The Dangers of Dualism: Fearing the World Instead of Trusting in God

Dualism is a metaphysical belief that looks at life in terms of extremes – physical vs spiritual, good vs evil, us vs them, etc. Sounds reasonable ay first glance, and yet this kind of thinking has led to a terrible kind of bondage, not only in the world but also within the Body of Messiah – bondage that we see in politics, congregations, and all over social media. It is an extreme point of view that has led to paranoia, persecution and unnecessary division throughout the ages.
 
Dualism is about separation, and most often comes up in terms of “we are good, they are bad,” or “physical = bad, spiritual = good.” It’s the mindset behind the idea that this world can be written off, that it exists simply to be escaped from – where we become “more heavenly focused than earthly good.” Because of this, there has grown up a mistrust in and fear of the physical world as well as a fear of and contempt for anyone who is not in lockstep with ourselves – there are no shades of grey in dualistic religious or political thinking. For example, Catholicism (Judaism, Liberalism, Conservatism, whatever) can’t just be partially wrong, in the mind of a true dualist, it has to be entirely evil. It has to be discredit, destroyed, at any cost, through whatever worldly and even sinful means at our disposal. When we are scared, we are more than willing to allow our morals to slip “for a good cause.” Everything done under that banner has to be suspect, and no one can give them credit for any good works for fear of being labeled as a papist, or at least very dangerous. People from other countries can’t just be “backward,” they have to be subhuman – they have to be, because we, ourselves, are supposedly good. Or at least I am, in this train of thought. (Hence the American form of slavery as identified and justified by color). This is also the line of thinking responsible for political rancor, racism, and class warfare – people like me are good and anyone else is suspect and most probably inferior (at the very least)
 
The Bible even seems to support this kind of thinking, because it was written in a dyadic society – hence they had no problem with celebrating the “dashing of enemy babies against the rocks.” They were too extreme for the tastes of people growing up in a post-Cross world which has been largely transformed by the fruit of the Spirit. We take for granted that no decent person would want such a thing to happen, but again, Yeshua/Jesus died in order to bring God’s heart values (and not just outward observances, which are also vitally important) into the world in a massive and unprecedented way.
 
But, with the advent of social media, we have once again become very much like the paranoid and conspiratorial people who lived before the Cross. Nowhere is it better seen than in politics and the fake news stories spreading all over the internet – reporting conspiracies as though they were fact, citing non-existent news stories and fabricating quotes, data and statistics. Of course, these sites have a LOT of advertisements, and they get money when you visit, a lot of money. Because of this unBiblical dualism, which paints everything in terms of black and white, these stories feed the notion that, for example, government is entirely evil, and anyone who questions it is immediately granted an aura of integrity. That’s dangerous. We can’t attribute virtue to those people who feed our pre-perceived notions and call it something like, “taking the red pill” – instead, it is simply believing, without a thorough investigation, a separate storyline. Believe me, if you take too many red pills, you will overdose.
If you are obsessed with finding all the hidden evil in the world, then your focus is desperately off.
 
I have seen it used in politics, racism, anti-semitism, intercountry squabbling, religion, you name it. It is rooted in an absolute paranoia of the different. We want “us” to be good and right, and so we need “them” to be evil and wrong. It’s completely about us, and because it is about us, our moral compass goes off-kilter. We will believe everything good about us and everything evil, no matter how absurd, about them. It goes so far that we read a story and don’t even do a basic fact check – we don’t bother to find out if this celebrity actually even made the interview being quoted, or if CNN is actually the source behind a story, or if there truly is a speech on file that says what the story claims, in context. We are driven by fear and surface-appearances by people who, frankly, would appear to be training us to react and divide without even thinking about why we are doing it, and without asking questions. Who exactly is yanking our strings so effectively, while warning us that others are yanking our strings? Seems to be the perfect disguise for a deceiver, eh?
 
Think, for a moment, about the paranoia that has to exist within us, in order to believe and propagate anything bad we see reported about our “enemy” when the Ten Commandments specifically tell us not to bear false witness against our neighbors. Think about how compromised we have to be, to forward every bad thing we see about the suspected folks of our choice. That isn’t a godly virtue, or truth-seeking, being informed, smarter, a remnant, or a watchman.  In the real ancient world – a watchman who reported false information regularly would die. He was not at liberty to blow the shofar every time he saw a tumbleweed on the horizon. What we are dealing with is a lack of self-control –  fear gone wild, manifesting itself in sin through false witness. It’s a blindness brought on by a need to be good and right – but we aren’t entirely good and right – are we?
 
No. We aren’t. And it is our pride and self-deception that drives this madness of external dualism. But let’s look at a healthier dualism-ish sort of situation.
 
Within each individual (let’s not bring extremes like psychopaths into the mix), there is a battle of good vs evil. I am certainly no exception – I am trying to be more good all the time and less evil – but the Bible clearly lays out this struggle in every human being, beginning with Adam and Eve. All of the patriarchs, the kings, everyone fought this battle within themselves. We are not entirely good – only one Man could ever boast of that on His resume. The rest of us are various degrees of what I call a hot mess. It is an unending battle that we have to fight every day, for the rest of our lives. As we begin to see how suspect we are, as we stop seeing ourselves and those who side with us as inherently good, we will begin to see the world and the people in it as more multi-faceted. Honestly, that is the kind of mindset that can take the gospel to the ends of the earth – as opposed to Peter’s belief that he couldn’t even enter the home of a Gentile, even a decade after the Cross. We can’t effectively serve God when our judgment and perception is clouded by extreme dualism.
 
You know what? The best way to start is to take a break and stop questioning everyone else all the time – the government, religions, races, ethnicities, etc.; we need to question ourselves and what the things we need to/choose to believe – specifically, we need to understand what they tell us about ourselves and our need to believe that we 9and those who agree with us) are truly on the unquestionably trustworthy end of our dualistic paranoia.
 
“Wow, look at that headline, it’s outrageous, and it is about X so it must be true.”
 

Whether it was happening in Nazi Germany or today, it’s the same dualistic pride and fear behind the sin – and it is behind our inability to do anything but sit in paralyzed fear of the world around us. One thing is for certain – we can’t make any kind of headway in the Kingdom if our constant focus is the world and all the terrible things they must be constantly doing behind the scenes – especially if a lot, or even just a little, of it is just the product of our imagination spurred on by those who are out to make a quick buck, create outrage, and further their own agendas – which we actually should be questioning. After all, if we are so suspicious of X that we will believe anything that Y says, it doesn’t make us particularly well-informed, it just makes us useful to God only knows who, hidden safely and anonymously behind the scenes and hidden behind some computer screen. People we don’t know, but whom we place our blind trust in – simply because they appear to be the enemy of those whom we believe are our enemies.

We are the Body of Messiah: worshippers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Who exactly have we been trusting blindly?




Q: How Many Pagan Gods Were Born of Virgins (or even born) on December 25th? A: Zero

Of the charges leveled in order to undermine Christianity and the historical Yeshua ben Yosef aka Jesus Christ, one of the easiest to debunk is the idea that heathen religions are full of examples of this or that false god being born of a virgin on December 25th. Widespread among atheist detractors, these charges have spawned endless memes over the years – especially since 2007 when the first Zeitgeist documentary was released. Sadly, the claims are so flimsy that even a basic Wikipedia search can tear them to shreds (and you know how I feel about doing research with Wikipedia…) – and yet, they largely go unchallenged. So here is my challenge to those claims, as they are being used to create a false impression that the Jewish Messiah is a myth – and create unfounded arguments among believers. Links to other related articles are in bold blue.

Disclaimer: I do not celebrate Christmas, nor do I approve of it. Because of some unfortunate circumstances in the first few centuries of Christianity, Christmas came to replace the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles aka “Sukkot” which occurs during modern September/October sometime prior to 200CE. It is my firm belief that Sukkot was the day referred to be John as when “the Word became flesh and Tabernacled among us.” (John 1.14) My family celebrates the birth of Messiah then, and not in December, which was chosen because of an interesting theory among the Church Fathers about the conception and death of Messiah occurring on the exact same day – Passover – hence, forty weeks later giving rise to a date of birth of either December 25th or January 6th (both of which are still observed) depending on when they decided to place Passover.

So this post is not in any way in defense of Christmas, which I never defend, but instead a plea to clean up our online witness by not sharing memes and teachings based on atheist propaganda (although I do firmly stand against the charge that Jeremiah was speaking against Christmas trees in Jer 10). Promotion of the Feasts should be just that – we should teach the Feasts! I am currently writing two curriculum books within the Context for Kids series designed to teach what the Feasts looked like for an 11-year-old Yeshua/Jesus and 12-year-old John the Baptist in first-century Galilee and Judea.

(NOTE: I will not publish comments unrelated to the topic at hand, which is specifically December 25th being the birthdate of a plethora of pagan gods. I understand this is a very emotional and agenda-driven topic for a lot of folks, and many ministries have staked their reputation on this information but this isn’t about anything except what can be proven historically. There is nothing personal about this. Of course, I never publish comments from people who come to the table with cheap shots, emotional arguments, and wild accusations about uninformed opinions about my “true intentions” instead of factual data delivered respectfully.)

This blogpost is going to be a classic example of how lies on colorful memes generally go unchallenged (because people have to pass an honesty test before Adobe will allow them to use Photoshop, right?) – even when it is incredibly easy to do so. This one clearly states “if he actually lived” and so I would hope that no believer would ever pass this particular one along, but I have seen these same charges passed around by believers on too many occasions to ignore it. I hate to say this, but some believers and ministries regurgitate such claims without investigation if it suits their agendas, and others outright make up lies – like Reverend Alexander Hislop in the 1850’s during the Protestant/Catholic PR wars where no expense was spared in undermining the warring Christian factions (Hislop’s book, The Two Babylons, in particular, was racially based in order to offend white British Protestants, attributing the origins of Catholicism to a deformed black man who dared to marry a beautiful white woman). I myself propagated some of these lies in the past – consider this part of my ongoing mea culpa. I want my witness to be worth something – God doesn’t need me to pass on revoltingly racist urban legends in order to promote His Word. The truth is all He has ever needed to propagate His Kingdom.

Now, first of all, I want to talk about the Roman Calendar. Every single ancient culture had their own separate Calendar – Egypt’s year began and ended with the inundation of the Nile in the summer, Babylonian years ended and began in the Spring in the months of Adar/Nisan during their bizarre twelve day Akitu festival in honor of Marduk, the Athenian calendar (Greek, but there were a lot of different Greek calendars) began and ended in the late summer, the classical Hindu calendar begins in the Spring, and beginning in 45 BCE, the Julian calendar began in January – a gross departure from how things had been handled previously. Before 45 BCE, the Roman calendar was historically a mess, with months from March to December (304 day year)  separated by a long random winter made longer or shorter at the whim of legislators who might like to extend or prematurely cut off the administration of a certain ruler. I say this to illustrate that the specific dating of anything to the Julian (and by obvious extension, the modern Gregorian) calendar before 45BCE is purely wishful thinking. Equating dates between one culture and another until just before the time of Messiah is nigh impossible, except in the cases of recorded astrological phenomena. Hence, in historical volumes of this era, we see things narrowed down to a few years or, if we are fortunate, a couple of months within a given year.

Our second problem: Until the deification of Julius Caesar in 42 BCE, almost no one cared about when anyone was born ( the notable exception being Egypt). People cared about knowing when great deeds happened, and when great men died; they didn’t give a fig for anyone’s birthday unless it was associated with some great astronomical or historical event – otherwise, it didn’t warrant a mention. With the advent of the Imperial Cult, the birthdays of the Ceasars became public celebrations – but this was very new in the time of Messiah. It was so new, in fact, that scholars are fairly certain that Herod Antipas was not celebrating his birthday in Matt 14, but instead his regnal anniversary (after all, the day he came to the throne was more important than being born – no honor in being born, but becoming King? Oh yeah.) Besides Horus and Osiris – in the link provided above – not a single one of the birthdates claimed in memes like the one above, are actually recorded – and for the overwhelming majority, aren’t even commemorated.

Horus and Osiris – now this meme claims they were born on the same day – but, in fact, they were born on the first and third epagomenal days of the Egyptian Calendar as I explained in the previous link (not considered part of the year, but extra days outside of time). In the version of mythology where they were brothers, their mother had been cursed with an inability to have children on any day of the year but, through some fancy finagling, managed to get five extra days inserted at the time of the inundation of the Nile, during the summer. So not only weren’t they born on the same day, they were both born in the summer. As for the 3000 BC date – that is pure fiction. Egyptian records claim that the Pharaohs themselves went back much farther than that. As for the charge that either one of them were born of a virgin – that strikes out as well. In the most well known of Horus/Osiris mythology (the myths with no birthday mentioned at all), Horus’s parents were married, which generally discourages virginity and Isis was never portrayed as a virgin.

Attis of Phrygia – no birthday found anywhere. He castrated himself and wore a funny hat, and his priests castrated themselves as well. I think the only reason he was chosen for this list is because his mother was impregnated by an almond – which I suppose could be equated with a virgin birth.  He was also one of the “dying gods” whose departure from the world marked the death of vegetation over the winter months.

Krishna – this one is popularly on such lists because somehow Krishna sounds enough like Christ that they want him included. However, the non-pagan origins of Christos in Greek Jewish writings, including the Septuagint version of the Scriptures (3rd century BCE), is well established. Krishna’s birthday is actually celebrated on Janamashtami, in the Hindu month of Shraavana (August/September on our calendar). So this one is just flat out manufactured when there is perfectly good information already out there, as was the case with Horus and Osiris. Like Horus, Krishna’s parents were also married – no virgins here. The date of 1400 BCE is problematic as I am unaware of any mentions of this god before the first millennium BCE.

Zoroaster – now this guy, Zarathustra, was actually a real historical figure – a Persian prophet. No one knows when the heck this guy was actually born – sometime between the mid-second and mid-first millennium BCE. His parents were, again, married, sexually active – and both human. He was never worshiped (Ahura Mazda was the diety he preached) but founded the religion of Zoroastrianism. His birthday is now commemorated on the sixth day after the Persian New Year, and falls on March 26th or 28th each year on a holiday known as Khordad Sal. He is venerated as a prophet.

Mithra of Persia – (as opposed to Roman Mithras) – I am just going to link this article by the undisputed Mithra/Mithras expert Roger Beck – but no birthday, and he sprang to life fully adult from a rock (although I have no reason the doubt the rock’s virginity). I also wrote about Mithras and the problems with Mithras speculation here. Another related scholarly article is here about the related Sol Invictus.

Heracles – (original name of Hercules) – this dude’s mom was definitely not a virgin – she unknowingly had relations with Zeus, who was disguised as her husband. The Greeks celebrated the date of his death as Heracleia, in late July/early August, but not his birth. Remember that, until Ceasar, birthdates were largely irrelevant and would only be mentioned with respect to signs in the sky or other great events, but not referenced with dates. The 800 BCE date on this one is bizarre – Herodotus claimed that Heracles lived 900 years before his own era, so roughly 1300 BCE.

Dionysus – worshipped beginning in the second millennium BCE by the Mycenians and better known by his later Roman name of Bacchus. Herodotus dates his mortal mother Semele’s life at around 2000 BCE.  She had an affair with Zeus, knowing he was Zeus – so not a virgin either. But this is only one of the legends, in others the mother of Dionysus was Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Like the Egyptians, the Greeks sometimes had regional origin stories. The weird thing about the date on this meme is that it is 186 BCE – the year that the Roman Senate prohibited the festival of Bacchanalia. So they used a legitimate date tied to Dionysus, but utterly misrepresented it.

Tammuz – I wrote an extensive blog on the very misrepresented Tammuz here, so I won’t go into great detail on this one. But 400 BCE? Ezekiel 8 has Tammuz being worshiped in the Temple, which was destroyed in 586 BCE – how on earth could he be born two hundred years later? And how could a Babylonian god who had a summer month named after him have his birthday celebrated on a calendar date that didn’t exist yet, by a still backward nation? Rome wasn’t even founded until 753 BCE, and at this point, Babylon and Rome were, for all intents and purposes, as far away as two countries could get while still being considered part of the known world. Yes, even mighty Rome was once a pathetic little backwater nation.

Adonis – born 200 BCE? I have seen an aryballos from the fifth century BCE with Adonis pictured on it, so again, I have no idea where this date comes from or why there would be a claim that the Greeks would be celebrating one of their gods’ birthdays according to the Roman calendar. There are many Adonis origin stories, most notably that which involved the incestuous union between his mother and grandfather, but none of them list a birth date. The only festival in his honor was Adonia, celebrated by women in the spring or summer (greatly disputed), commemorating his death. Again, they focused on how great men/demigods died.

Hermes – again – 400 BCE. How can we take seriously the claim that an ancient Greek god was only 400 years older than Messiah? In the 8th century BCE, Homer included Hermes in the Iliad. No birthdate is ever associated with him – but the Hermea festival was celebrated in his honor during the month of Hermaios (in poleis that had that month, not all did) – the timing of which varies according to the ancient regional calendars (as I mentioned previously, each region had its own separate calendar until the creation of the Thessalian calendar during the Roman era).

Prometheus – “born at the beginning of mankind” – in Greek legend he was the Titan who actually made mankind out of clay. That this birth supposedly happened on December 25th is undocumented and unsubstantiated historically. His parents were married and he was only one of their four children so, again, not a virgin birth either even though some memes make that claim. Not only wasn’t his mom a virgin, but she was also seeing Helios on the side.

Finally – I don’t know of a single scholar who thinks Yeshua was born in June, and especially not sure why the 16th – now, in 2008 some astronomers made that claim, but it is hardly worthy of claims to scholarly consensus. And the last line equates BCE with CE – I just can’t even believe that someone would equate “Before Common Era” with “Common Era.” It’s like equating yesterday and tomorrow.

There are other accusations floated around with this December 25th myth that are just as baseless- Nimrod, Buddha, etc. – but I didn’t want to post memes from actual ministries so as to not humiliate them – I wanted to go to the source, and the source of all this is atheism. Sadly, believers have been spreading atheist propaganda in order to undermine Christmas at any cost, and so are unknowingly spreading what amounts to anti-missionary literature, undermining faith in the Jewish Messiah, instead of simply teaching the Biblical Feasts of the Lord. As a result, knowledge of the Feasts, even among those who try to keep them, is abysmal. Hey, I used to do this too – but then I started legitimately studying ancient Near Eastern and first-century world history, religion and culture. The stuff I was repeating had no correlations with the copious amounts of archaeological evidence at our disposal. In fact, over the past 150 years, our knowledge of the ancient world has exploded. It is our responsibility to study before we teach, and especially when those teachings include accusations of idolatry – a death penalty offense in the Bible. In the Bible, anyone who falsely witnessed against their neighbor with regards to a death penalty offense would themselves face the death penalty. We cannot accuse people of idolatry when we have no solid proof, or even remotely plausible theories. I trust God, His Messiah, His Word, and the integrity of His Feasts – I don’t need to lift propaganda from discredited sources. I take God’s laws very seriously.

Deuteronomy 19 15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. 16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

 

 

 




¿Está ordenado el Lavado de Manos? Sí … y No.   Mateo 15 y Marcos 7 en Contexto

 

Gracias Lisa Velazques! My grateful thanks to my dear sister Lisa Velazquez for translating this post. She is a marvel! Her teachings can be heard regularly on teshuva.tv

Hay mucha información errónea circulando sobre el debatido ritual del lavado de manos en el tiempo en que fueron escritos los Evangelios, así que aclaremos más las aguas. Por ahora sólo cubriremos las oraciones del lavado de manos porque a veces las personas se molestan por ellas. En el futuro, cubriremos la creencia general del primer siglo de que no lavarse ritualmente las manos contaminaría los alimentos. Tengo que sentar una base en la pureza del Templo antes de que yo vaya allí o no será comprensible. Hay una gran diferencia entre lo santo y lo común, lo limpio y lo inmundo. Tenemos que entenderlos todos para comprender lo que estaba pasando aquí – ¡de lo contrario terminamos pensando que el Mesías violó las Leyes de Moisés y se rebeló contra Dios! Hay mucho más en estos pasajes de lo que parece.

Estoy segura de que han oído hablar de los fariseos, ¿verdad? Pero lo que probablemente no saben es su historia y los pocos que había en realidad en el primer siglo – en algún lugar entre cinco y seis mil. Los fariseos, o P’rushim (del hebreo que significa “separarse”) llegaron a la prominencia, y con frecuencia a la ruina, durante los tiempos de los Hasmoneos después de la muerte del último de los líderes de la Rebelión Macabea, Simón. Durante el reinado de su nieto Aristóbulo I (el primer Hasmoneo que se describe como un verdadero rey), surgieron entre los fariseos algunas disputas muy amargas y mortales, creían en usar todas las Escrituras hebreas (como todos los judíos de hoy) y los Saduceos, que creían sólo en el mínimo necesario de la Torá (los primeros cinco libros de Moisés), y lo que creían estaba muy retorcido por su creencia de que no había resurrección ni juicio final, por lo que había que tomar bendiciones en esta vida. Tenga en cuenta que cuando las Escrituras dicen que “los principales sacerdotes” o el “Sumo Sacerdote” están hablando de los saduceos, que habían comprando el sacerdocio anual de Roma. Aunque los saduceos constituían los principales sacerdotes y el sumo sacerdocio, no eran los sacerdotes de rango y posición, como Zacarías, el padre de Juan el Bautista. Como los saduceos sólo aceptaban los primeros cinco libros de Moisés y tenían cero temor de juicio, los hacía muy peligrosos y en realidad fueron el partido responsable de entregar a Yeshúa/Jesús a Roma para ser ejecutado como un rebelde político contra el Imperio. Los Fariseos, por el contrario, en una ocasión le advirtieron de un complot de Herodes Antipas para matarlo (Lucas 13:31).

Los fariseos, al igual que la mayoría de la gente, eran un saco mezclado que eran realmente desjarretados, vivieron en una hiper cultura de honor y vergüenza. Se criaron en una sociedad donde tenían que competir por una cantidad percibida de honor (reputación) en nombre de sus familias. A medida que la fama de Yeshua aumentaba, la suya decayó y algunos respondieron atacándolo, mientras que otros respondieron siguiéndolo (Nicodemo, José de Arimatea y más tarde, en el libro de Hechos, muchos otros como vemos en Hechos 15). Pablo y Gamaliel, que escatimaron a los apóstoles, eran ambos fariseos (Pablo nunca renunció a su estatus de fariseo según Hechos 23:6).

Así que, aparte de la resurrección, ¿en qué otras cosas creían los fariseos? Bueno, como con la mayoría de los grupos judíos durante este período de tiempo, ellos creían que eran un Templo vivo. Sí, ese no es un concepto cristiano. El Segundo Templo se levantó y los judíos creyeron que eran las piedras vivas que constituían un Templo espiritual – abarcaban tanto las realidades físicas como espirituales. Debido a que creían que el pueblo de Dios era colectivamente Su Templo, tenían algunas opiniones interesantes sobre tener una relación con Dios fuera del Templo de Jerusalén – de nuevo, no es realmente diferente de los cristianos. En particular, porque se veían a sí mismos como un reino de sacerdotes (otra vez, no un concepto cristiano), creían en traer algunos estándares de pureza del Templo al hogar y lo más importante, a la mesa de la cena. La mesa era vista como el altar de la casa, donde comidas de convenio podían ser compartidas entre ellos y Dios.

Entonces, ¿qué tiene que ver esto con las oraciones que los judíos oran hoy?

“Bendito eres Tú, Señor, Dios nuestro, Rey del Universo, que nos ha santificado por tus mandamientos y nos ha ordenado acerca del lavamiento de manos” (y hay una expresión similar en el encendido de las velas del Shabbat)

Espera, no hay mandamiento para eso, ¿verdad? Si y no. Los fariseos, y en gran parte otros judíos de la época, se consideraban parte del Templo vivo, su mesa un altar, y cada israelita un sacerdote del Reino de Dios. ¿Estás empezando a ver hacia donde me dirijo? Aunque sabían que no eran y no podían ser sacerdotes del Templo, se veían como mediadores y siervos de Dios en el mundo, que son funciones sacerdotales. Comenzaron a mirar los mandamientos del Templo para los sacerdotes y llevarlos a su vida cotidiana. ¿Había un mandamiento con respecto al lavado de las manos e iluminación de las lámparas en el Templo? Absolutamente. Donde los modernos se cuelgan es en la palabra “nosotros” en esas oraciones. Como parte de un grupo social diádico, no eran individualistas. Cuando los sacerdotes en el Templo guardaban un mandamiento, todos lo guardaban por extensión. Si un sacerdote rompía un mandamiento, todos lo rompían: la nación no era tanto una colección de individuos, sino un solo pueblo. Aquí es donde los judíos y los antiguos cristianos difieren fundamentalmente de nosotros. Un mandamiento para uno se consideraba que se aplicaba a todos, incluso si una persona en particular no podía realizarlo físicamente ellos mismos. ¿Guardó el Mesías toda ley? Sólo si lo consideramos como uno con la nación. Evidentemente no podía mantener físicamente las leyes de las mujeres, ni de los reyes, ni de los sacerdotes. Pero como cada miembro de la nación guardaba las leyes, se les consideraba colectivamente como estando de pie con Dios.

Éxodo 30:17-21: 17 Y el SEÑOR dijo a Moisés: 18 Harás también un lavabo de bronce con su soporte de bronce para lavar. La pondrás entre la Tienda de Reunión y el altar, y pondrás agua en ella, 19 con la cual Aarón y sus hijos lavarán sus manos y sus pies. 20 Cuando entran en el Tabernáculo de Reunión, o cuando se acercan al altar para ministrar, para quemar una ofrenda al Señor, se lavarán con agua, para que no mueran. 21 Y lavarán sus manos y sus pies, para que no mueran. Será por estatuto perpetuo para ellos, a él y a su descendencia por sus generaciones”.

Como el altar era un lugar de ofrenda de alimentos para el Señor, los sacerdotes debían lavarse las manos y los pies antes de acercarse a Él. Por lo tanto, los fariseos honraban a Dios en sus hogares al volver a hacer esto – ¿estaban equivocados al llamarle un mandamiento? No. Sin embargo, vemos que Yeshua no lo hizo, pero Él no los criticó por hacerlo. En lugar de eso, Él cambió hábilmente el tema de cómo deben estar limpiándose en el interior, como se ordenó en el Sinaí, en la circuncisión de sus corazones. La pureza ritual no era nada a menos que estuviese acompañada por la transformación interna que deberíamos experimentar como pueblo de Dios.

¿Qué hay de la iluminación de las velas del Shabbat? No haré un corte extenso aquí, pero a los sacerdotes se les ordenó cuidar y encender la Menorá en el Templo, así como el fuego en el Altar. So ¿fue el encendido de la llama del Shabbat (en aquellos días una lámpara de aceite) un mandamiento? Sí, de alguna manera. Recuerden, están trayendo el Templo a la casa, como piedras vivas.

Veamos otra vez la oración:

“Bendito seas tú, Señor, nuestro Dios, Rey del Universo, que nos ha santificado por tus mandamientos y nos ha mandado acerca del lavamiento de manos”.

En ninguna parte dice que Dios nos ordenó acerca del lavado de manos en el hogar – y por lo tanto esta oración no es una mentira. ¡Dios realmente nos mandó, como Su Nación, acerca del lavado de manos!

Mi razón para abordar esto no es promover ni criticar las oraciones o las tradiciones, simplemente para explicar el pensamiento subyacente. Honestamente no apruebo o desapruebo, soy ambivalente. Si lo haces, no me importa. Si usted se abstiene – no me importa, vea la imagen. Mucho se oscurece cuando la gente tiene una postura definitiva sobre el tema – a veces sienten la necesidad de hacer las intenciones siniestras o excusar excesivamente lo que estaba pasando. Yo no participo en el lavado de manos o en muchas otras halakah, pero es muy importante para mí abordar la desinformación y las reacciones negativas sobre esta tradición. A veces nos empujan a juzgar algo antes de que realmente entendamos por qué se hacía, y cuando estamos juzgando los escritos bíblicos del primer siglo, es increíblemente importante que hagamos las cosas bien. Yeshúa no lo hizo, pero tampoco condenó a nadie por hacerlo. Hay guerras que hay que combatir, y posturas que tomar, pero sólo un tonto lucha contra cada hojarasca que cruza su camino sólo porque parece un poco extraño y esquemático. Seamos sabios y discernidores antes de caer en la batalla unos con otros sobre cosas que el Mesías mismo dejó ir sin desafío.

Ahora, en cuanto a la creencia del hecho de comer con las manos sin lavar hacia que la comida se contaminara, eso es otra cosa completamente. Vamos a cubrir eso en el futuro.

EDITADO: Me han preguntado sobre esto varias veces y por lo que voy a añadir un poco más. “Sólo sabemos que los discípulos de Yeshúa no lavaron sus manos, no que Él no lo hiciera.” Así que para aclarar esto, tenemos que mirar la relación del Sabio/discípulo (en realidad es anacrónico llamar a los maestros religiosos del día – Rabinos – que surgieron más tarde). Los maestros tomaban principalmente a jóvenes adolescentes como discípulos, e imagino que todos estos jóvenes eran realmente muy jóvenes, a excepción de Pedro (aunque ahora tengo 48 años, Pedro probablemente también cuenta como “muy joven”). El objetivo de un discípulo era aprender todo lo que su maestro sabía, y emularlo todos los días. Así que, cuando fue desafiado en cuanto al comportamiento de los discípulos, la acusación era más probable, “¿Por qué están corrompiendo a la juventud?” – una carga mucho peor que simplemente personalmente transgredir su tradición. Dicho esto, los Judíos Galileos eran muy observantes de las Tradiciones de los Ancianos, mucho más que en Judea – así que imagino que creció haciendo esto en casa. Creo que se detuvo como un adulto debido a la necesidad de abordar la suposición defectuosa de que la comida limpia podría contaminarse fuera del Templo simplemente por tener manos sucias – cuando llegamos a la siguiente parte, vamos a abordar eso porque Yeshúa específicamente habla de la incapacidad de contaminar comidas limpias con manos sucias.




Is Hand Washing Commanded? Yes… and No. Matthew 15 and Mark 7 In Context.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the ritual handwashing debated in the time the Gospels were written, and so let’s make the waters a bit clearer. For now we will just cover the actual hand-washing prayers because sometimes people get upset about them. In the future, we will cover the general first-century belief that not ritually washing the hands would defile food. I have to lay a groundwork in Temple purity before I even go there or it will not be understandable. There is a big difference between holy and common, and clean and unclean. We have to understand them all to understand what was going on here – otherwise we end up thinking that Messiah overturned the Laws of Moses and rebelled against God! There is so much more to these passages than meets the eye.

(EDIT #2 – this is a many part teaching designed for beginners. I have to teach things layer by layer. I am getting a lot of comments about “what I don’t seem to understand” that are going unpublished because a lot of those comments don’t reflect accurate information and sometimes steer people towards teachers who are a big part of the misunderstandings over this issue. In this teaching I ONLY covered the charge that the prayer itself is somehow sinful or adding to the Torah. I still need to talk about clean/unclean, holy/common before even get to first century ideas about ritual purity. I am not willing to publish comments that want to jump the gun without providing foundational background. I realize that this is unusual, but it is how I teach beginners – I am not teaching to impress people or to just spew information for people to accept. A lot of the comments I am getting would take another five blogs to deal with some of the problems. So, realize this is a place for beginners to learn, and I am starting off small and working my way to larger issues – but I am not going to just regurgitate information and expect people to accept it without actually teaching them why certain things are and are not true.)

I am sure you’ve all heard of the Pharisees, right? But what you probably don’t know is their history and how few there actually were in the first century – somewhere between five and six thousand. The Pharisees, or P’rushim (from the Hebrew meaning “to separate”) came to prominence, and often ruin, during the times of the Hasmoneans after the death of the last of the leaders of the Maccabean Revolt, Simon. During the reign of his grandson Aristobulus I (the first Hasmonean to describe himself as an actual king), some very bitter and deadly disputes rose up between the Pharisees, who believed in using the entire Hebrew Scriptures (like all Jews today), and the Sadducees, who believed in only the bare minimum of Torah (the first five books of Moses) – and what they did believe was very much twisted by their belief that there was no resurrection, nor final judgement, and so blessings had to be taken in this life. Note that when the Scriptures say “chief priests” or “High Priest” they are talking about the Sadducees, who were then buying the High Priesthood yearly from Rome. Although the Sadducees made up the chief priests and high priesthood, they were not the rank and file priests – like Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. As the Sadducees only accepted the first five books of Moses and had zero fear of judgment, it made them very dangerous and they were actually the party responsible for turning Yeshua/Jesus over to Rome to be executed as a political rebel against the Empire. The Pharisees, on the other hand, actually once warned Him away from a plot by Herod Antipas to kill Him (Luke 13.31).

The Pharisees, like most folks, were a mixed bag who were really hamstrung by living in a hyper-honor/shame culture. They were raised in a society where they had to compete for a perceived limited amount of honor (reputation) on behalf of their families. As Yeshua’s star rose, theirs fell and some responded by attacking Him, while others responded by following Him (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and later, in the book of Acts, many others as we see in Acts 15). Paul and Gamaliel, who spared the apostles, were both Pharisees (Paul never renounced his Pharisee status as per Acts 23.6).

So besides the resurrection, what else did the Pharisees believe? Well, as with most Jewish groups during this time period, they believed that they were a living Temple. Yes, that isn’t a Christian concept. The Second Temple stood and the Jews believed that they were the living stones that made up a spiritual Temple – they embraced both the physical and spiritual realities. BECAUSE they believed that the people of God were collectively His Temple, they had some interesting views on having a relationship with God outside of the Jerusalem Temple – again, not really different than Christians. Most notably, because they saw themselves as a kingdom of priests (again, not a Christian concept), they believed in bringing some Temple purity standards into the home and most importantly, to the dinner table. The table was seen as the altar of the home, where covenant meals could be shared between themselves and God.

So what does this have to do with the prayers that Jews pray even today?

“Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through your commandments and has commanded us concerning the washing of hands.” (and there is a similar one spoken at the lighting of the Sabbath candles)

Wait, there is no commandment for that, is there? Yes… and no. The Pharisees, and to a large extent, other Jews of the time, considered themselves part of the living Temple, their table an altar, and each Israelite a priest of God’s Kingdom. Are you beginning to see where I am headed? Although they knew they were not and could not be Temple priests, they saw themselves as mediators and servants of God in the world, which are priestly functions. They began looking at the Temple commands for priests and bringing them into their daily lives. Was there a commandment regarding the washing of the hands and lighting of the lamps in the Temple? Absolutely. What we moderns get hung up on is the word “us” in those prayers. As part of a dyadic social group, they were not individualistic. When the priests in the Temple kept a commandment, they were all keeping it by extension. If a priest broke a commandment, they were all breaking it – the Nation was not so much a collection of individuals, but a single people. This is where the Jews and ancient Christians fundamentally differ from us. A commandment for one was considered to apply to all, even if a particular person could not physically perform it themselves. Did Messiah keep every single law? Only if we consider Him to be as one with the nation. He obviously could not physically keep the laws for women, or kings, or those for priests. But as each member of the nation kept the laws, they were collectively considered to be in good standing with God.

Ex 30 17 The Lord said to Moses, 18 “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, 19 with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. 20 When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. 21 They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.”

As the altar was a place of food offering for the Lord, the priests were required to wash hands and feet before even approaching it. So, the Pharisees honored God in their homes by reenacting this – were they wrong to call it a commandment? Nope. However, we see that Yeshua did not do this Himself – but He doesn’t criticise them for doing it either. Instead, He deftly changes the subject to how they ought to be cleansing themselves on the inside, as was commanded at Sinai, in the circumcision of their hearts. Ritual purity was nothing unless it was accompanied by the inner transformation that we should experience as God’s people.

What about the lighting of the Sabbath candles? I won’t do an extensive cut and paste here, but the priests were commanded to care for and light the Menorah in the Temple, as well as the fire on the altar. So was the lighting of the Sabbath flame (in those days an oil lamp) commanded? Yes, in a way. Remember, they are bringing the Temple into the home, as living stones.

Let’s look at the prayer again:

“Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through your commandments and has commanded us concerning the washing of hands.”

Nowhere does it say that God commanded us regarding the washing of hands in the home – and so this prayer is not a lie. God really did command us, as His Nation, concerning the washing of hands!

My reason for addressing this is neither to promote nor decry the prayers or the traditions, merely to explain the underlying thought. I honestly don’t approve or disapprove, I am ambivalent.  If you do it, I don’t care. If you refrain – you get the picture, I don’t care. Much gets obscured when folks have a definite stand on the issue – sometimes they feel the need to make intentions sinister or to overly excuse what was going on. I don’t participate in the hand washing or much other halakah, but it is very important to me to address the misinformation and knee-jerk negative reactions regarding this tradition. Sometimes we get pushed into judging something before we really understand why it was done, and when we are judging first-century biblical writings, it is incredibly important that we get things right. Yeshua didn’t do it, but He didn’t condemn anyone for doing it either. There are wars to be fought, and stands to be taken, but only a fool fights every tumbleweed that crosses his path just because it seems a bit foreign and sketchy. Let’s be wise and discerning before we plunge into battle with one another over things that Messiah Himself let go unchallenged.

Now, as for the belief that the actual eating with unwashed hands caused the food to become defiled – that’s another matter entirely. We will cover that in the future.

EDIT: I have been asked about this several times and so I will add a bit more. “We only know that Yeshua’s disciples didn’t wash their hands, not that He didn’t.” So to clarify this, we have to look at the Sage/disciple relationship (it is actually anachronistic to call the religious teachers of the day Rabbis – that will come later). Teachers took mainly young teenage boys as their disciples, and I imagine that all these young men were actually quite young, except for Peter (although I am 48 now so in my estimation, Peter probably counts as “very young” as well). The goal of a disciple was to learn everything their teacher knew, and to emulate him in every day. So really, when he was challenged as to the behavior of the disciples, the charge was more likely, “Why are you corrupting the youth?” – a far worse charge than simply personally transgressing their tradition. That being said, the Galillean Jews were very observant of the Traditions of the Elders, far more so than in Judea – and so I imagine he grew up doing this at home. I believe he stopped as an adult because of the need to address the faulty assumption that clean food could become defiled outside the Temple simply because of having unwashed hands – when we get to the next part, we will address that because Yeshua specifically talks about the inability to defile clean foods with unwashed hands.

 

 




FREE e-book 9/18 thru 9/22 – King, Kingdom, Citizen: His Reign and Our Identity

So, the Fall Feasts are upon us and particularly, the Coronation Festival of Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah. What better time to give this book away again? I only do this once a year, so act now! And if you read the whole thing, please review it.

No Kindle required – all you need is any online device – PC, Mac or android!! Read all the instructions, the links are in blue. PLEASE read all the directions as I will not be able to help you beyond that. Absolutely everything you need is here.

If the country you live in has an amazon platform, this will still be free for you, but my links will only work in America. Just do a search for my name – Tyler Dawn Rosenquist and you will hopefully see the book listed.

From the description:  “How well do you know the Bible? For too long we have read through the Scriptures as though they were composed in a timeless vacuum – but the peoples of the Ancient Near East and the First-Century knew things that we are no longer aware of, and saw the world in ways that are foreign to modern readers. The last 100 years of archaeology have upended much of what we thought we knew about the most important Book ever composed – the Bible.

Archaeology, far from detracting from Biblical credibility – has solidified it. The sixty-six witnesses to the ministry of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were written to specific people and were composed in specific languages in the recognized literary styles of the time. That we have strayed from those ways of thinking and writing in no way invalidate the legitimacy of Scripture, but it does provide us with the unique challenge of needing to go back in order to see the Scriptural accounts from the eyes of the ancients.

What did Covenant mean in the ancient world? What were the Kingly mandates of Justice and Righteousness? How do we know that the Land of Israel belongs to the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob forever and that the Levitical Priesthood will and must be reinstated in the future? How do we know that the Messiah of Israel has already come and will return? What was the real debate raging in the First-Century Assemblies – was it about Grace versus Law or the Identity of the incoming Gentiles? King, Kingdom, Citizen is a book written to reintroduce God as our King, the Kingdom of Heaven as a real-world entity, and who we are in Messiah – through the eyes of those to whom this information was originally presented. Let me show you what Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles knew about the Kingdom of Heaven.”

If you want the book for free:

1. If you don’t already have it, and you already have a kindle or the free app, just get it free here or do a search if you are from another country on your respective amazon platform. Hibuy-nowt the “Buy it now with 1-click” before Friday at midnight PST.

2.  If you don’t have a kindle, download this app first on PC, Mac, or android.  When that is done, download the book, but make sure you do it before midnight PST on Friday, September 22, 2017.

 

You can also buy it in paperback here if you are like me and hate reading things on Kindle.

You can help me by getting the word out about the free offer, and once you have read it, I would appreciate reviews. If you like it, then check out the apologetic I wrote as a prequel, The Bridge: Crossing Over Into the Fulness of Covenant Life. You can also check out the first book in my family curriculum series Context for Kids, Vol I: Honor and Shame in the Bible  and Volume II, The Ten Commandments and the Covenants of Promise – I believe in teaching children the same things I teach adults, within reason, I don’t dumb it down, I just teach it more slowly. I’ve had kids from 7 to 62 go through Volume I with no problems, and a University professor as well (Volume II is better suited for 10 and up). Volume III is just out, Context for Adults: Sexuality, Social Identity, and Kinship Relations in the Bible. If you haven’t caught my weekly youtube teachings for kids, check out my Context for Kids youtube channel linked on the sidebar. Coming Soon! Context for Kids Volume 4: Image-Bearing, Idolatry, and the New Creation in the Bible.




“The Tombs Also Were Opened…” Matthew 27 in its Jewish Context

First of all, this is a risky sort of blog to write and I have been debating it for almost a year now, ever since I discovered an aggadic text about the Messiah dating from the 9th century of the common era – well, not so much discovered as read it in a book! Now, what is Aggadah and why is it important? Aggadah is legendary material, and full of myths that elaborate on Jewish beliefs on various subjects. The text I will be referring to in this article is Pesikta Rabatti, a collection of legends dealing with the Feasts. They do not detail actual events, and no one would confuse them with historical accounts, but relate concepts, beliefs, and/or larger truths that the authors wanted to convey. If you want to compare Jewish Aggadah with something Christian, we might choose Pilgrim’s Progress or the Screwtape Letters. It isn’t a perfect comparison, but we can all see how those writings convey truth through fanciful situations. The reason I want to introduce Aggadah to you is because this was a very common, popular, and completely accepted literary form that we even see in the Hebrew Scriptures. In our modern world, we have decided that accuracy is king – and further, that to be true something must be accurate, but this is a very modern mindset, one spawned during the Age of Reason in response to a growing scientific mindset. In order to compete with hard facts and figures, believers exalted accurate facts and figures over true concepts, and often over truth itself – as though truth can be confined by our limited understanding and rules, reduced to letters and numbers that we can comfortably grasp. Sadly, this creates problems when reading the Bible, which was written about truth, not in order to measure up to our almost idolatrous fascination with scientific modes of thought (and I am speaking as a Chemist married to a Chemical Engineer, so don’t think you can accuse me of being anti-science!). Scientific level accuracy is important, in science, but when it comes to larger truths, science falls short because we are very limited in both understanding and knowledge as compared to God.

I have always struggled with Matthew 27: 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

This is probably the most stunning claim in all of Scripture (short of the Resurrection itself), not because it is somehow unbelievable in a book filled with miracles, but because it is spoken of nowhere else – not in history, nor in any of the other accounts.  This would have happened during Passover week, and this was no small event. Did it really happen, or was this something that could only be understood within the context of Messianic expectations? Was it code for a certain concept floating around in the Messianic beliefs of the time? I will tell you right now that I do not have the answers and won’t argue this, at all. I put this out there only for educational purposes. I believe the Bible 100%, but in some cases, I believe we don’t always know how the author of a certain Gospel intended it to be read (this is more true for John than any other book). I believe the Bible is 100% truth. Just so we’re clear on that. I just believe that our ancestors have wandered far from the context of the people it was written by and to – whereas it was only written for us. Does that make sense? The Bible is for us, but we were not the original audience, nor did the authors write from our cultural mindset and point of view.

So, what if Matthew was using a well-known legend/belief in order to communicate a concept that would have been readily understood by his Jewish audience? In a way that they would completely understand, and have an “aha!” moment? Let’s look at that 9th century collection of Feast-related legends:

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Pesiqta Rabatti 36 (parenthetical additions in red are mine)

“The Fathers of the World [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] will in the future rise up in the month of Nissan (the month of the Passover) and will speak to him(the Messiah): “Ephraim, our true Messiah! Even though we are your fathers, you are greater than we, for you suffered because of the sins of our children, and cruel punishments have come upon you the like of which have not come upon the early and the later generations, and you were put to ridicule and held in contempt by the nations of the world because of Israel, and you sat in darkness and blackness and your eyes saw no light, and your skin cleft to the bones, and your body dried up and was like wood, and your eyes grew dim from fasting, and your strength became like a potsherd. All this because of the sins of our children. Do you want that our children should enjoy the happiness that the Holy One, blessed be He, allotted to Israel, or perhaps, because of the great sufferings that have come upon you on their account, and because they imprisoned you in the jailhouse, your mind is not reconciled with them?”

And the Messiah answers them: “Fathers of the world! Everything I did, I did only for you and for your children, and for your honor and the honor of your children, so that they should enjoy this happiness the Holy One, blessed be He, has allotted to Israel.” (Reconciliation)

Then the fathers of the World say to him: “Ephraim, our True Messiah, let your mind be at ease, for you put at ease our minds and the mind of your Creator!”

R. Shimon ben Pazi said: “In the hour the Holy One, blessed be He, raises up the Messiah until the heaven of heavens and spreads over him the splendor of His Glory [to protect him] from the nations of the world, from the wicked Persians. And He says to him: ‘Ephraim, Our True Messiah, be you the judge over these peoples, and do to them whatever your soul wishes’. For had it not been for my compassion for you which became strong, they would have caused you to perish from the world in one moment…” [God] has mercy on him while he is imprisoned in the jailhouse, for every day the nations of the world gnash their teeth and blink their eyes and shake their heads and shoot out their lips… and roar against him like lions and want to swallow him… [And God says:] “I shall have mercy on him when he comes out of the house of prisoners, for not only one kingdom, or two kingdoms, or three kingdoms will come against him, but one hundred and forty kingdoms will surround him.” And the Holy One, blessed be He, says to him: “Ephraim, My True Messiah, fear them not, because all of them will die from the breath of your lips.

Instantly, the Holy One, blessed be He, makes seven canopies of precious stones and pearls for the Messiah, and from each canopy four rivers issue forth (in the ancient world, it was customary for four waterways to come out from a Temple/Ziggurat), of wine, milk and honey and pure balsam. And the Holy One, blessed be He, embraces him in front of the pious, and leads him under the canopy, and all the pious and the saintly and the heroes of the Tora (sic.) in every generation see him. And the Holy One, blessed be He, says to the pious: “Pious of the world! So far Ephraim, My True Messiah, has not taken [compensation for as much as] one half of his sufferings, I still have one measure that I shall give him, which no eye has ever seen…” In the hour the Holy One, blessed be He, calls the North Wind and the South Wind and says to them: “Come, honor Ephraim, My True Messiah, and spread before him all kinds of spices from the Garden of Eden..” (taken from Patai, Raphael The Messiah Texts, 1998 edition, pp 113-4)

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I highlighted some interesting features in blue, but I am going to focus on very little of the text. It is certainly worthy of being thoroughly investigated and compared to Scripture, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

For now, I want to focus on a few things (1) the expectation of a hierarchy of resurrection, with the Patriarchs rising first from the dead in some traditions; (2) the suffering Messiah motif, on behalf of/because of the children of the Patriarchs; (3) the exaltation of Messiah to the heaven of heavens; (4) the installment of Messiah in a temple/temples.

The Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are buried in Hebron, south of the city of Jerusalem. According to the pseudepigraphic (false name) writings of the few hundred years before the coming of Yeshua, there was a belief that there would be a definite order to the resurrection. In the second century BCE, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs – specifically the Testament of Benjamin 10.6-8 – states that the order of Resurrection would be first Enoch, then Seth, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve Patriarchs and that they would be “changed” (what we would call glorified bodies). So when we see, in Pesiqta Rabatti, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “rising up in the month of Nissan” during the very month of the year that Yeshua died and resurrected – this is definitely spoken in terms of the resurrection of the dead, a basic first-century belief for all Jews except the Sadducees. The implication is that they have risen up first and pay tribute to the Messiah, calling him “greater than we” during the Passover week.

The next motif we see is the Suffering Servant, which we are all familiar with having its source not only in Isaiah 53, but also in the story of Joseph. The idea of a messiah figure who suffers for the sake of all Israel (as Joseph did on behalf of his family, and because of their sins), saving them from death as a result of that suffering and being exalted to the right hand of God (or Pharaoh, in Joseph’s case) predated Yeshua by a long shot. In Pesikta Rabatti, we see all the classic themes from the Messiah ben Yosef (Messiah “son of” Joseph, coming in the style of Joseph). Here he is called Ephraim because Ephraim was the literal son of Joseph in Scripture, and his name is often used interchangeably with David in terms of representing the Messiah.  Again, we see Messiah exalted during the Passover week.             

The exaltation of Messiah to the heaven of heavens should have caught your eye immediately – as we see this in Mark 16.19,  Luke 24.51, and Acts 1.9. No surprises there, this was in no way controversial within Judaism.             

The installment of Messiah into a Temple (seven Temples in this case), hearkens back to Revelation and the description of the Holy Jerusalem where Messiah sits as King for a thousand years, as well as that found in Ezekiel 40-44.  These are all well-established Scriptural themes.           

So, all this being said, I need to summarize. The idea of the dead rising from the grave to testify of Messiah was not limited to the Gospel account in Matthew 27, but was an existing motif within the Messianic expectations of Judaism. Was this an Aggadic motif in Matthew meant to serve the purpose of driving home the truth that Messiah ben Yosef had indeed come in the person of Yeshua according to some Rabbinic expectations? Was it meant to be taken literally, or as Aggadah? As historical truth, or as an allegory? Did the tombs of Macpelah open and did the Patriarchs come to Jerusalem during Passover to testify about Messiah, or would this have been considered a first-century figure of speech? Either way, the message is the same and very, very Jewish – Ephraim, the One True Messiah, has come.    

 

 

 

 




Praising Yeshua: Why We Need the Heir to the Kingdom

There is a disturbing tendency that has come out of some facets of Messianic Judaism and the Hebrew Roots Movement to label any praise of Yeshua/Jesus as a sin – and yet few people know that has its source, not in the Bible, which clearly presents two divine figures in Daniel 7 to sit on the two thrones mentioned in verse 9 (the great Rabbi Akiva, post Yeshua, even mentioned it). But this devastating doctrine is a trap laid by the Jewish scholars of the Middle Ages, not to convert gentiles, but to prevent Jews from believing in Yeshua as Messiah – as though Judaism had always agreed uniformly on these principles. In the 12th century, Maimonides (RAMBAM) wrote the famous 13 articles of faith that modern Judaism is founded on, and it is easy to see that they were written as a response to a Christianity that was increasingly hostile towards Judaism, shamefully so. The way these were written up makes charges of idolatry inevitable (yet without merit) when we praise and even worship Yeshua – but, the idea that we are bound by the writings of RAMBAM, regardless of his brilliance (I greatly value his insights into the Mishnah), is misguided. RAMBAM was reacting to a clear and present danger, and we cannot blame him for it – what was being done to Jews in the Name of their Messiah was clearly not of the character of God and it is no wonder they could not see their King. In this chapter from my book King, Kingdom, Citizen: His Reign and Our Identity, I tackle the faulty doctrine of not being permitted to praise Yeshua head on, of it being enough to simply acknowledge the Father. For a while, I followed that doctrine, and the anti-missionaries (people who used to believe in Yeshua and who have denied him or Jews who actively try and keep other Jews from coming to their Messiah) almost nabbed me four years ago by approaching me through the underhanded schemes of someone who presented himself as a friend. Refusing to acknowledge Messiah as my Lord and Master was an unwittingly treacherous step towards denying Him altogether – quite ungracious when I consider His sacrifice on our behalf.

Bottom line: Yeshua is the absolute image of God on earth. When we look at Him we see the Father, and I for one am not capable of looking at the image of the Father and not falling to my knees in devotion. If a human saved my life, I would certainly praise him (I just wouldn’t worship him), but when the divine son of God saves the lives of all the world who look to Him – I have to do more than praise Him. Literally no amount of praise is enough. Yeshua only did whatever He saw the Father doing, and so I have to respond to that with worship – because in so doing, I also heap even more worship and honor on His Father. Make no mistake, how we treat someone’s son is how we are treating them, and we cannot fool ourselves into thinking we can all but ignore Messiah, withhold the honors due to Him, and be pleasing to God.

Why Do We Need the Heir?

The Father is Spirit, unseen,[1] and does not directly interact with humanity in human form. He is the great Suzerain in the Heavens and He has always interacted with His people through the Word. Through Scripture, we see the Word made manifest as the Angel of the LORD or YHVH who spoke with Moses face to face; but most recently and profoundly, we see the Word made flesh as Yeshua ben Joseph. We need Him. The Kingdom of Heaven needs a flesh and blood monarch, an heir to the Kingdom of God; we have already proven that in the absence of physical, godly leadership we are easily corrupted.

That’s fine, you may say – but why do we need to acknowledge Him now? Isn’t it enough to just worship God the Father? Why is it important to understand the concepts of King and Kingdom and to recognize the legitimate Heir? In summary of the first three sections and giving a short introduction for the fourth:

Messiah was born into a pre-existing Kingdom; He did not have to die and resurrect to create a new one. This Kingdom was not the Kingdom of the Jews but the Kingdom of God and it had been closed off – made exclusive. Contrary to Torah law, the House of Shammai Pharisees made it virtually impossible not only for the lost tribes of Israel to return from exile and divorce, but also for the Gentile Nations to enter in.

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees (of the House of Shammai), hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

That’s why it was so important for the Heir to the Kingdom to show up and “lay down the law,” so to speak. Preaching on behalf of the Father, and using only His Father’s words, Yeshua deflated the importance of the traditions of the elders (now found recorded in the Talmud) and elevated the original laws of the Kingdom. He promoted His Father as the great King who alone had the right to determine the rules and regulations, the legal Constitutional requirements placed upon the citizens of His own Kingdom. By upholding His Father’s ways, by showing Himself to be righteous and just towards the poor, sick, widows, orphans and oppressed, through signs and wonders, and through a renewal of the original Kingdom Covenant by His own blood ratification, He proved that He was indeed the Son of the Father. Yeshua, through His words and actions, showed us the character of His Father, the Great King. When we look at His character and say, “I do not recognize YHVH in the works of Yeshua,” we are refusing to acknowledge the most excellent character of our King.

Yeshua was more than a prophet, He was a living, breathing, dare – “Tell me that you know My Father and do not see Him in my every righteous action! If you don’t recognize Him when you see Me, then you do not know Him – we are One.”

John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Why can’t we have the Father without the Son?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Why can’t we be in good standing in the Kingdom of God without recognizing the Son? When we refuse to acknowledge the Son, not only are we failing to recognize the righteousness and justice of our King, but we are refusing to recognize His Heir to the kingdoms of the world. If I were a righteous Queen, and I sent my son out among my own people to represent me – and if he was a good and righteous man, if no fault could be found with him, if there was no sin (violation of my kingdom laws) to be found in him, if he not only upheld my every law but also taught others to follow them, if he restored the original intentions of my laws, if he railed against those who set up their own laws and illegitimate kingdoms within my kingdom, if he showed my character by having mercy upon the “least of these” … and if you turned around and said that you “didn’t see the resemblance” then it would not matter what you did – there would be no intimacy between us. You would be insulting me. If you claimed to know me, and to represent me, but you didn’t know me well enough to see me in my own son – then although you might live without going to jail because you kept my laws and were otherwise a good citizen, you would have no part in his coming reign.

Yeshua’s coming reign is a big deal; His reign is about eternal life here on earth.

When someone rejects Messiah, even if they keep the laws and live a blessed life because of it (because obedience to the laws of a kingdom will always result in blessing, it’s just simple logic), they will have no part in the Kingdom when it passes into His hands.

Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Messiah, coming in the mercy of the Father, reopened the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven to all those from around the world who would recognize the heir and desire to live as good citizens in His Kingdom. This was the original intent at Sinai, “one law for all, the native and the foreigner.”

Ex 12:49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (see also Lev 24:22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.”)

The world was meant to see the righteousness and justice of God, His mercy and kindness, through those laws that were so different from the laws of men – the world was meant to desire to live under those laws, to recognize the wisdom of the citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Deut 4:6-8 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

The pagan nations were supposed to look at their own laws and see how burdensome they were, how unrighteous and unjust – and by extension how lacking their own gods were. Israel was meant to be a light – attracting the world to the King of kings. But they hid that light under a bushel basket, and they greedily kept it for themselves. Messiah came to change that. He is the light; He is the perfect representation of the perfection of the Father and of His goodness and justice and righteousness.

Matt 5:15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

We were created to desire that righteousness, but we were trained by the world to resent it. We were meant to desire His rule, but we were taught to fear it. We have been conditioned to want a King who has no ability to rule us – but a King without laws is a King without dominion, authority, or power. From the beginning, God has been looking for good citizens for His Kingdom so that it can shine like a gleaming city on a hill. We owe it to Him to draw people to His righteousness by exemplifying who He is, by following the example of the Son.

We owe it to Him to become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven – not in the future, but now – establishing His dominion across the face of the earth. This was the original plan in the Garden, renewed again at Mt Sinai with the blood of animals, and then finalized with the righteous blood of Yeshua.

We all owe Him everything, but in the first century, something very serious was happening that kept some from giving Him anything at all. We see glimpses of this problem in the gospels, and we see Paul fighting it tooth and nail in the epistles. Between the return of the Jews from exile and the ministry of Yeshua, something had gone terribly wrong. That something was preventing people from entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, and if we don’t understand what that was, we will never fully understand what Yeshua came to fulfill or what Paul was writing to the assemblies about.

[1] John 1:18; Col 1:15; I John 4:12, etc.




Now Available! Context for Adults: Sexuality, Social Identity and Kinship Relations in the Bible

Although it still falls under the umbrella of the “Context for Kids” curriculum series, this book ain’t for kids. I recommend it for older teens and up, but only with parental guidance. The first ten and last five chapters are G-rated and very valuable for any age group, and probably the most important material that I teach – on the ancient group social identity that, in and of itself, unravels many mysteries in the behavior of Bible people. The chapters on the inside, however, are a real mixed bag – not much different than the Bible itself. Like all my books, this is for families to go through together, as appropriate, and never to be simply handed to kids.

What is this book about? Well, this is the book I wish I had available for me – the book that explains, from the ancient Near Eastern perspective, the sections of Scripture that make the Bible so hard to defend and support – not only to our kids, but also to our unbelieving friends and relatives. Marrying a rapist? Marrying female POW’s? Why are terrible subjects like bestiality, and incest even mentioned? Why did Peter refer to Lot as righteous?

ORDER HERE <——————

Although these subjects seem strange to us, they were not strange in the ancient world that served as the context of the everyday lives of the Exodus generation. Some questions, like the marrying of a “rapist”, boil down to bad translations – but others are related to the ancient notion of what righteousness means, what behaviors were the norm in the outside world, and what it meant to be part of a group, instead of an individualistic, social dynamic. God was creating a new paradigm in a world driven mad with sin. Living in the aftermath of the Resurrection, we really have no appreciation for how bad things truly were before Messiah changed everything.

I am going to take you into the world of group-centered dynamics where you will learn a form of kinship relations that is foreign to the western world. I will introduce you to the horrifying realities of the laws of the ancient Near East. Life for the Patriarchs was akin to walking through a minefield of depravity and injustice, the likes of which we can barely imagine – but in order to understand and defend God’s laws, and answer the tough questions, the really good questions, we really need to know what the Biblical authors knew. It isn’t enough to shrug and say, “Well, I just know that God is good” when our lack of context makes Him look bad to the very people we were commanded to reach with His love. Remember – without a concrete salvation experience, we cannot simply expect people to ignore the stuff about the Bible that sometimes seems insanely disturbing. Compassion should compel us to seek out better answers – for unbelievers, our kids, and ourselves.

So, if you are tired of shrugging and saying, “Well, I just know that God is good,” I hope you will allow me to illuminate many of the Bible’s most uncomfortable subjects.

From the back cover:

Are you tired of being asked tough questions, both by kids and skeptics, about some of the terrible things in the Bible? Are you tired of not having real answers? Don’t you wish you understood why Bible people sometimes did terrible things?

No one is satisfied with pat answers like, “Well, I know God is good,” or “Jesus came to change all that.” If we truly believe that God is good and that Jesus is the exact image of the Father, then those answers won’t satisfy us – much less anyone else.

What if I told you that we can learn the answers to the hard questions by studying ancient Near Eastern law codes and sociology?

What if I told you that Western Christianity fundamentally misunderstands the meaning of words like righteous and has misconstrued concepts like kinship? What would you say if I told you that the ancients’ concept of family, loyalty, honor, shame, and community was completely different than ours is today?
What if, by understanding these ancient beliefs, you could provide concrete answers instead of platitudes to people’s questions? And what if by doing so you could offer hope and the reassurance that God is loving and good?

When people ask what kind of God would allow slavery, require women to marry their “rapists,” or tell parents to stone their children, wouldn’t you like to clear up their misconceptions instead of sidestepping the issues? Good questions deserve real answers, and that’s why I am here.

As I have explored Honor and Shame culture and ancient covenants in previous volumes, this curriculum will be dedicated to the subjects of ancient law, social identity, and kinship relations. This information is going to change forever the way you read your Bible. What you learn here will equip you to answer those “skeptics” whose only real crime is that they are honest about some of the situations in the Bible that are, or seem to be, very disturbing.

ORDER HERE <————–




The Bridge – **FREE CHRISTIAN BOOK** for the next 5 days 7/25-29, 2017

All of the instructions (I have over 5000 successful downloads of the first edition based on them and I lost count on the new) and all the links work. Everything you need is here – I even added a picture into the instructions. Please read them as I will not be available for questions.

No Kindle required – all you need is any online device – PC, Mac or android!! Read all the instructions, the links are in blue. PLEASE read all the directions as I will not be able to help you beyond that. Absolutely everything you need is here.

If the country you live in has an amazon platform, this will still be free for you, but my links will only work in America. Just do a search for my name – Tyler Dawn Rosenquist – and you will hopefully see the book listed.

So what is The Bridge?  The Bridge is a book that spans the gap between 1st and 21st century Christianity, sending the reader back in time to the faith once delivered to our fathers, so that we can understand what they understood, and see the Kingdom as more of a family instead of a religion.  If you ever wanted to explain to anyone, in very simple and non-threatening terms, why you believe what you believe – this will help you.  Why does God describe Himself as Father, King, Master, Husband?  Why does He call us to become a child, ambassador, bondservant, and bride?  What do those relationships teach us about His promises and expectations?  The Bridge:  Crossing Over Into the Fullness of Covenant Life is a book designed to explore those relationships and restore you to the path that leads to the intimacy that we were always meant to have with our Father. I have revamped much of the book, especially the last half, adding in 20,000 words that reflect better research into the ancient Near Eastern and First Century context of many issues – and, my original reason for the rewrite, I removed some popular urban legends that I took for truth – I simply had not verified because so many people were teaching them and besides that, I had an agenda and really wanted to believe them.

If you want the book for free:

1. If you don’t already have it, and you already have a kindle or the free app, just get it free here or do a search if you are from another country on your respective amazon platform. Hibuy-nowt the “Buy it now with 1-click” before Saturday 7/29 at midnight PST.

2.  If you don’t have a kindle, download this app first on PC, Mac, or android.  When that is done, download the book, but make sure you do it before midnight PST on July 29, 2017.

You can also buy it in paperback here if you are like me and hate reading things on Kindle.

You can help me by getting the word out about the free offer, and once you have read it, I would appreciate reviews. If you like The Bridge, then check out the sequel, written from the Ancient Near Eastern and First Century Perspective – King, Kingdom, Citizen: His Reign and Our Identity, which proves our rights to Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven through Messiah. You can also check out my family curriculum series Context for Kids, Vol I: Honor and Shame in the Bible  and Volume II: Ten Commandments and the Covenants of Promise – I believe in teaching children the same things I teach adults, within reason, I don’t dumb it down, I just teach it more slowly. I’ve had kids from 7 to 62 go through Volume I with no problems, and a University professor as well (Volume II is better suited for 10 and up). If you haven’t caught my weekly youtube teachings for kids, check out my Context for Kids youtube channel linked on the sidebar – last year took the kids on an archaeological journey through the ancient Near Eastern context of Scripture from Genesis through Deuteronomy and started teaching New Testament Backgrounds during the winter. Coming soon will be Context for Adults: Sexuality and Social Identity in the Bible – covering a lot of those really uncomfortable Bible questions that both seekers and children will probably ask you about at one point or another, but you really wish they wouldn’t.




Honor, Shame, and the Temple of Dagon: I Sam 5&6 in Context

I love this story, really I do and always have – but an understanding of Honor and Shame culture makes it even better. I was recently teaching it to a special needs adult (which meant that I had to teach every ounce of context as I went through – it’s actually an excellent way of pulling as much meaning out of the text as possible) and I was just floored by the things I had missed on my last read through.

Of course, Biblical scholars and secular archaeologists have long been aware that the stories about Dagon being a fish god are just that – stories – namely, Jewish Midrash developed long after the memory of true Dagan worship had faded. Instead, from the enormous amount of archaeological evidence we have unearthed (and by “we,” I mean other people), it is now clear that Dagon of the Philistines was a grain god (click to read) – which I can now support from the Biblical text as well. But that’s just a side issue – let’s get to the funny part.

This account doesn’t start out funny, much like the events chronicled in the Book of Esther, but builds to a series of hilarious climaxes. I will skip the disastrous battle against the Philistines in chapter 4, and the demise of Hophni and Phineas (good riddance) in order to begin in I Sam 5:1 “And the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Eben Ha’ezer to Ashdod.”

Eben Ha’ezer is actually the formal form of the well-known name Ebenezer – “the stone of help” – as Ebenezer Scrooge was the hardened curmudgeon who became a generous savior, so Eben Ha’ezer represents a place where God (our rock) is our helper. However, Israel acted presumptuously in removing the Ark from the permanent Tabernacle structure in Shiloh and placed it on the battlefield – specifically in the hands of two adulterous, encroaching, blasphemers. This is our first honor/shame milestone of the story – the holiest piece of furniture on earth was carried into battle by the most dishonorable of men, men whose status as priests made their offenses against God astronomically worse. This was a direct affront to God’s honor and so what did He do?

In the ancient world, remember, honor had nothing to do with a man’s integrity but instead his reputation. They didn’t care who you were on the inside, as we would judge honor, but who you were by birth and titles, and how you measured up to other men. Reputation was the lifeblood of the ancient world – if you had it, you had a golden ticket to whatever you desired, but if you had no honor, no one would have anything to do with you, or your sons or daughters. (If you are not acquainted with Honor and Shame culture, I suggest reading my family curriculum on the subject, which was designed for non-scholars).

Well, God returned the dishonor back upon the Israelites – they had no right to use Him like that, placing Him in the hands of sinful men. So God placed His Ark in the hands of heathen men who removed it entirely from the country. As the wife of Phineas had prophetically uttered in I Sam 4:22 “The esteem (honor) has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been taken.”

Going forward, we see that the Ark is taken into the house (a Biblical euphemism for a temple) of Dagon and set right by the idol of Dagon. Now, an idol was not believed to be the actual god itself, but instead, an intermediary – by feeding, bathing, perfuming, clothing, etc. the idol, they served as a sort of palace staff. They literally believed that the real Dagon out there in the universe was taking in sustenance and receiving rest as they cared for his idol, by proxy. This was called the house of a god for good reason – that is exactly how they saw it.

Imagine their horror when they woke up the next morning and the priests went into the “house” to awaken their god in order to bathe, perfume, clothe and feed him, only to find that it had fallen on its face “before the ark of the LORD.” In their eyes, their god was found to be prostrated before the Ark, and therefore was discovered worshipping the God of the Israelites. This would have been extremely puzzling as, in their eyes, Dagon had just defeated YHVH in battle (otherwise how could they have captured the Ark?). Why was Dagon worshipping his defeated foe? Kinda shameful, really, but they propped him back up, cared for him and went away. Who knows, maybe they hadn’t been feeding him enough and he passed out, or maybe the wine libation the day before had been a bit too strong. Did I sound like Elijah mocking the prophets of Ba’al there (I Kings 18)? Yeah, that was on purpose.

I imagine they were all anxious to find out what would happen the next day, and so they rose early and entered into the house of Dagon only to find, horror or horrors, Dagon was lying prostrate again – only this time two of the three most honorable parts of its body – the head and hands, were cut off. If you are familiar with ancient Near Eastern executions, you know that beheading was the least honorable death and the removal of hands was extremely shameful. Not only that, but they were laying on the threshold.

Threshold sacrifices were common in the ancient world, and I highly recommend H Clay Trumbull’s excellent work “The Threshold Covenant.” I did not cover this type of Covenant in my curriculum as it was outside the scope of the book, “Ten Commandments and the Covenants of Promise,” but they are very important to understand. The threshold of an ancient home or Temple would often have a small bowl cut or carved into the threshold – this is the place where animals were sacrificed at the arrival of an important guest, and whose meat would later be eaten in honor of that guest. The blood of the animal would fill the bowl in the threshold, hence the name of this type of sacrifice.

So, what we see here is the sacrifice of Dagon at the doorway to his own house in honor of YHVH. Dagon has not only been shamed in worshiping another god, a defeated god (in the eyes of the Philistines) but now he has been executed in the most painfully shameful way imaginable – in his own home, like an animal. Ouch.

But wait, there’s more. God started striking the Philistines with wasting tumors (5;6, 9) and, as we find out later, crop eating rats (6:11). They moved the Ark from city to city until it came to Ekron, and the inhabitants of that city would not allow it to be brought inside. So where did it go? This is important – and funny, but only when we realize that Dagon was a god of grain and not fish.

I Sam 6:1 “And the Ark of the LORD was in the field of the Philistines for seven new moons.”

Did you catch that? The Ark was placed in the midst of a field – that was Dagon’s domain – and for seven months Dagon couldn’t do a thing about it. This was seriously shameful. Not only couldn’t Dagon protect them, or himself, in the cities, in his own house – but he was also shown to be utterly impotent in his own cosmic functional domain – a field of crops. This was really bad – but it makes the story so much funnier.

I won’t bother going through the rest of the story because the focus of this teaching is very narrow, but it just goes to show how there are no small details in Scripture – not even the word “field” in I Sam 6:1 that we tend to read over without a second thought.

*****

Edit: Check out Lina’s comment, she’s absolutely right –

You have really whet my appetite to dig a little deeper. In rereading the account of Shimshon (Simson) in Judges 16, I couldn’t help but notice a possible correlation between him being humiliated & made to work ‘grinding the grain’ and that it was during the P’listim coming together to boast of their god Dagon offering him sacrifices that יהוה intervened strengthening his servant in destroying the things they held sacred!

Praised be He!🙌

Matthew Vander Els: In Judges 15, the foxes with the burning tails ran through the Philistine grain fields, as well.