Rosh Chodesh Shevat
Shevat Part 1 Audio Only
Shevat Part 2 Audio Only
May your eleventh month be filled with rising sap, happiness, and a bucket full of Living Water!
Link to the Book: The Biblical New Moon: A Guide for Celebrating
Rosh Chodesh Shevat
Shevat Part 1 Audio Only
Shevat Part 2 Audio Only
May your eleventh month be filled with rising sap, happiness, and a bucket full of Living Water!
Link to the Book: The Biblical New Moon: A Guide for Celebrating
1 Kings 8:2 (NASB) All the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
The above verse is the only instance in the Bible where the seventh month or Tishrei is called by another name, Etanim. Interestingly, the context is King Solomon dedicating the permanent House or Temple of YHWH. I used the adjective “permanent” intentionally. The Temple’s predecessor, the Tabernacle or Mishkan, was a moveable tent-like dwelling. It moved, and the people followed. In other words, the dwelling place of Adonai was first characterized by “movement.” This recalls the first instance of the Holy Spirit in Genesis one, where the Ruach moves or hovers over the faces of the waters. God is not stationary or static.
2 Sam. 7:1-2 (NASB) Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.”
David, the man that spent many years on the run from King Saul, was finally settled. He must’ve felt a pang of guilt that he, the representative of the Kingdom, lived in a beautifully appointed house, while God, the King of the Universe, dwelled in a simple tent. God tells Nathan the prophet to report back to David:
2 Sam. 7:5-7 (NASB) “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? 6 “For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. 7 “Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'”‘
YHWH is not at all disturbed by His circumstances. The word translated above as “moving about” is the Hebrew word halak. This text literally says, “I have been walking in a tent and a tabernacle.” God is moving, even in the tent. I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to serve a God and King that MOVES and WALKS. He is not like the deaf and dumb idols of darkness.
But if that’s the case, wouldn’t building a “permanent” House for YHWH detract from this metaphor and the characteristic “movement” of the Holy Spirit from the beginning? After all, movement is the opposite of something permanent. Or is it?
Etanim is a significant term to use for the 7thmonth. I encourage you to read all of 1 kings chapter 8 for context, but also as a lesson for this season, the 7thmonth. Below, is Brown Driver Brigg’s definition of Etanim followed by Strong’s.
BDB Definition H388: איתנים ‘êythânı̂ym
Ethanim = “enduring”
1) seventh Jewish month, corresponding to modern Oct. to Nov.; so named because permanent streams still flowed.
Part of Speech: noun proper masculine A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: plural of H386
Strong’s H388 אֵיתָנִים’êythânı̂ym Plural of H386; always with the article; the permanent brooks; Ethanim, the name of a month: – Ethanim. Total KJV occurrences: 1
Word Study H388
H386 אֵיתָןēytān: A masculine noun indicating strength, permanence, endurance. Figuratively, it describes the usual, constant position of a stream or sea (Exo 14:27).
Etanim is the plural of eytan. The verbal root means to endure or to continue. Obviously, King Solomon’s desire was for the House of YHWH to perpetually endure, just as God promised King David that his house (dynasty/throne) would continue or endure. Allusions to eternity begin to form with this one well placed word.
The number seven also alludes to something eternal. It is the number of rest, Shabbat, completion, and dedication of the House (Temple). In the 2 Samuel passage quoted above, David was at rest (7) when he desired to build Adonai a House (7). Likewise, when King Solomon dedicates the House of YHWH, he and Israel are also at rest (7).
1 Kings 8:55-56 (NASB) And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56 “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.
The seventh day and the seventh month are figures of the Messianic Age and Kingdom. Thus, the fall feast days in this season are prophetic of the same. The definitions of Etanim are just another hint to this truth. Permanence, strength, and endurance are true descriptors of the King and His Kingdom. But Etanim is also associated with moving water.
Moving water. Movement AND perpetuity. Ever-flowing springs. Rivers of Living Waters. There is no contradiction. YHWH’s permanent, stationary House is also moving. Out from His Throne flow rivers of water. This is Etanim. This is the seventh month, the turn of the year when the traditional water pouring ceremony takes place. But there is more.
Where is the first mention of water? In the very beginning.
Gen. 1:1-4 (NASB) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 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. 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.
Job 38:4-7 (NASB) “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
The fullness of the seventh month is not just about the end, it is also about the beginning, because they are one. When the foundations of the earth were laid, the sons of Elohim shouted for joy. “Shouted” in Hebrew is ruah, the root of t’ruah, as in Yom T’ruah, the feast of trumpets or shouting.
Wisdom was with Elohim even before the deep waters, and she too, celebrated creation.
Pro. 8:22-31 (NASB) “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 “When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. 27 “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.
Wisdom was rejoicing before YHWH. The Hebrew word for rejoice in the above verse is actually the word for laugh, shachak. In this context, her laugh was one of jubilation and celebration. It is used in a similar context in these verses:
Pro. 31:25 (TLV) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the days to come.
Jer. 30:18-19 (TLV) Thus says Adonai, “Indeed, I will return Jacob’s tents from exile, and have compassion on his dwellings… 19 Out of them will come thanksgiving and the sound of celebration. I will multiply them, so they will not decrease. I will also honor them, so they will not be insignificant.
Jer. 31:4 (NKJV) Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.
The verses above are prophetically speaking about the end; whereas Wisdom was doing the same at the beginning. In the seventh month, we are told to rejoice. I pray that we can truly celebrate with Wisdom’s shachak (laughter), and not the mocking spirit that this word can also indicate.
When the exiles from Babylon returned to the Land, Rosh Hashanah or Yom T’ruah was the first feast that they celebrated. I believe this was prophetic of what is to come in a future ingathering. Notice that they are standing at the “Water Gate,” an allusion to returning to the creation waters, and the foundation, Torah.
Neh. 8:1-3 (NASB) And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. 2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
The text records the response of the people:
Neh. 8:9-12 (NASB) Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
On the new moon of the 7thmonth, the people HEARD and UNDERSTOOD the Torah. They wept. I wonder how many exiles will not be able to hear or understand the Torah until YHWH gathers them again? And, I wonder even more if those that hear and understand the Torah now will respond as the Levites did.
The Levites calmed and quieted the tears of these grieved souls. Then, they encouraged them to go eat, drink, share with others, and celebrate the feast! We could learn a few things from Nehemiah and Ezra. This was truly a new beginning, a new moon, and a new year for the people. This is Etanim!
Ps. 36:8-9 (NKJV) They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
Beloved, I pray that you will celebrate the beginning and the end, the enthronement of Adonai, the creation, you as a new creation, and that you will shout with joy at the River of Life in the month of Etanim. To YHWH be the glory!
By the way, this same form of halak, mithalek, is used in Genesis 3:8:
“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
H7832 שָׂחַקśāḥaq: A verb meaning to laugh; to celebrate; to rejoice; to mock. It refers to a strong expression of joy: of celebration (Jer 30:19); of making merry, rejoicing (2Sa 6:5, 2Sa 6:21; Jer 15:17); it means to play, to sport, to have fun (Psa 104:26). But it is often used in a context where ridicule or mockery is directed at someone or something (Jdg 16:25). It is used in parallel with mocking (Pro 1:26). Great kings mocked at lesser kings (Hab 1:10). Samson was forced to serve as a tragic comedian for the Phplistines (Jdg 16:27). It is used figuratively of wisdom personified, laughing, rejoicing at God’s creation (Pro 8:30-31). The teacher taught that there is a time for genuine laughter (Ecc 3:4). It has the sense of playing, enjoying life, in some contexts, especially in the prophet’s vision of a restored people of God (Zec 8:5). It means to sing and indicates singing women (1Sa 18:7). It means to play a sport, to hold a contest or a match (2Sa 2:14). In its causative stem, it means to cause laughter toward persons, to mock them (2Ch 30:10).
Recently, I participated in an online correspondence class with a rabbi. In it, he made mention of the davar (word) and its relationship to the midbar (wilderness/desert). I know many of you are already familiar with this connection, but for the sake of those who are not, I will briefly explore this notion. In Hebrew, the root of midbar (desert) is davar (word). In other words, the wilderness comes directly from the Word. Being in the desert is akin to receiving the Word. Or to be more precise, the wilderness is where YHWH’s Word is tested in us. In the Torah, the Book of Numbers chronicles the Children of Israel’s wanderings in the desert. Thus, quite fittingly, this book is called BaMidbar or “in the wilderness” in Hebrew.
When YHWH miraculously removed ancient Israel from Egypt or when He rescued us from the figurative house of slavery (sin and death), where did He take them or us? Was it straight to the Promised Land? Or was it into the desert or wilderness? The fact that we all must face a literal or figurative desert upon being saved sounds counterintuitive at first. What do we need to learn in wilderness? I think Bill Cloud said it best (I’m paraphrasing Bill here): “God can remove us from Egypt, but we find that Egypt is still in us.” In other words, salvation, deliverance, and sanctification are ongoing processes. The desert becomes a type of threshing floor for our souls. All that offends is refined, purified, and threshed in the scorching sands of the desert. The Word that began a good work in us continues its commission to test and humble us. The difficulty and the pain of the wilderness “does good” for us in the end. For Abba, this is a labor of love.
“He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. (Dt. 8:15-16)
But the desert has one more vital message to teach us. It is in our wilderness where G-d speaks. In the ups and downs of the desert, we learn to discern the difference between the Shepherd’s voice and the enemy’s crafty imitation. When we are stripped of all the comforts of Egypt, we finally reach the end of self. It is there, in the midst of what appears to us as chaos and disorder, that the G-d of order speaks kindly to us and lifts our weary heads. With no more worldly distractions, the Word reveals what is in our hearts. Each revelation offers us an opportunity to repent and return to the Master’s loving embrace.
While all the above is fascinating, even if a little scary, that’s not what struck me in the Rabbi’s lesson. He mentioned that one way we are like G-d is in the fact that we have the faculty of speech. We are the only creatures in His vast creation that, like Him, have words. We are medeber (ones that speak). Think about this for moment. In the same way that davar and midbar are connected, so is medeber. This means that we are not ONLY “ones that speak”, but “ones like a desert”.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a desert? Maybe our souls have felt dry or parched during a great trial, in the midst of mourning, or while suffering for righteousness sake or on account of our own sins. But have you ever considered that our wilderness journey should be as close and familiar to us as speech?
We were not only meant to speak, but we were meant to drink like the parched earth of a desert. Consider the many passages that urge us to partake of the Living Waters. Or think about how the Word of G-d is figuratively referred to as rain or water. We should be like the thirsty ground, eagerly waiting for the gentle rain of Abba’s Word. Considering that Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, this makes perfect sense. Mankind is essentially dirt or dust. And the ground NEEDS the heavenly rains like we NEED the words of our heavenly Elohim.
We are, at our core, the substance (dirt) in which seeds can be planted in order for New Life to grow. The Word is equivalent to a Seed in Scripture. Coincidence? I don’t think so. If words are seeds, we should be careful what we allow to take root in our soil or dirt. I believe these words or seeds can come from three places: G-d, the enemy, and ourselves.
Thus, the enemy’s word is a seed. The words we speak are seeds. The words others speak are seeds. But the only Seed that is always truth and always produces life is the Word of YHWH. The question is how do we know, and I mean without a doubt know that we know, whether the seed we are receiving is G-d’s Seed?
This is where the dry, dirty side of our essence comes in to play. In order to hear or receive the Word of Adonai, we must become like a desert. All distractions and things that vie for our attention must be removed in order for us to really hear or shema YHWH. In the wilderness, our nephesh (flesh) is denied worldly pleasures and conveniences. One reason that fasting is so effective is because it strips the nephesh of gratification. Any time our nephesh (with all its thoughts, desires, and appetites) is ruled over by our younger (new) spirit-man, our connection to YHWH is strengthened. And our flesh serves us rather than us serving it.
Many times, we listen to the voice of our own desires rather than the Words of YHWH. Like the Tree of Knowledge, it speaks both good and evil. We know this voice so well that we often mistake it for the Holy Spirit (especially when its speaking “good”). Let’s face it, when it seems as if we will get to avoid suffering in a dry desert, our voice (or even the voice of the enemy) sounds like good counsel to our itching ears. This is why various people can all claim to be hearing from the One Holy Spirit, yet will have conflicting ideas, agendas, and doctrine. We are ones that speak, but rarely are we willing to become a desert. We must learn to submit to the wilderness and allow the Word to test us.
Emptying ourselves of our own desires (even those we deem good and profitable or even godly) is the key to becoming the image of Elohim in the earth. You want to love YHWH with all your heart and love your neighbor like yourself? It will cost you flesh and bone. Are we willing to suffer for YHWH and our neighbor? Or would we rather cause others to suffer so that we can have things our way? Do we open our mouths and speak life (healing/shalom) to others or do we use our speech to persuade others to do things the way we like it or see it? Which voice is the Holy Spirit and which is the voice of our own nephesh (soul)?
The acquisition of treasures (desires of our hearts/flesh) by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death. (Pr. 21:6 added parenthesis mine)
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. (Jam. 1:26)
He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. (Pr. 21:23)
Our mouths cause us more trouble than any other member of our bodies. Is this because we only desire to be ones that speak and not ones like a desert? After all, you can’t speak AND drink at the same time! Interestingly, if we fail to choose to become a humble desert before YHWH, He will take us there kicking and screaming. Our only choice in the matter is the method of how we arrive and how we act once we get there. YHWH’s Word is ALWAYS tested in the wilderness/desert. Consider the many judgments that result with the people and the land becoming desolate. In these cases, Abba’s judgment has in effect “shut our mouths”.
Is Adonai just an angry tyrant or does He know something that we desperately don’t want to accept? The Bible says that G-d is Love and that He chastises those whom He loves. He takes us to the desert because He knows that the testing of the wilderness will reveal our hearts. We need to face the serpent on the pole, so that we may be healed and saved. The serpent is the voice of our own selfish desires. It is the crafty forked tongue that whispers both good and evil. When we heed its voice rather than Adonai’s, we are stung with its venom and take the fast track toward death.
This is why we must die daily like the lamb offerings in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Our beast must be brought to the altar. Like all creatures, the beast doesn’t submit easily. It is excellent at convincing us (with its mouth) that all is well. The smooth words of the serpent appeals to our feelings of entitlement, self-righteousness, and piety. The beast does not like to identify with suffering or humility. But like Cain, we are told to MASTER this impulse.
We do this by becoming what we were created to be. We are a desert; a vast wilderness laid bare for all of heaven to see and judge. In this position, we are no longer mouths that speak to justify or coerce; rather, we become a sponge that soaks up the words of life. Though the Living Word kills the flesh, it quickens the spirit.
This is the key to humility, hearing from Abba, and loving our neighbor sacrificially. It is also what molds and shapes our clay vessels into the image of our great and loving Elohim. If we really got this we would no longer scorn our fiery trials or fear the seemingly empty places of life. Instead, we would prostrate ourselves under the heavens and allow the Word to truly divide between our soul (nephesh) and spirit.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Heb. 4:12-13)
 Jer. 2:13; 17:13, John 4:10-11, Rev. 7:38
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hos. 6:3)
So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. (Eph. 5:26)
 Luke 8:11
 Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (1 Peter 3:8-17)
 James 3
 Think about Moses and Yeshua. Were they each not tested in the wilderness? What about Paul? Can you recall a period where he was tested in the desert? Consider the Children of Israel, Job, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others. Can you connect these righteous men with both suffering and the desert/wilderness? Does the Bible give us examples of those who willingly flee to the desert and those who are taken there against their will? What is the difference between these two experiences? What is similar about these experiences? It seems as though we ALL must experience the wilderness. The question is: Will we go willingly or by force?
 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God. (Rom. 3:19)
 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” (Heb. 12:6)
Why does Torah portion Bereshit seem to interrupt the natural flow of the creation narrative to interject the telling of the rivers of Eden? Does this break in the story seem strange to you? In her commentary on Bereshit in The Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, Dr. Hollisa Alewine expounds on the odd placement (or is it?) of the details of the one river that divides into four in Genesis chapter two. Dr. Alewine’s commentary on Bereshit delves deeply into the rivers of Eden (about 50 pages worth!). Obviously, this is a much more comprehensive treatment than I will offer here. If you have the time, I urge you to study the Creation Gospel model and her commentary on Bereshit. I hope to give you a summary of these fascinating rivers and a taste of Dr. Alewine’s work along with thoughts of my own.
Gen 2:10-14 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. (11) The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. (12) The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. (13) The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. (14) The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
First, what is a river in Hebrew? In our passage above, the Hebrew word translated as river is nahar. According to Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions, nahar is a stream, river, or underground stream. It comes from the root verb nahar meaning to shine, beam, light, burn, be radiant, to flow, and stream. Please keep this imagery of a river as flowing water and flowing light at the forefront of your mind as we continue.
From the Garden of Eden (paradise) the “head” or beginning of the ONE river divided into four other rivers. Before we get into the details of these four rivers, let’s first explore what we know about the number four. As I’ve explained in other places on this blog, four can be a representation of seven or completeness. Day four of creation establishes for us the “governing” aspect of this number.
There are many places in the creation (nature) and the Holy Scriptures that speak to the imagery of four depicting completeness just as seven does. The seven branched menorah displays this imagery (in the natural) better than any other motif. Consider that the source or center branch is the fourth branch no matter which direction you begin your count. Messiah Yeshua stands at the center of this lampstand as He is the source from which all things flow. This brings us back to the beginning or Bereshit.
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (4) In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (5) The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
It is through the divine Light of Messiah (He as our menorah) that all things came into being and are held together. As the source of LIGHT, He rescues us from the darkness and brings us to redemption. He is the beginning of “in the beginning”.
Col. 1:13-18 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (16) For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. (17) He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (18) He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
As LIGHT, He is both the source branch on the menorah (4th) and the fullness thereof in its seven pipes.
Rev 1:12-15 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; (13) and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. (14) His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. (15) His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
Rev. 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands…
The primordial Light of day one in Genesis 1:3 was not the natural light of the sun, moon, and stars (created later on day 4), but was the glorious spiritual Light of Messiah. He is the Light in the darkness and the Life of men.
While “light” is certainly a symbol for God given to us in Genesis 1:3, there is another symbol that precedes this primordial “light”. In Genesis 1:2, we see the Spirit of God hovering or moving upon the face of the waters. Thus, we learn two things. The Spirit of God is active with movement and that movement is characterized by WATER. Does Messiah have any associations with water? The Beloved disciple John, the one who points us to the beginning and the primordial light, also points us to the ancient waters as the source for eternal life.
John 4:10 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.” (see also vs. 14)
John 7:37-38 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. (38) “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
The Messiah Yeshua, as the image of the invisible God, is also the source for the living waters of eternal life. Jeremiah declares that these living waters are from the beginning and find their source in the glorious throne of YHWH.
Jer. 17:12-14 A glorious throne on high from the beginning Is the place of our sanctuary. (13) O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD. (14) Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. (See also Jer. 2:13)
Thus, we see the Living waters in the beginning — before all things. Time doesn’t run on some infinite straight line, it is a circle or a cycle according to what we see in the creation, Hebraic thought, and the Bible. What is happening in the beginning will also happen at the end, completing the divine pattern or cycle. What do we see at the end?
Rev. 7:17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Rev. 21:6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.
Rev. 22:1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,
Though the river in Genesis chapter two isn’t named, I bet you can guess what it is called. It is the Source, the Head, and the Beginning. It is none other than the River of Life. The Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures captures this imagery in a perfect circle from beginning to end. The River of Life (like Messiah) was, is, and is to come. It has always been there flowing from the Throne of YHWH. Does the Genesis narrative about the rivers have a little bit more significance in your mind now? Perhaps learning about them can bring us some greater insight into not only the beginning, but the end.
The River that pours forth from Eden (paradise) and the Throne of YHWH divides into four other heads. Now, let’s go back to our menorah motif again. Imagine the River of Life as the source or center branch, fueling or feeding the outer six branches, giving them Life. In the natural, this river would be the Euphrates. Now, I’m not suggesting the Euphrates IS the River of Life; instead, I’m speaking metaphorically.
The rivers are given to us in the following order in Genesis chapter two: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Perat (Euphrates). I believe that every word, in fact every letter, is divinely placed in the Torah. The order of the four rivers is no exception. Again, imagining our menorah, Pishon would be on the first branch, Gihon on the second, the Tigris on the third, and the Euphrates on the fourth branch. Since four represents the whole or seven, the first three rivers connect chiastically to their counterpart on the other side of the menorah. Creation Gospel students will understand this from their study in Workbook 1, but for clarity, please look at this graphic:
Notice how one and seven mirror one another as do two and six and three and five. Moreover, you can trace with your finger how they are indeed connected at the base; yet the source for them all is the Messiah or the River of Life. By the way, this “mirroring” or chiastic structure is also true for the seven days of creation, the seven Spirits of God, the seven feast days, and the many sevens found in the Book of Revelation. You can learn all about these fascinating truths by studying the Creation Gospel by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.
Perhaps it is a little clearer now as to why Moses gives us more information about the river Pishon than he does for the other three rivers. Looking at the graphic again, you can see how the Pishon encompasses the entire menorah as the outer shell or completeness of the entire menorah.
Before we move onto the meaning of the names of each river and their significance, I want you to look at the graphic one more time. Now, imagine if there were a second menorah upside down on the top of this one. What would you see then? It would be a complete circle with smaller circles on the inside! Perhaps a wheel in the middle of a wheel? But I digress… that is indeed a whole other study in itself — though it is directly related to this one. (: Nevertheless, it is important for you see the complete picture of this circle or cycle as two of the rivers we will study imply surrounding, encompassing, and circling.
Do you recall from the beginning of this post how that in Hebrew a river is not only water, but a mechanism for carrying light? Do you also remember the crystal clear waters flowing from the throne of God? (Dan. 7:10) Could these same “fiery” waters be life to the righteous and yet a “lake of fire” to the wicked? This is something to consider since the end has been declared from the beginning. Moreover, the equivalence of fire and water is pictured all over the Bible as both symbols for God and conversely of judgment. For our study, consider that these waters from Eden are both flowing fire and water. Whether they burn or cleanse is determined by whether you are wicked or righteous. These flowing waters from Eden are like the Holy Spirit blowing and flowing around and among His people. Like with Daniel and his companions, the fiery furnace of the Holy Spirit is a cool cleansing heat from heaven that protects the righteous, but burns the wicked.
Instead of starting with the first river listed, let’s start with the last or what sits at the center of the menorah. This is the River Euphrates or in Hebrew Perat. The word perat comes from the word pri, or fruit. (You might recall the latter from the Kiddush blessing.) The source branch (river) on our menorah is meant to represent the Holy Spirit of Messiah. It is akin to the moed (feast) of Shavuot (Pentecost), the feast of first FRUITS.
The Bible doesn’t describe for us how the Perat flows as it does with the other three rivers. This hidden action also points to the Holy Spirit. We cannot see Him, but we can feel His presence like the wind. Perat also has the connotation of “breaking forth”. Power and permanence are two words that would describe this river and the Holy Spirit. For now, think of Perat as the source, head, fruitfulness, and increase. We will build upon this with the other rivers.
Moving to the third and fifth branches on the menorah, we come to the third river mentioned, the Tigris or in Hebrew, the Cheddekel. This river is said to be “going” or quite literally in Hebrew, “walking”. Creation Gospel students will draw the connection to the “running feet” of the birds and fish created on day five. Cheddekel means rapid, roaring, or noisy. This river isn’t a quiet stream as it is characterized by noise and movement! This should also remind you of the shouting and blowing of trumpets during the fifth feast of Rosh HaShanah. Arousing sleepers from the grave first with Yeshua on early firstfruits and later with the resurrection of His full harvest at the feast of Trumpets does indeed require movement and great noise like the River Cheddekel!
Think of noisy movement, awakening from sleep, and (the Spirit of) power when you think of the Tigris.
Again working toward the beginning, we next come to the River Gihon. It resides on the second and sixth branches on the menorah. Gihon means to burst forth, give birth, or to gush. This river is said to encompass (savav) the whole land of Ethiopia (Cush). Do you see the circling or surrounding aspect of this river? Cush means dark or black. It can easily symbolize the darkness of burial as pictured in the Messiah’s burial during the days of Unleavened Bread. Moses, the one “drawn forth” from the water, married a Cushite woman. This is likened to the Torah being drawn from the eternal waters of Eden and the Bride being, “black, but comely”. We are truly black or dark (in darkness) until our bridegroom redeems us with His Light and Fire. Only then can we be portrayed as white, like the linen worn on the High Holy Days. The surrounding flow of the Gihon washes us as do the second and sixth feasts of Matzah and Yom Kippur.
Remember to associate the surrounding flow of the Gihon and its ability to transform us from darkness to light like its gushing/birthing name implies.
The Pishon sits on the outer edges of our menorah motif, correlating to branch one and seven. We are given more information about this river than all of the others combined. Seeing that it encompasses or surrounds the entire menorah, this isn’t surprising.
Within the Hebrew word Pishon, we have the idea of dispersing, spreading, scattering, or as Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions notes for H6376, increases. Notice that this river flows around (encompasses) the whole land of Havilah, where there is good gold, bdellium, and onyx.
Havilah and its root, chul, are defined as to circle, twist, writhe, travail, dance, or whirl. Within this word is the idea of birth pangs and tribulation. But like the Israelites travail in Egypt, the more they were afflicted, the more they increased and spread out. This led to the birth of the nation of Israel in the exodus to the wilderness. These themes are associated with the first and last feasts of Pesach and Sukkot. Moreover, to make this connection even more apparent, the rabbinical teachings say that Pishon is synonymous with the Nile River in Egypt.
But what is the point in telling us about the good gold, bdellium, and onyx?
I probably don’t have to reiterate what many have done before me in explaining the Biblical significance of gold. What Dr. Alewine astutely points out is that the text specifies that the gold is GOOD in Havilah. Why does this matter? Because for all the “good” symbolism we can see portrayed in refined gold, it does have a contranym (a word meaning its own opposite). Gold may very well represent heaven, spiritual wealth, and the removal of impurities, but conversely it can represent idolatry as seen in the golden calf. The gold in Havilah was GOOD. In other words, like the pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, the impurities of leaven and sin have been removed. There is no malice; the streams are pure and gather together the pilgrims to the Holy City of Gold: Jerusalem. (Ever heard the song Jerusalem of Gold?) And let’s not forget that the golden menorah we have been using as a model for all of our fours and sevens is also made from pure gold.
Bdellium is a fragrant gum much like myrrh. It comes from a thorn tree which produces a small particle of resin that appears to “tear” or liquefy when the sun (light) shines upon it. Wow! Does this description remind you of anything or anyone? Wasn’t Yeshua a sweet smelling aroma to the nostrils of His Father as He died on the tree? Did Yeshua not weep for us before His appointed time?
This special resin in Hebrew literally means to divide, separate, distinguish, or even be set apart. Day one and two of creation and the first two feasts of Pesach and Unleavened Bread mirror this separation process. Like the good gold, impurities are what need to be removed or separated. But this process isn’t GOOD unless it leads to gathering together of like kind and like mind as fulfilled in the Jerusalem of Gold. While this is a glorious prospect, it may also be painful as it requires the weeping tears of repentance to enter.
Rashi likened bedolach with crystal and its ability to take pure white light and separate it into the seven colors of the rainbow or visible light. Can you see this same picture on the menorah? One source (Light) streaming into seven beautiful colors that surround the entire menorah like the light refracted from a prism. Aren’t we told that there truly is such a rainbow encompassing the throne of God? (Rev. 4:3) Could this rainbow of Light be revealed in the seven festivals of gathering in Jerusalem? Is that not their purpose; to bring light unto His people and clear paths for them to walk in?
Dr. Alewine also points out that the manna from heaven had a white look and appeared as dew upon the ground. Have you ever seen light refracted in the tiny water droplets of dew? Do you suppose it was any different when the children of Israel picked their manna up every morning? Could this have been a reminder to the children of Israel of the Throne of God and its rainbow canopy? In a sense, they were consuming both bread and light at the same time! After all, Yeshua is said to be both!
Shoham comes from a word that means to “blanch” or “make white”. Hmm. An onyx stone is usually black or dark in color. Spiritually speaking, we call this “whitening” process sanctification or holiness. This idea is similar to the land of Cush we discussed earlier. Dr. Alewine compares this whitening to the “bleached” linen garments of the priests. These garments were made of shesh (shin, shin). Figuratively this connects the priests’ linen garments with man (six –shesh) and with fire (shin – aysh).
Do you recall what the high priest wore on his shoulders? Yes, two onyx stones! These were connected to the breastplate by GOLD chains. When we are told that the government will rest on the shoulders of our Messiah (and High Priest), these onyx stones should come to mind. Engraved on these stones are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. These are the holy ones that testify to Yeshua’s government of heaven and earth. And it is He alone that takes what was once inscribed in darkness and turns it into light. These will be robed in white, for they have washed their (dark) robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:14)
Is the River of Life pictured in the four rivers of Eden, the seven days of creation, the seven Spirits of God, and the seven moedim (feast days) for Gentiles as well as Jews?
Rev 7:9-10 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; (10) and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Yes! Dr. Alewine points us to John 10:16.
“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
She goes on to say:
“Did Yeshua come to dismiss his Gentile flock from the appointed feasts? Did Yeshua come to create division between or among the folds at the appointed times, or did he come to make them one flock with one shepherd?” 
The rivers of Eden are one more testimony that from the beginning, YHWH has declared the end. The first letter of the Bible is an ENLARGED beht, meaning house or tent. From the onset of all things, the Father’s desire is to build and enlarge His House. Within the rivers and moedim (feast days) the good news of the gospel is proclaimed. This is the only place where the nations will find their healing and rest.
The rivers of Eden surround and flow around the creation days, feasts, spirits of God, and our menorah motif. But they are meant to flow and move through you and me too! By keeping the appointed times set by the Creator on day four, we are equipped to produce the good gold of Havilah (increase). This refining process is a sweet smelling aroma (bedolach) to our Father as we are proclaiming His government (onyx) throughout the earth.
Moving inward to the surrounding river of Gihon, the darkness (Cush/Ethiopia) is pierced as the sons of God prepare to burst forth in their unveiling. By the time the Tigris (Cheddekel) begins to flow through us, we are primed for new life and resurrection; because like the Tigris, we “walk” in the paths of the Creator. The gospel moves with rapid force throughout the earth.
Finally, the Perat (Euphrates) produces abundance and fruitfulness as a great multitude from every tribe and tongue wave palm branches at the great Feast of Sukkot in worship of the King of kings! These are those that will rejoice with the four living creatures under the rainbow canopy of God’s Throne. Below the Throne, the River of Life flows freely to nourish and cleanse the righteous with the cool fire waters of heaven. The wicked will experience the same flow of this river, but it will be unto them a lake of fire and judgment. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end! Selah.
 Examples: Baptism of water and fire, earth destroyed with water and later with fire, God was a pillar of cloud (water) and a pillar of fire to Israelites in the desert, the Hebrew word for heavens is shemayim, a word that literally means “fire-water”, etc.
 See the Song of Songs 1:5 and Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, p. 16
 Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions: H6376 פּישׁון pee-shone’ From H6335; dispersive; Pishon, a river of Eden: – Pison.
H6335 פּוּשׁ poosh A primitive root; to spread; figuratively act proudly: – grow up, be grown fat, spread selves, be scattered.
 See Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, pages 15 and 20.
 See Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, p. 18.
 Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, pages 34-35.
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