The Angel of the Covenant is the Messiah

Behold, I am sending My messenger to clear the way before Me, and the Lord whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly.  As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, he is already coming.” (Malachi 3:1 NJPS)

     I have quoted the above verse from a Jewish translation of the text to demonstrate no Christian bias within the translation.  It has been my supposition for some time now, that the “Angel of the Covenant” is the pre-incarnate Messiah.  The above-quoted text validates this position.  Quite clearly, the messenger that cleared the way before Messiah was John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12), and the one that followed him, was to be the Angel of the Covenant, the Messiah, who would come to His Temple, and this is Jesus (Yeshua) (see John 1:24-28)

     In Mark 1:2, the evangelist ascribes the first part of the verse to John the Baptist.  He is described in the New Testament as the forerunner of Messiah. John also validates the Messiahship of Jesus (John 1:24-28) and Jesus affirms the John was “Elijah who is to come.” (Matthew 17:12) However, Mark stops short of explaining all the Messianic implications in the remainder of the text that is quoted above.  The above quoted verse reads, “The Lord whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly.  As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, he is already coming.”  This text is thousands of years old. Written at least, 400 years before the coming of Jesus.  I would challenge anyone to explain to me who this verse applies to if it is not Jesus.  Remember, Malachi said that “He is already coming.”  If this is not Jesus, than who is it?   The text very plainly identifies two different messengers.  A forerunner who would prepare the way, and the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord, who is divine.  This text, very matter of factly, in a Peshat manner, connects the Angel of the Covenant with “The Lord.”  Thus, this angel of the covenant would become the Messiah and the angel of the covenant, as I have previously written, is a reincarnate Messiah.  Keil and Delitzsch write, “The idea view is precluded not only by the historical fact, that not a single prophet arose in Israel during the whole period between Malachi and John, but also by the context of the passage before us, according to which the sending of the messenger was to take place immediately before the coming of the Lord to His temple…The Lord (ha-adon) is God, this is evident both from the fact that he comes to His temple, the temple of Yahveh..” (1)

     The only historical example that fits the description of this verse is John and Jesus (Yohanan and Yeshua).  I would like to hear from anyone, particularly the Karaite Jews, who embrace a Peshat interpretation of scripture, who this verse applies to, if it is not them.  Shalom.

Endnotes

  1. 1.       C.F. Keil, F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass, volume , page 655-656.

Did Mark Even Read Isaiah?

     The New Testament is a profoundly Jewish book.  Many variants that have arisen over time have arisen from seemingly un-clarified sections of the text.  Mark 1:2&3 are no exceptions to this rule.  It reads, “As it is written by Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” (ESV)  However, it should be noted that many translations change the passage and write, “As it is written in the prophets.”  The oldest manuscripts do ascribe the passage to Isaiah.  It should also be noted that these passages are not found in Isaiah.  The first part in the verse is found in Malachi 3:1 while the second part of the text is found in Isaiah 40:3.  So, was Mark wrong?  It is my belief that Mark originally wrote, “Isaiah the prophet” and that his Jewish audience would have understood what he meant.  It is the purpose of this article to present two valid reasons for believing such.

     To begin with, John Lightfoot, the author of the Commentary on the New Testament, from the Talmud and Hebraica, explains, “He that reads the prophets in the synagogues let him not skip from one prophet to another.  But in the lesser prophets he may skip; with this provision only, that he skip not backward; that is, not from the latter to the former.  But you see how Mark skips here from a prophet of one rank, namely from a prophet who was one of the twelve, to a prophet of another rank; and you see also how he skips backward from Malachi to Isaiah.” (1)  Thus, it would’ve been very obvious to Mark’s Jewish readers that he was not making an error but was upholding a Jewish tradition.  So, why would a later scribe change the reading to “in the prophets.”

     For the most part, scribes that changed the text sought to clarify the text that they copied. A general guideline for textual critics reads that the “strangest reading or the oddest reading, is probably the original.”  In this case, a scribe is more likely to have dropped “Isaiah” from the reading and left “ in the prophets” due to a seemingly obvious error on the part of Mark.  As Bruce Metzger writes, “The quotation in verses 2 and 3 is composite, the first part being from Malachi 3:1 and the second part from Is 40:3.  It is easy to see, therefore, why copyist would have altered the words “In Isaiah the prophet” (a reading found in the earliest representative witnesses of the Alexandrian and the Western types of text) to the more comprehensive introductory formula “in the prophets.” (2)  Because scribes who didn’t understand the Jewish tradition thought it erroneous, they changed the reading.  However, when we understand the traditions of Mark’s Jewish audience, we have no problem accepting the older and more reliable reading of “Isaiah the prophet.”

 

Endnotes

  1. 1.       Lightfoot, J.B. “Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica” Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass, vol 2;2003; page 395.
  2. 2.      Metzger, Bruce, “A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament”  United Bible Societies, U.S.A., 1971, page 62.

Moses and Messiah: The Living Banners

     A banner, or standard, is defined as “a military ensign; the principle symbol of a head of state.” (1)  There are two different Hebrew terms to describe this banner or standard in the Old Testament.  They are “degel” (lgd) and “nes” (sn).  These words “Generally mean a rallying point or standard which drew people together from some common action or for the communication of important t information…People would rally together around a nes for various purposes one of the most important being the gathering of troops for war.” (2)  Each family and tribe in the nation of Israel had a banner (Num 1:52).  They were used to organize the army and to deploy troops.  These are the most common use of the words.  There are; however, three very interesting uses of the word.  One refers to Yahweh as a Banner (Ex. 17:15), the second refers to the “Nehushatan” or the bronze serpent that Moses constructed in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9).  Thirdly, Isaiah 11:10, mentions that Messiah would, likewise, be a banner to the nations.  It is the purpose of this article to examine the spiritual significance of these three passages.

     The Exodus passage states, “The Lord is my Banner.”  It occurs immediately following a battle between the armies of Israel and the armies of Amalek.  As long as Moses raised his arms over the battle, Israel would prevail.  When he did not, Amalek would prevail.  Aaron and Hur assisted Moses in the elevation of his arms and Israel wins the day.  Afterwards, Moses builds an alter and declares, “YHWH Nissi” (sn hwhy) The LORD is my Banner.”  The interesting point about this is that Moses was the standard-banner during the battle.  He was the living Banner that represented Yahweh.  He was the rallying point and the human representative of the Divine activity.  Commenting on this, the International Bible Encyclopedia states, “Perhaps the oldest use of this word in the OT took place at Rephidim where Israel battled the Amalekites and Moses himself, with arms outstretched, became a living banner symbolizing God’s presence.” (3)  Moses was a living banner.

     Similarly, Isaiah the prophet gives us a picture of Messiah.  He writes, “Then in that day, there shall be a Root of Jesse who shall stand as a banner to the people.  For the Gentiles shall seek Him.  And His resting place shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10 NKJV)  The root of Jesse refers to a Jesus the son of David, the son of God and He is a Living Banner that represents Yahweh.  (See my previous article regarding the Angel of His Face).  He is a banner for all the peoples of the earth to commune with God and find the glorious resting place of His salvation.  Finally, the Old and the New Covenant meet over a common banner.

     The people of Israel are plagued by an invasion of snakes.  They are bitten and on the brink of death.  God instructs Moses to build a bronze serpent and place in on a pole (making it a standard) for all the people to see.  The people, by faith, would look at the serpent and be healed.  This bronze serpent became a symbol of divine healing and restoration in relationship with God.  Jesus links the Old Covenant with the New when he identifies himself as the living banner.  He states, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that whoever believes will have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-16.  Thus, Jesus is the Living Banner of YHWH.  He is the prophet that Moses told us would come.  A prophet “like Moses” (Duet 18:18) who would be a living banner of God.  He is also the banner that calls the nations to enter into His rest by faith.  Moses was the first “living banner” and Messiah would be the final and fulfillment of the “Living Banner.”

 

Endnotes

  1. 1.       Webster, Noah, “American Dicitonaryh of the English Language 1828.”American Christian Education, San Francisco, CA, 1967.
  2. 2.      Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L.; Waltke, Bruce; “The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980, page 583.
  3. 3.      Bromiley, Geoffrey (chief editor), “The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” William Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, page 409.

There Are Just Too Many Trees to See This Forest. An Examination of the Prophecy of Matthew 27:9.

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”

 

     The astute reader of scripture will notice that there is an issue here.  This quotation which Matthew ascribes to Jeremiah wasn’t spoken by Jeremiah at all.  It is actually a quotation from Zechariah 11:12-13. (1)  What should we make of this?  If Matthew is wrong, should we throw out his supposition that this passage relates to the events in the life of Jesus?  Two theories have attempted to harmonize the quotation.  The first that Matthews use of Jeremiah refers to the entire collection of the prophets.  Second, that the use of Jeremiah is a scribal error and the passage should read, “that which was spoken by the prophet.”  The purpose of this article is two-fold.  First, to examine the explanations to determine their validity.  Secondly, to determine if the use of Jeremiah even matters when applying the theological applications of the text.

    It is possible that Matthew is referring to the entire collection of the prophets.  J.B. Lightfoot writes, “I do confidently assert that Matthew wrote Jeremiah, as we read it, and that it was very readily understood and received by his countrymen.  We will transcribe the following monument of antiquity out of the Talmudists, and then let the reader judge:  ‘A tradition of the Rabbins.  This is the order of the prophets.  The Book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve.’  And a little after: ‘But since Isaiah was before both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he ought to have been set before them and all of Jeremiah is about destruction, and since Ezekiel begins with destruction and ends with comfort; and all Isaiah is about comfort, they joined destruction with destruction ,and comfort with comfort.’ That is, they placed these books together which treat of destruction and those together which treat comfort.  You have this tradition quoted by David Kimchi in his preface to Jeremiah.  Whence it is very plain that Jeremiah of old had the first place among the prophets; and thereby because he stood first in the volume of the prophets; and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest…When, therefore, Matthews produced a text of Zechariah under the name of Jeremiah, he only cites the words of the volume of the prophets under his name who stood first in the volume of the prophets.” (2) It is the testimony of the Talmudic rabbis that the order of the text of the prophets listed Jeremiah first.  The readers of Matthew’s text would have easily understood that the quote was from Zechariah but identified with Jeremiah as it is the first volume in the works of the prophets.  This explanation is very plausible.

     The second possibility is that Jeremiah is a scribal addition to the text.  Thus, the original text read, “that which was spoken by the prophets.  St. Augustine first proposed this theory.  He writes, “First take notice of the fact that this ascription of the passage to Jeremiah is not contained in all the manuscripts of the Gospels, and that some of them state simply that it was spoken ‘by the prophet.’  It is possible, therefore, to affirm that those manuscripts deserve rather to be followed that do not contain the name of Jeremiah.  For these words were certainly spoken by a prophet, only that prophet was Zechariah.” (3)  As elegant as this explanation may be, it doesn’t carry much weight with textual critics.  Bruce Metzger writes, “The reading Jeremiah is firmly established, being supported by a A B C L X W D P G and most minuscule’s, most of the Old Latin vg., syr., Coptic, goth, arm eth geo.  Since, however, the passage quoted by the evangelist is not to be found in Jeremiah, but seems to come from Zechariah (11.12-13), it is not surprising that several witnesses substitute Zechariah, while others omit the name entirely.” (4)  The bulk of the manuscript evidence supports the reading of Jeremiah.  Additionally, one of the standards of textual criticism states, “the most difficult reading is probably the original” meaning that scribes copied texts and oftentimes made alterations for the sake of clarification.  So it would be more likely for a scribe to drop Jeremiah from the original reading than for a scribe to add it to the text.  Subsequently, Jeremiah appears to be the original wording.  With this line of reasoning, St Augustine would also agree.  He writes, “I look also to this further consideration, namely that there was no reason why this name should have been added {subsequently to the true text} and a corruption thus created; whereas there was certainly an intelligible reason for erasing the name from so many of the manuscripts.  For presumptuous inexperience might readily have done that, when perplexed with the problem presented by the circumstance that this passage cannot be found in Jeremiah.” (5)  The supposition that Jeremiah was not in the original text, at this juncture in biblical history and New Testament textual criticism, appears false.

     What difference does it make?  Should we toss out Matthews’s interpretation of this passage of prophecy because it appears to ascribe the reading to the wrong prophet?  To do so would be to not see the forest for the trees.  Let us keep the baby and discard the bath water.  The fact that the text of Zechariah so plainly fits the events that Matthew describes in the life of Jesus tells us that this is a Messianic fulfillment of the prophecy.  In order to see the forest, we mustn’t get hung up with the technicality of all the trees.  The content of the passage from Zechariah when placed in the events of the crucifixion has a definite messianic application.  Thus, the passage should be viewed as a fulfillment of the prophecy precisely as Matthew has written it as Matthew has ascribed to Jeremiah the writings of the prophets. 

Endnotes

  1. 1.       The passage in Zechariah reads, “So they weighted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.  And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter—that princely price they set on me.  So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the House of the LORD for the potter.”  The content is obviously applicable to the exchange between Judas and the priest/elders.
  2. 2.      Lightfoot, J.B. “Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica” Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass, vol 2;2003; page 362-363.
  3. 3.      Ehrman, bart; Metzger, Bruce, “The Text of the New Testament, it Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration” Oxford University Press, New York, NY, page 202.
  4. 4.      Metzger, Bruce, “A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament”  Inited Bible Socieiteis, U.S.A., 1971, page 55.
  5. 5.      Ibid, Ehrman and Metzger.

The Angel of His Face

“In all their affliction he was afflicted, And the Angel of His Face saved them…(Isaiah 63:9)

     Continuing the theme of my last post, I want to expound on some things that became apparent to me from the investigation into the Messiah in the Old Testament.  This article continues my supposition that the “Angel of the Yahweh” mentioned in the Tanach is YHWH Himself and a Pre-incarnate Messiah.  (see my last post for details “The Defense of Christina Deity.”)  While researching this Angel, I stumbled across the above-quoted verse.  I was captivated by the phrase, “of His Face.”  Since we’ve been discussing the pros vs. cons of the Peshat approach to scriptures (used mainly by the Karaite Jews), I thought a literal examination of this verse would be in order.

     The Hebrew for face is mnp( (panim) which is literally means “face”.  No spiritual/theological gymnastics are required to determine its meaning.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states, “The face identifies the person and reflects the attitude and sentiments of the person.  As such, panim can be a substitute for the self, or the feelings of the self.” (1)  This was exactly what I was thinking, that this Angel (or messenger in Hebrew) is here literally (Peshatlly if you will) identified with Yahweh Himself.  I thought, perhaps, I was reading into it, so I searched for some additional commentary on it.  Keil and Delitasch write, “This mediatorial angel is called the “the angel of His face,” as being the representative of God, for the “face of God” is His self-revealing presence.  The genitive wynp, therefore, it’s not to be taken objectively in the sense of the “angels who sees His face,” but as explanatory, “the angel who is His face, or in whom His face is manifested.” (2)  Notice the “w” on the end of the word.  It is called a pronominal suffix and the literal translation of it is “His.”  The grammar (syntax) of the Hebrew (literally, plainly, Peshat) is written with “possession” in mind and this tells us that this Messenger represents or is His Face.  There is one final witness I would like to call that bears witness of this translation.

     A group of Rabbis translated the Tanach into Greek a few hundred years before the time of Jesus.  How did they interpret the verse?  The literal translation form the Greek is “not an ambassador, nor a messenger (angel), but Himself saved them.’ (Greek: ou presbus, oude aggelos, all autos eswsen autos.)  Their understanding of the verse is the same as the supposition that is but forth here.

     To conclude, we have the Hebrew text itself (syntax), the commentary of theologians, and the translation of ancient rabbis which all proclaim that this Angel is Yahweh Himself.  Notice how the first part of the verse begins, “In all their afflictions, He was afflicted.”  This sounds much like the character of Messiah and much like the character of Jesus.  This Angel was a pre-incarnate Savior of Israel and of the Gentiles.

Endnotes

  1. 1.       R.L. Harris, Editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, Associate Editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 727.
  2. 2.      C.F. Keil, F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass, volume 7, page 599-600.

The Trinity in Isaiah

“Come near to Me:  Hear this, not from the beginning in secret have I spoken.  From the time of its Being, there I was.  And now, Lord Yahweh has sent Me and His Spirit.” (Isaiah 48:16)

     The above quoted verse is a transliteration of the Hebrew of Isaiah 48:16.  (I will spare you the gory details of the syntax, which too many of my friends, will be much appreciated.  My wife included.)  I am writing about this to continue on the theme of the last few post regarding Christian Deity from the Old Testament.  I mention the syntax and exegesis (translation and exact meaning of the text) because I’ve been using a “Peshat” approach to prove the existence of the Trinity from the Tanach (Old Testament).  Additionally, I’ve quoted the transliteration above because I believe that most English translations get it wrong.  They will write something like “Come near me and listen to this:  From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret at the time it happens, I am there.  And now, the Sovereign LORD has sent me with His Spirit.” (New International Version)  It is my opinion that this translation misses the essence of the text.  Mainly, that God is identifying His Triune Nature in this verse.  God is speaking in the verse.  He speaks of three distinct beings.  First, the speaker, second, the Lord Yahweh, and lastly, His Spirit.  Additionally, this speaker states, “From the time of its Being”, the word in Hebrew for Being is the same word from which “Yahweh” is formulated.  The speaker is identifying His eternal nature and thus, identifies Himself as Yahweh.  But, let’s not just take my word for it, let’s hear from the theologians.

     Keil and Delitzsch write, “Up to this point Jehovah is speaking; but who is it that now proceeds to say, “And now—namely, now that the redemption of Israel is about to appear (וְעַתָּה being here, as in many other instances, e.g., Isa. 33:10, the turning-point of salvation)—now that the Lord Jehovah sent me and His Spirit?” The majority of the commentators assume that the prophet comes forward here in his own person, behind Him whom he has introduced, and interrupts Him. But although it is perfectly true, that in all prophecy, from Deuteronomy onwards, words of Jehovah through the prophet and words of the prophet of Jehovah alternate in constant, and often harsh transitions, and that our prophet has this mark of divine inspiration in common with all the other prophets (cf., Isa. 62:5, 6), it must also be borne in mind, that hitherto he has not spoken once objectively of himself, except quite indirectly (vid., Isa. 40:6; 44:26), to say nothing of actually coming forward in his own person. Whether this takes place further on, more especially in Isa. 61, we will leave for the present; but here, since the prophet has not spoken in his own person before, whereas, on the other hand, these words are followed in Isa. 49:1ff. by an address concerning himself from that servant of Jehovah who announces himself as the restorer of Israel and light of the Gentiles, and who cannot therefore be ether Israel as a nation or the author of these prophecies, nothing is more natural than to suppose that the words, “And now hath the Lord,” etc., form a prelude to the words of the One unequalled servant of Jehovah concerning Himself which occur in Isa. 49. The surprisingly mysterious way in which the words of Jehovah suddenly pass into those of His messenger, which is only comparable to Zech. 2:12ff., 4:9 (where the speaker is also not the prophet, but a divine messenger exalted above him), can only be explained in this manner. And in no other way can we explain the וְעַתָּה, which means that, after Jehovah has prepared the way for the redemption of Israel by the raising up of Cyrus, in accordance with prophecy, and by his success in arms, He has sent him, the speaker in this case, to carry out, in a mediatorial capacity, the redemption thus prepared, and that not by force of arms, but in the power of the Spirit of God (Isa. 42:1; cf., Zech. 4:6). Consequently the Spirit is not spoken of here as joining in the sending (as Umbreit and Stier suppose, after Jerome and the Targum: the Septuagint is indefinite, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ); nor do we ever find the Spirit mentioned in such co-ordination as this (see, on the other hand, Zech. 7:12, per spiritum suum ). The meaning is, that it is also sent, i.e., sent in and with the servant of Jehovah, who is speaking here. To convey this meaning, there was no necessity to write either ‏שָׁלַח אֹתִי וְרוּחוֹ‎ or ‏שׁלחני וְאֶת־רוחו‎, since the expression is just the same as that in Isa. 29:7, ‏צֹבֶיהָ וּמְצֹדָתָהּ; and the Vav may be regarded as the Vav of companionship (Mitschaft, lit., with-ship, as the Arabs call it; see at Isa. 42:5). (1)  Notice this last part, the Vav of companionship.  In Hebrew this vav is attached to the beginning of a word and is almost always translated “and” and almost never “with”.  Thus, the trinity is defined in the verse.

 

     What is the sense of all this?  Basically, the text speaks of three individuals.  Lord YHWH, and the messenger who steps forward to speak, a pre-incarnate Messiah, and the Sprit which linguistically is connected by companionship and, as such, represents a separate being in the text.  The trinity is here clearly (Peshatly) defined in the Hebrew of the Old Testament.  The speaker clearly identifies His co-eternal existence with Lord Yahweh (Hebrew is Adonai YHWH) and the Spirit.  This is strikingly similar to what Jesus says about Himself to a group of Jews.  He states, “Before Abraham was, I am.”  Jesus is clearly making a claim to Deity and His message is clearly understood by the Jews.  They pick up stones to stone Him.

 

Endnotes

 R.L. Harris, Editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, Associate Editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 465

The Defense of Christian Deity

Recently, a reader of my post, The Defense of New Testament Prophecy, wrote a comment.  He wrote:

 Perhaps the problem with your group is that a “Torah-observant Christian” is an oxymoron. For an observant reader of scripture reads:

Numbers 23:19: YHWH is not a man, that He should be deceitful, nor the son of man, that He should repent.

Psalms 146:3: Do not rely on princes in or in the son of man, for he holds no salvation.

Hoshea 11:9. I will not execute the kindling of My anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not a man.

1 Sam15: 28-29 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you, today; and has given it to your fellow who is better than you. And also, the Strength of Israel will neither lie nor repent, for He is not a man to repent.”

Perhaps a Torah observant reader would conclude that these verses are incompatible with the notion of a Christian Deity.

     These comments, from a Karaite Jew, really demonstrate the point of the above-mentioned article.  Mainly, that a Peshat (plain/literal) interpretation of scripture has tremendous pitfalls.  This comment also demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of Christian Deity.  The concept of Christian Deity is much deeper than Jesus, the man.  It represents YWHW as Father, Son, and Spirit.  That all three are equally YWHW, that all three are one (Hebrew “echad”) and all three are well documented in Torah, even using a Peshat mode of interpretation of the text.  This is a great mystery.  As Avram Yehoshua writes, “The problem that some have with Jesus ‘being God’ is that most confuses the noun-title God with a name like John or Ted.  So, in Heaven, there can only be on John (God), but God is not a name.  It is a designation, the One having it being deity.  In a sense, ‘God” could be the last name of Deity; the family name:  Papa God, Yeshua the Son (God), and the Holy Spirit (God). All share the God-ness or deity.  We have no problem with an earthly family having all its members with the same last name…They, too, share the name nature (human) and are one family.” (1)  Yes, they can be different but be “one”.  The Hebrew word “echad” denotes this particular concept.  According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament it means, “to be united…and stresses unity while recognizing diversity within that oneness.” (2) This concept is, perhaps, demonstrated the most in what contemporary Judaism calls the “Sh’ma.”  In Deuteronomy chapter six it states, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is one.”  The word is “echad” and illustrates the point that God is diverse but still united.   The purpose of this post is to demonstrate the concept of the Trinity, not from the entire Tanach (in which it is also well documented) but from the Torah alone.

    Our first evidence comes from the book of Exodus (twmv) and it states, “HaShem (YWHW) would speak to Moses face to face, as a man would speak with his fellow…” (33:11 Stone Edition Tanach, I’m using a Jewish translation to demonstrate no Christian bias from the text) However, we see an apparent contradiction in a different verse later in the same chapter.  Moses, requesting to behold the glory of YHWH is told, “You will not be able to see My face, for no human can see My face and live.” (33:20) (The Hebrew word for face is the same in both verses.)  How can both these exist?  Simply, it is the Father whose face cannot be beheld by humans and live.  It is a different aspect of YHWH than what Moses met with face to face in the tabernacle.  This is the Pre-incarnate Messiah!  There is additional evidence of this. 

     When Moses beholds the “glory” of God from the rock, this is what the Torah says, “Hashem  (YWHW) descended in a cloud and stood with him there, and He called out with the Name Hashem (YWHW).  Hashem (YWHW) passed before him and proclaimed…” (34:5-6) How can YWHW descend in a cloud and stand next to Moses and proclaim the name of the YWHW as YWHW passes by?  Plainly, there is more than one aspect of YWHW.  There is the Father who passes by, the Son who descends in the cloud, and the Spirit is the cloud (The Shekinah).

    In Exodus ((twmv), the angel of the YWHW appears to Moses in the burning bush.  Who is this angel that speaks in the first person on behalf of YWHW?  It is this angel that tells Moses to go to Egypt to deliver “My People”.  It is this angel who tells Moses that “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…”  It is this angel that tells Moses that his name is YWHW.  The text clearly identifies YWHW with this angel.  Who is this angel?  This is the Messiah before his incarnation into humanity.  I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion.  The Talmudic Sages saw the same reference to Messiah here as well.  They state, “Three things were created on the basis of the name of the Holy One:  the Righteous, the Messiah, and Jerusalem.” (3)  Also, Rabbis Shmuel Ben Naham (ca 260 ad) and Abba Bar Kahan (ca 300 ad) came to the conclusion that “this is the name of the Messiah.” (4)  According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “This angel is spoken of as ‘the angel of the Lord’, and ‘the angel of the presence or face) of the Lord.’  The following passages contain references to this angel:  Gen 16:7 the angel and Hagar; Gen,18  Abraham intercedes with the angel for Sodom; Gen 22:1 the angel interposes to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac; Gen 24:7,  Abraham sends Eliezer and promises him the ange’ls protection; Gen 31:1 the angel who appears to Jacob and says, “I am the God of Bethel’; Gen 32:24  Jacob wrestles with the angel and says, ‘I have seen God face to face’ ; Gen 48:15 Jacob speaks of God and the angel as identical; Ex 3 the angel appears to Moses in the burning bush; Ex 13:21; 14:19 God or the angel lead Israel out of Egypt; Ex 23:20  the people are commanded to obey the angel; Ex 32:34-33:17  Moses pleads the presence of God with His people.” (5) This angel is the pre-incarnate Messiah!  I say this because the Hebrew word for angel (מלאך mal’lach) can be translated a “messenger or representative” and not just angel.  We can clearly see that this representative of Yahweh was in fact, Yahweh Himself.  Additionally, it was necessary for this angel or pre-incarnate God to become a man.

     It began in the beginning.  Immediately after Adam and Eve sin and eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the mission of Messiah is identified.  In Genesis chapter three, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)  It is the ‘seed’ of a woman that will crush the head of the enemy (HaSatan).  Thus, it is imperative that Messiah would become a human being.  Jesus was not just a man, as the comments from my Karaite friend seem to suggest, He was God who became a man because the seed of a woman would crush the enemy (death and the devil).  This is not just my opinion, it is also noted in the Jerusalem Targums.  It reads, “Finally, in the days of Messiah-King, he will be wounded in His Heel.” (6)  In order for mankind to be redeemed from the curse, it required the intervention of a man.  The seed of a woman would be the Messiah, it was necessary for this aspect of Yahweh to become “a man.”

  The activities of the Spirit are well documented as well.  It is the Spirit that “hovers over” in the beginning of creation (Bereshit Gen 1:2) It is the Spirit that “will not contend” with sinful humanity (6:3).  In Exodus, (twmv), it is the Spirit of God (ruach elohim) that fills Uri and Bezalel and empowers them to construct the tabernacle. (Ex 37:1-2)  It is also the Spirit of God that comes upon Balaam and orders the prophetic blessings rather than curses.  The activities of the Spirit are all activities of YWHW.  Thus, the Spirit is an aspect of YWHW as well.

     In conclusion, it is well documented in the Torah that YWHW acts through three distinct beings.  That of the Father, the Creator who no human can behold and live.  That of the Son, the pre-incarnate angel of YWHW who speaks in the first person for YWHW and delivers Israel from Egypt.  That also of the Spirit, who gives divine power to accomplish the will of YWHW and to speak prophetic blessings of Israel.  This is the concept of Christian deity; it is more than just “a man.”  Rather, Christian deity exemplifies all of the activities of YWHW and recognizes the many aspects of YWHW as all co-equal and one.

 

 

 

 

Endnotes

  1. 1.      Yehoshua, Avram, Yeshua:  God the Son, www.seedofabraham.net.
  2. 2.      R.L. harris, Editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, Associate Editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 30.
  3. 3.       Masekhet Baba Bathra 75b.
  4. 4.      Ibid.
  5. 5.      Bromiley, Geoffrey, Editor; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,   Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, volume one; 1979, page, 125.
  6. 6.      As quoted in Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament  in the Light of the Rabbinical Writings, Keren Ahvah Meshihit, Jerusalem Israel, 1992, page 38.