we see Him in numerous places attributing an action to Himself and then declaring that the same action is really from the Holy Spirit or the Father.

Yeshua will not leave us comfortless, He will come to us, yet the comforter is the Holy Spirit.[10] Yeshua gives us Living Waters, but then proclaims that these waters are the Holy Spirit.[11] Just as Moses and even Aaron were prefigures of the Messiah, so is Miriam. The analogies are similar to both Moses and Yeshua being the Law giver. Or both Aaron and Yeshua being the High Priest. Why would it be any different for both Miriam and Yeshua to be the well in the rock?  Therefore, who is right? The rabbis or Paul? The answer is both!

Stay tuned for one last post in this series. My hope is to conclude by filling Miriam’s Cup with the Living Waters and the Mashiach in Part III.


[1] Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), Tractate Ta’anit 9a:  R. Jose the son of R. Judah says: Three good leaders had arisen for Israel … Moshe, Aaron and Miriam, and for their sake three good things were conferred [upon Israel], namely, the Well, the Pillar of Cloud and the Manna; the Well, for the merit of Miriam; the Pillar of Cloud for the merit of Aaron; the Manna for the merit of Moshe.

[2] Exodus 40:38

[3] See my post The Biblical Role of Women Part V for more on the feminine aspects of the Holy Spirit.

[4] The roots of the word shamayim are אש (esh, fire) and מים (mayim, water) The beginning letter א (aleph) is a silent stand-in for a beginning consonant, nothing more. Dropping it does not change the meaning of the two-letter word. So the Hebrew שמים literally means fire in water. The great Jewish commentator Rashi  says this about Genesis 1:8: The word shamayim is a contraction of [a word for] carrying of water, also [a word meaning] there is water, also esh and mayim, [meaning] fire and water. He blended them with one another and made the heavens from them. For more imagery of fire, see The Biblical Role of Women Part XI.

[5] Thecreationgospel.com

[6] Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner

[7] They share the two letter parent root chet, pey; which means to cover (in protective action).

[8] See my post on the Meaning of Passover.

[9] John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16)

[10] John 14

[11] John 7:38-39

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Miriam’s Cup Part I

miriams cup 3

This Passover season, I have given an often overlooked custom a second glance — well more like a long hard stare! Many of you incorporate the mystical and prophetic Cup of Elijah in your Passover Seders. For Believers in Messiah, this cup takes on even more significance because of John the Baptist. He truly paved the Way for Messiah at His first coming. Since we have already seen this “cyclical” prophecy fulfilled once, hopefully we will better be able to discern the spirit of Elijah in these last days.

If you’ve purchased a special goblet with Elijah’s name written on it to use at your Passover Seder, you may have noticed another more obscure goblet inscribed with Miriam’s name. What is this cup for? Is it just to satiate liberals and feminists? Does this “new” ritual have any redeeming value? My hope is to show you the richness and beauty that this tradition can bring to your Passover table, and perhaps even to your weekly Kiddush.

The Cup of Miriam is not part of a traditional Seder, and I can find no mention of it in any of the feast books that I own. (But, don’t let that deter you from reading on!) According to Risa Borsykowsky[1] , the practice of drinking WATER from a special kiddush cup called Kos Miriam, began with Stephanie Loo Ritari and her Rosh Chodesh Boston group in the late 1980s. Reading through the Exodus, one can find numerous righteous women that played significant roles that led up to the redemption of Israel from Egypt.[2] Mrs. Ritari decided to bring these “hidden” women into the “retelling” of the Passover story to not only honor the matriarchs, but as a tool to make the Seder more comprehensive for women and girls. The most prominent woman of the Exodus story is Moses’ sister, Miriam. Therefore, she will be our focus in this study.

The Bible calls Miriam a prophetess of Israel.[3] She alone ensured that baby Moses would live by following him as he floated down the treacherous Nile River.[4] She watched as Pharaoh’s daughter drew Moses from the water, and then cunningly secured Moses’ own mother as his wet-nurse. She helped sustain the Israelites during their trek across the wilderness and she led them in joyous song and dance to praise YHWH for the miracle of parting the Red Sea. Upon her death, the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron for a lack of life giving water.[5]

Did you notice the many connections of Miriam with water?[6]

Though her name can mean bitterness or even rebellion, the Hebrew also reveals that there is another (positive) side to Miriam. This should give hope to us all, as we each have both a good and evil inclination that wars for supremacy. To learn the duality of Miriam is to understand the ancient contradiction of what it is to be human. We all share the life long struggle between spirit and flesh.

Moreover, we would be wise to consider that other than one bad instance, Miriam’s portrayal of rebellion and bitterness was toward the anti-torah decrees of Pharaoh.[7] She and her family risked their lives by rebelling against Pharaoh. The midwives Puah and Shifrah acted similarly by defying Pharaoh’s edict to kill Hebrew male babies. It is interesting that it was the fearlessness of WOMEN that initially ignited the courage of all Israel. These brave lionesses stood firm and earned a spot forever in the Torah of our Elohim. Why would we leave their stories out of our maggid (retelling of the Passover story)?  Would our daughters not be strengthened to hear year after year that they too have this great potential residing within them?

Miriam and Water

As I was studying the many links between Miriam, water, wells, fountains, the Holy Spirit, the Word, Yeshua, and Living Waters, I could hardly contain my excitement! Miriam is spelled mem, resh, yod, mem. Water is spelled mem, yod, mem.

Did you notice how similar these words are in Hebrew? Miriam is water with an added resh, which is pictographically a head. Thus, her name is literally head or lead waters. This meaning can also be demonstrated another way in Hebrew by looking at Miriam as a compound of two words: mar and yam. These words mean bitter/strong and sea (waters) respectively. Hence again, Miriam is associated with the idea of strong (head) waters.

But what do strong waters imply and what are we to learn from this association? In order to get the full impact of Miriam’s role and name, we must first understand WATER from a Hebraic perspective. Mayim (mem, yod, mem) is a word bookended with two mem(s). The Hebrew letter mem is likened to water, a womb (it’s full of water), strength (as in gushing waters), chaos (again like an ocean), and as a preposition “to come forth from or out of”. This letter is one of a handful that has a sofit or final form when it is written at the end of a Hebrew word. A regular mem is open on the bottom, whereas the final form is closed.

mem

Rabbi Michael L. Munk, in his book The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet on the letter mem, states, “The word mayim, water, with its initial and end mem, one open and one closed, depicts the accessible and the inaccessible – an allusion to the waters at Creation.” Thus, mem also illustrates what is revealed and what is concealed. Add to that the letter at the heart of mayim, yod (a hand, work, or deed), and the Creation waters (and all water thereafter) become the same contradiction that we see in Miriam’s name: a work or deed that has the potential for life (strong living waters) or death (bitterness and rebellion).

Water is a place of darkness and yet, great potential in Creation and in a woman’s womb. It can be as powerful and destructive as a roaring ocean and as gentle and satisfying as a trickling stream. It is at the same time both a life giving necessity and a place where chaos and death reign (like at sea). If you read my posts on Crate Trained Believers and The Devouring Lion, you may have noticed the similar imagery. Gentle AND Fierce.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for mother, em (aleph, mem), also has the pictographic meaning of strong waters.[8] It seems as though the very fact that women have a womb that can fill with life giving waters connects them to Miriam.[9] Females made in the image of Elohim are “mothers” of all living. However, like our sisters Chavah (Eve) and Miriam, we also have the potential to bring chaos and death. (Like a tumultuous ocean.) One must learn to turn life’s bitter unruly waters into sweet waters of refreshing. By the way, this is also something men need to learn as well, for both men and women are revealed in the woman as the wife and bride of the Lamb.

This is the real Biblical portrayal of Miriam, the sister of Moses. She is truly a mother to the Israelites and a leader of her people.[10] Since the force and strength of her name is better understood, does this lend fresh insight about Mary (Miriam), mother of Yeshua? Isn’t it fitting that Yeshua should come forth from a womb such as this? How about the many other “Mary’s” mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (N.T.)? Will their stories speak a little louder the next time you read them?

There has been a tendency for us to forget that the Body needs both masculine and feminine leadership to keep us in balance and to display the whole image of Elohim (God). It is females that bring qualities such as comfort, nurture, protection, and mothering to the Body of Messiah. They are fierce AND gentle. Without these essentials, we raise nothing more than Devouring Lions.

Miriam is a representation of strength, the womb, mercy, prophecy, and praise. The ancient sages recognized the vital role of women in the Exodus in the Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b:

“If it wasn’t for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt”

The rabbis recognized the very thing examined above: women were the progenitors of Israel’s redemption from Egypt.[11] I hope that you will include Miriam’s Cup in your Seder or even in your weekly Kiddush as a commemoration of her vital role in the Exodus and as a role model to your daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives. But, if this isn’t enough to convince you, there is so much more! In Part II, we will look at how water is associated with the rock in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, and Pesach.

 


[2] There is Yocheved, the brave midwives (Puah & Shifrah), Miriam, and Tzipporah. See also footnote 6.

[3] Ex. 15:20

[4] Obviously, the Holy Spirit is what provoked Miriam to do this!

[5] Num. 20:1-2  Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there.  (2)  There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron.

[6] D. Hollisa Alewine’s Workbook 5 The Torah Portions Volume 2 –Shemot p.7-21 (2013) offers an interesting perspective on the women of the Exodus and Miriam in particular. If you’re ready to dig deep, buy this series and uncover a multitude of treasures.

[7] Numbers Chapter 12.

[8] See Hebrew Word Pictures by Frank T. Seekins (2003) p. 62

[9] The Hebrew word for womb, racham, ends with the letter mem. This is the same Hebrew word for mercy or compassion. Indeed the watery womb is a place of protection, growth, maturity, and nurture. This word shares the resh and mem with Miriam only adding a chet, which is a fence or boundary that protects.

[10] Micah 6:4  “Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.

[11] This makes perfect sense considering the “birthing” nature of women.

 

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The Devouring Lion

Lion

© Olgalis

In Crate Trained BelieversI submitted that as Believers, we should reflect the attributes of a lion and a lamb, because that’s who Yeshua is. When one’s self-image is out of kilter, it skews one’s true identity, and the image of Elohim in the earth. If we could really grasp the reality of who we are, our lives and impact on the world would be changed for the better. Many of think of themselves as weak, powerless, and vulnerable. These are NOT the traits of a lamb of Elohim. The problem seems to come from a false view of humility, which was the focus of the previous post.

Our Messiah is returning for a Bride of like kind. She will be both gentle (like a lamb) and fierce (like a lion), not one or the other. In order to be a spotless Bride, we must know how to be both. If we carefully follow the example of our Messiah, we can do just that. I have witnessed many that are gentle like a lamb, to a fault. They are proverbial doormats, and the host or hostess of the best pity parties. Their poor self-image renders them ineffective. Who would ever what to join the ranks of the Kingdom if this is the nature of its subjects?

On the other hand, I have also witnessed many that have become nothing more than a devouring lion. Mercy, grace, and compassion are exchanged for severity, strictness, and judgment. These prideful ones have forgotten how to be a lamb. Balance is the key to most issues of life and this is no exception.

Over the past decade, I have watched the Father gently awaken His people to His Torah. (I was one of them!) When our eyes begin to open, there is a rainbow of emotions that flood our lenses. Unspeakable joy, elation at answered questions, and a renewed hunger to seek after the Kingdom are some of the positive ones. But there are also some negative emotions like deep regret, guilt, shame, and immense anger. Truth sets one free, but it also sheds light on areas that we didn’t even know were dark. Therefore, repentance takes on a whole new meaning, and accountability skyrockets. Awakening to the Torah with Messiah is a hard place to stand in the beginning, and many have difficulty finding balance. Weeding through truth and lies is not for the weak hearted.

Those that come out on the other side usually take one of two forms. They are either humbled by the mercy of the King, determined to show His truth and mercy to the masses. Or, they become rigid and cold, resolute on scaring the masses into submission (their idea of righteousness). Many have been party to both sides as their internal pendulum swings, seeking balance.

Hear Me Roar

Sadly, many that have “awakened” to the Torah of YHWH have become a roaring lion without the restraint and gentleness of the lamb. I see and definitely hear them growling at any and everybody, but they are not tempered with mercy, grace, or compassion (lamb traits). While their zeal is commendable, they have forgotten their first love and the mercy that the Lamb extended to them. They forego righteous judgment for self-righteous judgment. They become the very thing they claim to hate: sanctimonious bigots.

They can’t meet with so-in-so because they don’t agree on this teaching, doctrine, etc. They isolate themselves from family that remains in the church (and smugly call them pagans); they burn bridges and create enemies at every turn all in the name of righteousness. If they would simply turn around and look at the destruction they have caused along the way, they would see that instead of planting, they are uprooting. They have no legacy of fruit and increase, only decay and death. All they can say is, But I’m right! I read it on the internet or studied it out for myself.

They are the image of the roaring lion seeking someone to devour, not the Lion of the tribe of Judah!

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Pet. 5:8)

There is a fine line here. The verses just before this have this to say:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Pet. 5:6-7)

We must understand and practice humility. A humble person puts another BEFORE himself, even if that person is less mature, imperfect, ignorant, and far from deserving it. This requires immense strength, compassion, and real sacrificial love. If your motive is to be “right” or even “holy,”[1] you are the weaker vessel operating in pride.

OUCH! I sadly have been this roaring lion when confronted with various issues and people in the past. I never want to make these mistakes again. Jacob is a lioness, but within that lioness is a gentle lamb, like Yeshua. We must be both, because He is both. There is a time for the lamb and time for the lion.

How do we discern the difference between the Lion of Judah and the Devouring Lion? The name tells us everything we need to know. Judah means “praise,” while devour means “to ravenously eat or destroy.” Does your life have a legacy of praise or better yet, do the people you influence have a legacy of praise? Or do you and they have a spirit that constantly divides brothers, condemns the ignorant, and gobbles up the faith of the immature? In other words, does your faith cause the weak to praise YHWH? Or does your faith sentence the weak to the pit?

As I surf the web, blogosphere, and social media, I “hear” many roaring lions that claim to keep Torah and follow Messiah. But they have no traits of a lamb whatsoever. When one realizes the depth of the lies we were taught and believed, it often invokes a spirit of anger. In fact, it makes many furious. If this strong emotion is not tempered with the cool and loving Holy Spirit, destruction is sure to follow.

Is this the heart of the Lion of Judah? Is His judgment ever NOT tempered with mercy, compassion, long-suffering, and love? If He still lends mercy and compassion to the masses, shouldn’t we? Can we leave our vengeful anger to Him? Can we instead be profoundly grateful for the long-suffering mercy He extended to us and offer that same compassion to those in ignorance, or even rebellion?

Who are you following: the devouring lion or the Lion AND the Lamb?

[1] Separation or holiness is necessary, but if separation fails to lead to gathering, it is a love a death, not life. The fruit will be rotten, and so will relationships. Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s Creation Gospel explores this fully; thecreationgospel.com

Categories: Messianic Issues, Musings, News Flash | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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