Posts Tagged With: nine

Month of Av: Tisha B’Av and Tu B’Av

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Listen

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

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

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

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

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

How Not to Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, We Remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chodesh Av

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

Tisha B’Av

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

 

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


[1] Gen. 29:33

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

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

שׁבר

shâbar

BDB Definition:

1) to break, break in pieces

1a) (Qal)

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

1a2) to break, rupture (figuratively)

1b) (Niphal)

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

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

1c) (Piel) to shatter, break

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

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

[3] Gen. 34:25

[4] Gen. 34:30

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

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

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

Categories: Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Moonbeams and the Moedim Part IV  

Please see Part I, Part II, and Part III for the best context.

Gestation

 I do hope you that you have at least read Part III and have considered the significance of the number NINE in regard to the creation of LIFE. The following analogy will cover all seven of YHWH’s moedim and the two festivals of the people (Chanukah and Purim). I realize that some people will have a “problem” with me adding in the latter two festivals. My hope is that those that do will at least take the time to read the whole matter before making a judgment.

I’m obviously not the first person to compare the feast cycle with the human gestation. But in my research of this topic, I haven’t found one that includes all nine of the aforementioned festivals. Since the Biblical year begins in Nisan, all the resources I’ve inquired start the analogy with Pesach. Since human gestation is nine months, 280 days, or 40 weeks, one cannot begin with Passover and end with Sukkot because there are only about 25.3 weeks between these festivals. Thus, many resources extend their analogy to include Chanukah. But even then, there still isn’t a true nine month period as there are only about 10 weeks between Sukkot and Chanukah. (A total of 35.3 weeks)

But if we begin with Purim, a feast that begins exactly one month before Passover, and we walk through the moedim cycle all the purimway to Chanukah, we indeed end up right at 40 weeks or nine months. I personally don’t believe this is a coincidence. Since Purim technically falls toward the end of the Biblical year, this may seem to be a perplexing place to start. But when we consider what Purim commemorates, I believe things come into focus. Please join me through this exciting journey that chronicles both natural and spiritual life.

Purim and Conception

In the Book of Esther, we are given the history and story behind Purim. There are quite a few fascinating tidbits in Esther that I hope to write about soon. For this post, I will curb my fingers and give you the bare bones as to why I believe Purim is a picture of conception or the beginning of life. In the time of Esther, the Jewish people were living in exile under the rule of the Persian Empire. A highly anti-Semitic official (Haman) tricked the king into signing a decree to annihilate the Jewish people. But God chose a woman (Esther) to intercede and act on behalf of her people. As the new bride of the king of Persia, Esther was able to not only save her people, but also ensure their future.

This is overly simplified, but the point is that Esther became a “mother” to Israel and a builder of the House. Without her heroics, the Jewish people would have been annihilated and the Messiah wouldn’t have been born. During Purim, the people were “fertile” with potential. If Esther had refused to become YHWH’s vessel, salvation would have come from another. (Esther 4:14) Purim celebrates survival; something conceived babies’ need more than ever in today’s world.

Thus, Purim appropriately involves rejoicing through the physical pleasures (food, drink, etc.) because it was our physical bodies that were saved. Ahem… this also implies sex and the potential to receive seed (conception). The date of Purim is Adar 14th, which occurs at the full moon on the last Hebrew month of the year. In leap years, when there are two months of Adar, Purim is celebrated in the second month of Adar, so it is always one month before Passover.

If you will recall from Part II, when a woman is in menses at the new moon, she is fertile at the full moon. In our analogy, both Purim and ovulation occur on the 14th of the month when the moon is full. (Esther 9:17) To make things simple for our comparisons of the moedim and gestation, I will use the Jewish calendar beginning with the date for Purim this year, March 4th, 2015.

Passover

In our analogy, it is during the weeks between Purim and Passover that a woman’s body would make the crucial decision of whether or not the fertilized egg is viable enough to implant in the uterus. Likewise, those that are preparing for Passover begin a similar process of selection by eating up and removing any leaven in the home. Just as Israel had to experience several of the plagues of Egypt, a woman may experience some sickness at this point.

If conception occurred on the evening of March 4th, 2015, then by the time the Biblical New Year and Passover occurs, it will be April 3rd. Since exactly one full month would have passed, Passover will also occur during a full moon when there is more “light”. A woman would have just recently been made aware that she had conceived as her menses would have skipped its cycle at the new moon. At this point, she would be four weeks pregnant.

By the fourth week of pregnancy, the tiny baby has already made itself a “home” in the uterus. As you read the following quote, please keep spiritual birth at the forefront of your mind. What to Expect[1] says this about the fourth week of gestation:

 “Once there [in the uterus], it burrows into your uterine lining and implants — making that unbreakable connection to you that’ll last the next eight months (and a lifetime after that). As soon as that little ball of cells is settled in its new home, it will undergo the great divide — splitting into two groups. Half (now called the embryo) will become your son or daughter, while the other half forms the placenta, your baby’s lifeline…” [Bolding and brackets are mine.]

I don’t know about you, but I find this fascinating. Passover is the covenantal meal. It is what makes that “unbreakable” connection between YHWH and us – and it does last for a lifetime!

Unleavened Bread and Early First Fruits

 On the heels of Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread commence. In our analogy these festivals would fall from April 4th through April 10th. There is to be no leavened bread consumed for these seven days. This was to remind the children of Israel that they had to leave Egypt in haste. But Pharaoh pursued the Israelites as far as the Red Sea. This would have been about the time that the early first fruits festival would occur. Later as a fulfillment of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Early First Fruits, Messiah shed His blood in death as the Paschal Lamb, was buried during Unleavened Bread, and rose from the grave becoming our Firstfruits.

 A lot happens throughout this fourth week of pregnancy as well. What to Expect continues:

“Your little embryo is busy setting up house. While the amniotic sac (also called the bag of waters) forms around it, so does the yolk sac which will later be incorporated into your baby’s developing digestive tract. And the embryo now has three distinct layers of cells that will grow into specialized parts of your baby’s body.” [Bolding mine.]

 If you look carefully, you can see elements that are involved with Matzah and Early Firstfruits. Just as the children of Israel walked through the waters of the Red Sea during this time frame, the baby is surrounded (and yet protected) by the merciful waters of the womb. Moreover, its digestive tract begins to develop. This is indicative of our digestive tracts being “reprogrammed” each year by abstaining from leaven. I also cannot help but to notice that it is in this week that the baby (embryo) develops THREE distinct layers of cells that will build its little body. This whole process in the natural and the spiritual is about building the HOUSE.

Omer Counting

The following points are labeled according to gestation weeks, not omer weeks. I have included SEVEN as we are told to count 7×7 weeks up to Shavuot (Pentecost). All of the following developmental stages were taken from What to Expect.

  • Week 5: Baby has visible heartbeat.
  • Week 6: Head and face takes shape.
  • Week 7: Brain cells rapidly develop as do arm/leg buds.
  • Week 8: Heart beats at 150 beats a minute. Lips, nose, and eyelids develop.
  • Week 9: Baby hits milestone. (Notice this is in NINTH week.) Embryonic stage ends and fetal stage begins.
  • Week 10: Bones and cartilage form.
  • Week 11: Sex organs begin forming. Baby now has distinct human features such as hands, feet, nose, and ears.

Shavuot (Pentecost)

Approximately seven weeks later on May 23rd, after the counting of the Omer, the second pilgrimage festival begins. The first fruits of wheat are brought in and baked into two leavened loaves that are then waved before YHWH. The children of Israel would have reached Mt. Sinai at this point and received the Ten Commandments. Later, the resurrected Messiah would send the Holy Spirit to appear as tongues of fire upon His disciples.

The developing baby would be at about 12 weeks gestation and nearing the end of the first trimester by Shavuot. This week marks a turning point for the developing baby much in the same way that experiencing Pentecost is a turning point in the life of a Believer. What to Expect says this about the 12th week of gestation:

“At 12 weeks pregnant, the herculean task of developing new bodily structures is nearing an end, as most of your baby’s systems are fully formed – though there’s still plenty of maturing to do. For one thing, the fetal digestive system is beginning to flex its digestive muscle — literally — as it starts beginning to practice contraction movements, a skill your baby will need after birth to push food through the digestive tract. The bone marrow is busy making white blood cells — weapons which will one day help your baby fight infection once he’s out of your safe haven. And the pituitary gland at the base of the brain has started producing the hormones that’ll enable him (or her) to make babies of his (or her) own in a couple of decades or so.” [Bolding mine]

human-pregnancy-stages-of-developmentI think it’s pretty easy to deduce that the Israelites weren’t quite “mature” by the time they reached the mountain to receive the Ten Words. The same could be said of those that received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 (we read in the epistles of their ongoing immaturity issues.) And if we are really honest, the same thing can be said of us! We are all like the little developing baby (spiritually speaking). Our systems might be fully formed, but we still have a lot of growing to do.

 By this point in our spiritual development, we should have enough digestive power to receive the bread offering at Shavuot. The fact that the baby’s white blood cells are arming it against infection mirrors the spiritual armor given to us by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  But perhaps the most intriguing thing that begins to happen at this stage is the capacity to REPRODUCE. Just as the baby develops the ability to one day have children of its own, we become spiritually empowered to spread the Seed (Gospel) at Shavuot.

Long Summer

There are about 16 weeks between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah. That’s close to half the gestation cycle! As you can imagine, a lot of development and maturity occurs during these months. This is true of the harvest and for us spiritually as well. The long, hot summer is meant to prepare and mature us for what is to come.

One month before the fall feasts (Elul), the shofar is blasted every day to call us to repentance. Judgment and the harvest are near. The entire second trimester passed in the hot summer months. One of the most notable things to occur before the Feast of Trumpets is the baby’s development of hearing. Read the following amazing quote about the 17th week of gestation from What to Expect.

Baby’s Startled By Noise. Your baby is almost certainly listening up by now. In fact, loud noises — the dog barking, the doorbell ringing — will actually startle your baby…”

 Obviously, you know that the “loud noise” could certainly include the blast of the shofar!

 Rosh Hashanah or Feast of Trumpets

The trials and struggles of the long hot summer have produced ears that can hear when the heavenly shofar sounds aloud. By the time Rosh Hashanah arrives on September 13th, our ears are fully open. We know the sound of our Master’s voice and are willing to heed His call.

The shofar is meant to call the sleeper from the grave. Those that slumber must “wake up”! Notice that it is at this stage of development (about 28 weeks) that the baby has the ability to sleep and dream. Moreover, the baby has now moved into the “proper” position for birth — which is with its head facing downward. Is this not also the proper posture for us during the High Holy Days? Again from What to Expect:

“Your baby is settling into the proper position for birth, with his head facing downward (toward your body’s nearest exit!). Brain wave activity measured in a developing fetus shows different sleep cycles, including the rapid eye movement phase — the stage when dreaming occurs.” [Bolding mine]

Yom Kippur

Ten days after Rosh Hashanah the most Holy day of the year is upon us. In our analogy, it is Sept. 22nd. The baby enters into the third trimester of development and is almost at 30 weeks gestation. At this stage, the baby’s eyes are just starting to open.

 The people fast as the High Priest makes atonement for the entire nation at Yom Kippur. This day is the only day of the year that the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and he doesn’t enter without changing his garments and offering blood. Once again from What to Expect:

“Another big change at 30 weeks pregnant: Your baby’s bone marrow has taken over production of red blood cells (before, tissue groups and then the spleen took care of producing the blood cells). This is an important step for your baby, because it means he or she is better able to thrive on his or her own once born. [Bolding mine.]

 When the blood is offered for atonement, the baby’s bones (frame/building) can now produce blood (where life is found).

Sukkot

In our analogy, the dates for Sukkot are September 27th –October 4th. Judgment has passed and the party begins under the sukkah. The baby is now at about 30-31 weeks into development. All of YHWH’s festivals are meant to engage our senses. But Sukkot seems to invoke these sensations a little more than all the others. Perhaps, it is because Sukkot (as the SEVENTH moed) is a picture of the culmination of the entire festal calendar.  At Sukkot, we see the stars and the neatly decorated sukkah, we feel the wind and the embrace of the brethren, we hear the sounds of the shofar, dancing, and rejoicing, we taste the sumptuous foods in the sukkah, and we smell the fire, food, and four species waved at the four corners of the earth. Not surprisingly, it is at this stage that the baby can now perceive from all five senses. Again from What to Expect:

He’s now processing information, tracking light and perceiving signals from all five senses. [Bolding mine.]

Throughout the following ten weeks, many more changes begin to happen in the development of the baby. Perhaps, two are most notable. First, the baby begins to practice breathing. Its little lungs are now prepared to take in its first breath. Second, its pupils can constrict, dilate and detect light entering his or her eyes.

Chanukah

Chanukah in our analogy is Dec. 6th – Dec. 14th. As the festival of lights, it is not surprising that the baby’s eyes can now fully detect light. After all, it will be during this festival that our little baby will make its way from the darkness of the womb into the bright light of the new world. It is fully developed and ready to meet its maker.

Chanukah is actually a late Sukkot festival. Although we celebrate with Light, we can still sense all the wonder and joy we experienced during the eight days of Tabernacles. I actually like to think of Purim and Chanukah as standing outside the seven festivals of YHWH on either end as a picture of the olam haba. Obviously, that is my opinion; you are free to have your own.

HD-Baby-Wallpapers-1-1Life in cycles of nine speaks to mankind (adam), covenant, light, and TRUTH.[2] The Gospel is spoken in the stars, in our flesh, and in the moedim. Natural human gestation is a picture of our spiritual gestation as we grow, mature, and develop in order to meet our Maker. I do hope this analogy has given you some food for thought as we are quickly approaching a new year! Purim is this week! Part V should wrap all these concepts up and offer a conclusion to Moonbeams and the Moedim. I hope you’ll join me.

John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (4) Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (5) Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (8) “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”


[1] I gleaned the various stages of fetal development in my analogies from the website: What to Expect.

[2] See Moonbeams and the Moedim Part III.

Categories: Moedim, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Moonbeams and the Moedim Part III

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

Nine

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

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

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

While tet is actually the least common letter in the Hebrew Bible, the first time it appears is in the word tov or good, which is used numerous times throughout the Creation story. I hope you just made the connection that like the Holy Spirit, the moon, and women, tet is the least “seen” letter in the Bible. In other words, each has a “hidden” aspect to it. But that is what a womb (and a woman) does. It surrounds and protects new life in order to build the family. Though hidden, this stage is good and necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flip Side of Nine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[8] H8159 שׁעה shâ‛âh BDB Definition:

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

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

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

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

Part of Speech: verb

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

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

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

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

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

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