“The Messiah Will Come When Torah Flows From Israel’s Seven Holy Cities”

“A garden locked Is my own, my bride, A fountain locked, A sealed-up spring.” (Song of Songs 4:12)

Jerusalem is one of Israel’s seven holy cities. (Avraham Gracier/Wikipedia)

When Israel regains control of all of Israel’s seven cities and Torah can flow freely from within them, the Messiah will come, said Rabbi Yishai Fleisher.

He added that the world’s efforts to hurt Israel, including resolutions from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) ignoring the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, not only rewrite history, but rob the world of the Bible’s light.

One way to counteract it, Rabbi Fleisher told Breaking Israel News, is to recognize that Israel’s seven holy cities – Be’er Sheva, Hebron and Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) in the south, Beit-El, Shechem and Tzfat in the north; and Jerusalem in the center – form a menorah (candelabra) that together emanate God’s light to the rest of the world.

“Organizations like UNESCO are trying to undermine the Jewish narrative and put cataracts over these holy cities, putting a stop to the success, growth and light of Israel and replacing it with terrorism, fear and darkness,” Rabbi Fleisher said.

In a new course offered by Yeshiva for the Nations, “Israel’s Seven Holy Cities,” Rabbi Fleisher teaches about the special qualities of these cities in their Biblical and contemporary context.

He believes that today’s Jews are living in the Third Jewish Commonwealth on the cusp of the Messianic era. When Israel resumes total control of all seven cities, the words and teachings of the Bible will flow freely from them, undiminished and unimpeded, and the Messiah will come, he said.

“We are now living in a time of God’s great light,” said Rabbi Fleisher. “We see the menorah of the Land of Israel and we pray for peace in this Third Commonwealth and pine for the Third Temple.”

What makes these seven cities holy?

Be’er Sheva

According to Rabbi Fleisher, when Abraham descended Mount Moriah he went down to his home in Be’er Sheva, where he set up an inn, welcomed travelers and convinced them of God’s kindness.

[Avraham] planted a tamarisk at Be’er Sheva, and invoked there the name of Hashem, the Everlasting God. Genesis 21:33

The Hebrew word be’er means well, which is a sign that Abraham made the city bloom with his Torah. Today, said Rabbi Fleisher, “Be’er Sheva is flourishing once again. There is a big renaissance happening in Be’er Sheva.”

Hebron

Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)

Hebron is the first place in Israel that the Jews purchased land in the form of the form of Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebrew known as Maharat HaMachpela.

Avraham accepted Ephron’s terms [of 400 shekalim of silver]. … So, Ephron’s land in Machpelah, near Mamre—the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the confines of that field—passed to Avraham as his possession, in the presence of the Hittites, of all who entered the gate of his town. And then Avraham buried his wife Sara in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Chevron—in the land of Canaan. Genesis 23:15-19

Subsequently, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca and Leah were buried in the cave. According to Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve are also buried there.

“Kabbalistic tradition says that Abraham smelled the Garden of Eden,” said Rabbi Fleisher. “Hebron is considered the gateway to the Garden of Eden.”

Later, Hebron became the capital of the tribe of Judah.

Beit Lechem (Bethlehem)
Literally “House of Bread,” Beit Lechem is the city David is from and where he was crowned as the king of Israel, said Rabbi Fleisher. It is also where matriarch Rachel is buried.

Thus, Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Efrat—now Beit Lechem. Genesis 35:19

Jacob set up a pillar above her tomb, which is still there to this day. For 3,000 years, Jews have come to pray at Rachel’s gravesite, crying alongside their foremother, “wailing, bitter weeping— Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone.” (Jeremiah 31:14)

Rabbi Fleisher said Rachel will only stop crying when the Jews return to Israel and the Messiah comes.

Beit-El
Literally meaning “House of God”, Beit-El is the site where Jacob fell asleep with his head on a rock and in his dream ascended to the Heavens, said Rabbi Fleisher.

He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of Hashem were going up and down on it. And Hashem was standing beside him and He said, “I am Hashem, the God of your father Avraham and the God of Yitzchak: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring.” Genesis 28:10-22

“Beit-El is the gateway to Heaven,” said Rabbi Fleisher.

Shechem

Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of the city of Shechem. (Wikimedia Commons.)
The city of Shechem is mentioned several times in the Torah in reference to the Biblical forefathers. It is the first place in the land of Israel that Abraham entered and the site of the first altar to God. Jacob also spends time in Shechem, even purchasing

The parcel of land where he pitched his tent … from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred kesitah. Genesis 33:19

However, according to Rabbi Fleisher, Shechem is most connected to Joseph, who is still buried there today.

“Joseph left Shechem to meet his brothers who sell him into slavery, really starting his exile,” said Rabbi Fleisher. “Then, his own great-grandson. Joshua, returns to Shechem when they enter the Land of Israel and buries Joseph’s bones – brought all the way from Egypt – on the same plot of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor so many years before.”

Tzfat
“Zionism starts in Tzfat,” said Rabbi Fleisher.

The famous Kabbalistic rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Arizal), came to Tzfat in the 1500s and there he ushered in the Third Commonwealth, convincing Jews to return to the Land of Israel and to study the mystical Torah.

“When we left into exile, we kept a skeletal version of Judaism without prophecy and we had a lower level of intimacy with God in terms of Judaism,” explained Rabbi Fleisher. “With our return to the Land, to being back in our natural habitat, the Torah we started to seek is the Kabbalistic Torah with more depth than the kind of topical Torah kept in the diaspora.”

He said the Arizal signifies the renaissance we live in today.

Jerusalem


A view of the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. (Shutterstock)

The city of Shechem is mentioned several times in the Torah in reference to the Biblical forefathers. It is the first place in the land of Israel that Abraham entered and the site of the first altar to God. Jacob also spends time in Shechem, even purchasing

The parcel of land where he pitched his tent … from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred kesitah. Genesis 33:19

However, according to Rabbi Fleisher, Shechem is most connected to Joseph, who is still buried there today.

“Joseph left Shechem to meet his brothers who sell him into slavery, really starting his exile,” said Rabbi Fleisher. “Then, his own great-grandson. Joshua, returns to Shechem when they enter the Land of Israel and buries Joseph’s bones – brought all the way from Egypt – on the same plot of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor so many years before.”

Tzfat
“Zionism starts in Tzfat,” said Rabbi Fleisher.

The famous Kabbalistic rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Arizal), came to Tzfat in the 1500s and there he ushered in the Third Commonwealth, convincing Jews to return to the Land of Israel and to study the mystical Torah.

“When we left into exile, we kept a skeletal version of Judaism without prophecy and we had a lower level of intimacy with God in terms of Judaism,” explained Rabbi Fleisher. “With our return to the Land, to being back in our natural habitat, the Torah we started to seek is the Kabbalistic Torah with more depth than the kind of topical Torah kept in the diaspora.”

He said the Arizal signifies the renaissance we live in today.

An Understanding Of Prophetic Codependency

Indeed, the idea has become widespread that God is raising up an elite group of “prophets” who hear the Lord better than the “regular folk” and that they are necessary for giving spiritual insight and guidance to the church today. Those propagating this view love to quote Old Testament passages such as Amos 3:7 that reads, Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

A Dangerous Trend

I suggest that those propagating this view are producing a setting that is ripe for abuse and disillusionment. It is all too easy for an insecure individual or congregation to put their trust in a man (or woman) who claims to have a special line with God and says he hears from God on their behalf.

The people who buy into this kind of thinking are relinquishing their own responsibility to know God and have a relationship with Him. The “prophet” who takes this approach is taking on a role that was never given him by God–that of mediator between the people and God.

It is the perfect setting for an unhealthy codependency and is deadening to the unlimited work of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ. This is not something new but has happened throughout history as documented in my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. And as Winston Churchill once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Not Found in the New Testament

This idea of an elite group of prophets that gives guidance to the churches is not found in the New Testament. Paul, for example, addresses his letters to “the saints” in a given locality and never intimates that they are somehow lacking and in need of a “prophet” to guide them. That is an Old Testament concept.

The emphasis of Jesus and the New Testament is on the Holy Spirit being made available to all of God’s people as opposed to the Old Testament where He was given only to certain prophets, judges and kings. Jesus spoke of this when He cried out, If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink, He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-39).

John then remarks that Jesus spoke this concerning the Spirit whom those believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given. “Not yet given,” meaning in the unlimited sense to all of God’s people as prophesied by Joel (Joel 2:28-29) and intimated by Moses (Numbers 11:29).

This unlimited pouring out of the Holy Spirit began on the Day of Pentecost when they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and all began to speak prophetically by the Holy Spirit. I say they spoke prophetically because any speech inspired by the Spirit is prophetic. That is why Peter, in answer to those questioning the speaking in tongues, responded by quoting Joel’s prophecy that predicted that when God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, sons and daughters would prophesy.

All of God’s People Have the Spirit

There is not a single example in the New Testament of anyone seeking out a prophet for direction or advice. There is not a single admonition in any of the letters to churches telling them they need to seek out a prophet to give them guidance.

Instead, Paul admonished them to realize that they are now the sanctuary of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in them both individually and corporately (I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19). This is a reality of the New Covenant. They are a sort of “prophethood of all believers” as expressed in I Corinthians 14.

When Paul discusses the function of prophecy in the congregation, the assumption is that all of God’s people are included (I Corinthians 14:23-32). There is no elite group of prophets to whom everyone else must bow. When he uses the word “prophets” in vs. 29 it is functional language meaning “the one prophesying” or “the one with a prophecy.”

This is borne out by the fact that the entire Christian community is being addressed and inclusive language is used throughout, as in vs. 32 where he says, For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. Commenting on this passage, Dr. Gordon Fee says,

This does not mean, of course, that all will or do prophesy. It is simply to note that Paul’s concern here is not with a group of prophets, but with the functioning of prophecy in the assembly. The noun “prophets,” therefore, is to be understood as functional language similar to the use of interpreter in v. 28.

Paul’s assumption is that all of God’s people have the Holy Spirit and there is no need to seek out a prophet as in the Old Testament. They themselves are now the sanctuary of God and the Spirit of God dwells in them (I Corinthians 3:16-17). They merely need to realize who they are as God’s New Covenant people.

Time to Awaken

I pray that Christians everywhere will awaken to who they are in Christ. I pray that they will awaken to the blessings and benefits that are theirs through the cross of Christ. I pray that they will awaken to the fact that they, individually and corporately, are God’s dwelling place and His Spirit dwells in them. I pray that they will awaken to the fact that they have a direct line to God through the one mediator, Jesus Christ. I pray that this Divine awakening will spread across America and the world.

Be Aware Of Wicked Religious Spirit Declares The Lord and King

Beloved. There is a religious spirit attempting to discourage My Body. It is a fleshy, critical spirit.

It wants to critique your walk with Me. It desires to steal your confidence in Me. It tries to distort My Word so that instead of freedom, you are back into bondage and a slave to fear.

It wants to destroy your enthusiasm and your zeal for the things of the Spirit. For if this evil spirit can convince you that you are not all that My Word says you are, he has won the battle.

But I tell you this, Dear One. I AM leading you by My Spirit. I AM speaking to you by My Spirit. I AM protecting you by My Spirit. GREATER is He who is in you than he who is in the world. This is truth.

You have been chosen and raised up for such a time as this. Listen not to the voice of discouragement. Listen not to the critical voice who tells you I AM not pleased with you.

You have been MADE the righteousness of God in Christ. You have been saved to the uttermost. Fear not! I always come to your defense. You are MINE and I AM yours.

Who shall bring any charge against My elect? It is I alone who justifies you. Do not listen to the voice of condemnation, Dear One. You are accepted in the Beloved.

I delight in you, My Child. Know this, My Love. When this spirit criticizes you, it is really criticizing Me.

Fear not, but be confident of this: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

“For he hath MADE Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be MADE the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” Romans 8:1.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God,” 1 John 4:1-2.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 John 4:4.

“I have written these things to you concerning those leading you astray. And you, the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But just as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him,” 1 John 2:26-27.

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us,” Romans 8:33-34.

“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved,” Ephesians 1:6.

Kabbalistic Keys To The Lords Prayer


Mysticism teaches that by a simple act of devotion, human consciousness may be elevated to momentary union with divine consciousness, and that this union bestows an inner strength which surpasseth understanding. This strength, which can be experienced but not explained, is the presence of God known in a mystery. ~Manly P. Hall

It might be well to introduce this subject with a brief summary of the concept of prayer, as this practice is to be found in the principal religions of mankind. A prayer is a formula of supplication, adoration, confession, or thanksgiving addressed to God, either directly or through intermediary powers, by an individual or a congregation. The words used may be fixed by traditional usage or may be completely informal, according to the mood or need of the supplicant. In either case, the words themselves must be spoken with the deepest sincerity and the fullest realization of the sacredness of the action.

Prayers of ancient nations are recorded upon surviving monuments, especially those pertaining to mortuary rites or public offerings in honor of remarkable events. Such prayers are similar to those in use today, and there has been very little change in the structure of prayer-formulas since the earliest recorded examples. Most of the temples dedicated to the superior deities preserved formulas for addressing the gods through petition or as an act of homage. Usually, the older prayers were less personal and more devotional and were part of an elaborate ritualism. The private citizen seldom addressed personal petitions to the divinities except in an extreme emergency.

Those mortals who felt that they had received some special evidence of divine intercession often brought to the temples gifts of real or sentimental value, and these presents were inscribed with appropriate words of appreciation. Inscriptions of this kind frequently took the form of testimonials. They were simple statements of the facts involved, the divine assistance rendered, and the gratitude of the recipient. In the larger shrines, these testimonials formed an impressive collection evidencing the benevolences of the deity.

Nearly all primitive religious worship included means for attracting the attention of superhuman beings or even the spirits or ghosts of illustrious mortals. Songs, dances, sacrifices of all kinds, rites, and ceremonies were performed so that the needs of the people might be more immediately known to the heavenly powers, or to acquaint evil or malicious entities with the sincerity and faithfulness of the people. The various demons would be unable to work their evil spells upon the tribe if the members thereof called upon good and all-powerful spiritual guardians. While the public mind has changed considerably in recent centuries, the prayer-formulas still in use retain most of the elements of the old spiritism in word if not in concept.

Since the Protestant Reformation, the practice of private prayer has increased among Christian nations. The ritualistic forms of the old church have been modified, and prayer has become an experience of intimate communion. Although some churches have maintained the form of congregational petition, the individual members of the church are invited to seek spiritual security, especially in time of stress, through the act of private prayer. Form and word are less important than the genuine statement of faith made either audibly or silently, and it is assumed that Deity, ever-mindful of the needs of his children, will be attentive to all honorable and honest petitions.

It is well known that philosophers and scholars not given to the acceptance of theological forms have practiced the act of prayer and recommended it to their followers and disciples. The transition between prayer as a ritual and prayer as a mystical experience has been accomplished gradually as the result of the increasing emphasis upon religion as a personal search for truth. Mysticism teaches that by a simple act of devotion, human consciousness may be elevated to momentary union with divine consciousness, and that this union bestows an inner strength which surpasseth understanding. This strength, which can be experienced but not explained, is the presence of God known in a mystery.

As the result of the mingling of tradition and instinct in the human soul, the impulse to seek solace in prayer is widespread even among those who are not nominally religious. This is clearly revealed in times of public disaster, war, and other general catastrophes. The human being is most aware of his own limitations when his character is subjected to special strain. When insufficient to his own needs, he is impelled to seek a larger source of security. It requires but slight consideration for him to realize that faith has brought courage and fortitude to other persons whom he has known, admired, and loved. Early religious indoctrination and association intensify the resolution, and the mind easily accepts the persuasions bestowed by impulse. There are very few who choose to walk dark and dangerous paths alone, and as the way becomes more hazardous, the benefits of spiritual communion become more evident.

Few modern institutions have escaped materialistic pressures, and the churches are confronted with decisions that require genuine dedication to truth. The act of prayer is too often involved in the gratification of personal and physical ambitions. The modern believer prays more for prosperity in this world than for security in the world to come. He is more concerned with the increase of his goods than with the increase of the good within himself. Several denominations have hit upon the idea that prayer is a magical force by which selfish members can advance their various fortunes by enlisting divine aid. God is called upon to intercede in real estate transactions, the fluctuations of the stock exchange, and in an assortment of personal trivia. Instead of approaching Divinity with songs of praise and thanksgiving, the prevailing tendency is to bombard heaven with requirements and demands. In many cases, we ask for that which we have neither the resolution nor the patience to earn by legitimate means. To the degree that prayer becomes a substitute for common intelligence and natural industry, the act of prayerfulness is mutilated and profaned.

🔥
Cabalistic Keys to the Lord’s Prayer
~ Manly P. Hall

The Christ Pre-Existed However Jesus Didn’t

In the beginning was the LOGOS – the outward manifestation of the inward thought,
the LOGOS WAS with God. Yahweh and His Divine Plan could not be separated,
the LOGOS was God – God and the Logos are one.

Christ, the Word, who “in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth,” therefore pre-existed before the birth of “the body prepared” of the substance of Mary, and which lay dead in the tomb. That body named Jesus, had no existence until developed by the Christ-Power. Federally, indeed, it pre-existed in the loins of Abraham and in Adam, as Levi was in Abraham, and we in Adam, before birth; but not otherwise.

The pre-existent Christ, or Deity, was not the less Deity because he veiled himself in flesh, in our “sinful flesh,” or “sin’s flesh,” and styled himself JESUS, or he who shall be Saviour.

In reference to those words of Jesus, saying,—“The bread I give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6.) For the bread of the Deity is He, who descending out of the heaven, and giveth life to the world.’ This was as much as to say, that the manna was representative of a life-imparting agent from heaven: even the Logos speaking by Jesus. ‘In him’—the Logos, ‘was Life,’ says John
‘and the Life, was the light of men.’ It was this Logos who said, ‘I am the Way and the Truth; the Resurrection and the Life’: ‘I am the Bread of Life,’ or the manna: ‘I came down from heaven’: this is the bread which descendeth from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die’ . . . ‘If any man eat of this bread he shall live in the age: and the bread that I (the Logos) will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus was not literally the Word. He was the word "made flesh". (vs. 14). Jesus is the complete manifestation of the logos – "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Deity bodily." (Col. 2:9). It was the "logos" which was in the beginning with God, not Jesus. When the "word was made flesh" (John 1:14) then, and then only, Jesus became the "Word".
Jesus is called the Word (Rev. 19:13 cf. 1 John 1:1; Luke 1:2) since his doctrine and words came from his Father (John 7:16; 17:14). He was the logos lived out in speech and action, not merely written on scrolls.

Jesus Christ in the day of his weakness, had two sides—the one, DEITY; the other, MAN—the Eternal Christ-Power or the anointing spirit veiled in, and manifested through the flesh created from the ground; which flesh had Willfully transgressed the Divine Law, the penalty of which sent it back into the dust from whence it came. This is Jesus Christ the true Deity, whom to know is life eternal.

This flesh which inhabited Paradise, like all the beasts. Was “very good” of its sort, is described as “sin” and “sin’s flesh,” because it sinned or transgressed the Eden law. Our flesh is the same as Adam’s before he sinned, only the worse for wear: for Paul says that we sinned in him, and he was sinless before he sinned; and we were as much in his loins when he was sinless, as in the act of sinning. His flesh undefiled by sin is constitutionally the same as the flesh of his posterity defiled legally thereby. The Christ-Deity veiled himself in the Adamic nature defiled by sin, in order that he might condemn sin in the flesh and to condemn sin to death in the nature which, although created “very good,” had legally defiled itself by transgression of the Eden law. This purpose would have been defeated if he had veiled himself in a clean nature.

To say that the Man, Jesus, was corporeally clean, or pure, holy, spotless, and undefiled, is in effect to say that he was not “made of a woman;” for Scripture teaches, that nothing born of woman can possibly be clean: but it is testified that he was “born of a woman;” he must therefore necessarily have been born corporeally unclean. Hence, it is written of him in Psalm 51:5, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” He therefore prays, “Purge me with sop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

This prayer has been answered, and he has been “Washed thoroughly from his (corporeal) iniquity, and cleansed from his sin;” so that now he has a clean nature, which is spirit and divine—“the Lord the Spirit”—once dead as to flesh, but now alive as Spirit for evermore.—(Rev. 1:18.)

I believe that Christ pre-existed but Jesus didn't. It may sound complicated but it isn't really.

It's about God Manifestation – ultimately the angels the "focalisations of the Spirit", Jesus Christ and the Saints are all manifestations of God (which is why Jesus says "does it not say in your law Ye are gods?").

The exhortation is that we need to behave like that now, while we are in the flesh, because once the flesh is removed we will only be as much Spirit as has been developed in us.

The James(The Just) Confirmed By Jesus As A Leader

The disciples said to Jesus, "We are aware that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus said to him, "No matter where you come it is to James the Just that you shall go, for whose sake heaven and earth have come to exist."

James is the English equivalent of Jacob . The name represents judgment in individual consciousness, or justice and discrimination.

Heaven and earth come into being for the sake of righteousness that is to say the world was waiting for the revelation of the upright man of righteousness.

First James the righteous stands as the perfected Teacher of Righteousness the true prophet James is a spiritual role model one to identify with That is to say well haven and earth will pass away the One who knows himself will stand forever James was the designated the head of the Jerusalem church.

James being the head of the Jerusalem church as well as his being so righteous as to merit the name James the Righteous,

the Teacher of Righteousness is James the Just zealous for the law, he is described that way according to many ancient writers. In the Dead Sea scroll the Teacher of Righteousness is killed by his enemy, so is James the Just killed by the Jews, with the High Priest taking the lead.

James is the central figure among the faithful after Christ’s departure. It is also to him who the resurrected Lord appeared to first. James is called the righteous one by Jesus, and the expression "for whose sake heaven and earth came into being" is a Jewish form of expression, a title of high honour normally applied to the Torah, David, the Messiah, Israel,

He was called – "protection of the people". He was also known as the Righteous. Josephus attributes the destruction of the Temple, 70 A.D. to the Jews stoning James to death at the Temple for saying Jesus was in heaven on the Right hand of God and was coming again in the clouds of heaven.

A 1st Century BCE Jewish Understanding Of Title Son Of God Revealed In Jesus-Yeshua As AntiChrist


The ‘Son of God’ text, one of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments found in Qumran Cave 4, consists of two columns of nine lines each in the Aramaic language. We lack the beginnings of the lines in the first column, which has been damaged on the right (Aramaic, like Hebrew, is read from right to left). The second column ends in mid-sentence, so the document originally must have possessed at least a third column.This text, dated to the late first century B.C.E., has extraordinary parallels to the annunciation scene in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:31–35), including use of the titles “Son of God” and “Son of the Most High,” the earliest known references to these terms in a messianic context. These parallels strongly suggest a relationship between this Qumran text and the later Gospel text, if not a direct dependence, then a dependence on a common tradition.
The Dead Sea Scroll Son of God text from Qumran Cave 4 has attracted attention both in scholarly publications and in the press because it contains remarkable parallels to the annunciation scene in the Gospel of Luke. The Aramaic text has been known for 20 years, since J. T. Milik presented it orally in a lecture at Harvard in December 1972. Milik, however, failed to publish it. Part of the text, based on Milik’s lecture, was published by Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J., in 1974.1Fitzmyer also set out the parallels between this text and Luke in his monumental commentary on that Gospel in 1981.2 The fact that Fitzmyer, a Jesuit priest, risked the disapproval of his colleagues by his unauthorized publication of the text is significant. It shows that any suggestion that this text has been withheld for religious reasons is utter nonsense. The text was discussed in the March/April 1990 Biblical Archaeology Review in “An Unpublished Dead Sea Scroll Text Parallels Luke’s Infancy Narrative,” sidebar to “Dead Sea Scroll Variation on ‘Show and Tell’—It’s Called ‘Tell, But No Show,’” BAR 16:02. Not until 1992, however, was it published in full, by Emile puech, who had succeeded Milik as the officially designated editor.3
Puech, however, failed to resolve the most intriguing question in this document: the interpretation of the figure who is called “Son of God.” Puech allowed that two interpretations are possible: (1) The Son of God may be viewed negatively in the text, in which case he is a Syrian king; or (2) he may be viewed positively, in which case he is a Jewish messiah.
I believe that Puech’s hesitation is unnecessary. The Son of God may be identified with confidence as a messianic figure.4 The text then raises some intriguing questions about the relationship between Jewish and Christian ideas of the Messiah.
The text is known technically as 4Q246, which simply indicates that it is from Qumran Cave 4 and was given the arbitrary number 246 among those documents. As can be seen in the photo (above), the fragment includes two columns, but the first one (on the right) has been torn vertically, roughly in half, so that the first part of each line is missing. (Remember that Aramaic, like Hebrew, is read from right to left.) Column 2 ends with an incomplete sentence, so there was at least a third column. Each of the preserved columns contains nine lines. The complete text, in the original Aramaic and in English translation, is printed in the sidebar to this article.
The text contains some remarkable parallels to a prediction about Jesus at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. When the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary, to announce the conception of Jesus, he tells her:
“And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. … [T]he child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31–35).
Three phrases in this quotation from Luke’s Gospel are translation equivalents of phrases in the Dead Sea Scroll fragment: “will be great” (column 1, line 7), “he will be called Son of the Most High” (column 2, line 1) and “he will be called Son of God” (column 2, line 1).
Luke also speaks of an unending reign; the Dead Sea Scroll fragment speaks of an “everlasting kingdom” (column 2, line 5).
If the Gospel of Luke showed such exact parallels to an Old Testament text, all would agree that this was a case of literary dependence. It is hard to deny that there must be some relationship between this Gospel text and the long-lost text from Qumran, even if it is only dependence on a common tradition. (The manuscript is dated to the late first century B.C.E. by Puech on the basis of the writing style [paleography]. Even if we allow a generous margin of error, it is clearly older than the Gospels.)
In the Gospel of Luke, the one who is called Son of God is explicitly identified as the heir to the Davidic throne: “the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David” (Luke 1:32). Puech allows that the phrase “Son of God” may have the same reference in the Qumran text, that is, that this Son of God is a descendant of David. But he also allows for another interpretation. If you look at column 2 in the photograph, you will see that there is a blank space (vacat, in scholarly jargon) in the middle of the column, before the phrase “until the people of God arises.” Several scholars have taken this break as an indication of the turning point of the text. Everything before the break, then, would pertain to the rule of the nations, and would be viewed negatively from a Jewish point of view. So Milik, in his lecture at Harvard, argued that the one who would be called “Son of God” was a Syrian king, Alexander Balas, son of the notorious Antiochus IV Epiphanes who had persecuted the Jews in the time of the Maccabees (167–164 B.C.E.). Balas is called theopator (god-begot- ten) and Deo patre natus (born of a divine father) on coins. Puech, in his publication of our Dead Sea Scroll text, also allowed as one possibility that the reference might be to a Syrian king, although he preferred the better-known Epiphanes.
It was not uncommon in antiquity for pagan kings to be regarded as gods or sons of gods. In a Jewish context, however, “Son of God” is a highly honorific title. If this reference was to a Syrian king, we would expect to find some indication in this Jewish text that the title was inappropriate. If the Son of God was viewed negatively, we would expect the text to tell of his eventual downfall. In fact, however, there is no indication in the extant text that the Son of God was regarded with disapproval.5
True, the blank space in the second column of the Son of God text marks the transition to the final stage of the drama, the rise of the people of God. It does not follow, however, that everything before this is negative. This text belongs to the category of apocalyptic literature, broadly defined; that is, literature that reports visions about the end of days. It is very closely related to the Book of Daniel, which is itself a classic apocalyptic text. It is typical of apocalyptic literature that it does not tell its story in simple sequential order, but often goes over the same ground again and again to make its point. For example, Daniel 7 recounts a famous vision in which “one like a son of man” comes on the clouds of heaven (verse 13) and is given a kingdom. An interpretation follows, which says that “the holy ones of the Most High” receive the kingdom (verse 18). Finally, there is an elaboration of this interpretation, according to which the kingdom is given to “the people of the holy ones of the Most High” (verse 27). The giving of the kingdom, then, is narrated three times, but these are not three separate events.
The “one like a son of man” in Daniel 7 represents the “people of the holy ones,” and receives the kingdom on their behalf. The Son of God text should be read in a similar way. The figure who is called the Son of God is the representative, or agent, of the people of God. That is why he is not mentioned again after the rise of the people of God in column 2. His career and the rise of the people of God are simply two aspects of the same event.
Fitzmyer made a number of important points about the interpretation of this text when he published part of it in 1974. He saw the text as apocalyptic rather than historical, which is to say that it refers to some climactic event of the future and not to the present or past. This is shown by phrases drawn from Daniel 7:14: “his kingdom is an ever-lasting kingdom,” “his dominion is [an] everlasting dominion.” Fitzmyer also saw that the figure must be “someone on the Jewish side” and suggested that he is “possibly an heir to the throne of David.”6 He adamantly refused, however, to use the word “messiah” with reference to this figure, since that word does not appear in the text.
It may be well at this point to pause for a moment to comment on the word “messiah.” As is well known, the Hebrew word for messiah, mashiach, means simply “anointed.” Kings were anointed in ancient Israel, and so were some other figures, notably high priests. Originally, the word had no special reference to the future. When the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 2:2 that the kings of the earth take counsel “against the Lord and his anointed,” he was speaking of the king of the day, not of someone who was expected in the future. In later times, however, when there was no longer a Davidic king in Jerusalem and when the Jewish people looked increasingly to the future, the word “messiah” took on a new meaning. It now referred to the one who would restore the kingdom of Israel, and who was often conceived in a highly idealized way. The Dead Sea Scrolls do not restrict the word “messiah” to the one who would restore the Davidic kingship; they also speak of a priestly “messiah of Aaron” and use the word “messiahs” with reference to prophets. But they also attest the use of “messiah” with reference to the “branch of David.” Eventually the word “messiah” came to mean primarily the Davidic messiah in both Jewish and Christian traditions: Passages in the Psalms and in the Prophets that spoke of a messiah or of a Davidic king were commonly interpreted as referring to this figure who would come in the future. At the turn of the era, an heir to the Davidic throne, in an apocalyptic context, cannot be distinguished from the Davidic messiah, and we are fully justified in speaking of a messiah here, even though the word does not appear in the text.
The Hebrew Bible provides a clear basis for referring to the Davidic messiah as Son of God. Psalm 2, which uses the word “messiah,” or “anointed,” with reference to the king, goes on to say “I will tell of the decree of the Lord: he said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you’” (Psalm 2:7). In Psalm 89:27, God says of the king “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” In 2 Samuel 7:14, the Lord promises that he will establish the kingdom of David’s offspring: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” This latter passage is cited in the document known as 4Q174, or the Florilegium, from Qumran (this document consists of biblical citations followed by explanations; the citation commented on is from 2 Samuel 7:11–14):
“‘The Lord declares to you that He will build you a house. I will raise up your seed after you. I will establish the throne of his kingdom (for ever). I (will be) his father and he shall be my son.’ He is the branch of David who shall arise with the Interpreter of the Law (to rule) in Zion (at the end) of time.”
This passage from the Florilegium is a good illustration of how Scripture was read at Qumran. A text that originally referred to Solomon and the historical Davidic line now refers to the end of days. The son in question is now the branch of David who will appear in the future, or, in common parlance, the Davidic messiah.
In view of this background, it is not surprising that the Davidic messiah should be called “Son of God” or “Son of the Most High.” Indeed the Davidic association of these phrases is explicit in the verses previously quoted from the Gospel of Luke: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.” Our scroll text from Qumran (4Q246) is probably the oldest extant text that explicitly uses the title “Son of God” with reference to a future messianic king.
If we grant then that the Son of God here is the Davidic messiah, what significance does this have for our understanding of Jewish and Christian messianism?
The title “Son of God” is of considerable importance in the New Testament and early Christianity. Traditionally, scholarship has been divided between those who see the attribution or divine titles to Jesus as a result of Hellenistic influence and those who understand them against a Semitic, Jewish background. Fitzmyer, a prominent champion of Jewish backgrounds, has nonetheless claimed that “There is nothing in the Old Testament or Palestinian Jewish tradition that we know of to show that ‘Son of God’ had a messianic nuance.”7 Even from the brief sketch we have presented here, it should be clear that this claim cannot be maintained. There was a clear basis for giving “Son of God” a messianic nuance in 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2, given the propensity of Jews of this period to interpret Scripture as prophecy of the future. The Florilegium text from Qumran provides concrete evidence that Jewish interpreters of Scripture had made the connection between the Son of God and the messiah before the rise of Christianity. The newly published Son of God text from Qumran is a major corroboration of this connection.
The Jewish background has implications for the meaning of the expression “Son of God.” In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (but not in Mark, the oldest Gospel), Jesus is the son of God in the literal sense, insofar as he is born of a virgin who was impregnated by the power of Holy Spirit. In Israelite and Jewish tradition, however, a king was the son of God by adoption, with no suggestion that he did not have a human father. In the Hellenistic world, rulers were sometimes said to have been begotten by divine beings. There was such a legend about Alexander the Great. In a Jewish context, however, “Son of God” was a title that expressed a spiritual rather than a biological relationship to God. (The phrase could also be used for people other than the king, for example, the people of Israel as a whole in Hosea 11:1 or the righteous man in the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon 2:13.) It is likely that Jesus, too, was first called “Son of God” because he was accepted as messiah, and that the stories about his birth were formulated later.8
Jesus, in the Gospels, is often designated by Jewish messianic titles. (Christ simply means “messiah.”) Nonetheless, the way he is portrayed does not fit easily with Jewish messianic expectations. The Son of God in the text from Qumran is rather typical of these messianic expectations: He will establish an everlasting kingdom and make war cease from the earth; God will cast the nations down before him; he will be a warrior who relies on the power of God. Jesus of Nazareth was no warrior, and some of his followers may have been disappointed in this respect. His death by crucifixion was not part of the common Jewish script for a successful messiah. Nonetheless, his followers persisted in their belief that he was indeed the Messiah.
One of the ways in which they justified this belief was by reinterpreting the vision of Daniel about the “one like a son of man” who would come on the clouds of heaven. As we have seen, the Son of God text from Qumran is closely related to Daniel’s vision. It is possible that the Son of God was identified with Daniel’s “one like a son of man,” but we cannot be sure because of the gaps in column 1 of the text. The Gospel writers, however, placed more emphasis on the heavenly setting of Daniel’s vision. The “one like the son of man” would not achieve his victory on earth, but on the clouds of heaven. Jesus did not judge the nations in his earthly life, but he would come back from heaven after his death to do so (see Mark 13; Matthew 24; Luke 21). The Book of Revelation, written at the end of the first century, envisages Jesus as a rider on a white horse who would strike the nations with the sword of his mouth (Revelation 19:11–16: “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron” [19:15]). The early Christians recognized that Jesus had not fulfilled the common Jewish expectations of the messiah. Some of them, at least, held that he would conform more closely to those expectations at the Second Coming.
The relevance of the Son of God text, and of the Dead Sea Scrolls in general, to early Christianity is complex. The scrolls illuminate in many ways the conceptual world in which Christianity developed and the language on which the Gospel writers drew. Yet there were also factors that led the Christian movement to diverge from its Jewish matrix. Not least among these factors was the acceptance of a messiah who did not conform to the expectations of many Jews of the time.
The ‘Son of God’ Text in Translation
Sidebar to: A Pre-Christian “Son of God” Among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Column 1
Column 1
aysrk µdq lpn trv yhl[[ … 1
1 … up]on him rested. He fell before the throne
ûwnvw zygr hta aml[[l] akl[m … 2
2 … k]ing, [for]ever you are angry, and [your features] are changed
aml[ d[ hta alkw ûwzj a … 3
3 … your vision and you forever
a[ra l[ att hl[ ÷ybrb[r … 4
4 … the m]ighty. Affliction will come on earth
atnydmb br ÷wryvjnw … 5
5 … and great carnage among countries
÷yrx[mw] rwta ûlm … 6
6 … the king of Assyria [and Eg]ypt
a[ra l[ hwhl br … 7
7 … will be great on earth
÷wvmvy alkw ÷wdb[ … 8
8 … will serve, and all will minister
hnkty hmvbw arqty ab[r … 9
9 … will be called [gr]eat, and by his name will be called
Column 2
Column 2
ayqyzk hnwrqy ÷wyl[ rbw rmaty la yd hrb 1
1 Son of God he will be called and Son of the Most High they will name him. Like the flashes
l[ ÷wklmy [÷y]nv ÷htwklm ÷k atyzj yd 2
2 that you saw, so will their kingdom be. They will rule for year[s] on
hnydml hnydmw vwdy µ[l µ[ ÷wvdy alkw a[ra 3
3 earth, and they will trample all. People will trample people and province, province
brj ÷m jyny alkw la µ[ µwqy d[ vacat 4
4 [vacat] until the people of God arises and all rests from the sword.
[÷]ydy fwvqb htjra lkw µl[ twklm htwklm 5
5 His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom and all his ways in truth. He will jud[ge]
¹sy a[ra ÷m brj µlvl db[y alkw fwvqb a[ra 6
6 the earth in truth and all will make peace. The sword will cease from the earth
hlyab abr la ÷ydgsy hl atnydm lkw 7
7 and all provinces will worship him. The great God will be his patron.
÷hlkw hdyb ÷tny ÷ytt[ brq hl db[y awh 8
8 He will make war for him. He will give peoples into his hand and all of them
…ymwht lkw µl[ ÷flv hnflv yhwmdq hmry 9
9 he will cast down before him. His sovereignty is everlasting sovereignty, and all deeps …
Endnotes:

1. Joseph A Fitzmyer, “The Contribution of Qumran Aramaic to the Study of the New Testament,” New Testament Studies 20 (1973–1974), pp. 382–407, reprinted in his A Wandering Aramean. Collected Aramaic Essays (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1979), pp. 85–113.

2. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I–IX, Anchor Bible 28 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981), pp. 205–206, 347–348.

3. Emile Puech, “Fragment d’une Apocalypse en Araméen (4Q246 = pseudo-Dand) et le ‘Royanume de Dieu,’” Revue biblique 99 (1992), pp. 98–131.

4. The messianic interpretation was first proposed by Frank Moore Cross. I am grateful to Professor Cross for sharing with me the notes that he compiled after Milik’s lecture in 1972.

5. David Flusser (“The Hubris of the Antichrist in a Fragment from Qumran,” Immanuel 10 [1980], pp. 31–37) argued that the Son of God figure was the Antichrist or anti-Messiah. But the Antichrist, conceived as a mirror-image of Christ, is a Christian idea and unattested in pre-Christian Judaism.

6. Fitzmyer, A Wandering Aramean, pp. 92–93.

7. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX, p. 206. Fitzmyer adds that “the title ‘Son of God’ was as much at home in Palestinian Judaism as in the contemporary Hellenistic world.”

8. For an excellent, full treatment of this complicated issue, see Raymond Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977).
REFERENCE FOR THIS ARTICLE

Collins, John J. “A Pre-Christian “Son of God” Among the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Bible Review, Jun 1993, 34-38, 57. http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBR&Volume=9&Issue=3&ArticleID=12 (accessed 11/21/2014)