Posts Tagged With: hidden

What the Darkness Reveals

Dear readers, this is a written form of my Purim message from this morning’s conference 5781 (2021). 

Isaiah 45:3, 6-7 (TLV) I will give you treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, so you may know that I am Adonai, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name… 6 so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am Adonai—there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things.

At first glance, it might seem odd to consider that darkness reveals anything. Typically, we associate darkness with covering, hiddenness, chaos, confusion, sin, judgment, evil, or even death. Most of the Biblical references to darkness agree with those associations. However, like light, darkness is a contranym. While light is most often a symbol of the Word, Spirit, commandments, goodness, wisdom, and Messiah, there is also a false light. The enemy masquerades as a messenger of light. There is a light that is, in reality, darkness. (Luke 11:35)

Just as light doesn’t always equate to something good, darkness doesn’t always equate to evil. Light can blind instead of expose, and darkness can reveal things that light conceals. While the opposite is what one witnesses most often, it is important to know how darkness can be beneficial in our relationship with Adonai. This will build a stronger faith in the One that dwells in thick darkness.

In the natural, this can be compared to the electromagnetic spectrum. The vast majority of the spectrum is invisible, hidden, or one could say “dark” to the eyes of man even though it is all light. These portions of the spectrum have wavelengths too large or too small for the physical limitations of man’s sight. The tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum that man can see with his eyes is called “visible light.” This is also true in the spiritual realm. God compares Himself with light, and yet man can only perceive a fraction of His light.

1 Timothy 6:15-16 (NASB) …He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

In this sense, there is light that appears “dark” or hidden from man. But, it is only dark from man’s perspective, not God’s. Thus, there are some (good) things that flourish in darkness. Consider a seed buried in the darkness of earth. It is in this place of seeming death that it germinates and sprouts to life. Or, think of a baby in the womb. It is in this dark, watery place that new life forms and grows, awaiting her day of birth.

Psalms 139:11-13 (NASB) If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

While most flowers bloom with the light of day, there are some that only bloom at night to release their sweet perfume.[1] In Hebrew, the tzit-tziyot (fringes) figure the bloom of a flower and the commandments of God.[2]From those blooms, fruit will grow, mature, and become sweet. Just as some flowers bloom in the moonlight, some commandments are to be kept when it is dark, like Passover.

In Hebrew, there are two primary words for darkness. The first is choshek.[3] Like English, this word can imply physical darkness or an absence of light, but it is also used figuratively to represent something hidden, obscure, chaotic, or evil. The second term is araphel.[4] It is often translated as thick darkness or a dark cloud. Many Biblical verses describe the place where Adonai dwells with both Hebrew words for darkness. Here are a few:

Exodus 20:21 (NKJV) So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness (araphel) where God was.

Deuteronomy 4:11-12 (NASB) You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness (choshek), cloud and thick gloom (araphel). 12 Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice.

2 Samuel 22:10-12 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness (araphel)under His feet. 11 He rode upon a cherub, and flew; and He was seen upon the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness (choshek) canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

1 Kings 8:10-12 (NRSV) And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. 12 Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness (araphel).”

In light of this, what does darkness reveal? Consider the night sky. When the sun is shining brightly, the depths of the heavens are concealed from view. But when the sun sets below the horizon, and the beautiful blue sky fades to black, the multitude of stars, planets, and galaxies that exist far beyond the earth’s atmosphere become visible to the earth. The moon, which has no light in the daytime, becomes illuminated, shining her face upon the earth. Without darkness, one would never know that stars, planets, and galaxies dot the sky far beyond the blue heavens, nor would one know that the moon has any light at all.

In the natural, it is darkness that reveals the depths of the heavens. Do you suppose this is also true in the spiritual realm? Consider your life, your light in the earth. Is your light brighter in times of “light” or in times of “darkness?” Is the light of a lamp, candle, or flashlight easier to see in the daytime or at nighttime? Sometimes, we don’t know our potential, our lumens (light output), until we find ourselves surrounded by darkness or dark circumstances. That is what happened in the story of Esther. Facing the darkness of the shadow of death, she shined brilliantly and saved the Jewish nation living in the 127 provinces of Persia.

In Persian, Esther means “star.”[5] Stars shine in the darkness. Like all descendants of Abraham and Sarah, she was born to give light to a dark world.

Genesis 15:5-6 (NASB) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

In Genesis 1:14, the stars and other luminaries are l’ohtot, for signs. Esther served as a sign to her people; and, she is still a sign, a shiny star to Believers today. It is likely that she drew strength by recalling Adonai’s promise to her father, Abraham. Before Adonai walked through the Covenant of Pieces as the smoking oven and flaming torch, Abraham felt terror and great darkness.[6]

Genesis 15:12-14 (NASB) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness (chaskekah) fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.”

God’s covenant with Abraham occurred when it was dark. In this frightful place, Adonai told him the fate of his descendants, the figurative stars. Abram experienced this as terror and great darkness. Based on this account, Jewish writings have long associated exile with darkness. Thus, the setting of Esther is darkness because the Jews in Persia were living outside the Land of Promise.

But, Esther is more than a “star.” Her name in Hebrew sounds like hester, which means hidden. In the light of day, the stars are hidden from man. In other words, when things appear good to us, lights like Esther are concealed. A scroll is megillah in Hebrew. It means to unveil or reveal what’s inside. The scroll of Esther means: Revealing the Hidden.

Just below the surface of the story, there is a hidden subtext with brilliant light for eyes that are searching for it. Without the darkness of exile, Mordecai and Esther would not have had their opportunity to shine. Without our personal times of darkness, we wouldn’t either. The darkness tests what’s in our hearts. It exposes what we really believe. And, it reveals the depths of the heavens and God’s hand in our lives in ways that cannot be perceived in times of “light.” In this way, darkness benefits our faith, and deepens our trust in Adonai.

Hebrews 11:1-2 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Darkness Precedes Light

There is another important factor one should consider before examining the Scroll of Esther. Darkness precedes light. This pattern is first illustrated in the creation week, and then carried forth throughout the Word. It edifies one in times of struggle, turmoil, and even pending doom like Esther faced. In the beginning, there was darkness, and in that darkness, the Spirit of God hovered and fluttered over the faces of the waters.

Genesis 1:2-4 (NASB) The earth was formless and void, and darkness (choshek) was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

Darkness precedes light, just as exile precedes redemption. At creation, light came forth from the darkness. This is an important concept to grasp, because in all Biblical stories of redemption, darkness precedes light. This is also true for you and me. When we were lost in the darkness of our trespasses and sin, the Living Word of Adonai pierced our darkness with His light, the Messiah, and brought us redemption. Thus, the natural realm mirrors the spiritual.

Consider that in Hebraic thought, the “day” begins in the evening with darkness, then light emerges with the morning sun. “And there was evening and morning…” This is the model given from the first day of creation, and it has been followed faithfully by the Jewish people since that time. The seven day week also follows this pattern. The first six days of the week are mundane working days. One could say they are spiritually dark. But, the week ends with the holy Shabbat, a spiritual day, akin to “light” when man’s work ceases.

Similarly, new months begin when the moon is dark, often called the conjunction. In Hebrew, this period is called the molad, which means “birth.” However, it is not until the first sliver of light is witnessed emerging from the dark moon that it is sanctified and the new month begins.

On the larger, yearly cycle, the late fall and winter season can be likened to the “dark” part of the year, when there is literally less light. Whereas, the festival season that begins in the spring and extends to the first part of autumn, can be likened to the “light” part of the year. The feasts of Adonai occur when the days are longer and warmer. In every case above, darkness precedes light. That is the Biblical creation pattern. Thus, it is not surprising that new human life begins the same way, whether that life is physical or spiritual.

Isaiah 9:2 (NASB) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.

Darkness of Exile and Captivity to the Light of Redemption

Now, let’s examine how the creation pattern of darkness preceding light is illustrated in stories of redemption. The exodus from Egypt is the archetype of redemption. All stories of redemption share aspects of this monumental event, which is forever commemorated by the first feast on Adonai’s yearly cycle: Pesach. Messiah’s persecution, death, and resurrection follows this model. Consider the archetypal pattern: the last three plagues involved darkness before the children of Israel went out from Egypt:

Locusts – Plague 8:

Exodus 10:4-5 (LITV) For if you refuse to send away My people, behold, I am going to bring locusts into your territory tomorrow. 5 And they will cover the eye of the land, and no one will be able to see the land. And they will eat the rest of that which escaped, that which is left to you from the hail. And they will eat every tree that sprouts to you from the field.

Darkness – Plague 9:

Exodus 10:21-23 (LITV) And Jehovah said to Moses, stretch out your hand to the heavens so that darkness (choshek) may be on the land of Egypt, and one may feel darkness (choshek). 22 And Moses stretched out his hand to the heavens, and darkness (choshek) of gloom was in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see each one his brother, and they did not rise up, each one from his place for three days. Yet to all the sons of Israel there was light in their dwellings.

Death of Firstborn – Plague 10:

Exodus 11:4-5 (NASB) Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.

There is a clear mandate for followers of the God of Israel to remember the exodus. Notice when one is to do so:

Exodus 12:42 (NASB) It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.

Redemption (Passover) is to be commemorated at night, when it is dark. But, what was the mark that Israel’s redemption was complete?

Exodus 14:24, 27 (NASB) At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion… So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

When day light pierced the darkness of night, Israel’s redemption was complete! Pharaoh and his army were defeated in the waters of the Reed Sea. Does Messiah’s Passion follow a similar pattern?

 Matthew 27:45 (NASB) Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.

When Messiah hung on the tree, darkness fell upon the land for three hours, mirroring the three last plagues of darkness before the redemption of Israel. From man’s perspective, that darkness remained (figuratively) for three days and nights while Yeshua was in the dark tomb. Even when the women went to the tomb, it was dark.

John 20:1 (TLV) Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it is still dark, Miriam from Magdala comes to the tomb. She sees that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb.

Matthew 28:1 (NASB) Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

But with the morning light, Yeshua appeared to Mary and the others, a clear mark of a new dawn, a new day, and the evidence that He had overcame death and redeemed all those who believe. Once again, darkness preceded Light.

 

Purim to Passover

Based on all the above, why do you suppose that the rabbis ensured that Purim occurs one month before Passover in a leap year when there is an added 13th month or Adar 2?[7] They didn’t want us to miss the deep connections Purim has with Passover. Since both are stories of redemption, it is vital that we understand that whether God brings one out of darkness with a Mighty Hand and great miracles, or whether He works behind the scenes in life’s happenstances and coincidences, it is ALL Him. He is the Savior and Redeemer.

Purim occurs at the end of the cycle of months, and Passover occurs at the beginning. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. In nature, the season is transitioning from winter to spring – a type of darkness to light. In Esther and Exodus, the people were living in exile, or darkness. Their lives hang in the balance. Anytime one is in state of transition, there are many unknowns, things one can’t see. It is dark from man’s perspective.

But, that is the precise place where God works. David said, “Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou are with me.” (Ps. 23) He is right there with you in your darkness. His Spirit is hovering over the dark waters of our chaos. When Yeshua walked on water, like the Spirit in the Beginning, it was DARK and the wind and waves were contrary. (Mt. 14) Likewise, He is hovering and fluttering over your darkness, your chaos, your foggy circumstances. Light will come forth from your darkness. It is like a birth, a new creation .

Now, let’s step back into the story of Esther. This young Jewish girl ended up in a foreign king’s harem. Her entire life would be dictated by this (ungodly) ruler. She had no control over her life or circumstances. Her life must’ve felt pointless, and subjected to the will of others. When Esther first met King Ahasuerus, it was in a dark month of winter, Tevet, the tenth month. In this dark place and time, God gave her favor with the king, and out of all the other women, she was chosen to be his new queen.

Esther 2:16-17 (NASB) So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth (Tevet), in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

At this point in the story, Esther’s true identity is hidden from the king at Mordecai’s request. Meanwhile, it just so happened that while Mordecai sat at the king’s gate, he overheard two wicked officials discuss their plot to lay hands on the king. Mordecai reported the men to Esther, and she reported them to the king’s guard. The men were charged and executed. This incident turns out to be the key to the outcome of the whole story.

In the next chapter, Haman the Agagite is elevated to a position of authority. All pay homage to him except Mordecai, which infuriates Haman. His hatred extends to all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews. Three months after Esther is crowned queen, in the month of Nisan or the first Hebrew month, Haman casts purim (lots) to discover a favorable

Haman – May his name be Blotted Out!

month to destroy the Jewish people.

Esther 3:7 (NASB) In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.

This entire scene unfolds in the month of Nisan – the month of redemption on Adonai’s calendar. We don’t want to miss this connection. A great deal of this story occurs during the spring feasts. Once Haman divines that the month of Adar is best for destroying the Jews, he brings his plan to King Ahasuerus.

Esther 3:8-9 (NASB) Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. 9 If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.”

Haman was willing to put forth his own money to fund this campaign of death – 10,000 talents of silver, which is the equivalent of about 333 tons by weight or around $5.6 million dollars in today’s currency.[8] Haman was a man of great wealth, and he used it for evil. So, on the 13th of Nisan, the edict went out to all the provinces that nearly a year later, in the month of Adar, the people should prepare to annihilate the Jews. (Esther 3:11-15)

Esther 3:13 (NASB) Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder.

Pause right there and think about God’s calendar. From Nisan 10th to the 14th, the Passover lambs are examined for blemishes, so they can be sacrificed to the LORD to commemorate Israel’s redemption from Egypt. Was a blemish found in the “lambs” of the Jews living in Persia?

Esther 4:14 (NASB) “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Perhaps, Esther realized she and her fellow Jews did indeed have a blemish. Consider Haman’s accusation against the Jews. They were “scattered” and “dispersed,” and their laws were different that the King Ahasuerus’. While the latter is a good thing, being scattered and dispersed signals disunity among the people. Realizing this, Esther seeks to remedy the problem:

Esther 4:16 (NKJV) “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, a myrtle branch. Her response to Mordecai was to gather or assemble ALL the Jews. As a true Sukkot branch, she calls for the scattered people to come together in unity, just as the various lulav branches are gathered and waved before the LORD at Sukkot. Instead of feasting during Passover and Unleavened Bread, they fasted for their lives. Esther was willing to risk death for her people, a beautiful foreshadowing of the work of Yeshua.

As a result, the king was more than favorable when Esther approached him unannounced, even offering her up to half of his kingdom. She requests that the king and Haman attend a wine banquet that she had prepared. They do so, but Esther keeps her identity and true request concealed, inviting them to a second banquet the next day. Meanwhile, Haman builds 50 cubit gallows in which he intends to hang Mordecai.

During that night, the turning point of the narrative occurs. (Take note of the dark/light symbolism.) The king can’t sleep, so he has the chronicles read to him and discovers that Mordecai saved his life. The king desires to honor Mordecai for saving him. The next morning, Haman entered the courtyard to ask the king if he could hang Mordecai on the gallows that he built. In a funny turn of events, Haman instead ends up parading Mordecai throughout the kingdom to honor him for saving the king.

This mortified Haman, so he covered his head in shame, and went home to complain to his wife and friends. But, he was quickly ushered off to Esther’s second wine banquet. There, she finally revealed her true intentions. She unmasked Haman as the wicked one set on destroying her people, and revealed her Jewish identity to the king. The furious king hung Haman on the gallows he built for Mordecai.

All the above occurred during the spring feasts of Adonai. In third month of Sivan, when Shavuot is celebrated, the king allowed Mordecai and Queen Esther to issue new edicts for the upcoming time of destruction set by Haman in Adar. The rest is history. The Jews defended themselves, fear of them grew in Persia, the tables were turned, and they destroyed the ones determined to destroy them. These days were marked as the festival of Purim, a remembrance of the time Adonai turned them “from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a yom tov.” (Esther 9:22)

 

Warring with Amalek

Haman was descendant of Amalek, the people that attacked the weak and weary Israelites in the wilderness. After this, the LORD said that He would war with Amalek from generation to generation. (Ex. 17:14-16; Dt. 25:17-19) Moses built an altar at that time, and called Adonai YHWH Nissi, the LORD is my Banner, in honor of Adonai’s declaration. A banner is a nes, which is a sign, standard, or ensign. It is also related to the Hebrew word for miracle, nes.

A nes is something lifted up like a flag that can be seen from far away. When the children of Israel warred with the Amalekites, Hur and Aaron held Moses’ tired arms up as an ensign. As long as his arms remained raised with the staff of God, Israel prevailed. In the yearly Torah cycle, we reread this account in Exodus on Purim, as we celebrate Haman’s (Amalek’s) defeat.[9]

Adonai is truly our Banner, the One lifted up as our ensign. We look to Him and the battle is won. Every year at this season, we remember Amalek. We recall his battle tactics. He seeks to attack the stranglers, the weak, and the frail – those that are experiencing darkness. Those that are struggling with exile and hard circumstances. This is the time to lift up a banner for the whole camp of Israel to see. On Adonai’s calendar, that flag or standard is the Scroll of Esther.

She shines like a bright star to those in darkness, giving gentle instruction to the weary. She calls for gathering and unity, even in exile. She reminds us of Haman’s (Amalek’s) defeat, and the hidden, yet Mighty Hand of Adonai. Esther connects one to the new cycle, and prepares us for Pesach. She transitions us from darkness to light.

The Orthodox Pesach Haggadah highlights this with a song that is read at the end of the Seder on the first night of Passover called, It Came to Pass at Midnight. As you read through the lyrics below, meditate on the timing of redemption. When it seems like the darkest moment, even in our own lives, that is when Adonai comes to rescue us. In Egypt, we were slaves one moment, and then, at the “stroke of midnight” we were free. (Ex. 12:29) How many times has Adonai came to your aid at a figurative “midnight”?

IT CAME TO PASS AT MIDNIGHT

You performed most wonders at night,
In the early watches of this night; You caused the righteous convert,
Abraham, to triumph at night;

It came to pass at midnight.

Gerar’s king Abimelech, You judged in a dream by night; You frightened the Aramean, Laban, in the dark of night;
Israel (Jacob) overcame an angel and won by night;

It came to pass at midnight.

You crushed Egypt’s firstborn at midnight;
They found no strength when they rose at night;
The army of the prince of Sisera, You swept away with stars of night;

It came to pass at midnight.

Senncherib, the blasphemer, You disgraced by night;
Babylon’s idol fell in the dark of night;
Daniel was shown the secret of the king’s dream at night;

It came to pass at midnight.

Belshazzar, who drank from the Temple’s vessel, was killed that same night;
Daniel who was saved from the lion’s den interpreted the writing on the wall at night; Hateful Haman the Agagite wrote letters in the night;

It came to pass at midnight.

You triumphed over Haman in the king’s sleepless night;
Trample the winepress and help those who ask the watchmen, “What of the long night?” The watchman responds: “Morning comes after night;”

It came to pass at midnight.

Hasten the day of Messiah, which is neither day nor night;
Most High, make known that Yours are day and night;
Appoint guards for Your city all day and night;
Brighten like the light of day the darkness of night;

It came to pass at midnight.

In your dark hour, have you asked the watchmen, “What of the long night?” A true watchman will respond, “Morning comes after the night.” Exile, affliction, trials, and sufferings are dark, but they are not the end; they signal the beginning. This is the nature of birth and birth pangs.

We can add another “midnight” to this Orthodox poem:

Mat. 25:5-7 (NASB) Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

The pattern is consistent and trustworthy. When it is dark, one can trust that Adonai is at work. One can believe without wavering that Adonai will once again bring the LIGHT. Not even death, the thing most fear above else, cannot separate us from the love of Messiah. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Ps. 30:5)

Rom. 8:35-39 (TLV) Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

Paul was convinced of this message. Are we?

Queen Esther knew the stakes. Her life was on the line for her people. We fear what lurks in the darkness of what we can’t see. But, Adonai is there with us, just as He was with the Jews in Persia. Darkness and light are alike to Adonai. (Psalm 139:12) And, we can trust that He is for us. He is good and works ALL things for the good. (Romans 8:28)

We, especially those that live in western nations like the United States, prefer teachings that focus on one’s safety and prosperity. We have developed entire theological systems that have the “church” escaping trials and tribulations. These doctrines are dangerous because they are rooted in fear of worldly poverty and death. The king’s palace, though luxurious and seemingly “safe,” could not protect Queen Esther. Mordecai told her not to even imagine that her high status would protect her. We serve the God Who gave His all for His people. He expects no less from those that follow His example.

If you find yourself lost in the dead of night at this season, seek wise watchmen, like the moedim or appointed times. They arrive in the year at the perfect time to remind one that though the enemy is always seeking your life, Adonai is still on the Throne. He redeems, He saves, He lives, and He is coming. Death will be swallowed up in victory!

So, every year we rehearse the blow to Amalek at Purim, exactly a month before Passover. On Adonai’s calendar, Purim is the (spiritual) preparation for Pesach. It dissolves the chametz of fear, doubt, and unbelief. These are lies that lurk in the dark, hidden corners of our hearts. They question God’s presence in the natural world and one’s everyday mundane existence. This type of darkness seeks to destroy one’s faith just before the first sliver of “light” pierces the night at Passover.

But, we have our own megillah, our own revealing, like Esther and Purim. This is our testimony of overcoming. It shines in the darkness like the stars and the moon. These sparks of light remind all that dwell in darkness and dark circumstances that we have a great hope. There is Good News! What is hidden now, will be revealed – unrolled like a heavenly scroll. And Messiah, our hope and glory, speaks to us in the thick darkness.

Matthew 10:26-27 (NASB) Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to look up when it is dark. There, far beyond the earth, the heavenlies utter their wordless speech. They remind all the Esther’s or stars of Abraham of Adonai’s Covenant Promises. He is faithful. Can you find the treasures of darkness? Look up!

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;  26  men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  27  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  28  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”


[1] For example, check out the Moon Flower: https://www.thespruce.com/growing-moon-flower-in-containers-4125231

[2] Strong’s H6734 צִיצִת tsee-tseeth’ Feminine of H6731; a floral or wing like projection, that is, a fore lock of hair, a tassel: – fringe, lock.

H6731 BDB Definition: צץ / ציץ tsı̂yts / tsits 1) flower, bloom. 1a) flower, bloom. 1b) shining thing (of gold plate on high priest’s mitre) (metaphorically). 2) feather, wing.

[3] H2822 חשׁך chôshek BDB Definition: 1) darkness, obscurity. 1a) darkness. 1b) secret place. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2821

[4] H6205 ערפל ‛ărâphel BDB Definition: 1) cloud, heavy or dark cloud, darkness, gross darkness, thick darkness. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H6201

[5] https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Esther.html

[6] From the same root as choshek: H2825 חשׁיכה / חשׁכה chăshêkâh / chăshêykâh BDB Definition: 1) darkness. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2821

[7] In a leap year, the Hebrew year has thirteen months or a second Adar. (Learn more here and here.) Leaps years occur seven times in a nineteen year cycle. The 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years of the nineteen year Metonic cycle are leap years. 5781 is year number 5 of the cycle and is therefore not a leap year. The next leap year will be in 5782, year number 6 of the cycle. See New Moon posts on Adar for more: here and here.

[8] See the IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament and New Testament by John H. Walton; Mark W. Chavalas; Victor H. Matthews; Craig S. Keener on Esther 3:9

[9] See Warring with Amalek Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to understand Haman’s connection to Amalek.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Biblical Role of Women Part X

Role of Women Main Page

In Part VIII and Part IX, we discovered that women (and men as the bride of Messiah) either build the House of Adonai or they tear it down. We also looked at how YHWH sovereignly chose to first entrust the Torah and the Gospel with His daughters. Again, this is about building His House. It is the mother who first teaches a child the Torah. Then later, as the child matures, the Father brings the stronger correction (mussar).

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction (mussar) And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (torah). (Pro. 1:8)

My son, observe the commandment (mitzvah) of your father And do not forsake the teaching (torah) of your mother. (Pro. 6:20)

In both of the proverbs mentioned above, the father is mentioned first, but it is the Torah of the mother that is not to be forsaken. To forsake is to abandon or forget – implying something that was learned beforehand. Infants begin life by receiving the nourishing milk of the mother in both the physical and in the spiritual through her teaching. In light of this simplicity, it is easy to understand why the women were the first to receive and proclaim the Torah and the Gospel. The tender mercies of a mother’s teaching are balanced by the stricter judgment/correction of the Father. Both are necessary to bring a child to maturity. (This is true physically and spiritually.)

The Hidden Woman and Time

I hope that you have noticed a common theme emerging throughout my posts on women. The woman is often “hidden” within the biblical narratives, much like she was once “hidden” within Adam. There is good reason for this when we take the whole of Scripture into account. Righteous women are a living representation of the Holy Spirit; and as such, they also portray the prophetic or what is future.

If that sounds too far fetched for your liking, let us first consider the Hebraic concept of time. Westerners typically view the past as being what is “behind” us, whereas the future is what is in “front” or ahead of us. Thus, to encourage someone to stop dwelling on past mistakes, we might tell them to “stop looking back” (past) or to “focus on what is ahead” (future). But in Hebraic thought, these expressions are reversed. The past is what you can see; it’s in front of you (and your eyes). The future (what you can’t see) is behind you. Perhaps the following illustration will flesh out this notion.

ff_130330_6339-Edit

In this image, the man is the power (motor/rower) and the one steering. But as such, he faces away from where he is headed. The woman in the boat is the one that can clearly see upcoming obstacles in their path. Can you see the roles of men and women in this analogy?

Imagine someone rowing a boat down a river. The river is time. In order to row a boat, a person must face backwards while rowing forward down the river. What the rower can see with his eyes is the area he has already travelled. (past) Because he doesn’t face in the direction he is headed, he cannot see what is ahead (future). This is truly how mankind experiences time. What has already happened (past) is clearly seen and understood, but the future is unclear and unknown. I know this totally reverses the definitions of hindsight and foresight, but I’ve found that most things in western thought compared with Hebraic thought are (sadly) reversed! Things like this shouldn’t surprise us any more.

Do you recall the function or role of the male from Part I? He is to remember (zakar). In order to remember or recall something, the thing being referred to would have already happened. In other words, it requires looking at what’s in front of you on the river of time. (Past) Everything that YHWH has said, the male is to remember and act on that Word. (This doesn’t excuse women from doing the same! The two become ONE flesh.) The man guards and protects all those things that are clearly “written.” Moreover, what is “past” is evident; there is no ambiguity. In other words, the past is firm or set in stone. Just like the written Word of God, it does not change. Can you see how this makes the male a picture of not only a firm foundation on which to build, but also associates him with time past? (Both are firm, set, solid, and reliable.)

As the male’s counter balance, the female should then represent the other side of this coin or what is “future.” Does Scripture indicate that this might be true? I believe that it does. Before we look at the Biblical text, let’s first consider the things that women do. They birth, nurture, and build the House or the future of God’s people. The stories involving women in the Bible are more hidden (or obscure) in the text. When we do encounter women in the Biblical record, prophetic (future) things are often being revealed.

Moreover, In Part I, we looked at the neqevah or female as a protector and setter of of boundaries. But when we examine the context of this word in its further uses, something awesome is revealed. Often neqevah is juxtaposed with sound alike Hebrew words that deal with future expectation. For example, qevah without the nun prefix means to wait, expect, or hope. All of these words imply looking toward something that is future. [1] But even more interesting, if we add the nun back to qevah as a prefix, it indicates the collective future tense! Reread Jeremiah 31:22 with this in mind and the prophetic picture is heightened to include an expectation for a good future.

Jer. 31:22 (NASB) “How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—A woman will encompass a man.”

Sometimes, at first glance, the motives of women are uncertain. Women usually have a strong sense of “knowing” or great intuition into things that are hidden or concealed from plain sight. They can often pick up on things in the spiritual realm easier than men. This is why most of the great women referenced in the Bible are called “prophetesses.” [2] They represent the future and the prophetic. I could go on, but you get the point. It takes both a male and female to display the image of Elohim in the earth. And life cannot be understood separately from time.

Future-Present-Past-1680x1050The Most Holy Name of our Elohim, YHWH (yohd, hey, vav, hey), is the very essence of time. As a form of the verb “to be,” the I Am, He is the One who was, who is, and is to come. In other words, He is our past, our present, and our future. YHWH is time itself. Thus, it is no coincidence that mankind (male and female) as His image in the earth also typify time.

Men portray the past. Women picture the future. Together, as male and female, they build in the present with YHWH. Both men and women are equally important in displaying the image of God and His time clock. YHWH’s calendar masterfully weaves together both the past (remember) and the future (what is to come) in His holy moedim (feasts). Women are intrinsically connected to the rhythms and cycles of the Creator’s calendar. You can read more about this in my series entitled Moonbeams and the Moedim.

YHWH has plainly told us that His desire is to REVEAL Himself unto His people. Men, in the image of God, represent what YHWH has already revealed of Himself (past). Women represent how YHWH works behind the scenes of our lives and the many promises and plans He has for us (future). If we could just grasp the enormity of what will happen when the woman is revealed, then we’d all be screaming from the rooftops, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’”

Key #1 Men portray the past. Women picture the future. Together, 
as male and female, they build in the present with YHWH.

 

The Revealed Man and Time

For the most part, men (and their role) have stood out in the Biblical text, in history, and within marriages and families. This is to be expected since men are a picture of the past and what is REVEALED. We don’t have to “look” for the masculine. The role of the man stands out, just as they do physically. Nothing is hidden.

Conversely, women represent what is HIDDEN. If the role of women were easy to “see” or discern, there would be no need for this series. In the natural, this truth is likewise expressed to us in our most intimate parts that create life. I know this is rather crude, but consider that a woman’s reproductive organs are “hidden,” whereas a man’s reproductive organs stand out. Men are clearly revealed; women are concealed. Do you think this is just happenstance? Can this natural picture also be speaking a spiritual truth?

If so, why would we ever consider that one supersedes the other? It takes both male and female “parts” to create life in the natural. Do you suppose it is any different in the spiritual realm? I submit to you that it is not. The ideal function of both man and woman is to express the image of God in the earth. While their “parts” or roles are different, it takes both working together to create New Life. If one side of this coin is shunned, regulated, oppressed, usurped, or gagged Abundant Life cannot grow.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Why Does This Matter?

Abundant life includes happy and healthy marriages. It also includes the entire Body of Messiah (men and women) being able to function within the full capacity of their roles in our assemblies. My hope in the remaining articles of this series is to emphasize the fact that YHWH’s ideal for men and women is to work together. Each is one half of the whole.

The problem is with our fallen natures or our evil inclinations. The old man operates from a place of fear rather than love. This is why we struggle greatly not only with the role of the sexes, but in every other area of life as well. But, our Redeemer beckons us to walk in New Life. May our marriages truly become the living parable of Messiah and His Assembly.

 

For past articles in this series, click here. For Part XI click here.

Key #1 Men portray the past. Women picture the future. Together,
as male and female, they build in the present with YHWH.

 

 [1] See The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread Workbook Four, page 140 (2012) by Dr. Hollisa Alewine. Also see Strong’s number H6960 (qevah or kavah). 

[2]  Examples include Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Anna.

See also Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s The Creation Gospel Workbook 3: The Spirit-Filled Family, p. 40

 

Categories: Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Moonbeams and the Moedim Part III

If you haven’t read Part I and Part II of Moonbeams and the Moedim, please start there for the best context. In this post, I had planned to cover the Feast Days within the framework of a human gestation cycle, but I felt it was more important to first lay the foundation of why NINE months are necessary for new life. Due to length, gestation and the moedim will be covered in Part IV. Sorry!

Nine

In Part IV of this series, I will enumerate all seven Feasts of YHWH and the two feasts of the people, Chanukah and Purim. All nine of these days will then be compared to the human gestation cycle. Regardless of how you view the latter two festivals, I encourage you to consider my conclusions. If we add the feasts of the people with YHWH’s seven moedim listed in Leviticus 23, we get a total of 9. These nine feasts span an approximate nine month period.[1] Not coincidentally, so does the gestation cycle of a human being.

As it turns out, the number nine, represented with the Hebrew letter tet, harnesses not only the duality of women, but also their associations with concealment, birth, and fruitfulness. I plan on using some space to explore this letter, its meaning, and usage because I believe it is intricately linked to our subject matter. In modern block print, tet looks like this:

tetIn ancient pictographic form, this letter looked like a vessel, basket, or a container. Frank Seekins’ Hebrew Word Pictures suggests that the imagery of tet could also be a coiled snake, implying something that surrounds (like a woman’s womb). Tet actually looks very similar to an inverted letter mem, the other Hebrew letter associated with the womb. We will explore the womb more fully in a latter post. For now, you can view this footnote for a brief explanation.[2] In Modern Hebrew print, this letter still looks like a receptacle with an inverted spout or rim.

While tet is actually the least common letter in the Hebrew Bible, the first time it appears is in the word tov or good, which is used numerous times throughout the Creation story. I hope you just made the connection that like the Holy Spirit, the moon, and women, tet is the least “seen” letter in the Bible. In other words, there is a “hidden” aspect in all of these things that provides a place of protection, so that growth can safely occur. But, that is what a womb (and a woman) does! They surround and protect new life in order to build the family. Though hidden, this stage is good and necessary.

The goodness of fruit is hidden or concealed within a woman until the fullness of time –nine months. This natural picture of gestation is manifested in the spiritual when one produces the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit, both of which, are NINE. (Gal. 5:22-23, 1 Cor. 12:8-10) When nine reveals what it conceals inside, fruitfulness, multiplication, and the building of the House are made visible.

The multiplication aspect of the number nine is extended into the natural through mathematics. If any number is multiplied by nine the resulting digits always add to nine. For example: 2 x 9 = 18 (1+ 8=9); 3 x 9 = 27 (2+7=9); 4 x 9 = 36 (3+6=9), and so on. Also, every multiple of nine will reduce back to nine. This makes a mirroring effect when the multiplication tables are written out. Can you see the reflecting nature of nine in this graphic?

magic9-4Nine is quite a fascinating number! You can view more mathematical tricks of nine here. For now, consider that every multiple of nine remains nine. For example, consider these biblical numbers: 144, 153, and, 666. All reduce to 9 in Gematria.[3] (1+4+4=9, 1+5+3=9, 6+6+6=36=3+6=9)

Moreover, there are some pretty important Hebrew words that reduce to nine. Adam, a-men, covenant, light, Shabbat, and chesed (loving-kindness) all equal nine when reduced. These seeming anomalies weren’t lost on the rabbis. True to its pictograph, there is obviously something good about this number, though it appears shrouded in mystery. Perhaps, the most notable word associated with nine, TRUTH (אמת), will help one’s understanding.

Not only does truth reduce to nine, but its Hebrew spelling contains the first, middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The rabbis’ say the lesson we are to learn is that something that is true cannot be altered and must be true at the beginning, middle, and end. (I hope this reminds you of Messiah! [4]) In other words, truth is immutable and eternal. Like God, it changes not.[5] This author finds it fascinating that the number nine implies this reality in the natural through mathematics. Remember, every multiple of nine remains to be nine. It will not change!

Maybe this is one reason that the Creator chose to give humans life in a nine month gestation cycle. And perhaps, this is why the festivals that testify to eternal life also span a nine month period. Fruit, whether of the womb or of the Spirit, is concealed in order to grow, mature, and eventually sprout new life. The tet pictures all of this and more.

One way in which we connect to the Creator to effect a changed life is through prayer. The Amidah prayer has 18 (1+8=9) benedictions. The ninth hour is not only called the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1; 10:30), but is also the hour that Messiah gave up His Spirit on the Tree (Cross). (Mt. 27:46) By this, He made the ultimate connection between us and the Creator. What was concealed, at last was revealed.  And the mysterious number nine had a role to play in that glorious act!

The Flip Side of Nine

But like most all things Biblical and Hebraic, there is another side to this coin. All words have both a positive and a negative connotation and many words are a contranym.[6] Tet is no exception. Do you recall all of those wonderful positive words associated with nine and tet like truth, covenant, light, and Shabbat? Well, on the flip side, the Hebrew words satan and seduce also contain the letter tet. Although tet is a symbol for GOOD, it can also be a symbol for EVIL. In other words, within the letter tet is the potential for duality.

For example, the Hebrew words for pure and impure (clean and unclean) both begin with the letter tet. While neither of these bodily states imply evil, they do suggest dualism. Obviously, women move in and out of purity and impurity in their monthly cycle and after giving birth. Family purity laws[7] pretty much center on these states of being and their required sacrifices and washings. The Sages make an inference from this that only God, symbolizing Divine Goodness, has the power to make the unclean clean again. In this way, tet unites both the pure and impure in duality to create one renewed entity.

While tet is the symbol for the number nine, the Hebrew word that spells the same number is tayshah. It comes from the root sha’ah,[8] meaning to look to, regard or gaze upon. It is first used when God regarded Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s. Thus, the number nine also implies righteous judgment and discernment.

14224971_10153927122020875_935253292969723228_nThe dualism continues with the Hebrew tet if one considers the modern numeral 9. It appears to be an inverted 6 — the number for both man and the beast.  This question from the very beginning is one that we all must answer. Will you be a man created in the image of Elohim or will you, in the end, be found marked with the image of the beast? When the Creator turns us upside down in judgment (9), either a man or a beast (6) will be revealed.

God had Moses make and mount a brass serpent on a pole to heal those that had been bitten by his judgment of fiery snakes in the wilderness.[9] Later, Yeshua tells Nicodemus that He would be lifted up just as that serpent on the pole had been and that by this He would bring salvation to His people.[10] In these accounts, we can see Yeshua associating Himself with the serpent. He is not the serpent, but He is the Seed of the Woman[11] that crushes the serpent’s head. How does one receive healing or salvation in these examples? By looking upon or regarding the one lifted up — this is the goodness hidden/concealed within the letter tet. What appeared tragic or evil was concealed for God’s tov (good) purposes! Thus, tet demonstrates the two postures of man as referenced by this graphic:

tet-dualWe are a builder or a destroyer, a man or a beast, good or evil. But if we are honest in our self-examinations, we learn that each and every one of us is a contranym.[12] Within even the most holy soul on earth, duality is present with the potential for wickedness. We are like the letter tet because we are a vessel with the potential for both good and evil.

Sometimes our goodness is concealed though the possiblilty for actualization is real. Other times we erect our head like a serpent and gnash our teeth at the very One that was lifted on the stake for our salvation. The serpent beast within must learn to shed its skin of pride and take on the weighty humility of truth. The 6 (man/beast) will be inverted through righteous judgment (9). The question is: Will YHWH find a humble man or a striking snake when your vessel is turned over to reveal its contents?

Now that we’ve laid the foundation of the importance of nine and hinted at its role in the gestation of new life, my next post (Part IV) will cover the festival cycle and human gestation.

(For even more on tet, please see this video by Rabbi Trugman.)

 


 

[1] For example, this year (2015), Purim begins on March 4th and Chanukah begins on December 6th. There are approximately nine months that this year is pregnant with the feasts of Israel.

[2] There are two Hebrew words for womb: rechem and beten. The former has a mem, and the latter a tet. However, beten is used in a much broader sense and can refer to the bowels of either a man or a woman. Rechem is used exclusively for the feminine womb that carries a child. It is also the Hebrew word for mercy. These things will be elaborated on in a future post on the Biblical Role of Women.

[3] This article from Hebrew for Christians explains Hebrew Gematria.

[4] Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:8 CJB)

[5] “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Mal. 3:6 NASB)

[6] A word that can mean the opposite of itself is a contranym. Examples in English: bound (bound for Chicago, moving) and bound (tied up, unable to move), cleave (to cut apart) and cleave (to seal together), buckle (buckle your pants — to hold together) and buckle (knees buckled — to collapse, fall apart), citation (award for good behavior) and citation (penalty for bad behavior), clip (attach to) and clip (cut off from), dust (remove dust) and dust (apply dust — fingerprints), fast (moving rapidly) and fast (fixed in position), left (remaining) and left (having gone), literally (literally) and literally (figuratively), moot (arguable) and moot (not worthy of argument).

[7] Here is an article about Family Purity from the Jewish Virtual Library.

[8] H8159 שׁעה shâ‛âh BDB Definition:

1) to look at or to, regard, gaze at or about

1a) (Qal) to gaze at, regard, behold, look about

1b) (Hiphil) to look away, cause gaze to turn away

1c) (Hithpael) to look in dismay, gaze about (in anxiety)

Part of Speech: verb

[9] Num. 21:4-8  Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey.  (5)  The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”  (6)  The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.  (7)  So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.  (8)  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.”

[10] John 3:13-15 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  (14)  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  (15)  so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

[11] Gen. 3:14-15  The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;  (15)  And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

[12] See footnote 6. Also see The Creation Gospel Series by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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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