Thursday, April 28, 2022


 Reading last week’s Parashat Acharey Mot, I found myself being intrigued by the following: “Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering” (Leviticus 16:3).  As I read this, a whimsical thought came to my mind: “Wow! Can you imagine taking a 900 kilogram (or 2,000 pound) bull and a 90 kilogram (or 200 pound) ram and carry them into the holy place?!”  This of course was not at all what had occurred, as is evidenced by the text that follows.  Aaron only brought the blood of the bull and the ram into the holy place.  But then the (somewhat rhetorical) question arises, how does YHVH know which is the blood of the bull and which is the ram’s?  For us who study the Torah, it is obvious that the life of the animal is in its blood.   And where did the life, in this case of the bull and the ram, originate from?  From the first bull and ram that YHVH created by His word. Just like any “seed which is after its kind”, each and every one has been given its identity by He who is the Word.  This immediately points to Yeshua.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

Every living thing owes its identity to Elohim’s “Word”. This is why Yeshua said to the two men who were walking on the road to Emmaus:  “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).  Earlier on, in a discourse in Jerusalem Yeshua addressed His detractors: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me”   (John 5:46-47; 39).  

Thus, just as YHVH distinguishes between the blood of a bull and that of a ram, He likewise differentiates the various human species as well, confirming this fact, scripture says:   “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).  Who did the Father foreknow? He only knew His Son and the Son knew the Father.  The life of the Son/Word is in the “seed” that He chose, that He foreknew, and whom He predestined to be made manifest to the creation in order to set it free.

This seed came out of Jacob and according to the prophet Amos YHVH sifted it among the nations.  “’I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares YHVH. ‘For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel will fall to the ground” (Amos 9:8-9 emphasis added).  Later in the same chapter, YHVH tells us why “not a kernel [seed] will fall to the ground”. It is because ‘”…I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.  I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says YHVH your Elohim” (Amos 9:14-15 emphasis added).  Being planted by YHVH’s hand they will become His “planting [or plantation] that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).

Hebrew Insights into Parashat E’mor – Vayikra (Leviticus) 21 – 24

Parashat Emor starts with (literal translation) “and spoke - va’yomer - YHVH to Moshe, ‘speak – emor -  to the priests, the sons of A’haron’” (21:1). In both instances, the verb used for “speak” is the same one, a.m.r (alef, mem, resh).

The topics with which Moshe was commanded to address the cohanim/priests had to do with their sanctity. The first of these deals with defiling themselves with the dead (v.1), although in Hebrew the word “dead” is missing, and can only be inferred from the context. Perhaps this is a linguistic device intended to illustrate the defilement of death, and thus is omitted (even) from the text. The titles of the previous two Parashot, together with this one, form the sentence: “after the death of the holy ones, say/speak…,” the “speaking” having to do, once again, with the topic of death. The opening of our Parasha seems, therefore, to pick off from the beginning of Parashat Acharey Mot (Lev. 16:1-2), which deals with the aftermath of the death of A’haron’s sons, elaborating on the necessary conduct required by the priests.  

Parashat Emor also contains the well-known chapter 23, which lists and specifies YHVH's appointed times. Chapters 21 and 22, on one end of the Parasha, deal respectively, as we have just seen, with the priests' conduct of holiness, the sanctity of the offerings, and the handling thereof.  It is interesting to note the order; the sanctity of the priests ("they shall be holy to their Elohim", 21:6) is followed by the sanctity of the offerings (called "holy things", 22:3), followed by the sanctity of the appointed times (chapter 23).  The other end of the Parasha is made up of chapter 24, with its themes of the perpetual light ("ner ha'tamid" vs. 1-4), and the twelve loaves that were to be set on the gold table (vs. 5-9).  A brief account relating an episode during which YHVH's name was profaned, * as well as the resulting and immediate consequences, together with a series of instructions for penalties applicable in similar cases and a variety of offenses, seal off Parashat Emor. Before examining chapter 23 with its listing of the "mo'adim" (the appointed times), let us pause to look at a curious or even bizarre statement in 22:11. The topic at hand has to do with partaking, or even "drawing near" to the holy things which the people would dedicate to YHVH. It was the priests' duty to distinguish between who was fit for this, and who was not. So here is what verse 11 says in contrast to all the previous ones, with their strict qualifications in regards to these dedicated things: "But if the priest buys a person with his money, he [the bought person] may eat it [the dedicated thing]; and one who is born in his house [the priest's] may eat his food". The purchased individual would have been a slave, most likely a Canaanite one, while the "one who is born in the house", is again, a reference to someone who is one of the servants (cp. Genesis 17:12-13,23). Is this hinting at the tremendous undertaking by Elohim whose Son "purchased with own blood" those who were "slaves of sin" from every "kindred and tongue and nation" who is, therefore, able to partake of the "holy dedicated - kodesh? (Acts 20:28; Romans 6:20; Rev. 7:9).

Chapter 23 is situated in the center of the Parasha, with verses 1 and 2 stating the following: “YHVH spoke again to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, YHVH's appointed times ["mo'adim"] which you shall proclaim as holy convocations [“mik'ra'ey kodesh”] - My appointed times are these…'" Here we encounter the important terms, “mo’adim” and “mikra'ey kodesh” (singular: “mo'ed” and “mikra kodesh”). Mo’ed stems from the root y.a.d (yod, ayin, dalet), which is "appoint, design or designate". Thus, we read in Amos 3:3 (literal translation): "Do two men walk together unless it has been designated, or appointed for them [to do so]?" The conjugation of the verb implies that someone else was responsible for their meeting. 

“Mo'ed”, as we see in the text before us, is connected to a specific called-out and destined assembly, many times termed “e'dah” (originating in the same root), which gathers or convenes together. In 24:14 for example, the assembly, or “edah”, is told to stone an offender. In T’hilim (Psalms) 82:1, “Elohim takes His stand in His edah”.  The “appointed times”, therefore, relate to an appointed group of people. There are some who are of the opinion that the word for witness “ed” masculine, and “e’dah” (feminine) also originate from the same root. But there is more…

“Tent of [appointed] meeting” is “Ohel Mo'ed” (mentioned herein 24:3). A similar, though not an identical term is found in T’hilim (Psalms) 74:4 and 8, where we read, “Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place… They have burned Your sanctuary". The renderings of “your meeting place” and "sanctuary" here are: “mo’ade’cha” and “mo'adey El”, literally "your appointed times” and appointed times of El”, making evident that Place and Time in the Hebrew mind are not always demarcated by a clear boundary. Our text reveals the “three-strand cord” of place, time, and people, as it is held together by the sovereignty of the One who has appointed and chosen them, and who is responsible for bringing about their interactions one with the other. Finally, y.a.d is also to “establish a destiny”, and so we read in Romans 8:29-30: “Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son… Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called…” (italics added). In the Hebrew translation of the Greek text, “predestined” is rooted in “ya’ad”. Who are the ones whom He foreknew, predestined, and called? As we have seen above (and will see later), the calling and appointing have been and are Yisrael’s, thus establishing again (in context with the above quote), that y.a.d refers not only to people, time and place but also to an eternal destiny (past, present, and future). “Eternity” or “forever” is sometimes designated by the word “ad” (ayin, dalet), such as in Tehilim 48:14 (‘ever”). “Mo’ed”, with a slight alteration, may be rendered as “m’ad” – from eternity or “from of old” or “ever”, which takes us all the way back to creation, as in B’resheet 1:14 the “seasons” in the original text are rendered “mo’adim”.

 The “holy convocations”, as mentioned, are “mikra'ey kodesh”, with the singular being “mikra”. The root k.r.a (kof, resh, alef) makes up the verb “to call”, even though the "convocation" - the assembling - is made up of people. The calling, therefore, is what designates the “mikra kodesh”. In addition, these “holy convocations” are also the special times that are synonymous with “mo’adim”. And so, once again, the “calling” proves to be the common paradigm or ‘ingredient’ shared by the people and the appointed times during which they are to convene. Another parallel of “mikra” to the root yod, ayin, dalet that we just reviewed, is that it too lends itself to ‘place’. In Yishayahu 4:5 we read, “then YHVH will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night”. The “assemblies” mentioned here are rendered “mikra”. 

 The first "appointed day" – the “Shabbat” - is also the prototype upon which all the others are established (ref. 23:3). It speaks of rest, trust, and faith directed toward the Heavenly Father (a topic we dealt with at length in Parashat Yitro – Exodus 18-20).

The mo’ed, which starts the annual cycle, is to be celebrated on the first month of the biblical calendar (the month of Aviv). The 14th day of that month is designated as YHVH's Pesach (Passover), whereas the next seven days are called the Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread).  The root (pey, samech, chet), which we examined in Parashat Bo (Exodus 10-13:16, in 12:11), means to “pass or skip over”.  The lamb’s blood was smeared on the Hebrews’ doorposts, thus covering and protecting the sons of Yisrael from YHVH's arm, which dealt severely with the Egyptians.  It was by virtue of that blood that YHVH “passed” or “skipped over” the dwellings of the Israelites. The wider scope of the principle set in motion here is what was to be the atoning blood of the Lamb of Elohim, that covers and protects the redeemed from sin’s death sentence.

Next is the Feast of Matzot, or Chag HaMaztot (plural of “matza”, which is a thin, wafer-like cracker baked without yeast). “Chag” is feast, whose root, ch.u.g (chet, vav, gimmel), means “to circle” (e.g. Ps. 107:27), thus pointing to the cyclical nature and annual reoccurrence of YHVH’s feasts and appointed times.  As we have already seen in Parashat Bo, the root (mem, tzadi, hey) means “to drain or squeeze out” to the very last drop of water.  Yeast can only be activated in an accommodating environment (that is, in water).  Since yeast, or leaven, is likened to the element that leavens or puffs up the whole lump (ref. Gal. 5:9), water may be compared to the environment which enhances it. The "old leaven" (1 Cor. 5:8) being sin, in the form of the deeds of darkness (Rom. 13:12), wickedness (1st Cor. 5:13), and more, is removed as the redeemed are constituted "holy matzot; for Messiah, our Pesach [lamb who]… has been sacrificed" (1 Cor. 5:7).  Notice that aside from “matza”, unleavened bread is also called “lechem oni”, translated as “bread of affliction” (Deut. 16:3). Yeshua, who is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), was born in the House of Bread (Beit-Lehem) and was in Beit Onya (Bethany) - House of Affliction (John 12:1) - six days before He gave His disciples the bread (“matza”) representing His body (Luke 22:19).

"Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘when you enter the land… and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf [omer which is a specific measurement] of the BEGINNING/re’sheet of your harvest to the priest. And He shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it’" (23:9-11 literal translation, emphasis added). The first harvest (of barley) takes place very early in the spring. From Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9 we learn that the picking is "from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing [barley] grain".  Because “omer” is also a measurement (one-tenth of an epha), there is no question as to the amount of the "first of the harvest".  Thus, the priest was to wave those first (beginning-resheeet) sheaves before YHVH, "for your acceptance" - lir'tzon'chem (root – resh, tzadi, hey – meaning, “satisfy, favor”), after the Shabbat. This was totally fulfilled by Yeshua, who was in the beginning (ref. Gen. 1;1; John 1:1-2), and is declared to be the beginning and the end (ref. Col. 1:18; 1John 2:13-14; Rev. 1:8, 3:14, 21;6, 22:13).  Following His resurrection, which occurred after the Shabbat, He immediately went up to His Father (ref. John 20:17) to offer Himself on our behalf, thus rendering us acceptable. After that first barley harvest was cut, one was to wait for the day after the Shabbat and count seven weeks, making the 50th day a “mo'ed” which is tied intrinsically to the Counting of the Omer.

The land and its fruitfulness, or lack thereof, was to reflect Yisrael's relationship with YHVH, as it is "a Land for which YHVH your Elohim cares; the eyes of YHVH your Elohim are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year" (Deut. 11:12). The Cycle of the Feasts "from the beginning even to the end of the year" is partly designed for this purpose.  Thus, if the rains come in their due season, watering the ground which responds to the seed (ref. Hos. 2:21, 22), it can indicate that the Nation of Yisrael is walking with their Elohim, "who keeps for us the appointed weeks for the harvest" (Jer. 5:24).  In that case, all is well and the Counting of the Omer can begin. Conversely, the consequence of disobedience and sin is drought (Lev. 26:18-20, 26, for example), which means that there is no barley, no sheaves, and nothing to count.  That, in turn, will affect the next mo'ed, which is Shavu'ot. The mo'adim, the Land, and the relationship with the Almighty are all intertwined, making the life of the Hebrew person inseparable from his Elohim, his Torah, his land, and community. The omer, therefore, affects the celebration of Shavu’ot. It also signifies total dependency on YHVH, and speaks of His control over the natural and spiritual causes, their conditions, and aftermath.

On Shavu'ot the focus is on "a new grain offering to YHVH" (23:16), also termed "first fruits of the wheat harvest” (Ex. 34:22) called bikkurim, which is derived from the word “b'chor” – “firstborn”. Note that in the Hebrew Bible this word does not appear in connection with the waving of the first barley sheaves (v. 10), where, as we noticed above, “resheet” (that is, “beginning” or "first", stemming from “rosh” – “head”) is used.  Interestingly, Yisrael is declared "holy to YHVH”, and like Yeshua is also called “the first - resheet - of His harvest" (Jer. 2:3).  Hence, both of these special times (the Counting of the Omer and Shavu'ot) are a reminder to Yisrael that as YHVH's firstborn (Ex. 4:22), they too belong to Him. The Feast of First Fruit (Bikkurim/Shavu’ot, see Ex. 34:22; Num. 28:26) has also been fulfilled by Messiah when He sent the Spirit of Holiness so that we may be the “bikkurim” – the “first fruit” who were “brought forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). Shavu’ot’s two loaves that are baked with leaven (which are to be waved, 23:17,20), signify that YHVH’s two peoples, unlike His Son, can be still plagued by the power of sin, but conversely, with the ‘leaven’ of the animating presence of the Spirit too.

Intertwined with this mo'adim ‘inventory’ is an important insertion, which lends another dimension to the feasts and to the life of the sons and daughters of Yisrael. It reads as follows: “When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien” (23:22 italics added). The reason given for this injunction, albeit a very short one summarizes it all: "For I am YHVH your Elohim". We found a similar injunction in last week’s portion (Kdoshim), in 19:9-10, which was preceded by the declaration: "You shall be holy for I YHVH your Elohim am Holy" (19:2). YHVH’s heart, His character, and deeds express His holiness. He desires to bestow upon His people this kind of holiness, while they, in turn, are to live accordingly.

From the first month through the third - we now move to the seventh, which is replete with mo'adim, starting with the first day. (Rosh Chodesh - "head of the month", the usual term for the first day of the month, is not used here.) The "first day" of the seventh month is to be a “shabbaton”, a Shabbat-like day, and also a “mikra kodesh” - a "holy convocation" (23:24). It is to be a “zich'ron tru'ah”, that is, a day dedicated to remembering the “sound or a blast” (that was first heard on Mount Sinai, Ex. 19:16). Yet, “t'ruah” is a generic noun, thereby shrouding this mo’ed with some obscurity. The raising of human voices, the blowing of a shofar (ram’s horn), or a silver trumpet can all produce the “t’ruah” sound. The combination of 'jarring' the communal memory and the emphasis on sound may also be in preparation for the tenth day of the month, the most solemn of all the feast days, “Yom HaKippurim”, literally "Day of the Atonements" (v. 27).  The sound of the alarm is intended, therefore, to help the People of Yisrael recall the greatness of their Elohim, His deeds and commandments, as well as their own responses and shortcomings. In other words, it is a call to self-examination leading to repentance. Since “tru'a” signifies a number of different calls and alarms (e.g. Num. 10:5, 6,9,10), “…blessed is the people who knows [understands, discerns] the “tru'a” [the specific sound and its intent]; O YHVH they walk in the light of your countenance!" (Ps. 89:15).

The Day of Atonement is a mikra kodesh, "on exactly the tenth day" (23:27) to commence on the previous evening (according to verse 32); and "it is to be a Shabbat Shabbaton" - a Shabbat of Shabbats.  What else singles out this day? In addition to a total cessation of labor, it is also to be a time of "affliction of the soul". To “afflict" here is “(ve)ee'ni'tem,” the root being a.n.h (ayin, noon, hey), shared by the adjectives “humility” or “self-denial”. Yisha’yahu (Isaiah) 58 clarifies for us the kind of affliction YHVH is referring to: "Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to afflict/humble [ah'not] himself? Is it for bowing one's head like a reed and for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to YHVH? Is this not the fast, which I choose: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor [ah’ni, the same root] into the house…?"  (vs. 5-7 emphases added). Thus, he who truly afflicts himself is not necessarily engaged only in ceremonial acts, but, rather, empathizes with the afflicted and comes to their aid. Lastly, a quick glance back to Pesach will remind us of the "bread of affliction" - lechem oni - literally "bread of affliction or humility", which is another name for the “matza”, as we already noted above. Lechem Oni, therefore, is a fitting title for He who is the "Bread of Life", the Pesach's Matza, and who is also described in Z’char’yah (Zechariah) 9:9 as "humble - ah'ni - and mounted on a donkey".

The other aspect of the Day of Atonement, the “kippurim” or “kapara” of the root k.f.r (kaf, pey/fey, resh), with its primal meaning "to cover", we have examined a number of times (particularly in Parashat Noach – in Gen. 6:14). The ultimate sin-covering and subsequent forgiveness were epitomized in the life and atoning death of Yeshua, who became the final sacrifice and ransom for all (ref. 1 Tim.2:6).

We are still in the seventh month. On the 15th day, the Feast of Succot - Booths or Tabernacles - is to be celebrated for seven days. The first day is to be a holy convocation, on which no work is to be performed. This feast is to be kept "when you have gathered in the crops of the land" (23:39) and is therefore another one of those special times, during which the Israelites are reminded of the connection that the Land and its produce bear to their relationship with Elohim. They are also enjoined to dwell in “succot” (“booths”) “…for seven days… so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt" (vs. 42, 43). After this mo'ed there is an eighth day, which aside from being a mikra kodesh, is also described as an “atzeret”, translated "solemn assembly" (v. 36). The root (ayin, tzadi, resh) means, "to restrain, hold back, refrain", as well as "to rule, possess, and to check".  "Solemn", in reference to the "assembly", is no doubt an expansion of "restraint", denoting the importance of the day.

Succa” (singular for “succot”) stems from the root (sah'mech, kaf, kaf), meaning to “cover, protect or a (temporary) shelter”.  Its primal root is to “weave together" (for example, "You have woven me - tesukeni - in my mother's womb," Ps. 139:13). "Succa" is also a "thicket". Besides being translated as a literal shelter for men and animals, this word is used figuratively; especially known is the “fallen succa - dynasty - of David", which YHVH promises to restore (Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16). The "mercy seat" - kaporet - in the Holy of Holies was covered by the wings of the Cherubim, which are described as “covering the mercy seat with their wings” (Ex. 25:20). The term "covering" in this instance utilizes “so’che'chim”, sharing the same root as “succa”.

While Succot brings together several aspects and reasons for all the other mo'adim, it also points to future events (hence Shmini Atzeret). Succot is the only feast that is followed by an eighth day (a day that stands on its own). A full (and prophetically complete) unit of days is always comprised of seven days. The eighth day, therefore, signifies a new beginning. The restoration of David's “dynasty”, or “house”, when compared to a succa clearly indicates that the Feast of Succot is yet to have an even greater fulfillment. On the day that, “the Branch of YHVH will be beautiful and glorious… there will be a succa to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain", is an exciting future promise found in Yisha’yahu (Isaiah) 4:2, 6. Being placed at the end of the cycle of the feasts, the solemn eighth day points to that which is even beyond the feasts’ cycle… 

Shabbat, by commemorating the Creator’s work and His redemption of the Hebrews from bondage and their everlasting covenant, lays the foundation for the mo'adim; whereas the mo'adim illustrate the various phases of the life and path of faith.  At the same time Shabbat, being the epitome of rest and cessation of all self-effort, is also a foreshadowing of the coming Kingdom. Thus, it represents, as well as stands for, the destination of the Believer's path, and hence is twofold; a foundation, but also a tangible image of the goal. In this way, the Shabbat may be compared to Messiah Yeshua, in that He too is the foundation, the Root, as well as the Branch - both a Beginning and an ultimate Destination (ref. Revelation 22:16).

Some of the word definitions were gleaned from:

The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, ed. Francis Brown, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.

Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980.                                             

Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, ed. Matityahu Clark, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, New York.1999.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Kdoshim – Vayikra (Leviticus) 19-20

"And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: `You shall be holy [plural -kdoshim], for I YHVH your Elohim am holy'" (19:1-2 emphasis added). The rest of this Parasha, like the previous one, constitutes a portrait of the 'holy’ or ‘set-apart’ Israelite, whose Elohim is holy, a fact which could render him of the same status - as it says in Genesis 1:27: "So Elohim created man in His own image; in the image of Elohim He created him" (italics added).  In fact, in chapter 19, “I am YHVH” is repeated 15 times and is tagged to the various injunctions (with “your Elohim” being added in some of the cases). Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Lord Messiah Yeshua, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (italics added).

In contrast to most of YHVH's addresses in the previous Parashot we have been studying, here the “entire congregation of the sons of Israel” – kol ah’dat b'ney Yisrael (19:2) - is being addressed on the matter of being as set-apart as their Elohim. We have here an assortment of directives, both of commission and omission. The penalties described (and mainly found in chapter 20), even if not exercised and carried out in our day and age, are indicators of the way YHVH views the transgressions to which they are appended. 

The theme of Parashat Kdoshim is encapsulated in 20:24b-26: "I am YHVH your Elohim who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore distinguish (literally “separate”) between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me, for I YHVH am Holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine". This clearly illustrates the contaminating effect that the unclean has upon Elohim's People. At the same time, it highlights the separateness of those who belong to Him and who are rendered set apart by this fact. The single verb used here for “separate” and “distinguish” is “havdel” (b.d.l, bet, dalet, lamed), used 3 times in the creation account in B’resheet 1, in regards to the separation of the light from darkness (v. 4), the separation of the water above the firmament from the water below it (vs. 6,7), and in creating heaven’s lights that were to divide the light from the darkness (vs. 14,18). Thus, the usage of the root b.d.l points to the distinct category that YHVH had allocated for His people among other people groups, as well as to the way they were to conduct their daily life. 

 Going back to chapter 19, we will notice that most of the injunctions or clusters thereof end with "I am YHVH your Elohim". We read about reverence for father and mother and keeping the Shabbat (v. 3). This is followed by a command to reject idols. Verse 5 deals with offering a peace offering “lirtzonchem” – translated ‘of your own free will’, but in Vayikra 23:11, regarding the command to bring the ‘beginning omer’, “lirtzonchem” is also mentioned and translated “so that you may be accepted”. Is this also the meaning of “lirtzonchem” in the case before us? If this offering is eaten on the third day (as its remains were supposed to have been burnt by the third day), then it will be considered an "abomination" that shall not be accepted. "Abomination" here is rendered by the very strong term "pigul", and is indicative of the fact that it is not only the 'holy' which is set aside and separated, but so is that which is unclean and unacceptable. 

This is succeeded by how one is to treat those less fortunate than one’s self (the poor and the sojourner), by leaving for them the gleanings of the fields and vineyards, for “… I am YHVH your Elohim". The "gleanings" are especially interesting. The verb that is attached to them is "te'olel" (le'olel in the infinitive). It is a term we encountered once before, in Parashat Bo (specifically in Ex. 10:2, where it is translated "made a mockery" – of Paroh ). The root that both of these words share is a.l.l (ayin, lamed, lamed). Thus, if one does not obey the commandment to leave one's gleanings to the poor it is as though he is deliberately disregarding and mocking them, and their Maker. 

Theft, deception, lying, and swearing falsely in YHVH's name are enumerated next. These constitute "profaning" His Name (vs. 8, 12, 29, in the latter, the translation says “do no prostitute”), which is “chalel” (ch.l.l., chet, lamed, lamed) meaning, “to make hollow or burrow”, and is also the root for "casualty" (such as in war). Dealing unjustly ( – ayin, shin, kof, oppressing and stealing) with one's fellow man, cursing the deaf and putting a stumbling block in front of the blind, diverting justice in court, tale-bearing ( also serves the noun for a traveling salesman offering his merchandise, e.g. Ezk. 17:4, where it is translated "merchants") and not taking responsibility when a friend's life is in danger, all are sealed by "I am YHVH". Obviously, we are moving here into more subtle matters that may not be necessarily noticed by society at large but will be seen by Him whose "eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth" (ref. 2nd Chr.16:9; Zech. 4:10b). This takes us to even deeper issues of the heart, such as, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart" (19:17).

 "Brother", aside from its obvious meaning, could also relate to one's “fellow man”, just as do the following terms: "Associate" - amit (19:11, in the translation ‘one another, while in vs.15,17b the translation renders it as ‘neighbor’), and "re'ah", that is, “friend or fellowman” (again, more commonly rendered "neighbor" in the English translations. See 19:13,16,18). The utilization of these terms clarifies that ‘others’ are equal to one’s self, and therefore should be treated accordingly. In verse 17 there is also an instruction of commission, relating to the action that should be taken when the need arises to reprimand or rebuke one’s fellow man (rather than harbor hatred and bitterness in one’s heart). If "open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed” (Prov. 27:5), how much more does this apply when hate is the option? One is not to nurse vengeance nor bear a grudge against one's own people, logically leading to the highest dictum; that one is to love one's fellow man as one's self (v. 18), while in Hebrew the word used is “re’ah” – friend, associate. Again, this is sealed by "I am YHVH". 

After the prohibitions regarding the mixing of seeds and improper nuptials, chapter 19 continues with the tending of trees in YHVH's Promised Land - which for the first three years are to be considered “uncircumcised” – “arelim” (pointing to the covenant with Avraham and thus to the land’s importance). The usage of ‘uncircumcision’ in regards to (fruit) trees may be tied to the statement found in Dvarim 20:19, where it literally says, “for man is the tree of the field” (see also Mark 8:24, the blind man who at first saw “men like trees walking”). In the fourth year, the trees are to be “praises to YHVH" - “hiluleem”, and may only be partaken of in the fifth year (ref. 19:23-25). This continues with prohibitions concerning all pagan idolatrous customs. "I am YHVH" seals these passages, and is also appended to the Shabbat’s observance and to the honor due the elderly. The next cluster deals with the sojourner, because of the Israelites’ own experience in Egypt. Chapter 19 ends with the injunction to utilize strictly honest and just measurements, as befitting a Nation of a just Elohim. "You shall observe all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them…" (v. 37) brings this chapter to a close, to which words we must append 18:5 (of the previous Parasha) “…which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am YHVH”.  It is no wonder, therefore, that the Renewed Covenant's mandate is to do just that – to enable His People to live out this Torah of Life (or the life of Torah) through Him Who is the "Torah Incarnate' and the Giver of Life. 

Chapter 20 echoes Chapter 18 (in Parashat Acharey Mot), in dealing largely with various forms of incest, forbidden forms of cohabitation, and abominable sexual practices, which are described by the phrase, “exposing the nakedness” (again, nakedness is tantamount to not having a “covering” – “kippur” or "kapara"). “Nakedness” here is “erva” of the root a.r.h. (ayin, resh, hey). A similar word, stemming from the root a.r.r (ayin, resh, resh) and means “stripped” and “childless” is “ariri” (e.g. Gen. 15:2; Jer. 22:30). Thus, we read verses 20 and 21: “And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness - erva. They shall bear their sin. They shall die bereft of children – arireem. If a man takes his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother's nakedness - erva. They shall be childless - arireem” (italics added).  This makes evident the fruitlessness and lifelessness of sin, symbolizing the fact that sin results only in death (or bareness, in this case). This entire section (vs. 10-21) is preceded by: "Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am YHVH your Elohim. ' And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am YHVH who sanctifies you. 'For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him" (20:7-8). Again, pointing to the sanctification theme, but with an emphasis on the centrality of sound family life by the stern warning against anyone who would dare to dishonor his parents (remember the Parasha's opening words speak of revering father and mother, in 19:3). The rest of the commandments, which deal strictly with incest, in fact relate to and elaborate on the same topic of the family's sanctity, including the very severe penalty against anyone who gives his seed – child – to Molech and against those who shut their eyes in face of this abomination (20:2-5).  

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Hebrew Insights into Parashot Acharey Mot - Vayikra (Leviticus) 16-18


This week’s first Parasha opening verse: "Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death [“acharey mot”] of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew close to YHVH, and died" (Lev. 16:1, literal translation, emphasis added) underscores the combination of "drawing close" to YHVH and "death". Thus, in verse 2 we read: "Tell Aaron… not to come [just] at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die…” (italics added). This is the solemn introduction to the long and detailed account of the necessary preparation and sanctification process of the High Priest’s entrance to the Holy of Holies, culminating with: “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all… For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from all your sins before YHVH. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever… This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year…" (16: 29-31, 34). 

Without actually pronouncing the term it is, of course, the description of Yom haKippurim. But rather than commence with that special day, its purpose, timing, and varying procedures, the text first deals with the needed course of action in relation to the High Priest, while the theme of Yom haKippurim unfolds gradually and inductively, ultimately bringing to light its goal. What is more, as we saw above, in this particular context the instructions are mentioned against the backdrop of the death of Ah’aron’s two sons, which enhances the seriousness and solemnity of the day, albeit without calling it by its explicit name. 

The term “atonement” in its various forms (which includes “kaporet” – translated “mercy sit”, but in Hebrew is rooted in k.p.r – “to atone” or “cover” as we saw in Ex. 25:17), is repeated many times over in chapter 16, as is the blood of the atonement, with which many of the items mentioned were to be sprinkled. What is the purpose of sprinkling blood on inanimate objects? “So he shall make atonement for the Holy [Place], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel” (Leviticus 16:16, 19 italics added). In the process of carrying out the requirements for sin atonement, the articles used had become contaminated by the sins of the people. 

In 16:2 we encounter the expression “inside the veil - parochet - before the mercy seat - kaporet".  The veilparochet - is made up of the same letters as “kaporet”.[1] The rest of verse 2 says, "I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat - kaporet". Thus, the rendition of the mercy seat and the veil in the same verse makes for an alliteration (kaporet and parochet), highlighting the connection of these two articles and the position of the mercy seat within the veil, where the High Priest may enter only under very strict and special conditions. “Parochet”, stemming from (pey, resh, kaf), means both “separating” and “covering” and together with “kaporet” points to the ‘cure’ for sin by the provision of the covering and the requirement of separation. 

After readying himself and making a sin offering as atonement for his own person and household, the High Priest was to take two male goats, which he was to obtain from the congregation. These two were to be placed "in front of YHVH" at the opening of the Tent of Meeting where lots had to be cast for them, "one lot for YHVH and one lot for Aza'zel" (ref. 16:5-10). The goats mentioned here are “s'eerim” ("hairy ones," s'eer = "hairy"). The casting of lots is "goral", which is of the root g.r.l. (gimmel, resh, lamed), meaning "stone” or “stony place", since the lots are comprised of stones shaken after being put into a piece of cloth or a container [2]. Thus, in Matthew 27:35 we read the following about Yeshua: "Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, 'They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots'" (Ps. 22:18). In the same chapter of Matthew (v. 15-17 and 21b) we read the following:  "Now at the Feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Yeshua Bar Abba (Barabbas). Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Bar Abba, or Yeshua who is called Messiah?'… They said, 'Bar Abba!'" The verdict was pronounced. The goat on which YHVH's lot fell was to be a sin offering, as it is written: "Elohim by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3b). 

The other goat was to be for Aza'zel (sometimes translated as “scapegoat”). “Aza’zel” is a compound word, made up of the word “az” (ayin, zayin), meaning “strong”, but can also be read as “ez” – goat, and “azal” (alef, zayin, lamed) - “that which is used up”, or “is no more”. The goat that was “to be no more” was sent to the wilderness by the hand of a suitable ("eeti”, meaning “timely”; "et" = the "right or appointed time") person (ref. 16:21). Thus, Yeshua Bar Abba the criminal and counterfeit of Yeshua the Son of the Father, stood in proxy, as it were, for the goat that was allowed to live for the purpose of being sent to the wilderness, or “eretz grzera” ("land of separation" or “verdict” 16:22) with all the sins and iniquities.  The root g.z.r (gimmel, zayin, resh) is literally “to cut off, remove, decreed”.  And while it was decreed that the unrepentant Bar Abba would be cut off and removed from the Father with his sins (see Is. 59:2), Pilate was the timely person who facilitated the whole process and scenario.  Yet, it also says about the “Suffering Servant” of Yishayahu (Isaiah) 53:8: “For He was cut off [nigzar] from the land of the living” (emphasis added). We see, therefore, that in spite of our above comparison of Yeshua and Bar Abba, respectively, to the two goats, Yeshua also fulfilled the role of the second goat, as is confirmed by 16:21: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat...” (italics added). Yeshua Bar Abba, although partially fitting the role of the goat that was sent to the wilderness, definitely did not act the part of carrying vicariously sins and iniquities for the purpose of their removal. 

And just as Pilate washed his hands after having succumbed to the demand to crucify Yeshua (Mat. 27:24), so was it commanded that the person who was to send the goat of azazel, would have to “wash his clothes and bathe his body in water” (Lev. 16:26).

Whereas chapter 16 began with a strong exhortation and command to the High Priest regarding time, place, and procedures of coming before YHVH, chapter 17 enjoins the ordinary people not to sacrifice according to their own whims, lest they should be suspected of sacrificing to idols or be even led astray and carry out such acts. And so, we read in 17:7: "They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…" "Demons" here is “s'eerim”, being the word that we have just encountered in the previous chapter for “male goats”. Goat worship prevailed in Egypt and it is thought that the demons worshipped there were in the form of male goats. [3] And as we see quite often in the Hebraic world and mindset - in the very essence of the transgression the solution is already provided (such as the word “chet” – sin – illustrates, with the same root forming a verb which means “purification”). Here we see that for the sin of serving the goat/demon – s’eer – a provision has already been made by the usage of two goats (s’eerim). The connection between the “s’eer’ that was sent to the desert and the “s’eerim’ which are constituted demons may be found in Luke 11:24, where it is written: "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places [desert], seeking rest…” (emphasis added). 

Parashat Acharey Mot is made up of four sections. Aside from the part which leads up to Yom haKippurim, and the section regarding the right place for the offerings (most of chapter 17), there are two more sections concerning the prohibitions of eating meat with blood (17:10-16), and incest (Ch. 18). In the four sections, all so different one from the other, one phrase is repeated like a refrain (see the italicized words in the following): "In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you" (16:29 italics added); "…this shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations. "Also you shall say to them, ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice’…" (17:7-8 italics added); "And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger…” (17:15 italics added). Finally, "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you" (18:26 italics added). 

"Stranger" here is “ger”, and originates from the root “gur” (gimmel, vav, resh), meaning "to dwell, tarry, sojourn", as well as “to fear (see Ps. 22:23 for example: “fear Him all you offspring of Israel”). The stranger’s defenselessness and vulnerability may be a cause for fear (hence the oft-repeated reminders as to the proper attitude toward him and the inclusiveness with which he is to be treated). 

The last section of Parashat Ahcarey Mot deals, as mentioned, with the prohibitions against incest and other sexual offenses. It is sandwiched between statements regarding the practices of the dwellers of the land which the Israelites have just left, and the practices in the land which they were about to enter (see 18:3, 24-25). Presently we observed that YHVH’s people were enjoined to include the strangers living among them, while here they are solemnly warned not to defile themselves with that which their neighbors were defiling themselves (v. 27). We see here a fine line between including the ones who choose to come into the household of Yisrael, and between keeping firm and clear boundaries of separation from other non-Israelites. 

According to Torah, when one comes in contact with anything which is (ritually) unclean, one is contaminated by it. The converse, however, is not true; i.e. coming in contact with that which is holy does not make one holy. The land, therefore, by reason of the practices of its inhabitants would be subject to spiritual contamination with the resulting consequences that “… the land [will] vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you" (18:28). The following Parasha (Kdoshim) closes off with the same warning, as part of the command to stay separate (ref. 20:22).

Finally, in 16:30 we read: "For on this day He [some translations replace “He” with “the priest”] shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you; for all your sins, before YHVH you shall be cleansed," or “before YHVH you shall be purified”, or “before YHVH you shall purify yourselves”. Here is a fervent call to appropriate by faith the atonement enacted by the Almighty, and thus to receive the fulfillment of His promise. However, without the High Priest, first and foremost, complying implicitly with all of YHVH’s instructions this could not be achieved.[4]     

 [1]  Notice the "k" and "ch" here denote the same letter, i.e. "kaf". 

[2] The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson.     Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.

[3] Online Bible, Gill Commentary

[4] Thirty verses relay the High Priest’s orders, versus one verse with instructions for the people. 



Thursday, April 14, 2022

A New Beginning

 As Spirit-filled believers, we have embraced YHVH’s words of truth pertaining to all that the Father has accomplished through Yeshua's first coming.  This year while we approach Passover and Unleavened Bread, I would like to take a stance of being a witness of Yeshua (including the shared witness of all of us).  We, therefore, have to address the issue of whether we are actually living in the reality of those truths, or are we still being overcome by the flesh and the power of sin?   Abiding in the Messiah's finished work, as recorded in the scriptures, especially the writings of the apostles, we begin to experience more and more of Yeshua’s tangible presence in our life.  Passover is the time to reflect and remember the Lamb of Elohim through whose blood we have been forgiven and justified so that we now have “Shalom/Peace” with our Elohim.

Messiah … was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with Elohim through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah… Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of Elohim through Him” (Romans 4:25; 5:1,9 emphasis added).

Thanks be to YHVH’s love and mercy, who has promised that "all the offspring of Israel will be justified, and will glory" (Isaiah 45:25).  Paul reiterates this when he addresses those whom Elohim “… foreknew, [and who] He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

Moreover, we are not only justified and forgiven, but we were also joined to Yeshua in His death (see 2 Corinthians 4:10) so that His death becomes our death, (verse 11), His burial is our burial, and His resurrection is our resurrection (see Romans 6:4).  But it does not stop there. For without Him taking us before the Father on that resurrection day, as the barley – Omer wave offering, none of what had taken place before that or after would have had any meaning or significance. And he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Shabbat, the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:11 emphasis added).  

Yeshua is the beginning of the New Creation, just as He was the beginning of the old. This is why the Omer (the "resheet" – "first" or "beginning" of the barley harvest) had to be waved on the first day after the weekly Shabbat – pointing to the new beginning.   The barley offering, in particular, was also part of the process of appeasing the jealous husband (see Number 5:15, Hosea 3:2).  Obviously, Israel was guilty of adultery and bore the curse of a wife who has committed the deeds that she had been suspected of performing.  This Pesach let us celebrate YHVH’s great mercy of providing a Lamb in order to redeem His wayward divorcee back. Had He done only this we could have said "dayeynu" (as the traditional seder song goes) – "it would have been sufficient for us". But He did much more than that. In Jeremiah 31 YHVH surprisingly calls Israel a virgin. This is how great our forgiveness and reconciliation are in His eyes and heart! “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.  Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel"!  (Jeremiah 31:3-4 emphasis added).  

Pesach is the foundation upon which all the other feast days are based. They are all dependent on what takes place during these seven days. If these days and their intentions are not fulfilled as specified in the Torah, as well as in the rest of the scriptures, they all become an ineffective witness to Elohim’s faithfulness. If Pesach is to gain its fuller meaning, our lives are to be lived out from death and into the newness of the life in Messiah.  For this new reality to be ours, it takes to know Him and the power of His resurrection, as stated by the apostle Paul: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…  in order that I/we may attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11).

Friday, April 8, 2022

An Important Message from Hosea

 A few words before we get into the subject matter. The subject of this letter has to do with Ephraim's diaspora, or exile if you will. Perhaps there is a purpose and a reason for what seems to be a delay in the return of the House of Ephraim to the Land. Bear in mind that you didn't know that you were outside of your homeland until just a few years ago (when you discovered your Israelite identity), and your forebears were even less aware that they were living in exile.  

An Important Message from Hosea

Rabbi Mordechai Franko, the head rabbi of a Zionist yeshiva in Hispin which is in the Golan Heights, has been teaching recently the book of Hosea. Singling out chapters 1-3 as a stand-alone unit about the house of Israel/Ephraim, Rabbi Franko has opened it up in a fresh way, making it very applicable to our day.  After chiding, rebuking, and taking action against faithless Israel, in 2:14 YHVH lures her to the wilderness, there to renew and restore their original relationship. Since the desert is the place where this relationship first started, it is only right to return there for making amends. Jeremiah 2:2 reminds us of the 'original' event: "I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown" (Jer. 2:2). Thus, the (renewed) betrothal is also to take place in the wilderness, outside the land (2:19-20).  The restored relationship must be cemented in trust and a genuine love-motivated heart, and not by any selfish interests. The wedding and its consummation will occur in the future, in the land, which is being prepared for Ephraim's return (2:18). In the meantime, the betrothal in the diaspora is a necessary phase before the marriage can happen. YHVH's heart toward Israel is one of loving-kindness and mercy, while she, for her part, is to display righteousness and justice (v. 19). In verse 20 emphasis is put on mutual faithfulness – only in this way can the relationship be restored in its proper manner.

The proverbial scenario of chapter 2 is repeated in chapter 3. In verse 2 the prophet is told to love an adulteress woman, whom he sanctifies/buys with a number of measures of barley. Barley, as we recall, was what the jealous husband was to bring on behalf of his wife to the priest (Number 5:14-15).  In verse 3 a period of testing is described. The relationship, again in a form of betrothal, is marked by fidelity and love but there is no wedding yet. According to the description in verse 4, the sons of Israel "abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim". In other words, a substantial time period is spent outside the land, in the diaspora or exile without sovereignty or a central worship place. Again, both parties are to display their love and faithfulness toward one another during this season, if the marriage is ever to be consummated.

Verse 5 (compare to 2:21-23) speaks to the final return of Ephraim to Elohim, and their seeking "David their king". Ephraim is now seen as accepting Judah and its leadership, implying of course King Yeshua but also the house that He hails from. When these two parts of the Bride are united as one and "appoint" the Bridegroom as their "headthey shall come up out of the land for great will be the day of Jezreel [YHVH's sowing]" (Hosea 1:11). So, if the present-day "life outside the homeland" is of great necessity, according to this exposition of Hosea's prophecy, then being in the "wilderness of the peoples", per Ezekiel 20:33-38, becomes very relevant and may just be the times we are living in - a time when the diaspora experience is highly intensified, as shown by this passage:

 "As I live, says Adonai YHVH, 'surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered [is this a proverbial 'taking out', meaning, being extracted from the world system?], with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.  Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,' says Adonai YHVH.  'I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHVH'" (Ezekiel 20:33-38).

Here it may be added, that the ones who do not rebel will enter the land.

Once more, if indeed these are the very days we are living in, we must heed these words more seriously than ever, wherever we are (of necessity), as this is the betrothal stage with our Bridegroom and thus need to be fully devoted to Him, and wholly engaged (pun intended) in the process. After all, as mentioned above, Ephraim has only recently discovered his identity, and therefore the diaspora experience is very new to most. Therefore, an essential requirement is to consent to the present YHVH-ordained conditions and redeem the time (ref. Eph. 5:15) to its fullest extent in order to be made ready for the marriage feast in the homeland.