Posts Tagged With: Ruach Hakodesh

The Voice of the Shofar

Shofar of Flesh

Shofar… So Good.

The feast of Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah/Feast of Trumpets) is nearly upon us. And with it, there is much speculation as to what the upcoming holy month holds for Israel and the world at large. Some folks are excited, but even more fear what may come to pass. There are so many voices speaking and prophesying at this season. Who is right? Who do we need to listen to?

According to the Torah, there is only one voice that we are commanded to hear at this season. (Lev. 23:23-25) It is the shrill voice of the humble shofar. Do you find it odd that out of all the feast days, Yom Teruah has the least requirements mentioned in the Torah? There is so much mystery associated with this day. Since it occurs on the New Moon, there is literally and figuratively less light. No wonder there is so much confusion surrounding this moed.

May I make a suggestion? Let’s have another look at what has been clearly revealed. What exactly is a shofar and why is it so important as to have an entire moed (feast) associated with it? At first glance, a shofar seems to be no more than a primitive trumpet made from the horns of a ram. But YHWH isn’t random or arbitrary. This Elul, all the mayhem, trials, testing, and just plain pressing has caused me to really cry out to YHWH.

And then something dawned on me. This simple instrument is made from a nephesh, a living creature. In order for us to enjoy its beautiful and unique sound, a ram must first die. If you’ve ever heard the voice of a shofar, it sounds very much like a loud, piercing cry.

A cry. Isn’t that what we are doing in this season? Are we not crying out to our Elohim and King? We desire heartfelt repentance, forgiveness, restoration, healing, and reconciliation. We throw ourselves at the feet of our Redeemer and rest in His unfathomable mercy, grace, compassion, and sovereignty. There is no instrument on the planet that can encompass our inward groans and wordless pleas better than the shofar.

The flesh/nephesh has to die in order for these cries to become a reality. This places us in a very intimate and childlike state. Little babies and young children cannot use words to describe what is in their innermost being. They often can’t express their discomfort with words. So, what do they do? They wail and cry out to their mother or father. Their shrieks are a loud alarm. It’s a siren call for mom or dad to come to the rescue. A loud cry will wake a parent from their slumber.

And so it is with the shofar. Its voice is the cry of a child to its parent. It is a tongue of wordless words. It reminds YHWH that He is our Father. It is a desperate plea for Abba to act on our behalf. It is a voice crying out from a vessel of flesh submitted to its Maker.

Ruach

All of the inside soft flesh or cartilage of the ram’s horn must be removed before it can be used as an instrument of prayer, worship, and war. Once it is thoroughly cleaned out, one can then begin to fill it with something else: breath (life). The first cries from the shofar are born from pressed lips and a strong exhale of the blower’s breath. It is very much like a deep wail. The lips do not form words, but wordless music powered by the ruach.

Can you see the picture? This vessel must have all of its fleshly tissues removed in order for the breath/wind or Ruach to flow freely through it from tip to tip. When the shofar is filled with ruach, it cries out in repentance, praise, worship, and gathering. It speaks a message that is beyond words. 

What was once a nephesh has been transformed into a vessel for the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). The voice of the shofar is very much akin to the niggunim and the tongues of fire acquired at the previous feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). We learn to move and speak not from the flesh, but with the infilling of the Spirit. And like sweet music, our (redeemed) voices learn to whisper the everlasting good news which is carried to the far reaches of the earth by the wind (ruach).

YHWH gave us the shofar for a reason. We are called to hear its voice because we are to be like the shofar. We are to be willing vessels, submitted to Adonai. We shout and cry out in jubilation for our King is Coming!

I pray your High Holy Days are blessed!

Below is a Blessing and Psalm for the Season. Shalom!

Blessing for the Shofar

Baruch ata Adonai Eh-lo-hei-nu meh-lekh ha-o-lam ah-share kid-e-sha-nu b-mits-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu leash-moe-ah kol shofar.

 Blessed are you, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and who has commanded us to hear the voice of the shofar.

Psalm to Praise our King at this Season

Psalm 47

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

 For the leader. A psalm of the descendants of Korach:

2 (1) Clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with cries of joy!

3 (2) For Adonai ‘Elyon is awesome, a great king over all the earth.

4 (3) He makes peoples subject to us, puts nations under our feet.

5 (4) He chooses our heritage for us, the pride of Ya‘akov, whom he loves. (Selah)

6 (5) God goes up to shouts of acclaim, Adonai to a blast on the shofar.

7 (6) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our king, sing praises!

8 (7) For God is king of all the earth; sing praises in a maskil.

9 (8) God rules the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

10 (9) The leaders of the people gather together, the people of the God of Avraham; for the rulers of the earth belong to God, who is exalted on high.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Miriam’s Cup Part I

miriams cup 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miriam and Water

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

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

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

mem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

[3] Ex. 15:20

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

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

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

[7] Numbers Chapter 12.

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

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

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

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

 

Categories: Moedim, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Biblical Role of Women Part VII

Role of Women Main Page

The Real Thing

 

Back in Part V, we looked at the woman as being a metaphor for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). There are many reasons why this is true. If you haven’t read that post, please do so now before proceeding.

The following is a summary of some of the equal, but different roles of the man and woman. I’ve used the comparison of YHWH (the Father) and the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the ONENESS that should unify the marriage covenant. There was no hierarchy in God’s original design. YHWH purposefully created a male AND a female to display His image in the creation. The list below is by no means exhaustive; we will draw more conclusions as we continue.

Man = Woman
  • Remembers and Obeys the Word (Action)
  • Needs a (spiritual) protector (an ezer)
  • Serves the earth
  • Expresses worship in work and service
  • Man leaves his Father and Mother and is joined to his Wife.
  • Is a Valiant Warrior
  • Aware of moment to moment direction of God
  • Protects Boundaries of Obedience
  • Challenges, encourages, protects, and nourishes
  • Blesses (benefits) her husband
  • Spiritual Guide
  • Takes Ownership of the Man
  • Is a Valiant Warrior
Man shows the image of Father YHWH = Woman shows image of Ruach HaKodesh
  • Father (God) is love. 1 Jn. 4:7-8
  • Father is faithful.1 Pt. 4:19
  • Father is merciful. Titus 3:5
  • Father delights in his children. Ps. 149:4
  • Father is giving. Rom. 8:32
  • Father is patient. 2 Pt. 3:8-9
  • Father never forsakes his own. Gen. 28:15
  • Holy Spirit is Counselor Jn. 14:26
  • Holy Spirit speaks. 1 Tim. 4:1; Acts 10:19-20
  • Holy Spirit intercedes. Rom. 8:26, 34
  • Holy Spirit teaches. Jn. 14:26
  • Holy Spirit bears witness/testifies. Jn. 15:26-27
  • Holy Spirit guides, hears, tells Jn. 16:12-13
  • Holy Spirit comforts/nurtures. Jn. 14:16; 15:26
  • Holy Spirit opposes. Acts 16:6-7

 

Redeemed Marriage

It is not good for man to be alone. He NEEDS an ezer kenegdo — a protector that opposes him. This is why he is the one that leaves the guardianship of his mother and father and cleaves to his wife — his new guardian. The woman will set boundaries that are necessary for the man to stay obedient. It is in this way that she takes ownership responsibility of the man like the woman in the Song of Songs. Dr. Moen expresses it this way:

She is exactly what he needs in order to be what God calls him to be…Her greatest longing is to be his greatest defense. She is built for that and it will not be denied, even if the direction is misplaced…In God’s perfect world, she takes ownership responsibility for her man, and he welcomes it because he knows she is uniquely designed to bring about what is best for him. She is ready and willing to set aside every other agenda in order to bless him with her care. (Guardian Angel p.345)

If there was no hierarchy in the beginning, then men are only the “head” in the sense of order in the creation, not rank. While this rubs against a lot of traditional theology, I urge you to explore this idea more fully before rejecting it off hand. (Dr. Moen has an article that speaks to this issue here and David H. Scholer explores Biblical Headship here.)

If man was meant to rule over or master women from the beginning, why does Paul in Ephesians chapter 5 instruct the women to submit to their husbands? Carefully consider this. We mustn’t allow current doctrine or tradition to define this for us; rather, we must take the whole of Scripture into consideration and let it interpret itself. Though the difference may be “subtle”, it has far reaching implications. The woman must choose to give her husband authority just as we must choose to give Messiah (Christ) authority over our lives. A man doesn’t naturally possess the position of head by the simple fact that he is male.

So why does the wife submit? This action only works properly if the man also does what Paul requires: love his wife. If a man really loves a woman, he’s willing to do anything for her—- even die. This is a selfless type of love. If a woman is loved in this way, she naturally gives the man authority. She trusts that he will always have her best interests at heart. The authority she gives protects her; it doesn’t control or silence her.

So why are men told to love? Men are instructed to do this because in the fallen nature they naturally distrust women. This is why they instinctively place themselves as the (dominating) authority. This is a self-preservation technique. Somewhere deep down, they fear the woman is going to betray them. Therefore, they have great difficulty in giving themselves completely to their wives. Adam must learn to trust Chavah (Eve).

In order for this to happen, Adam must first forgive Eve for misguiding him. He must literally place his life back into the hands of his ezer. This only functions as a two-way street. As many marriage self-help books attest, these two roles are reciprocal. If they fail to come together, there will be no unity. No oneness. Dr. Moen puts it this way:

The wife grants authority to the husband and voluntarily submits to him knowing that it is in her best interests to do so BECAUSE the husband sacrifices his own interest in order to offer all that he is for her wellbeing. Both of these acts of self-denial model the character of God. (Guardian Angel p.346)

 When Disputes Arise

Dr. Moen calls the restored marriage roles we’ve been discussing “Redeemed Marriage”. I like his term and will use it from this point to describe such. I added this little section to offer a few ideas of what to do when issues arise in those marriages where the man and woman are each doing their best to walk in restoration.

There are thousands and probably millions of things in our daily lives that could spark a dispute between a man and wife. Married couples are all too familiar with this truth. The difference in happy couples and unhappy couples is usually in how they speak to and treat one another when things do happen. Though everyone will have a bad day on occasion, couples of faith should have less.

The short answer is humility—- of course, isn’t it always? Put your mate before yourself! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and having pity parties —– these emotions are coming from PRIDE. Crucify your flesh and serve your spouse. By the way, that’s the answer to far more than marriage quibbles, but I digress.

While the short answer is much easier said than done, it should be our FIRST response. Squash the flesh! But sometimes there are issues where we simply can’t “turn the other cheek”. In those situations, it is best that both parties unify and decide TOGETHER. Nobody should have a veto stamp unless one party is mentality injured, diseased, or compromised in some way.

Generally though, a man must listen to his ezer —- she can save him from a multitude of regrets. That’s her God designed purpose, remember? She is his guardian and protector. Likewise, a man that loves his wife will also have to save and protect her —and often, it will be from herself! It is in these times that she must remember why she chose to submit to her husband — he has HER best interests at heart. The bottom line is motivation. What is your motive in winning this argument or battle? Is it self-serving? Will your spouse benefit or will you?

I realize these solutions are very broad and that we are all in different places. So please keep that in mind and the fact that these actions require BOTH spouses to be in faith and agreement to walk out a Redeemed Marriage. There are many couples where only one spouse is willing or trying to reach restoration. I am praying for you and encourage you to never give up. Keep seeking after YHWH and place your focus on improving yourself, not your spouse. Though it doesn’t make sense to our natural mind, this is the only way real change is accomplished. Be the best spouse you can be.

 

The Real World

How do the redeemed roles of a man and woman translate outside of marriage? Are women meant to stay uneducated and at home? What about in our assemblies? Are women to keep their mouths shut lest they offend the males present? Some would scream a resounding “yes!” to all or most of these questions. But based on what we’ve learned about women from the Tanakh, is that the heart of YHWH?

My hope is that the previous six posts in this series have given you some meat to chew on. Most often, books or teachings about a woman’s biblical role begin in the end. By that, I mean they tend to ignore the entire first three quarters of the Bible (the Tanakh or O.T.) and focus solely on last quarter (N.T.).

Is there any other book in the world where people BEGIN their reading or research three quarters of the way into the material? I don’t believe there is, with the exception of an encyclopedia or a dictionary. But the Bible is not a reference book. It is the Book of Life. Only the enemy of our souls could deceive us so openly. He has done a fine job of keeping us away from the beginning and the foundation.

By focusing only on the last quarter of the Bible, one would expect multiple opposing doctrines, teachings, and positions. Each culture (nation, people, and race) would bring their own bias and traditions into practice. This would provoke a multitude of creeds, formulas, and proof texts to support their particular branch. We see all of these things in our Assemblies. Could this be because we have divorced ourselves from the foundation?

The Bible was written by Hebrews. It is within their culture, language, and tradition that our Adonai (LORD) sovereignly chose to reveal Himself. The Savior, Yeshua (Jesus), was/is a Torah observant Jew. His daily life did not deviate from this setting. A careful read of the New Testament reveals that each writer has this same testimony. While they may have challenged the traditions and laws of men, they never questioned the Law of YHWH.

This is the reason I began this series in the beginning, Bereshit (Genesis). If we don’t understand Paul’s standard (the Torah), how can we properly interpret some answer (of which we don’t even have the questions) that he gave in the first century? These are reasonable questions to consider.

Yeshua and Paul would have never strayed from the Torah, Prophets, or Writings (the only Bible available to people living in their day). Instead, they consistently point us back to the beginning for answers[1]. But, shaking off centuries of tradition is no simple feat. Even many western women struggle with the ramifications of what it means to be an ezer kenegdo or an eshet chayil. Sometimes our shackles give us a false sense of comfort and security. To add insult to injury, modern feminism is a twisted counterfeit of God’s original design.

My desire is for God’s people to repent and return to the ideal of the Garden of Eden. Women (and men) will only be truly fulfilled in their relationships when we do things God’s way. This is not to be confused with traditional church teachings or creeds. Manmade laws are NOT God’s laws.

But I must warn you: YHWH’s Word is OFFENSIVE. It offends sinners. It offends self-righteous “churchmen”; and it especially offends religious spirits. Gloria Steinem was right about one thing, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” But that’s only if we are humble enough to allow the Word to change our hearts. So many would rather fight tooth and nail to cling onto a façade of truth rather than relent to the real thing.

A Woman Shall Encompass a Man

Instead of making a list of the roles that women fulfilled in the Bible, I think it is best to go back to the chart in the beginning of this article. Prayerfully look at the attributes of the Holy Spirit, for a woman will naturally reflect these works/roles. This will be true whether your theology accepts it or not. YHWH designed the woman in this way —- no one can change that, not even church laws and creeds. A woman will be an ezer in harmony with her husband or she will be an ezer covertly coaxing her husband. The choice is up to her Adam— for she will always be an ezer. Will he forgive her and trust her or will he continue to resist her?

As we look through the pages of Scripture, we see women functioning in nearly every role of the man. Many draw the conclusion that these instances are exceptions to the rule and that women only stepped into these positions when a man was unwilling to fulfill his role.(Please see Deborah the Bee Part I and Part II to dispel this myth.) Perhaps a better perspective is to consider that YHWH gave us these examples to ensure that fallen Adam would not be able to draw absolute control (mastership) over Eve. Maybe this was the Father’s way of protecting His daughters and their unique design and purpose.

Jeremiah 31 is a chapter of great importance. In it, we have the only plain prophecy about the New Covenant[2].  But if we go back and reread the entire section, we can easily see that the New Covenant hasn’t happened in its fullness — not yet. Not every man knows YHWH and we are still teaching the world about our great Elohim (God). We have not yet been gathered into the land, ending our exile either[3]. But there is one verse I’d especially like to draw your attention to:

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man. (Jer. 31:22)

While Christian Bible interpretation is often limited, Hebrew is not. In other words, prophecy is multifaceted and dynamic. No interpretation supersedes another. There are usually greater and lesser fulfillments and each are true. The verse in question is often taught to mean a woman’s womb shall encompass a man — the Son of Man to be more specific. And I believe this is very true! Messiah’s work and atonement are central to not only our redemption, but also our restoration of which this passage speaks.

However, that in no way detracts from the literal interpretation of this passage. If this whole section is about our complete restoration, then what does it mean for “a woman to encompass a man”? Could this be an allusion to the Garden of Eden? A return to God’s original design for man and WOMAN? The Hebrew word for “new” in this verse is the same word for “new” in Jeremiah 31:31 in reference to the New Covenant. It is chadash. The AHLB[4] describes it this way:

Strongs #2319: AHLB#: 2151) Renew: New moon: New: The first crescent of the moon as the renewal of the moon, the first day of the month. [from: restoration] To make something like new through repair, restoration, or replacement. [freq. 10] {str: 2318} New: Something that is new, renewed, restored or repaired.  [freq. 54] |kjv: new, fresh| {str: 2319, 2323}

Chadash implies renewal, like the monthly renewal of the moon. The moon isn’t brand new every month, instead it is renewed. This is the language and understanding of the New Covenant. It is the same as the previous covenant — renewed. This is solidified by the fact that YHWH’s Torah (law) will be written on the hearts of His people[5]. In reference to the woman encompassing a man, YHWH also calls this a “renewed” thing. In other words, this is a restoration.

Do you recall the function of the female? She is a boundary setter. She is an ezer that surrounds her husband in protection, counsel, and guidance. Her God designed purpose is to surround or encompass her man. As we progress toward our complete redemption and restoration, we come closer and closer to the garden. Adam will forgive Chavah. She will be restored to her proper role. This, I believe, is one of the prophetic layers found in Jeremiah 31:22.

weddingMoreover, in Jewish tradition, this passage has been used for centuries during wedding ceremonies. When the bride arrives at the chuppah[6], she circles the groom seven times while the groom prays. This symbolizes the idea of the woman being a protective, surrounding light for her husband and their household. She illuminates them with understanding and love and protects them from harm from the outside.

There are several interpretations of the significance of her encircling the groom seven times. Seven is the number of days of the creation, and the wedding ceremony is the creation of a new household. Seven is the number of times the phrase “when a man takes a wife” occurs in the Bible. Seven is the number of times Joshua circled the walls of Jericho in order to bring them down, and in circling her groom a bride brings down any wall that may remain between them.

Also, on the day of his wedding, the groom is compared to a king. Just as the king is encircled by his legion, the groom is to be encircled by his bride. This symbolizes that the bride is a type of “warrior/protector” for the man. She is his eshet chayil. When the bride has finished encircling the groom, she stands at his right, as the Psalmist states, “at the right hand does the queen stand.”[7]

While all the above reasons are given in Jewish tradition for this mystical practice, I believe there is one last purpose that the bride encircles the man seven times. It is because she is a type of the Holy Spirit in the man’s life. There are seven manifestations of the Holy Spirit as we discussed in Part V. A woman of faith will walk in these spirits in order to guide and protect her husband and home.

My prayer is that we will humbly strive towards restoration and obedience to the whole counsel of YHWH in matters of faith, marriage, and community. Let us return to YHWH. Let us return to His ways. Let us return to the garden and find the original man and woman of shalom. May the two become One.

“Who is this, shining forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun” — but formidable as an army marching under banners?

Come back, come back, girl from Shulam (shalom, peace, safety, fullness, complete)! Come back, come back to where we can see you! What will you see in the Shulamite? As it were the dance of two army camps.

 (Song of Songs 6:10,13)

This series was originally meant to be only seven parts. However, due to the the many inquiries I get about this series, its popularity, and my continued studies, I’ve decided to add more posts to The Biblical role of Women. There is SO much more! 🙂

Here is Part VIII.

 

 


 

 

[1] Some examples:  Rom. 16:20, 1 Cor. 6:16; 11:9; 11:12; 15:22, 2 Cor. 4:6; 11:3, 1 Tim. 2:13-14; 4:3-4.

[2] Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:8-12

[3] Jer. 31:8-21

[4] Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner.

[5] Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10

[6] A covered wedding canopy. The covering is usually a large prayer shawl (tallit).

[7] Ps. 45:9

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The Biblical Role of Women Part V

Role of Women Main Page

Please view Part I, II, III, and IV for context.

Proverbs 31

In Judaism, the Proverbs 31 woman is often taught as an allegory for the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), Wisdom, Torah, Shekinah (Divine Presence), Shabbat, and the Soul. At first glance this may seem odd, but we must remember that most Jewish rabbis, teachers, and sages can read, write, and speak Hebrew fluently. This knowledge allows them to see many things in the original text that isn’t obvious in English (or any other language for that matter). We will focus on two of these allegories in particular: Wisdom and the Holy Spirit.

 

Wisdom

“Wisdom” is the primary character in the Book of Proverbs, and is personified as a woman. If this is a foreign concept to you, I suggest stopping right now to read through this wisdom book. It will become apparent that Proverbs often depicts two women, one righteous and one wicked, to contrast two types of people. These are the good and evil inclinations[1] that every person possesses. King Solomon personifies good and evil in order to teach his son (and us) discernment. YHWH and Solomon instruct us to choose to follow our good inclination (or our spirit, rather than the flesh).

In Hebrew, the Spirit of God or any spirit for that matter is always written in the feminine form[2]. At first, it may seem strange or even blasphemous to refer to God in the feminine. But your Bible does so over and over again in reference to His Spirit in the original language. This is not goddess worship; rather, this is simply what the Bible teaches. God is neither a man nor a woman, yet He has attributes of both genders. This is why it takes a male and a female to properly display His image[3].

menorah-7-branches-12-cm-tribus-design-orThe Holy Spirit of YHWH displays the feminine attributes of YHWH. And the Bible tells us these attributes are manifested in seven characteristics. This is not to be confused with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is the result of this seven branched tree, not the foundation. We can use a biblical motif to describe these 7 facets. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness, YHWH told Moses to construct a menorah (lampstand) with seven branches. The menorah was to be made of ONE piece of beaten gold[4]. The menorah would illuminate the Holy Place that leads into the Holy of Holies. There is only ONE central branch with three branches on either side. The six outer branches are only out workings of the main central branch. The Bible often uses the symbolism of this magnificent menorah to describe God’s Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).

Like the seven branches on the ONE golden Menorah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Yeshua (Jesus), and John all write about the Holy Spirit having seven attributes (branches). If you wish to learn about the seven spirits of God in depth, I suggest finding a Creation Gospel[5] trainer and exploring this fascinating topic. Here are some of the verses that attest to the seven.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Is. 11:2)

He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it…Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts…”For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel–these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.” (Zec. 4:2, 6, 10)

Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; (Rev 4:5 see also Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 5:6)

While there is much to learn about these “seven” spirits, we must stay on topic. Wisdom is not only the first of the seven manifestations of God’s Spirit, but is also personified as a woman in the Bible. It is for this reason that the Jewish Sages reading the Proverbs 31 text see the eshet chayil (Woman of Valor, Strength, Might) as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. This may come as a relief to many women. Thank goodness! I was feeling pretty inadequate compared to this “perfect” woman.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit shows us the way of wisdom which leads us into the fullness of all seven Spirits of God (Is. 11:2) and teaches us not only the proper role of women, but also our strength (chayil). If we allow God’s Spirit to have reign in our hearts and lives, we will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Do you remember how the woman is designed to be an ezer, a helper? Do you know of another “helper” in scripture?

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. (Ps. 54:4)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (Jn. 14:26)

spiritofwisdomThe Holy Spirit operates as a type of helper in the life of a believer. Sometimes He is our aid, but sometimes He opposes us in order to ‘turn’ us in a different direction. This is the same function the woman plays (on a much smaller scale) in the life of her husband! Think about the following roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives and compare them to the role of woman.

Actions

  • The Holy Spirit comforts and nurtures; so does a woman.
  • He teaches and instructs; so does woman.
  • He displays mercy and grace; so does a woman.
  • He encourages; so does a woman.
  • He leads and speaks; so does a woman.
  • He’s the unseen One; so often this is also true of the woman (she’s behind the scenes working).
  • He prepares and empowers; so does a woman.
  • He intercedes, testifies, and reproofs; so does a woman.

If you want to know what your duties are as a woman and/or mother, all you have to do is find out the duties of the Holy Spirit; for you are a type or metaphor for the Holy Spirit. This is no different than our counterpart, the man. The metaphor is similar; a righteous man should represent or display the image of our Heavenly Father. A man can look at the actions and roles of YHWH to determine his proper course in life. YHWH is his role model, and the Holy Spirit is woman’s role model. BUT wait! We are not talking about two different gods here. They are ONE and the same. It’s ludicrous to think of YHWH having a control battle with His Spirit. Therefore, men and women should work together in harmony, each displaying a facet of the image of our perfect Elohim (God). One does not dominate the other. There is no power struggle. Male and female He created them in His image.

Atmosphere & Eshet Chayil

Like the Ruach HaKodesh, women set the tone for the atmosphere of the home, fellowship, workplace, school, etc. As women, when we are ruled by our emotions or mood, it affects all those around us. We are a true warrior of God, an eshet chayil, when we choose to crucify our flesh and walk according to the Holy Spirit instead of how we feel. Any time a woman is present, she will determine the spiritual climate of the “room” far more than a man will.

I was raised as the eldest daughter of four girls. I had no brothers growing up. As YHWH would have it, I now have two sons with no daughters. However, I have been blessed to have many nieces. When the whole family gets together, I am always fascinated by the dynamics between the boys and girls. The girls, younger and older, never fail to try and “control” what the boys do and don’t do when they play together. They really are bossy. While this bothers the boys and they sometimes refuse to play, they usually relent just to get the girls to shut-up. Moreover, they are far outnumbered when the family is together and I think they just want to keep the peace.

This little microcosm has taught me much. The sinful nature of females causes us to “force” situations to get our way. We can become bossy tyrants or voices of rage when we feel like we are not being heard. Even though we often know which way to go more so than men, our method of “pushing” them is all wrong. Much to men’s chagrin, we are usually right, and knowing the role of ezer kenegdo and eshet chayil only confirms this. But, where we fail is in our delivery. Far too often, we are ruled by our nephesh (flesh). This allows our evil inclination to flow forth instead of God’s Holy Spirit of Wisdom when “guiding” our mates. And we wonder why they don’t listen to us!

Women are just as powerful as men, but woman’s power lies mostly in her influence. I don’t think women realize how much they affect their own husband, children, homes, assemblies, and workplaces. If you find your home, assembly, or workplace to be a place of peace and sanctuary, look at yourself or the women that are present. They are usually directly responsible. Conversely, if you find your home, assembly, or workplace to be stressful and chaotic, look first at the women. They (or you) may be the culprit! Remember the two women mentioned in Proverbs? Women are capable of reflecting another image: one of rebellion, like the harlot. Women’s strength (chayil) can be used for good or evil. Choose Life!

Think about these things the next time you are compelled to guide your husband (or children). How would the Holy Spirit treat them? It wouldn’t be with degrading words, strife, or manipulation. The Spirit definitely brings correction, but it is done with gentleness, a feminine trait. How much better do people respond with a kind word instead of anger? Your everyday walk requires you to be a warrior. And your battle is most often with yourself! Women have a lot of obstacles to overcome. We deal with hormones that often seem uncontrollable, a world that sees us as second class citizens compared to men, and relationships that usually refuse to let us operate in our God designed function. What are we to do?

I hope that as we continue to peel back the layers of true biblical womanhood you will find great freedom and gratitude in the fact that the Creator chose you to be one of His ezer(s). Nobody said that being an eshet chayil was easy, but it is where you will find your greatest fulfillment. In later segments, we will also speak more on how both a man and a woman can walk out their redeemed roles.

In the meantime, when you find yourself feeling like the whole universe is against you, know that YHWH has a unique role and destiny just for you. If your battle is in functioning as your husband’s ezer and he continues to resist you, know that in the end you will be restored and laughing like the Proverbs 31 woman. If your battle is with tradition and dogma within the church, and they refuse to recognize your God given gifts as applicable to women, relax. YHWH is bringing things full circle — restoration is forth coming. If your battle is with complete oppression or subjugation, take heart for though this life is like a vapor, the world to come is everlasting. In the Kingdom, nobody will be able to prevent you from being who God created you to be.

An excellent wife (eshet chayil) is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones. (Pr. 12:4)

Many daughters have done virtuously (chayil, valiantly, mightily), but thou excellest them all. (Pr. 31:29)

Still more to come on Ruth as an eshet chayil in Part VI.



[1] Christians might refer to this as the battle between the spirit and the flesh.

[2] In Hebrew, all things have either a masculine or feminine gender. There is no neuter or neutral gender like there is in English.

[3] Gen 1:27,  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

[4] Read Exodus 25

[5] Please refer to Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s website: thecreationgospel.com

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