Posts Tagged With: menorah

Chodesh Shevat: Taste and See

Ps. 34:8 (NASB) O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

The eleventh Hebrew month is called Shevat in Zechariah 1:7. Shevat is a cognate of shevet; meaning branch, rod, scepter, scion, staff, and tribe.[1] In the Land of Israel, Shevat gives the first indicators of spring as the almond trees “wake up” and sprout green buds as a sign of new (resurrected) life. Tu’B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat, commemorates the New Year for Trees in Jewish tradition. (Read more about that here.)

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Almond buds and blossoms are also associated with authority. Consider Aaron’s rod that budded and blossomed overnight with fully ripe almonds after Korah’s rebellion and the consequent plague upon the people. (Num.16-17) This sign (oht) revealed that Aaron was YHWH’s chosen high priest, and that he operated in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, as indicated by the fully ripe fruit on his rod. It wasn’t happenstance that the rod or branch of the almond was chosen to display this sign, as almond trees flower and bear fruit earlier than all the fruit trees in Israel. Therefore, almonds are שָׁקֵד (sheked) in Hebrew; a word that also means to awake or watch (shakad).

Jer. 1:11-12 (NASB) The word of the LORD came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” 12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The imagery of wakefulness, resurrection, counsel, correction, and authority are also symbolized in the design of the holy golden menorah. It, too, has almond blossoms, buds, and even seven watery-like eyes filled with fiery olive oil. Traditionally, the eleventh month of Shevat merges these themes together with the human faculty of taste and the stomach, i.e. eating.

At first glance, this notion seems a little odd. Haven’t we clearly detected the connections of trees, especially almond trees, with the current season and (spiritual) sight? We could even add light, vision, the Word, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit to these ideas as both the almond tree and the menorah tree represent these concepts beautifully. So why then, do the rabbis suggest that Shevat is associated with taste?

Taste Buds

Contemplating this question led me to do a little research on the tongue and taste buds. The average human tongue is about three inches long with 2,000 to 4,000 taste buds. The tongue is made up of 8 different muscles that intertwine with each other creating a flexible matrix that work independently of the skeleton.

The tongue’s pink and white bumps that are visible to the human eye are called papillae. Each papilla contains 1 to 700 taste buds, depending upon its location on the tongue.[2] Taste buds have ten to fifty sensory cells that are intermittently renewed about every ten days.[3] The arrangement of these cells looks like the bud of a flower; hence, the name “taste buds.”[4]

Taste is some combination of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory).[5] Contrary to what many were taught in school, all areas of the tongue can detect each of these tastes. Like all of the human senses, taste enables one to discern the world around them. Taste (often along with the sense of smell) is how we discern what we are ingesting. But “eating” doesn’t begin with the tongue and one’s taste buds. We eat with our eyes first. Like Chavah (Eve), the fruit is first pleasing to the eyes before it is deemed good to eat.

Taste and Shevat

Now that the science lesson is over, how does this relate to the month of Shevat? People are often compared to trees in Scripture.[6] Humans have limbs, trunks, and grow roots. People can flourish or wither, and produce fruit. Fruit is an indicator of health and reproduction. Seeds reside Inside the fruit, and have the potential to produce a whole new tree. Messiah compares man to trees:

Mat. 7:15-20 (NASB) “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  16  “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  17  “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  18  “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  19  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20  “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

The appearance of the tree is not a good indicator of whether that tree (man) is good or evil. We are to look for proper fruit, as outlined by Paul in Galatians 5.

Gal. 5:22-23 (NASB)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

No matter how appealing the outward appearance is to one’s eyes, human sight, like all senses, can be deceiving. Tasting fruit offers one an additional measure of discernment. What does your tongue tell you? Is the fruit sweet? Sour? Bitter? Salty? Is there a seed inside the fruit?

Taste buds look like a flower bud or blossom under the microscope. Do you think this is a coincidence? These little receptors receive what is ingested and send that signal to the brain as a form of warning or delight. Even if one’s eyes indicate that the fruit is a delight, the taste buds will know whether the fruit is bitter or sweet.

My mother expressed an insightful notion as we were discussing this the other night. She said, “Most people cannot accept the ‘seed’ we offer them because it is encased in a shell (fruit) of bitterness.” Their tongues reject our words and even truth because their senses of discernment are not getting the signals of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thus, the bitterness is spit out; and with it, the truth we claim to be espousing.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that the fruit is bad, but immature. Young, unripe fruit has a sour taste that can cause intestinal distress. The Torah gives commandments for the appropriate time to consume fruit from trees, but what if trees are also people?

Lev. 19:23-25 (NASB) ‘When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten.  24  ‘But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.  25  ‘In the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit, that its yield may increase for you; I am the LORD your God.

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The Torah further directs one in how to handle fruit trees in a time of war; they are not to be cut down or destroyed. Are we not in a very real and ongoing spiritual battle? Mind the fruit trees, please.

Dt. 20:19-20 (NASB)  “When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?  20  “Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.

Taste and See

Taste and then see the fruit of the trees (people). The Word offers some help for one’s taste buds. Sometimes, these tools of discernment need to be renewed, just as we do. Thankfully, Adonai’s design of the tongue enables it to do just that. Within weeks, one can have a mouth filled with new taste buds that crave the good and not the bad. But even then, some tastes require an extra measure of discernment. Consider the following:

Umami (savory)

An aged Isaac had trouble with his physical sight and his sense of taste. His discernment was off, leaving Rebekah to steer the circumstances back toward the instruction the LORD originally gave while she was pregnant. The older will serve the younger.

Gen. 25:28 (NASB) Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Appetites are deceiving and can impair spiritual vision if one is ruled by their mighty impulses. In Isaac’s case, the result was a lack of sight and taste for Adonai’s plan for his younger son Jacob. Savory is a pleasant taste from animal fats and proteins. May that craving not be for wild game, but for the sacrifices of flesh laid upon the holy altar!

Bitter

As soon as Adonai redeemed Israel from the bondage of Egypt and walked them through the baptismal waters of the Reed (Red) Sea, their first stop was Marah, a place of bitterness.

Ex. 15:23-25 (NASB)  When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah.  24  So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”  25  Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.

Can you imagine experiencing the ten mighty miracles in Egypt, plundering your Egyptian taskmasters, fleeing from Pharaoh and being protected by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, walking through the parted Sea of Reeds on dry ground, and then watching as the waters returned, swallowing the enemy and his army? That’s the setting for the bitter waters of Marah. The people grumbled (lun – H3885) at Moses because the water was bitter to their taste buds. It’s hard to imagine, but I wonder if we don’t do this very thing.

God answered by showing Moses “a tree.” What do you suppose this tree was? Or more mystically, WHO was this tree? What or who sweetens the bitter waters? Bitterness is an unpleasant taste that warns the brain to reject (spit out) the liquid or solid. The writer of Hebrews reminds believers to pursue peace with all men and sanctification, so that a root of bitterness doesn’t take root in one’s heart that will defile not only the person, but those around them. (Heb. 12:13-15)

Even after salvation and redemption, sanctification is necessary. Failing to submit to this difficult process is akin to allowing bitterness to grow, which defiles the living waters.[7] The Book of Hebrews continues with an admonition to remember the ungodly appetites (tastes) of Esau. We need the counsel of the Tree of Life, the Holy Word, Yeshua the Messiah, to sweeten the waters as He tenderly leads us through the sanctification process.

Drinking bitter waters is also a test. Consider the Sotah, the woman accused of adultery in Numbers 5. She literally drinks a curse as she is bared before the priest. If she is guilty, she will suffer the curse; but if she is innocent, she will not be harmed and will go on to produce holy fruit.

Sweet

In the verses below, YHWH relates the Sabbath and the provision He provides to both sight and taste.

Ex. 16:28-31 (NASB) Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?  29  “See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”  30  So the people rested on the seventh day.  31  The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

Sabbath rest is a holy space in time, a refuge where Adonai provides bread for the whole man. It is like wafers and honey to the taste buds that ingest its wondrous and heavenly flavor. Many are like ancient Israel and cannot fathom how this strange substance has worth. They declare, “What is it?” Eyes alone are deceiving.

Sometimes we confuse sweet and bitter:

Is. 5:20 (NASB) Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

This is because we have been tasting and ingesting the words (seeds/fruit) of the harlot or wicked woman instead of the Holy Spirit of Wisdom.

Pr. 5:3-4 (NASB)  For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech;  4  But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword.

Our taste buds need time to regenerate and heal to their proper function. This is why fasting is beneficial to both the natural and the spirit man.[8] When the flesh is denied the things that it craves, taste buds have time to renew and desire that which is truly good and helpful to the body and the spirit. Beastly scales fall from the eyes when the spirit rules over the lower nature. That is how one can proclaim with joy and gladness:

Ps. 119:103-104 (NASB) How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  104 From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

But, there is another side to this coin, a holy mandate, that makes the sweet, bitter. The double-edged sword of the Word of the LORD slices through bone and marrow, soul (nephesh) and spirit, and judgment falls on those things that do not belong and on those that refuse to repent.

Ezek. 3:3,14 (NASB)  He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth… So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me.

Delivering the honey of the Word is a difficult task. One must endure many stings to extract its sweet amber. What is delightfully sweet to the taste buds of the righteous is bitter to the stomach of fleshly appetites and desire. YHWH gave Ezekiel a mission to be a watchman and prophet to rebellious Israel. He endured bitter circumstances to deliver the golden Words of the LORD’s judgment. John’s experience mirrored Ezekiel:

Rev. 10:9-11 (NASB) So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he *said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”  10  I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.  11  And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”

True prophets and prophecy requires dealing with the bitterness of God’s judgment on stinky flesh. The delivery vessel must suffer many tribulations for the sake of righteousness, a process that is very unpleasant to the stomach (appetites and desires of human flesh), but sweet to the taste buds of godly discernment. Only a Holy Spirit filled person could endure this bittersweet calling and mission. David, the anointed king, rejoiced in the judgments of YHWH:

Ps. 19:9-10 (NASB) The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.  10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

If your obedient service to YHWH is bittersweet, rejoice! For He is faithful and true! You are His planting, a mighty oak. Taste and See the liquid gold promises of Messiah:

Is. 61:1-3 (NASB) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;  2  To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,  3  To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Sour

The Hebrew word for sour is related to chametz, leavened grains. Fermented breads in the ancient world were all sour dough types. Most often leavened grains (chametz) are figurative of the small foreign agents multiplying rapidly to puff up a person in pride or other sin. This makes one sour or defiled. Closely linked to this notion is the sense of sight, as one is to be watchful of the kneading bowl and thoroughly inspect the house during the days of Unleavened Bread. As Paul says, just a little leaven will infect the whole lump of dough![9]

1Cor. 5:7-8 (NASB)  Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  8  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

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There is no mistaking that Paul is comparing the sourness of leaven to the actions (and words) of people in the context of the chapter above. The people he references are believers, not those lost to the world. Recall the original Passover and Unleavened Bread. Israel’s first stop was Marah with its bitter waters. If one fails to search out the leaven of the heart, the sour chametz will puff up like the chest of a wild beast of the field to create wickedness and eventually bitterness among even the Household of God. What’s the remedy?

1Cor. 5:11 (NASB) But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Hopefully, being removed from the camp will spring up a well of repentance in such a person’s heart. Regardless, the yeast infection is stayed from infecting the rest of the local body. Our duty is to daily examine our own hearts for the sourness of pride. The indicators (fruits) are a dead giveaway as to what is truly growing in the soil. Check for the sweet attributes of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and remove what doesn’t belong. In Psalm 34, David tells us to taste and see that the LORD is good. Taste, in order to “see” properly. This is also to true for our words. Taste your words before you spit them out. Don’t let the putrid smell of decaying flesh be on your breath. May your lips drip with the fragrant honey of the Word and fruit (words and action) of the Spirit.

Salty

Lev. 2:13 (NASB)  ‘Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

Eliminate salt from your diet and discover how mundane and boring eating and tasting can become. Salt adds life and delight to any type of food; even the best dessert needs a pinch of salt to bring out the richness and sweetness. Salt CHANGES the taste of food (it never works the other way around). It makes food and drink palatable and yummy. All sacrifices are offered with salt. Salt was not only a great commodity in the ancient world, but was a symbol of covenant in the near east.[10] Salt and a meal between families bound them together.

Too little salt and the taste is not as appealing. Too much salt, and something can hardly be swallowed, and can even result in poisoning. But with the right amount, flavor bursts in the mouth causing delight. This is what we are to be to other people; the thing that causes them to rejoice and crave more.

Col. 4:5-6 (NASB) Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  6  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

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Salt is a great cleanser and food preservative. It prevents decay and kills many harmful bacteria. Interestingly, Elisha purified the waters in Jericho with salt. (2 Kings 2) The bottom line is that salt can kill or heal. We must discern a healthy amount to use both literally and figuratively. Messiah said:

Mat. 5:13 (NASB) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

Salt also causes thirst. Our speech should cause others to hunger and thirst for righteousness, not suffer dehydration. Living Waters are to flow like a river from our innermost being. This IS the Holy Spirit, a river of Life and of Eden. If we have become salt that is no longer salty, or a pillar of salt that continually longs for the world, there is no life. We are a dry well. May Abba cast such a one into His watery refining fires of cleansing and renewal. May He sprinkle fresh water upon your soul.

Ezek. 36:24-27 (NASB)  “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.  25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  26  “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27  “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Asher

Taste and see! In conclusion, there is one last association for the month of Shevat that ties into the theme of taste. The tribe of Shevat is Asher. Asher means to be happy, blessed, to advance and walk straight. Perhaps Jacob and Moses’ blessings over this son and tribe will have a deeper meaning considering the faculty of taste just explored.

Gen. 49:20 (NASB) “As for Asher, his food shall be rich (fat), And he will yield royal dainties.”

Dt. 33:24-25 (NASB)  Of Asher he said, “More blessed than sons is Asher; May he be favored by his brothers, And may he dip his foot in oil.  25  “Your locks will be iron and bronze, And according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.

Asher’s food (fruit) is fat and rich, a feast fit for a King and his court. He is a picture of one that offers the thirsty, hungry, and battle weary true refreshment. He spreads happiness and revitalizes the weak. This is how he yields “royal dainties.” He serves from the King’s table. Does this remind you of the wedding supper of the Lamb?

Moses, through the inspiration of the Ruach HaKodesh, blesses the tribe of Asher last. He is the eleventh-hour tribe (of the eleventh month). Moses says Asher is the MOST blessed of the sons. When his fruit is pressed (tested), his walk (foot) is revealed to be dipped in the sweet oil of the Holy Spirit. Verse 25 above uses the English word “locks” to describe the Hebrew word man’al, meaning sandal or shoe latches or the thing that secures one’s shoes. To have your “feet shod with the preparation with the Gospel of Peace,” remember the happiness of Asher. (Eph. 6:15)

Is. 52:7 (NASB)  How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Asher is a reminder of the happiness to come in the fullness of the Kingdom of God and his banquet table of royal dainties. Asher has the oil from holy trees that others come to “purchase.” His delicacies make him favored among the brethren because they can “taste and see” the richness of the Holy Spirit in the actions and words that drip like oil and honey from his lips. They are a balm of healing and delight, a reminder of the King’s Table. May you be like Asher as a holy tree of life, and not the Asherim of deaf and dumb idols.

May this new month bring renewal and blessings upon you and your households. May it truly be a New Year for Trees (people) in your assemblies. May your tongue be used as a wise discerner of truth. May you be happy like Asher with the richness of the bread (Word) of God, and may you yield a banquet fit for the King and His Kingdom.

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Update: After reading this article, a dear reader sent me the following song by Andrew Peterson. It’s called “The Sower’s Song.” I can’t express the magnitude of how much Adonai is glorified in it! Enjoy!


[1] The word Shevat (שְׁבָט) is also phonetically related to Shabbat (שַׁבָּת). The letters tet and tav, both letters of the tongue, can be interchangeable.

[2] http://www.monell.org/news/fact_sheets/monell_taste_primer

[3] http://jcb.rupress.org/content/jcb/27/2/263.full.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4647210/

[4] Learn more here.

[5] Flavor is a combination of taste plus smell, which is how your brain registers scent when you  eat something. I hope to explore flavor and smell in a later in post.

[6] For example, see: Dt. 20:19, Is. 65:22, Jer. 17:8, & Psalm 1

[7] See also James 3 on the tongue.

[8] Consider Jonah 3:7

[9] 1 Cor. 5:6-8, Gal. 5:9

[10] For more on this see Clay Trumbull’s Salt Covenant.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, new moon, Study Helps | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Rivers of Eden

tree-of-life-river-of-life-05-08Why 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.

 

One River

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.

Other examples:

  • There are four corners of the earth
  • Four corners (horns) are on the brazen altar
  • Four living creatures surround the Throne
  • Four seasons mark the year
  • Fourth commandment is about Shabbat, the seventh day
  • Four gospels testify of Messiah
  • Fourth born son, Judah, receives the scepter (authority, government, rule)
  • Four horsemen complete judgment in the earth
  • Four species are waved at Sukkot, the seventh feast
  • Four corners of garment carry our tzit-tziot (fringes) representing all the commandments

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:

menorah3

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.

Euprates (Perat)

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.[1] 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.

Tigris (Cheddekel)

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.

Gihon (Gichon)

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”.[2] 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.

Pishon

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.[3] 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.[4]

But what is the point in telling us about the good gold, bdellium, and onyx?

Gold (zahav)

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 (bedolach)

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.[5] 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!

Onyx (shoham)

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?” [6]

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.

river of lifeConclusion

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.


[1] 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.

[2] See the Song of Songs 1:5 and Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, p. 16

[3] 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.

[4] See Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, pages 15 and 20.

[5] See Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, p. 18.

[6] Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, pages 34-35.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Light of the World Part III

Rainbows and the Throne of Glory

Rainbow Science

Before we look at the majestic rainbow in Scripture, let’s review what modern science teaches about this unparalleled display of “colorful” LIGHT. In order for a rainbow to occur, three particular criteria have to be met. The sun has to be shining “behind” you. A rain cloud or moisture in the air must be in “front” of you. And, the sun’s rays have to shine through the cloud at an anti-solar point of 42 degrees. (The anti-solar point is where the shadow of your head is)

When a beam of sunlight passes through a water droplet it slows down and spreads out, separating each color that makes up white light. The process of light refracting or bending can be more accurately described as the process of light changing speed as it moves through different densities. The reason why rainbows appear as an arc is because of the bending of and dispersing of light through millions of water droplets. The colors will always display in the same order due to the fact that each color has its own wavelength or intensity.

The most common rainbow is called a primary rainbow. It shows red on the outside with violet on the inside. Often this “bow” of light will have another larger but fainter arc above it. We typically call this a “double rainbow”, but scientists call it a secondary rainbow. The double bow occurs when the water droplets in the primary rainbow reflect light TWICE. Since it is the reflection of the primary bow, the colors are reversed. The “double” bow occurs at 50-53 degrees from your anti-solar point.

double-rainbow

YHWH’s Rainbow

Gen. 9:11-17  “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”  (12)  God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;  (13)  I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.  (14)  “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,  (15)  and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.  (16)  “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  (17)  And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (NASB)

The rainbow, according to the Creator, is THE sign of His covenant with every living creature that He will never again destroy all flesh with water. So…were their no rainbows before the flood of Noah’s day? Many Creation Scientists believe the evidence points to the possibility that before the flood it had never rained on the earth. For example, Walt Brown[1], director of the Center for Scientific Creation in Phoenix postulates that rain as we know it was unknown to preflood peoples[2]. If this theory is true, it would have been impossible for a rainbow to form “in the cloud” since there were no clouds. However, this question is not a new one. The ancient sages debated this among themselves for centuries and they likewise considered modern “science” of their day.

The Biblical commentator Ramban argued that a simple experiment proved easily enough that a rainbow is the result of light being refracted through water, which was enough proof in his mind that they were present from creation forward. He never believed that the verses we quoted above, upon close inspection, contradicted science. He states, “Whether the rainbow was created now or whether it had always been a part of nature, the reason for it representing the sign remains the same.[3]

Regardless of whether rainbows existed preflood or not, the Creator plainly states that it was AFTER the flood that He “set” His bow in the clouds as the SIGN of His covenant.

Keshet   קשׁת

The Bow and the Throne

In Biblical Hebrew, a bow as in “rainbow” and a bow as in a “bow and arrow” are the same word, keshet. The mindset behind this is similar to our English idea: they both BEND. In Noah’s day, YHWH sovereignly chose to judge the earth with a weapon or “bow” of water. Therefore, it is fitting that God chose the rain “bow” as the sign of His promise to never again judge the earth. The rainbow points toward heaven instead of earth as a sign of peace. Bible commentator John Gill puts it this way: “Though it is a bow, yet without arrows, and is not turned downwards towards the earth, but upwards towards heaven, and so is a token of mercy and kindness, and not of wrath and anger[4].”

The Ramban (Nahmanides) has a similar idea as to YHWH’s choice of a rainbow: “ancient cultures fought their wars with the bow and arrow, and the side which surrendered, pursuing peace instead of war, would express their will to do so by raising an inverted bow that the enemy could see. Similarly, G-d places an inverted bow in the heavens as a sign that He is no longer warring against humanity.”

In most places, the word keshet denotes a bow of archery or the archers who handle bows. I could only find three[5] other references to the majestic 7 colored rainbow in the Scriptures. In most of these verses, the bow is found surrounding the throne of YHWH. The first place is in Ezekiel’s vision of the FOUR living creatures. I highly suggest you read all of chapter one for context. Also, be sure to take note of all the words associated with light; there are many!

Ezek. 1:26-28  Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.  (27)  Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him.  (28)  As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.

The vision must have been amazing! Can you imagine what this must have been like for Ezekiel? First, notice the reference to the “expanse” or as some translations say, the “firmament”. This should remind you of day 2 of creation when God placed an expanse or firmament between the heavenly and earthly waters. (Gen. 1:6-8) God’s throne and the One with “the appearance of a man” are seen ABOVE this “expanse”.

The One with the likeness of man is oddly described from His loins and upward and His loins and downward, yet both resemble fire — a form of LIGHT. This radiance is said to “surround” Him as a rainbow of colorful light. Thus, we can imagine that seeing YHWH is like seeing bright white light refracted into the 7 colors of the rainbow. Perhaps the color or refracted light is seen because our eyes cannot perceive His full nature as pure white (spiritual) light. It must be refracted, bent, or slowed down in order for our “eyes” to see it. This is something to think about. We must remember that the natural world teaches us spiritual truth.

The remaining two verses about YHWH’s throne and the rainbow are both found in the Book of Revelation.

Rev. 4:2-3  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  (3)  And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.

Rev. 10:1  I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire;

In these verses, we get to explore the Greek word for rainbow, iris[6]. We get such words as iris, iridescent, iridium, and iridology from this Greek word. These cognates are named due to their association with a colorful appearance. What I find most interesting about this Greek word is that it is found one time in the Septuagint[7]. It is used in the recipe for the Holy Anointing Oil.

Ex. 30:22-25  Moreover, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (23)  “Take also for yourself the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two hundred and fifty,  (24)  and of cassia (iris) five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin.  (25)  “You shall make of these holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be holy anointing oil.

So, the question becomes: What does the spice cassia have to do with an iris or a rainbow? The Hebrew word for cassia is kiddah and means to roll, shrivel, or contract. The spice is made from the bark of the cassia tree. Sections are rolled and dried from both sides toward the center so that they end up resembling scrolls. This rolling like a scroll is hint of creation day 2 and the expanse or firmament between the earthly and heavenly waters. One day instead of being stretched out (Is. 42:5) like a rainbow, the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll. (Is. 34:4, Rev. 6:14)

But our Hebrew word kiddah most often means bowing the head in worship or in great respect. (i.e. Gen. 24:26) Since Hebrew is a very action or verb based language, the verb form of kiddah gives us insight into why the Rabbis translating the Hebrew Tanakh into Greek chose this particular word in reference to the cassia spice.

Cassia is the FOURTH ingredient in the holy anointing oil. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Rabbis used “iris” for “kiddah” in reference to the Holy Anointing Oil. Four is another picture of completeness or seven[8]. Yeshua the Messiah comes from the house of Judah, Jacob’s 4th son. He is the Anointed One standing in the midst of the 7 branched menorah, representing the Light of God[9]. If you read my previous two posts on the Light of the World, you also recall that the menorah is the perfect motif for not only the 7 Spirits of God, but also for light’s 7 forms in the electromagnetic spectrum and its 7 colors of visible light. The rainbow’s 7 colors is a perfect (natural) display of the splendor of His Kingdom and throne.

As a side note, this should really open our eyes to the blasphemy of His glory and Kingdom when the homosexual community uses this motif as a symbol of their rebellion. While it may appear bright and cheery, it is in reality a counterfeit wicked lamp[10] of darkness.

The Rainbow Was Upon His Head

In Revelation 10:1, we are told of a strong messenger with a rainbow upon his head. Some would envision something like a halo. But the halo doesn’t originate in Scripture. It comes from ancient sun god deities[11], the oldest form of false worship. Nevertheless, we have many places in the Bible where a shining or glowing light, even fire, emanates from either God or a person[12]. I freely admit that it is possible that this “rainbow” upon the messenger’s head in Revelation 10:1 may actually be similar to a halo. Please allow me to explain why.

A rainbow actually forms a full circle around the point directly opposite of the observer from the light source. Since the light source is usually the sun, the center of the circle is the anti-solar point (the observer’s shadow). Most often only a portion of the circle is above the ground so that the visible part is an arc or bow. When the observer is located at a considerably higher altitude, like an airplane or mountain top, the full circle of the rainbow can be seen. The picture below was taken while the observer was skydiving.

Circular_rainbow

Could this circular rainbow be an allusion as to why Moses’ face shone with light after his encounter with YHWH on the mountain top? In other words, when Moses ascended up to that lofty point on the earth, his shadow didn’t block any of YHWH’s glorious light! Don’t we see this same marvel when Yeshua takes Peter, James, and John up to the mountain of transfiguration?

Mat. 17:1-6  Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.  (2)  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  (3)  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  (4)  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  (5)  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”  (6)  When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.

Do you suppose that the faces of Moses and Yeshua were similar when they “shone”?

Ex. 34:29-30  It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.  (30)  So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

I find it fascinating that in the natural, one must be at a high altitude, such as a mountain top in order to “see” a complete rainbow —- a picture of God’s covenant. I personally believe that the shining faces of both Yeshua and Moses would have been similar to the circular rainbow. Yeshua is the one standing in the “midst” of God’s menorah. He IS the Light of YHWH, but at the time of the transfiguration, He was not yet glorified. In other words, it is possible that the light was still “veiled” or refracted (bent or slowed down) and this enabled His disciples to perceive it — and Him.

A rainbow in all its fullness is not just a “bow” or arc, it is a circle! For those of you that have been studying the Hebraic mindset, this shouldn’t be too surprising. God and His creation, His calendar, and His Word are all cyclical in nature. Do you recall our first passage in Ezekiel with the living creatures? Earlier in chapter one, these beings are said to be powered by great sparkling “wheels” or circles.

Ezek. 1:15-20  Now as I looked at the living beings, behold, there was one wheel on the earth beside the living beings, for each of the four of them.  (16)  The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was like sparkling beryl, and all four of them had the same form, their appearance and workmanship being as if one wheel were within another.  (17)  Whenever they moved, they moved in any of their four directions without turning as they moved.  (18)  As for their rims they were lofty and awesome, and the rims of all four of them were full of eyes round about.  (19)  Whenever the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. And whenever the living beings rose from the earth, the wheels rose also.  (20)  Wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go in that direction. And the wheels rose close beside them; for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.

These shining wheels with rims full of eyes (a symbol of YHWH’s Spirit) are what powered or gave energy to the beings. This can be none other than YHWH’s Light, His Spirit that is symbolized beautifully in the 7 days of creation, the 7 Spirits of God (Is. 11:1-2), and in the 7 Feasts of YHWH! This is why the 7 branched menorah and the 7 visible colors function as a LIGHT display. Creation Gospel students will instinctively perceive why there are 4 living creatures, for this is a picture of 7!

How fitting it is that YHWH chose a rainbow as the first[13] sign of the covenant with mankind and all the creatures of earth! There are more “types” of rainbows than I mentioned in this post. It is a fascinating subject to explore; I urge you to do your own research and see where it takes you. I hope we are all fortunate enough to see a rainbow very soon and take in all its symbolic glory! Imagine the shining faces of Moses and Yeshua and the gleaming Throne Room of the Most High. I leave you with a traditional blessing for when you do see one.

Blessing When Seeing a Rainbow

“Blessed are you, YHWH, our God, King of the universe, Who remembers His covenant, is trustworthy in His covenant, and fulfills His word.”

Related Post: Overcome by a Rainbow

Go back to Part I or Part II


[2] Article, “Did It Rain before the Flood? “ http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/FAQ29.html (7/31/13)

[4] John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, from my e-sword.org bible program on Genesis 9:13.

[5] Including the first rainbow of Noah’s day, this totals FOUR biblical references to the rainbow. Creation Gospel students will recognize once again that 4 is another picture of 7!

[6] Yes, in case you were wondering, our flower by the same name does come from this Greek word! It is aptly named because the iris flower grows in a “rainbow” of colors.

[7] The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Tanakh or Old Testament.

[8] Four also stands for the servant, government, authority, kingdom, the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), the door, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. (For more information on why this is true please seek out a Creation Gospel trainer)

[9] Rev. 1:12-14  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.

[10] Pr. 21:4  Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin.

[12] Ex. 34:29, Mt. 7:2, Mark 9:2, Heb. 1:3, Rev. 1:14-15, etc.

[13] While many theologians declare that YHWH’s first covenant was with Adam, Scripture doesn’t use the Hebrew word for covenant, brit, until Genesis chapter six with Noah. Many commentators assert that Noah’s covenant was merely an expanded form of God’s covenant with Adam, and perhaps this is true. Regardless of whether God’s first covenant was with Adam or Noah, the first SIGN of the covenant is the rainbow.

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The Light of the World Part II

The mystery of light still baffles modern scientists and theologians alike. We explored some of the reasons why in The Light of World Part I. In this post, I hope to take the scientific and spiritual dynamics a step further.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the term used by scientists to describe the entire range of natural light. This spectrum is broken into seven specific regions. Subdividing into smaller spectra is done mostly on the basis of how each region of electromagnetic waves interacts with matter. The diagram below depicts the electromagnetic spectrum’s seven regions.

light spectrum

As the graphic above shows, visible light only comprises about 1.5% of the entire light spectrum. Thus, we could say that we are “blind” to the vast majority of light. And the only reason we can see visible light is because God built special receivers right into our heads: our eyes.

If the natural world teaches us about the spiritual world, then we can deduce that (left to ourselves) we are “blinded” to at least 98.5% of spiritual light as well. Since light in the Bible is often synonymous with the Torah (Law), Word, and Yeshua (Jesus), is it any wonder that God compares us to a blind person when we reject His Law, Word, and/or Yeshua? Consider the following Scripture verses:

The Torah (law), the Word and Yeshua are LIGHT

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  (Ps.119:105)

The entrance of thy words give light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Ps.119:130)

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law (Torah) is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: (Pr. 6:23)

To the law (Torah) and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Is. 8:20)

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  (20)  “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  (21)  “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (Jn. 3:19-21) 

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. (Jn. 12:46)

 

What the above verses teach us is that God’s light is the only true light. Only His light can illuminate our darkness. Therefore, it is vital that we receive His light. Sadly, many of those that claim to follow Yeshua (Jesus) reject His Torah or law, and replace it with traditions of their own making. According to Isaiah (8:20), there is no light in this type of worldview.

Perhaps Israel (God’s people — including both Jews and Gentiles), truly are “blind in part” as Paul stated in Romans 11. Something is missing. But this is a lengthy discussion best treated with its own set of posts. For now, consider that God uses the Torah (law), the Word and Yeshua as equivalent expressions throughout Scripture. Each of these concepts is what YHWH judges to be His LIGHT.  And they are NOT mutually exclusive of one another no matter what modern theology claims.

It is no coincidence that the electromagnetic spectrum has SEVEN ranges or types of natural light. Spiritually speaking, this is a perfect picture of the SEVEN branched menorah — the epitome of God’s Spiritual light that radiates through and by our Messiah, Yeshua.

Visible Light

If all the different wavelengths of visible light fall on the eye at the same time, white light is seen. However, if that light is refracted, there are SEVEN (that number keeps popping up!) possible colors visible to the human eye as shown in the figure below.

light prism

ROY-G-BIV is the acronym that represents all of the colors in the visible spectrum of light. R (red) – O (orange) – Y (yellow) – G (green) – B (blue) – I (indigo) – V (violet). Not only are those the colors we can see as humans, but they are also in the right order. Red has the longest wavelength and violet has the shortest. In other words, red is the least energetic and violet is the most energetic of the visible spectrum[1]. We will look more closely at these colors when we explore the “rainbow” in a later post.

The prophet Ezekiel was blessed with a colorful vision of heaven. In the verses below, notice the many colored stones, the mention of fire (a form of light), and the reference to the rainbow. All these images are given to us by the prophet to describe the throne room and glory of YHWH.

Ezek. 1:26-28  And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.  (27)  And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.  (28)  As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of YHWH. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

In a like manner, the Beloved disciple John was also given a vision of the throne room. Notice the similarities and the reference to colors and light.

Rev 4:2-3  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.  (3)  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

Ezekiel and John could see a rainbow (refracted light) surrounding the throne of YHWH, which means the one at its center, must be nothing less than pure white light! Also notice Ezekiel’s description of seeing amber. Amber has a GOLDEN look and sheen. Can you think of a symbol in scripture that is amber or golden in color and also displays light?

The Menorah

There is no better symbol in all of scripture to encompass the theme of “YHWH/Yeshua as Light” than the Menorah. The menorah was first described to us through Moses when YHWH gave him instructions for the furnishings of the holy place in the tabernacle. Menorah is the Hebrew word for a candlestick or lamp stand. This word literally denotes the means by which light comes or that which bears light. The menorah had a very specific design. Speaking of this holy piece of furniture, YHWH said:

Ex. 25:31-39  And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made… (32)  And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:  (33)  Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick… (37)  And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it…(39)  Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.

While other implements of the sanctuary were to be overlaid with gold, ONLY the menorah was to be made of ONE solid piece of PURE gold. In three passages of scripture, the menorah is called “the pure menorah”[2]. All the tabernacle furnishings were to be made precisely as YHWH showed Moses on the mountain[3], but He repeats the instruction only in reference to the menorah emphasizing its significance.

Ex. 25:40  “So see, and do according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain”

Let’s look at some facts about the menorah[4]:

  • It is fashioned out of ONE piece of hammered gold.
  • It’s designed to resemble and almond tree. (Notice its decorations)
  • It has ONE central shaft with 3 out workings on each side. (7 Branches)
  • Common Israelites, not the priests, provided the pure olive oil that kept the menorah continually burning. (Ex. 27:20-21)

One Piece of Hammered Gold

The menorah was the only piece of holy furniture that was made solely of pure gold. Even the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place was made of acacia wood overlaid in gold. The fact that it took one piece of gold measuring a talent to make the menorah speaks to the oneness of this set apart object. Since the Holy Place was completely covered, the menorah would be the only light source for the priests to perform their duties. When you look at or think of the golden menorah, your first thought should be the on its first description: One. Which is UNITY.

Dt. 6:4  “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

Almond Tree

God’s instructions for the menorah included decorations from the almond tree. In Hebrew, the almond is called esh’kedia, which literally translated means “to be alert, watchful, and to be awake”. Interestingly, the almond tree is the first tree to bloom or “wake-up” in Israel in the early spring. Moreover, an almond is shaped like the human eye, thus in Hebrew it is named after the function of the eye. Jeremiah has a passage that illustrates these concepts beautifully.

Jer. 1:11-12  Moreover the word of YHWH came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see the branch of an almond tree [esh kedia]. (12) Then said YHWH unto me, “Thou hast well seen: for I am watching [sho’ked] over my word to perform it.”

In this passage, YHWH uses something very tangible (the almond tree) to picture something abstract (His watchful eyes). Zechariah confirms this image.

Zec. 4:2-6  And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a menorah all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it.  (3)  And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”  (4)  And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”  (5)  Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.”  (6)  Then he said to me, “This is the word of YHWH to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says YHWH of hosts.

The angel goes on to further explain the vision.

Zec. 4:10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of Yahweh, which range through the whole earth.”

The seven flames of the golden Menorah are like seven eyes proceeding from YHWH (the LORD), that scan to and fro throughout the earth. In both Jeremiah and Zechariah, the emphasis is on seeing and YHWH’s continual watchfulness over the fulfillment of His Word.

Ps. 121:4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.

This motif also suggests that YHWH is the Light (the menorah itself) and that the branches are truly His eyes. These are the seven spirits that John describes in Revelation[5]. In nature, it is through the one pure white channel of visible light refracting into six branches that we are able to see glorious color; and so it is through the one main shaft of the menorah branching into six other flames that we see the glory of our Holy God. Perhaps this why Isaiah says of the BRANCH (Messiah):

Is. 11:1-2  There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a BRANCH from his roots shall bear fruit.  (2)  And the Spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of YHWH.

The 7 Branches and 7 Spirits of YHWH

Like the Menorah’s seven branches, there are seven Spirits of God. The fullness of the Spirit of YHWH is represented in the main shaft of the golden menorah. All the other 6 branches are rooted and spring forth from this single shaft: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and reverence (fear). Each of these manifestations of God’s Spirit operates as creative forces or agents in creation, restoration and renewal from Genesis to Revelation.

As I’ve mentioned in several other places on this blog, Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s The Creation Gospel explores these spirits in detail. If I could recommend one thematic study or biblical paradigm for you to learn, The Creation Gospel would be at the top of the list every time. This study helps you to build understanding by showing you how the smaller pictures found in the Scriptures fits into the greater picture. For now, consider that the 7 Spirits of God are like the 7 tongues of fire that illuminate the golden menorah.

In the following diagram, the electromagnetic spectrum is transposed with a likeness of the tabernacle menorah. Notice the visible spectrum’s 7 colors coming forth from the main stem of “white” light. Remember the heavenly throne room pictured by Ezekiel and John? What better symbolism could have been given to these men to illustrate the majesty of the God of LIGHT? He truly covers Himself with light as a garment!

  Ps. 104:2  Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.

 menorah and light

Conclusion

  • The electromagnetic spectrum depicts 7 forms of light. Of these 7, we can only see 1 tiny sliver equaling 1.5% of the spectrum.
  • Visible white light refracts into 7 seven colors or wavelengths that increase in intensity.
  • YHWH uses a 7 branched golden menorah to symbolize His Light.
  • Imagery in Scripture equates YHWH’s Light with the Torah (Law), His Spirit, Messiah, His Word, His Eyes, His Power, etc.

Do you think it is a coincidence that “science” describes natural light with 7 “manifestations” long after YHWH established this fact in Scripture with the menorah?

More to come on the Rainbow and YHWH’s Throne, The Menorah, the Tree of Life, Mt. Moriah and Resurrection. Click here for Part III.


[1] Creation Gospel students will find this truth rather fascinating because the “spring” side of the menorah deals more with families and individuals while the “fall” side deals with a nation or the nations. There is a direct increase in intensity as the spring feasts of YHWH progress into the fall festivals. This mimics increase in intensity of the colors energy wavelengths as they progress on the spectrum.

[2] Ex. 31:8, 39:37, Lev. 24:4

[3] Ex. 25:9

[4] Valerie Moody has an excellent workbook on the menorah called: Secrets of the Menorah. Even seasoned Hebraic Roots followers will find some treasures in its pages. Although I didn’t see this particular book at her website, you can contact her about possibly obtaining a copy. http://www.vmoody.com/

[5] Rev. 1:4

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