Posts Tagged With: serpent

The Mark of the Beast Part II

In Part I, many Scripture references were given to demonstrate that the sign of Adonai upon one’s hand and forehead is Passover, Sabbath, and the Shema or Words of God. (Dt. 6:4-9) These feasts teach one that YHWH is the Creator, Deliverer, and Law-Giver. He is the supreme authority and King of the Universe.

Initially, I had planned to go directly into the contranym or the mark of the beast, but then I realized that it would be a mistake to not first rehash some key Hebraic concepts. Especially, given how provocative the topic of the mark of the beast is. Thus, there will be a Part III.

Context is king. The mark, which signifies authority, cannot be understood apart from the “image” of the beast. And, the image of the beast must be understood in light of the image of God.

Image of the Beast

Rev 13:15 (NASB) And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Does this remind you of this verse?

Gen. 2:7 (NASB) Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

In Targum Onkelos,[1]this verse reads:

Gen. 2:7 And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it became in Adam a Discoursing [speaking] Spirit.

The enemy is a counterfeiter through and through. God gave the breath of life to his image bearers, and it became in Adam a speaking or discoursing spirit. The second beast gives breath (and speech) to the image of the first beast. It is the “speaking image” of the beast that is worshipped. We will return to this image after reviewing the image of God.

 

Image of God

Gen. 1:26-27 (NASB) Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Gen. 5:1-2 (LITV) This is the book of the generations of Adam: In the day that God created man. He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called their name Adam in the day when they were created.

Man and woman were created in the image of Elohim. The Hebrew word for image is tzelem. The following is The Complete Word Study Dictionary’s definition.[2]

H6754 צֶלֶם tṣelem: A masculine noun meaning an image, a likeness, a statue, a model, a drawing, a shadow. The word means image or likeness; its most celebrated theological and anthropological use was to depict human beings as made in God’s own image (Gen 1:26-27; Gen 5:3). People continue to be in His image even after the fall, although the image is marred (Gen 9:6), and still serves as the basis of the prohibition not to kill human beings… The word is also used in a concrete sense to depict images cut out of or molded from various materials. The word describes the images or idols of foreign or strange gods (2Ki 11:18; Amo 5:26). The people of Israel produced images used as idols from their own jewelry (Eze 7:20; Eze 16:17). Israel was, on its entrance into Canaan, to destroy all the molten images of the heathen (Num 33:52). In Eze 23:14, this word refers to pictures of Babylonians that enticed the people of Israel into apostasy when they saw them (Eze 23:14).

Mankind is the shadow of Elohim. In Hebrew thought, this isn’t about one’s appearance, rather it one’s purpose and actions. YHWH placed within mankind (both male and female) a shadow or likeness of His character and will. We are His representatives in the earth, His image or shadow bearers. Shadows or images mimic the reality. Thus, one’s words, deeds, actions, and fruit will either confirm or profane Adonai’s image. This is why tzelem can also mean a graven image or an idol:

Ex. 20:4 (NASB) “You shall not make for yourself an idol (tzelem), or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (See also Lev. 26:1, Ezek. 16:17, etc.)

If the above sounded familiar, it’s because it is a quote from my article entitled, Sukkot: Hidden in the Shade of God. In it, I tie several themes together regarding the image of God, a shadow of things to come, Betzalel, Mary, and the Transfiguration. These things demonstrate how one that is the true image of God in the earth is a builder, most specifically of the Kingdom.

What do the tzelem of God do? They subdue and rule over the fish, birds, and the beasts. (Not one another.) In Greek, the word for image in Revelation 13 and in the Septuagint of Genesis 1:27 is eikon. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it as:

G1504 εἰκών eikōn 1) an image, figure, likeness. 1a) an image of the things (the heavenly things). 1a1) used of the moral likeness of renewed men to God. 1a2) the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses. 1b) the image of one. 1b1) one in whom the likeness of any one is seen. 1b2) applied to man on account of his power of command. 1b3) to Christ on account of his divine nature and absolute moral excellence. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G1503

There are two possible images that one 

can reflect to the world: 

Adonai’s or the Beast’s.

The Image of the Beast, From the Beginning

In Revelation 13, people worship the eikon of the beast. The first mention of “a beast” in the Bible is on day six of creation.[3] The same day (number) that man was created.

Gen. 1:24-31 (NASB) Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

In creation, the beast was created before the man. It was born first, so to speak. But, that in no way placed the beast in authority over the Adam. “The older shall serve the younger” is what the LORD told Rebekah when she sought Him about the warring twins in her womb. Her sons, Esau and Jacob, are archetypes of the two images man can reflect. The elder is red and hairy like a beast, and grows up to prefer the field. He sells his birthright in a moment of hunger, a snapshot in time, which is the epitome of the flesh wanting instant gratification. Jacob, though far from perfect, is a smooth man, peaceful, a dweller of tents. It is not a coincidence that their father, Isaac, was SIXTY years old when they were born.

Gen. 25:23-28 (NASB) The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.” 24 When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

It was as if even in the womb, the older, beast-like Esau was trying to crush the head of Jacob. I suggest rereading this account in Genesis. Pay special attention to the actions and nature of Esau. His tzelem does not reflect Adonai. He is much more like a beast. On another mystical level, we all are the twins. We are Esau AND Jacob. Who will win in the end?

Both the beast and mankind are day six creations. From this point forward, the number six in Scripture is teaching one about the nature of the beast or the nature of man. To be a true “man” or Adam (male and female) one will reveal the image of God in the earth. To reveal anything else, is an image of a beast. Just like Esau and Jacob.

Beasts live by instinct, desire, appetites, and fleshly drives. Mankind has all the same instincts, but he/she is to live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. One’s flesh nature, though not evil in and of itself, should not rule or be what drives a person. This sets mankind apart from their day six counterparts, the beasts.

Dr. Alewine teaches that the basic desires of a beast are to eat, sleep, procreate, play games, and expand territory.[4] None of these things are evil, and a beast is fulfilling its God given purpose by following these instincts. Mankind also has these impulses; and, none of them are sin when fulfilled – IF they are governed by the Word of God. But any one of these impulses, if allowed to rule (control) a person will lead to sin.

You are meant to be a man, which is the tzelem of Adonai, not a beast. You are meant to rule over this nature within yourself by constantly meditating upon and obeying the Words of Life. The beast, like the serpent, will challenge God’s Word, His Authority, and your resolve. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden.

Gen. 3:1 (NKJV) Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

What does a tempter, like the serpent, appeal to? How is he “cunning” or “crafty?” He is a beast, so he will always appeal to the desires of the flesh and the power of emotions, because that is all he knows. The story of the fall is packed with words that speak of desire. Why shouldn’t we have what we want? Did God really say? That’s the voice of the beast. It is the lips of a seductress. It whispers and entices. It is the voice that questions, twists, and perverts the Word of God to have what it wants without any pesky misgivings.

It gives breath and speech to the things
 
that should have no voice, and seeks to kill

those that will not bow down to its will. 

(Rev. 13:15)

The first murderer, Cain, wrestled with this “speaking beast” in the form of jealous anger. Adonai warned him:

Gen 4:6-7 (NASB) Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of misreading these verses. (To be fair, translations can be misleading.) Unlike English, Hebrew indefinite pronouns must always refer to a correctly gendered noun. The pronouns “its and it” of verse seven read as if they are replacing the noun “sin.” But, sin is feminine and “its and it” refer to a masculine noun. To find the masculine noun these pronouns are replacing, one must look back to verse 6. The phrase “your countenance fallen” is more literally “your face has fallen.” Face is a masculine noun. This is an idiom for intense anger.

It wasn’t “sin” that had desire for Cain, but something that was within him: his anger! Emotions are part of the lower, beast nature of man. God told Cain to master or rule over this powerful force. If not, the emotion of anger would master him. It was close at hand, at the door, ready to take the reins. Cain did not heed the warning of the LORD. The very next verse says:

Gen. 4:8 (NRSV) Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.

Notice the reference to the field. (It’s been present in many of the passages I’ve quoted above.) The field is where beasts dwell. The serpent was the most cunning beast of the field. Cain is warned that his strong emotion of anger is crouching at his door. In the very next verse, his anger rose up from its crouch and killed his brother. He became the beast. Anger took over and ruled the man, and murder was the result.

Rev. 13:15 (NASB) And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Men (and women) ruled by the beast nature are destroyers, whether they realize it or not. One ruled by their desires and emotions live by the animal kingdom’s “survival of the fittest.” At its core, it is selfish and self-serving, because it is fueled by FEAR. It doesn’t want to play nice, share, or put anything or anyone before what it wants. It is the epitome of want. It seeks to subjugate and dominate others because it serves only its own desire. Consider the beasts of the field. This is exactly what they do.

There were two beasts that spoke in the Torah: the serpent in the Garden and Balaam’s ass. In both cases, the people involved had been enticed by their desires. Chavah (Eve) desired the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Balaam desired honor and to profit from his prophetic gift. The serpent’s words roused and deceived Chavah into fulfilling her desire. Balaam’s ass, a beast of burden, tried to save Balaam (and herself) from the sword of the angel. She was a voice of reason to the hardened prophet. He must only speak what God tells him to speak.

These two examples are perfect teachers. The serpent is an untamable, cold blooded creature. It hisses, charms, and bewitches the listener. This is akin to the unbridled lower, beast nature. The ass is broken and trained to carry a burden. She is faithful to her master. This is akin to one that has bridled their emotions and nephesh (flesh) with all its impulses.

 

The Image of the Son

How can one overcome the fallen nature and be a proper tzelem of Adonai? Yeshua is the Way!

Col. 1:15-23 (NASB) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  19  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,  20  and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

We are to be conformed into the image of the second Adam. (Rom. 8:29ff) Not the first Adam. The older shall serve the younger. This is accomplished most notably through suffering, which is something the beast hates. But it also requires diligence and mindfulness. It is a lifelong process. While the beast seeks to subjugate and dominate, the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom!

2 Cor. 3:17-18 (NASB) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

I’ll leave you with Paul’s instruction in this matter. He gives examples of both images, two kingdom attitudes, two paths. The more we know the traits of each side, the more wisdom and understanding we will have to discern between the beast and the man.

Col. 3:1-17 (NASB)

1  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

2  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

3  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

5  Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

6  For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,

7  and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

8  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

9  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

10  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him

11  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

12  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

13  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

14  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

16  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

17  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

 

More to come in Part III.

 


[1]Targum Onkelos is the official eastern (Babylonian) Aramaic translation to the Torah. Its authorship is attributed to Onkelos, a famous convert to Judaism in Tannaic times (c. 35–120 CE).

[2]The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Warren Baker. Retrieved using Strong’s number H6754 on E-Sword Bible software.

[3]Why the focus on the beginning? Because it teaches the end.  Is. 46:9-10 (TLV) Remember the former things of old: For I am God—there is no other. I am God, and there is none like Me—10 declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.”

[4] The Creation Gospel Workbook Four: The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread 

Categories: Biblical Symbols | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Garments of Light Part I

bible-verse-ephesians-5-children-of-the-lightAnd the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen. 2:25 NASB).”In the beginning, man and woman were “naked” and not ashamed. The Hebrew word for naked in the above verse is arom (ayin, rosh, mem). It comes from the verbal root aram (same Hebrew letters as arom), which means, “to make bare, to be subtle, crafty, or cunning.”[1] This is interesting because in the next chapter of Genesis, actually in the very next verse on the scroll, the serpent is introduced. He is more subtle, crafty, or cunning that any BEAST of the field that YHWH had made.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1)

As I’m sure you have guessed, the Hebrew word used to describe the serpent as crafty is from the same Hebrew word above. It is the passive participle form of aram, pronounced arum (again same Hebrew letters as arom).[2] Thus, like many Hebrew words, arom is actually a contranym (a word that is its own opposite).[3] To be naked is akin to being transparent with nothing hidden. On the contrary, to be cunning or crafty, something is definitely hidden or concealed.

In the case of Adam and Chavah (Eve) before the fall, their nakedness wasn’t something in which they should be ashamed. They were transparent with nothing to hide. Their nakedness was virtuous at this point. They had no need of being covered in the hair of a beast, nor did they need a covering of fur for protection. (Obviously, the converse was true for the serpent, but we explore him in a later post.)

Skins of Light

There are traditions from both Jewish and Christian sources that teach that before the fall, the skin of Adam and Chavah was luminous. In other words, they were “covered” by divine light and would “glow,” so to speak. I hope this triggers your mind to make some connections to Moses’ face and Messiah, but we will get there soon enough.

lightbeingThis idea or tradition isn’t random. The Hebrew language is VERY idiomatic, metaphoric, and figurative. Contranyms, homonyms (sound alike words), parables, and many other literary devices are used heavily to help one understand spiritual concepts through the experience of natural things.[4] Hebrew speaks through our senses and imagination. It draws simple “pictures” that even a child can understand. As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In our case, it is neither coincidence nor chance that the Hebrew word for light and for skin sound exactly the same: ohr. Look carefully at the following:

אוֹר Light (aleph, vav, resh)

עוֹר Skin (ahyin, vav, resh)

The only difference is the first letter (read from right to left). Light begins with aleph, a letter heavily associated with God,[5] and skin begins with ahyin, the letter that also means eye. Both aleph and ahyin are silent letters. They have no sound aside from the vowel associated with them. In our words above, the vowel is shown by the letter vav with the dot on top, which is called a cholem vav. The last letter is a resh, an “r” sound that pictographically means “a man’s head.”

By simply looking at the pictographic meaning of these words, both have a heart that connects. Vav means to link, connect, or hook together. It is also the number 6, the creation day for both beast and man. In the verses above in Genesis, the text presents us with a beast (snake) that speaks like a man.

The other Hebrew letters for each word reveals what light and skin connects or links one with. In the case of light, the head (resh) is connected to God (aleph), the Father. But in the case of skin, the head (resh) is connected to only what one’s eyes (ahyin) can see (flesh/natural).

Dr. Alewine in The Creation Gospel Workbook Four: The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread has this to say:

“Rabbinic insight is that the clothing of Adam and Eve was glory, or radiance (or with an aleph), a white light invisible to the human eye that was replaced with a covering of skins (or with an ayin). The white light is the same covering of the Bride of Messiah in Revelation. The Bride reflects the Lamp of the New Jerusalem, the Lamb. In terms of the menorah, there was a spiritual covering over the first couple’s earthly bodies, a covering or radiance pictured when Moses spoke with Adonai on the mountain, receiving the Torah covenant for Israel. Like the Holy One in whose image they were made, they had corresponding covers of light like garments.” (p. 175)

Roaming Eyes

Do you recall what organ tempted Chavah (Eve) to fall into deception?

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5) 

The serpent, the one that was arum (cunning), was implying that Adam and Chavah were “blind” in some way. Recall, that at this point, Adam and Chavah were naked, arom, but had no shame. Before sin, their covering was the spiritual light of Elohim (God). Again, notice below the association with EYES.

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Gen. 3:6-7)

Chavah SAW the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and found that it delighted her eyes, and had the potential to make one WISE. Folks, our eyes are what typically deceive us. Imagine with me all the sins that begin by looking at someone or something with our eyes: coveting, jealousy, lust, greed, envy, judgment, false witness or testimony, etc. It has been this way since the beginning. Our eyes can be deceitful because they are a part of our flesh/nephesh. They need a constant physical and visual reminder that will refocus our attention back to the heavenly and spiritual reality. This is one reason YHWH gave the commandment to wear tzit-tziyot (fringes) on the four corners of one’s garments. Again, notice the EYES.

“It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. (Num. 15:39-40)

Leaves that Kill, Leaves that Heal

When Adam and Chavah ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they forfeited the Light (of God) as their covering. In other words, they took upon themselves a different authority. Once they transgressed YHWH’s command, they immediately realized that their heavenly garments were missing. They were “bare” or naked without this covering (of light). Like them, we would probably scramble to find a replacement for such a great loss. In fact, this realization is what caused them to fear, and it is the reason they hid from Elohim. (Gen. 3:8)

tree of life3So, why do you think they chose fig leaves? I believe that prior to sin, the Tree of Life provided Adam and Chavah with their garments or skins of Light. Often used as an idiom for the Torah or Law of God and Wisdom, the Tree of Life indeed produces light, life, healing, fruit, and blessings. I encourage you to do a concordance search and find your own associations.

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:1-2)

The leaves from the Tree of Life HEALS the nations. Perhaps, Adam and Chavah thought that the leaves from the Tree of Knowledge (their new tree of choice) would do the same. But what they discovered is that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil only leads to darkness, exile, death, sickness, fleshly desires, and curses. It is the exact antithesis to the Tree of Life. So what did God do?

The LORD God made garments of skin (ohr) for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Gen. 3:21)

What Kind of Skin?

We typically assume that God slaughtered an animal and made coverings of fur for the first couple. But the text doesn’t explicitly say that this is what God did. There is no mention of Him slaughtering an animal. Our old assumption isn’t necessarily wrong, but the skin (ohr) that God made could have been of (mortal) human skin. The verse literally says that God made (asah) ohr (skin) and clothed Adam and Chavah with it. Perhaps, after losing their garments of Light, God made them garments of (mortal human) skin. This is a viable possibility in the Hebrew and one to consider.

Whether or not Adam and Chavah once had literal garments of Light that were forfeited when they sinned isn’t the point. God did make for them skins (human or animal) in which to cover their nakedness. Maybe their nakedness wasn’t physical. Or perhaps, it was both physical and spiritual. Either way, this series will explore the figurative or spiritual side of this coin.

Much more to explore in upcoming articles. Click here for Part II


[1] See Strong’s definitions for H6174 and H6191.

[2] H6175

[3] A contranym (also spelled contronym) is sometimes called an auto antonym. Like Hebrew, the English language has many terms that fall into this category. Think of the word cleave. It can mean to cling to tightly or to cut into as to divide into pieces. Other examples are as follows:

Bolt: To secure, or to flee

Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement

Buckle: To connect, or to break or collapse

Clip: To fasten, or detach

Screen: To present, or to conceal

Splice: To join, or to separate

Transparent: Invisible, or obvious

[4] 1 Cor. 15:46

[5] This is based on the many words that begin with aleph: for example, Elohim, Abba, El, etc. Moreover, the ancient Hebrew pictograph means a strong leader, strength, power, ox, etc.

For more great insight into the first couple and the serpent in the garden, please see Rabbi David Fohrman’s book, The Beast that Crouches at the door.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Messianic Issues | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Moonbeams and the Moedim Part III

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

Nine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flip Side of Nine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[8] H8159 שׁעה shâ‛âh BDB Definition:

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

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

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

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

Part of Speech: verb

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

shackles     “No gods, no masters.” ― Margaret Sanger

 

In my last post, A Parable, we investigated the Hebrew word mashal found in Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 translated as rule and master. We discovered that mashal is also the Hebrew word for a parable or proverb and how maxims actually do have dominion and power for those that have ears to hear. In today’s post, I hope to take us a little deeper into this correlation.

In Chavah’s encounter with the serpent, she found the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil to be three things:

  1. Good for food.
  2. A delight to her eyes.
  3. Desirable to make one wise.

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:6)

Why did Chavah consider something that YHWH said not to eat, “good for food?” Does she believe that YHWH is withholding something from her? Apparently, YHWH isn’t completely trustworthy in the eyes of Eve after her encounter with the serpent.

So, why did Chavah trust a walking[1], talking snake? Isn’t a serpent a created beast? As a beast, the serpent knows only what an animal is created to do. His dialogue with Chavah reveals the spirit of a beast, not a man. Anything an animal desires to do is a God given instinct. By pursuing these urges, the beast is actually being obedient to the Creator.

What are these desires? Beasts are “ruled” by the impulse to eat, sleep, procreate, and expand their territory.[2] These inborn urges drive the soul of an animal. If they see something they “desire,” they are never in disobedience by working to fulfill this want. These appetites ensure that these creatures are fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. Therefore, an animal’s teshukah[3] (desire) is its master by the design of the Creator.

Humans and animals both have a nephesh, or a soul. Therefore, we also have appetites corresponding to an animal or beast. This part of our human nature is not evil in and of itself. The Creator made mankind this way and called it very good! Without these appetites and passions, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our primary mandate as humans: to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.

However, unlike the beasts, we are NOT to allow ourselves to be ruled by these appetites and desires. Instead, with YHWH’s help, we are meant to master them. A human created in the image of Elohim masters his flesh or nephesh. This can only be accomplished by living by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of Elohim (God).[4] Why? Because without the Word, we are ruled by the appetites of our nephesh and are no different than a beast of the field.

If our nephesh controls our actions, are we not our own masters? Isn’t that the real temptation the serpent presents to Chavah (Eve)? By allowing the nephesh to rule, one becomes like Elohim knowing good and evil and doing what is right in their own eyes. This is pure idolatry; with self being the idol.

This is the precise problem with the second and third observations Eve had of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.(Gen. 3:6 KJV)

The Hebrew word for pleasant is ta’avah; it means to long for, desire, lust, or delight. Its root word, avah, is defined as to wish for, desire, and covet. This is the same word used in the second set of the Ten Commandments for “You shall not covet…”[5] This is not surprising; since, it is usually one’s eyes that first longs for (covets) something that isn’t his to have. This is the purpose of YHWH commanding one to wear visual reminders of His commandments.[6] One cannot trust their eyes to remain faithful.

Not by coincidence, the Hebrew word for “desired” above is chamad. While it does mean delight, desirable, and even beloved; it also means to covet. It is the Hebrew word used in the first set of the Ten Commandments where it says, “You shall not covet…”[7] What exactly was it that Chavah coveted?

“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)

Chavah could be her own master. She would decide what was good and evil in her own eyes and, in effect, be a better ezer kenegdo to Adam. Margaret Sanger[8] captured this human dilemma in parabolic form with her infamous words, “No gods, no masters.” She was certain that the only “master” of a woman’s body was the woman herself. In other words, Margaret’s desire was to do what seemed right in her own eyes. She was her own master or god knowing good and evil. Sadly, this is the battle of all men and women. Who shall rule us?

By listening to the walking, talking serpent or nephesh, Chavah began to have more trust not necessarily in the serpent, but in herself. This is the ultimate deception of the serpent. He is a beast perfectly designed to be ruled by instinct or nephesh. Chavah is meant to be ruled by the Word of God. So, what happened with Adam in this story?

Unlike Chavah, Adam was NOT deceived.

…and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:16b)

The Hebrew word for with is eem. It can mean with, by, or beside. The Hebrew allows one interpretation: Adam watched this whole debacle unfold and never protested the obvious (to him) deception of his wife. Why was Adam silent? Did he trust his ezer kenegdo to a fault? Or did he realize, as Dr. Moen suggests,[9] that he had an impossible choice to make:

  1. Eve, the only perfect one; made just for me. Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.
  2. Elohim. YHWH. Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Regardless of why Adam remained silent, his sin was exactly the same as Chavah’s. He chose his own desires and passions instead of YHWH. In other words, Adam was mastered by his nephesh just as Eve was. The difference, I believe, is that Chavah didn’t realize (at first) what was happening, but Adam did. He was not deceived. He chose Chavah, the very delight to his eyes.

Essentially, both Chavah and Adam became their own masters. Their sin was idolatry. I don’t think we realize that this is what we are doing when choose to do what we want to do or not do. We usurp the highest authority in the Universe when we decide what is good and evil. Only YHWH has the right and authority to make these distinctions. We don’t have to understand his sovereign commandments. We simply are to obey them.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!” (Gen. 3:4)

When we become our own god, we bring curses and death upon ourselves. Sure, the consequence may not be immediate. Adam and Chavah didn’t die… right away. This delay can only be the mercy and grace of YHWH. Sadly, when we are disobedient and nothing “bad” seems to happen, we believe the lie of the serpent and smugly think to ourselves that our DESIRE doesn’t lead to death or destruction either.

Ironically, the very thing a person ruled by their nephesh desires, to be their own master, is the very thing that enslaves them to sin and death. Meditate on that for a while…

So, what’s the parable or moral found in this story? How does this connect the two accounts in Genesis 3:16 and 4:7? What is the Creator teaching with the teshukah and mashal in Chavah and Cain’s predicaments? I hope to answer that in my next post, Slaves.


[1] I’m assuming he could walk since his curse after deceiving Chavah (Eve) would be that he would have to crawl on the ground from that point forward. Naturally, the inference is that before this encounter, he did not crawl on his belly.

[2] Dr. Hollisa Alewine, in her workbook The Scarlet Harlot, speaks to this dichotomy between the nephesh and the man made in the image of Adonai.

[3] Please see a more in-depth treatment of the Hebrew word teshukah in my series on the Biblical Role of Women.

[4] Dt. 8:3

[5] Dt. 5:21

[6] And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. (Num. 15:39-40)

[7] “You shall not covet (chamad) your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:17) 

[8] Margaret Sanger is the “mother” of Planned Parenthood. I believe she is a prime example of a woman ruled by her nephesh rather than by the Spirit of YHWH.

[9] Audio file: The Scriptural Role of the ‘Ezer by Dr. Skip Moen. You can purchase it here: http://skipmoen.com/products/ezer/

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