The Melkizedekian Priesthood

The term Priesthood of Melchizedek has differing meanings for various religious streams.  Since the beginning of human history a priesthood of the Most High God has been in existence, from the creation of Adam to the present day. In the days of old a priesthood of the firstborn sons was ordained, apparently by HaShem (God) Himself.

The Christians tout Jesus as such a priest, but not truly understanding from where it derives. Such a priesthood is fraught with responsibility and burdens unfamiliar with many God-fearing people. Torah obedience is the yoke of that priesthood, faithfulness to the Mosaic Covenant a requirement. Contrary to certain teachings  it true purpose has never been hidden.

Many have read the account in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) of harsh judgment HaShem imposed upon Israel first King – Shaul – for assuming certain priestly functions but are bewildered when King David acts in a similar fashion and has no rebuke, in fact King David laid upon the Ark of the Covenant with no harm come to him – strange indeed. But once one understands the implications of this priesthood, these strange occurrences can be perhaps understood. The following article from Orthodox Rabbi Ariel bar Zadok is offered as a starting step towards that understanding.

Priests of Israel, and Priests from Israel

by Ariel Bar Tzadok Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.

There are priests, and then there are priests.

Aaron, and his sons, were chosen by God to serve as His priests in the Tabernacle, and in the later Temple in Jerusalem. The sons of Aaron are the priesthood of the children of Israel. However, prior to God’s selection of this special family from the Tribe of Levi, God chose another family, and also ordained them to be priests.

This other family, however, were not chosen, like Aaron, to begin a new priesthood, but rather to continue, and maintain an already existing one. When this other priesthood started, the Bible does not say. Our earliest reference to it begins with the Patriarch Abraham. He encountered a priest of this earlier priesthood, and, through him, made an offering to this priest’s God. This God was not yet known as YHWH. This God’s Name was El Elyon (the Highest God). The name of the priest was Melchizedek (the king of righteousness).

Torah legend expands on the simple encounter between Melchizedek and Abraham recorded in Genesis. According to legend, (and apparently later confirmed in the Book of Exodus), while Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe for El Elyon, Melchizedek also gave something in return to Abraham. Melchizedek ordained Abraham to be a Melchizedekian priest. The legend says that Abraham passed on this ordination to his son, Isaac. Issac then passed it down to his son Jacob, who passed it on to all twelve of his sons, and their descendants.

At Mt. Sinai, God speaks, and refers to the entire children of Israel as being a nation of priests. But just what kind of priests are they? The entire nation, through the original election of their patriarch Abraham, had become a nation of Melchizedekian priests.

All Israel became a nation of priests, whereas Aaron’s family became the priests of the priests. Aaron’s family priestly responsibilities are clearly spelled out in the Torah. Not only were the sons of Aaron responsible for the ritual offerings of YHWH, they had a possibly even greater responsibility to serve as the nation’s teachers.

The greatest role of the sons of Aaron was to teach all the Children of Israel the ways of YHWH, and how to live them. The priests of Aaron, as seen throughout many Biblical examples, were the teachers who taught the nation Torah, and they, (for the most part), were also the prophets who brought to the people the Living (prophetic) Words of YHWH. Aaron’s descendants, which included the major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, served as the light to the Children of Israel.

While the Torah elaborates in detail the responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood, what then were the responsibilities of the Melchizedekian priests, (the entire House of Israel)? Like Aaron’s sons, Jacob’s children were required to live by a priestly code of conduct that separated them from the rank-and-file laymen of the rest of humanity. This “Melchizedekian” code of conduct we know today as the Laws of the Torah, still observed faithfully by all Jewish individuals who seek to walk in accordance to its ancient traditions, and modern-day interpretations of practice.

Yet, there is much more to being a priest than to live by the priestly code. Aaron’s priestly code was a means to an end, and not an end in itself. If this is true about the Aaronic code, is it also not true about the Melchizedekian code? But, of course, it is.

Torah, and mitzvot were given to Israel for a purpose. They too serve as a means to an end. So then, what is that end? What is the purpose of Israel, and its keeping of the commandments of YHWH? How does Israel fulfill its ministry of being a nation of priests? Aaron, and his sons, served as priests to Israel; to whom is Israel, as a nation, supposed to serve?

Like the sons of Aaron who taught Israel, the entire House of Israel was to serve as teachers, and as a light to all the nations of the Earth. In other words, the Melchizedekian priesthood of Israel is charged to serve all humanity, and to bring to the world the Living (prophetic) Word of YHWH. Over the many centuries since Sinai, this is exactly what Israel has done.

Israel, as a nation, was chosen by God, to be His Nation of Priests, to serve as a light, and role model to all humanity as to how to properly treat, and respect our fellow human beings.

Alongside this fundamental social message, Israel was to introduce to all humanity, the experience of the Divine Singularity. In other words, Israel was not to be just like all the other nations, and their religions, each one claiming, “my god is bigger than your god, my religion is better than yours.” This type of silly religious expression only shows how terribly, spiritually immature such beliefs are.

Israel was not made a nation of priests to argue about religion, or to debate religious concepts. On the contrary, Israel’s message was simple. The message is that throughout all the universe, there is but One Singularity. Everything in existence is part and parcel of the underlying Singularity. Everything emanates from a Singular Source; essentially everything is part of the greater Whole.

All physical perceptions of separation, and division are only superficial. This is called the Secret of Unity (Sod HaYihud). All is in The One, and The One is in all. This is a reality that needs to be experienced. It cannot be learned through proclamation, even though the Torah faithful do proclaim the words numerous time daily.

Just like Aaron’s sons brought Israel closer to God, Israel, in turn, is to bring all of humanity closer to God. This is the purpose, and role of the Melchizedekian priesthood of greater Israel. With this being said, and the identity of the priesthood now clear, let us discuss what exactly is the role of the individual priest.

Priests are civil servants. They are called upon to perform an arduous, often difficult, and mostly thankless job. The priest’s job is to be on-call always, to be ready to serve at every moment. The priest often receives no thanks, and certainly no reward (in this world) for a job well done.

A calling into the priesthood can be compared to a military draft. One is chosen; one does not have a choice. One follows orders, one does not give them. So too a priest is one that serves, he is not one to be served. The priest is always “on the bottom,” holding things up. He is never “on top” looking down on anyone, or anything.

The priest’s job is a combination of teacher, and repairman. The priest has to get down and dirty, in order to serve, and to assure that the work he does for humanity is established, bringing greater good to the world. Thus, to be a priest is a lot of work. There is no glory in it, any more than being drafted for a suicide mission into a hot combat zone.

Being a priest certainly transforms an individual, but unfortunately there are all too many mistaken beliefs about what this transformation really is. For starters, no priest is better than anyone else. By being a priest, one is by no means smarter, wiser, or more physically attractive. A priest is not wealthier, and indeed should not be pursuing wealth. God is their wealth.

If a priest lives up to his calling, then indeed, he can draw closer to God. If, however, on the other hand, the priest fails to live up to his obligations to both God, and to humanity, then he will not come any closer to God, any more than the one who is the furthest away from experiencing the Divine Singularity.

Living up to being a priest is a great responsibility. It is also a great burden. This is why the Laws of Torah are called a yoke. Yokes are not easily carried, they weight heavy on one’s shoulders. The role of the priest is to serve as the bridge that unites Heaven and Earth. The priest shows the way. Yes, there is indeed a heavy weight on the shoulders of each and every priest. The whole world depends upon him. No wonder why so many want to flee the burden.

The priest is the teacher, the worker, and the soldier. The priest does what he has to do, not for the sake of reward, but rather for the sake of fulfilling one’s duty. Above all, a priest is zealous to fulfill his duty, to serve humanity, and not be served in like kind. This is how he fulfills his duty in serving God. This is what defines the role, and responsibility of being a nation of priests.

Aaron has his place in Israel. Israel (Melchizedek) has its place in humanity.

Je-wish You a Merry Xmas

By Rabbi Naphtali ‘Tuly’ Weisz

At this time of year, many Jews struggle with finding the right message to teach our kids about Christmas. Even something as harmless as wishing neighbors and coworkers a ‘Merry Christmas’ makes some Jews uncomfortable. Raising proud Jewish children in America is no easy task as more as more Jews abandon the faith and assimilate. Nativity Scenes, Christmas Trees and any perceived threats against Judaism are met with great resistance by many Jews. As much as I understand those concerns, I also think that we are missing the mark and so I proudly wish a Merry Christmas to my Christian friends.

Yes, it is true, assimilation is a frightening problem today. According to Pew’s Survey of Jewish Americans taken in October, one in five Jews describe themselves as “Jews of no religion” and two thirds of them are not raising their children as Jewish in any way. At this rate, Judaism’s strongest community outside of Israel is at great risk of sinking like the Titanic.

It is easy to look around and point the blame at Christian America for so many Jews shedding their heritage. Yet the real villain here is not the faith of another religion, it is the faithlessness of society at large. In his wonderful article “Is Christmas Good for the Jews”, Rabbi Benjamin Blech argues that “our children today are threatened by the spirit of secularism more than by songs dedicated to proclaiming a holy night.” He goes on to say that Christmas in America has been responsible for many positive Jewish results like greater self awareness and concludes that he really loves the Christmas season.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin explains that “Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word “Christmas” is deeply offensive. I think we Jews may be making a grievous mistake in allowing them to banish Christmas without challenge.” Lapin concludes with a call to his fellow Jews to turn their backs on secularism and to wish their Christian friends a very merry Christmas as opposed to the politically correct “Happy Holidays.”

Christmas is certainly a time that highlights the differences between Jews and Christians, yet getting to know so many Christian Zionists has demonstrated to me that what unites us is far more important than what divides us. I agree wholeheartedly with Rabbi Blech and Rabbi Lapin and wish all of my Christian friends and readers a very merry Christmas and a year of stronger bonds between our two communities so we can fight together against the forces of faithlessness while uniting in our mutual reverence for God.

On a lighter note, these Jews are also getting into the holiday spirit by putting a Jewish twist on some classic Christmas songs, enjoy! (Begin watching at 0:50)   A Kretzmach Niggun

[Source: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com]

Palestinian Barbarism

This week we saw the true character of the Palestinian Agenda. Evil. Unmitigated Evil. As millions of people watched the horrific images of the slaughter of Jews inside their own synagogue, many were so shocked at the malevolent hatred that manifested itself. Many asked why? Why would someone do that? Why would they go into a synagogue and start shooting innocent fathers like that?

And to add fuel to the fire it was the Palestinian leader, Abbas, who ignited the flames. Then the response from the Palestinian people was clear – Dancing, Cheering and the Passing out of Candy and Sweets to celebrate the success of two of their own, now deservedly dead Palestinian youths. What can a person think of such people?

There is evil and darkness in the world. And though we continue to fight back such evil with the light of our Torah and the strength of our faith, that evil and darkness is continuing to advance forward. And the world is crippled in fear to condemn such evil. This was clear by the lack of condemnation from most of the worlds leaders. Even President Obama official statement was couched in moral equivalency:

“I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more. There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians. The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.”

Contrary to his politically correct statement which should have addressed Abbas’ role in the terrorist act, Mr Obama sees the Palestinians as victims. This is well known. However God warns us not to play politics with Evil:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! ( Isaiah 5:20)

The current role reversal of Good & Evil are the reality of the modern world. We call that which is good evil and prop up evil and darkness as that which is good and holy. While Israel has shown tremendous restraint toward the Palestinians – offering aid, employment, medicine and much more, the World condemns Israel at every opportunity, especially when it defends itself and it’s citizens. The Palestinians and others repay Israels goodwill with hate and evil.

But my enemies are vigorous and strong, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. And those who repay evil for good, they oppose me, because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, do not be far from me! (Psalm 38:19-21)

We saw how the Palestinians reacted with joy and celebration once hearing of the execution and murder of Jews who were praying to Hashem. They celebrated their evil with brazenness, but the Holy One, blessed be His Name. sees their evil crime:

The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)

We have written various articles over the years about the conflict between the so-called Palestinian people and Israel. In my view, measured against history and my own visit to Israel, I feel the Palestinians are a reprehensible horde of people, prone to extremism and baseless hatred. Their Islamic faith only inflames that hatred to the point that they believe that genocide of the Jewish people is a viable option.

I could never see how a Palestinian State could bring peace between Israel and Palestine. In fact it will bring more terror and more war. And while the question of Palestinian statehood will not be determined by the like of me or those like me, an answer to a question many ask in such situations may give some comfort. Why does God allow such evil to exist? Why did he allow this to happen?

The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil...(Isaiah 57:1)

Please Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

Judaism’s Push Against Homosexuality

Dennis Prager has written a very compelling article of why homosexuality is considered to be a horrid sexual choice. Please take the time to read this:

When Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. The Torah’s prohibition of non-marital sex quite simply made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity.

 

This revolution consisted of forcing the sexual genie into the marital bottle. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society, heightened male-female love and sexuality (and thereby almost alone created the possibility of love and eroticism within marriage), and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.

It is probably impossible for us, who live thousands of years after Judaism began this process, to perceive the extent to which undisciplined sex can dominate man’s life and the life of society. Throughout the ancient world, and up to the recent past in many parts of the world, sexuality infused virtually all of society.

Worlds before Worlds and the Cycle of Time

In the sixth millennium the gates of supernal knowledge will open above along with the wellsprings of secular wisdom below. This will begin the process whereby the world will prepare to enter the seventh, Sabbath, millennium.”

As a species, humanity is in a state of bewilderment. We are a race who really has no concrete idea of were we come from, why we exist, or even what is our purpose. If we are to believe the priests of evolution, we are the result of a accident. We are the result of the processes of cosmic goo. We are birthed, we live a short while, then we die and are no more. How depressing to think in such hopeless terms.

The wisdom of the ancient peoples tell us a far different story. And though some will not believe it, their wisdom was considerable and far beyond our own today. There is an ancient body of knowledge which unfortunately has been hidden, obscured, or derided by men of small minds who tell us that we are living in an age of enlightenment, that our current level of development is the apex of civilization. The fact is our current existence, while tempered with technological advancement, is mired in darkness and ignorance, both spiritually and temporally.

As you pick up this book and begin to read, allow me to posit a question.  If your future happiness and the happiness of your loved ones, even your very survival were dependent upon your understanding of what the Scriptures said, would you rely on the understanding of another or would you discover for yourself what the Bible taught? Would you just follow along with mainstream religions who told you what truth to embrace, or would you search it out yourselves?

If you have no inclination toward discovery and spiritual revelation and have no interest in earth’s true histories, then take the blue pill and go on with your life, oblivious to the ultimate reward such knowledge offers – freedom, hope, purpose and a eternal future. But unlike many mystery religions this knowledge is at your fingertips, free of charge (minus the cost of the book, of course).

Cycles of Time

Though the first verse of the Torah is normally translated as, “In the beginning…” there is good reason to question it.  Most students of Hebrew know that the vowel pointing of a consonant can change it’s meaning.  Hebrew rules of grammar tell us that a patach under a bet

בַ means in the, whereas a bet with a shva בְ means in a. Though this may seem inconsequential to the some, this difference is essential to grasp if one is going to understand the possibility of previous cycles of creation and re-creation that not only the ancient sacred texts of the nations speak of but that that the teachers of Israel have also spoken of.

When we think of time, we naturally think of it in terms of a linear progression, from one moment to the next, culminating in an elapsed span going from one point to another, never to be revisited again.  Ancient wisdom, however, as well as modern physics see time as cycles which reoccur. The universe, created by God is a vast time clock of unparalleled complexity. Approximately every 26,000 years the Procession of the Equinoxes complete their cycle.

The bible see’s time also in cycles: every 7th day is a shabbat, a day of rest, every 7 years is a shmittah, a rest for the land. And every 50 years is a yovel, a Jubilee. Even earth’s moon reveals it’s cycle of time – every 29 days theres a new moon. Even the Hebrew word for new – chadash – means new or renew.

The Tanakh itself demonstrates this concept in various places.

In A Beginning

As we delve into the histories and prophecies of not only the nations, but especially those of the Bible, we feel we should start off at the very beginning of Scripture – B’reisheet or Genesis chapter one.  It is here that we shall begin our challenge to the entrenched Establishment Hivemind that has so dominated our society and relegated our capacity for thoughtful investigation to a well constructed strong box. Any investigation outside of approved parameters is highly discouraged and those who ignore the establishment guidelines are ostracized, maligned and ridiculed by their peers.

Many people have been taught that the six creation days in Genesis are a literal description of the Earth’s geologic history. This is simply misguided teaching. While many fundamentalists believe the Earth is a mere 6000 years old, eminent scholars from Judaism, Christianity, Islam all teach that the six days of creation are not to be taken in a strict literal sense. Other ancient religious traditions, such as the Vedic texts of ancient India, indicate that the heavens and the earth are billions of years old.

Chazal- our Jewish sages,  have long maintained that only children, and those of only simple understanding, should take the account of the creation in Genesis as a literal  period of six 24-hour days, and that  the wise should should come to understand that the narrative expresses the deep structure of a mysterious, divinely ordered process reflected by patterns in physical reality, but not so simply as the literalists take it to be.

The geologic record shows that the Earth existed long before the six days of Genesis and long before the creation of man. Contrary to certain traditions, it is not possible to get an accurate dating based on counting the genealogies of the Bible.  One prime impediment to such an undertaking is the time-gap between the first two verses of Genesis. While controversial to the established mindset of our society, the

Gap Principle goes a long way in settling disturbing problems with the 6000 year thesis of the religious fundamentalist camp, and demonstrates a very different Earth history for the secular Old Earth camp.

The Genesis narrative speaks of at least two separate creation events, one of perfection and beauty, the other as desolation and horror. Genesis 1:1 is the perfection of God’s creation. At some point in the far distant past, the Creator, a non-physical, sentient universal conscienceness brought forth the physical realm into existence ex nilio – out of nothingness. To the Hebrew mind the verse is perfectly constructed, using 7 Hebrew words. The number seven is a constant motif within the Hebrew bible and Jewish culture, symbolizing perfection:

 

בְרֵאשִׁית בָרָה אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם ןְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

We are told that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; but the Torah never affirms that He did this in the six days following verse one. The work of those days were times of restoration and reformation. This is demonstrated by the use bara

ברה . The Hebrew word asah signifies to make, fashion, or prepare out of pre-existing material; (to build a ship, erect a house, or prepare a meal), whereas bara, used in Genesis 1:1 above means to create ex nilio – out of nothing. Some would argue that the different words used for create and make and form are used interchangeably and quote Isaiah: 43:7 as a proof text:

“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have CREATED him for my glory, I have FORMED him; yea, I have MADE him.”

Here, opponents would reason, 3 separate Hebrew words are used used in the engineering of man, and would say all 3 words used interchangeably. However these 3 words have different meanings and all are correctly used in the formation of man. Man’s body was indeed MADE (ASAH) out of pre-existing materials (dust), but the LIFE PRINCIPLE itself, as in animal life, can only be ‘CREATED’ (BARA) by God. God Also ‘FORMED’ (YATSA) man, that is, shaped and fashioned man’s body,as a potter does the clay.

Only three creative acts are found in Genesis chapter one. The first instance is of course Genesis 1:1. The second time bara is again used is in Gen. 1:21 in the creation of swarms of living creatures – fowl and fish. Third instance is in Genesis 1:24-25 when referring to creation of animal and man. Bara is not used in the other days where the sun, moon, stars were ‘made to appear’ on the fourth day. They were already in existence, having been originally created in Genesis 1:1 before the destruction in Gen. 1:2.

The reason for the use of different words is simple. The destruction of Genesis 1:2 destroyed all living creatures – fish, fowl and hominoids alike. The reason for this destruction will be examined later on.

Ancient Sources

If the stories told in the Torah are indeed templates upon which history repeatedly plays itself out, then the advance of time is not so much the sharp linear flight of an arrow, but a series of repeating loci on a rising helix. The shell changes but the kernel remains the same.

There is abundant evidence within Jewish and Christian traditions that demonstrate that the belief of a pre-Adamic world is not some modern heresy but is a very ancient understanding going back to the beginning of recorded history.

Ancient rabbinic sources give evidence of Judaism’s historic understanding that this current world is but one of many creation cycles. The Talmud (Chagigah 14a) speaks about 974 generations before the world was created.

In the Siphra’ Di-Tseni`uthah (Book of Mystery), an age ruled by seven kings was destroyed in the time before Adam:

And the second earth came not into the computation. (That is, the kingdom of the restored world, Or otherwise, when in Genesis iv. 2 it is said in another way, “And the earth,” that earth is not to be understood of which mention hath been first made; since by the first is to be understood the kingdom of the restored world, and by the second the kingdom of the destroyed world) And it hath proceeded out of that which hath undergone the curse, as it is written in Genesis v., 29, “From the earth which the Lord hath cursed.” (The meaning is: That the kingdom of the restored world was formed from the kingdom of the destroyed world, wherein seven kings had died and their possessions had been broken up. Or, the explanation of the world, of which mention is made elsewhere, proceedeth from the kingdom of the destroyed world.)

The early mystics of Judism found within the text of the Torah itself, through the study of equidistant letter sequences (ELS), that the age of the universe was over 15 billion years old. This was centuries before modern science came to that same conclusion. A book written the 1990’s by Jeffery Satinover called Cracking the Bible Code spoke of a World War II rabbi named Michael Dov Weissmandl who had done a tremendous amount of study and research into ELS.

Rabbi Weissmandl was a Slovakian rabbi who ran a rescue operation near the Slovak-Polish border, which smuggled thousands of Jews, to  the relative safety of Slovakia or Hungary.  Rabbi Weissmandl was fascinated by the comments of an earlier kabbalist, Rabbi Bachya ben Asher, regarding ELS. He was certain that there was within the Torah, coded in equidistant letter sequences, divinely ordained information. Rabbi Bachya’s information came from an earlier rabbi named Nechunya ben HaKanah.

David Flynn noted that Nechunya ben HaKanah, a rabbi of first-century Judea, believed that the earth was 15.3 billion years old:

Nechunya’s theory was based on a long standing system of calculation of times purportedly imbedded in the Hebrew writings of Moses. According to the Midrash Sod Haibbur, a scholarly guide to the Torah, God himself gave Moses precise rules for measuring times and seasons, a skill which the priestly caste of Israel had zealously maintained.[477] According to the pre-Adamic view of Bible chronology, after the cataclysm which Jeremiah described, God separated the waters from the land, dispersed the clouds shrouding the earth and created the first post destruction day. Midrash Sod Haibbur; on the mystery of the New Moon.

Rabbi Nechunya himself claimed that if you properly understand how to use the 42 lettered name of God that Genesis provides for a period of time between the origin of the universe and the creation of man, namely 42,000 divine years. A divine year is 1000 times our solar year of 365.25 days. So, between the origin of the universe and the creation of man there transpired 42,000 x 365,250 years.In other words, says Nechunya, Genesis tells us that the universe came into existence 15.3 billion years ago.

Even within Christian sources there is evidence of an age old belief that the earth was destroyed before the creation of Adam.

“The first act (of creation Genesis 1) refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages . . . The face of the earth bears everywhere the marks of such a catastrophe. They do not want intimations, which connect it with a previous testing, and fall of angels… Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains.”

The Nelson Study Bible states this about Genesis 1:2, “Here it means that God renewed what was in a chaotic state. God changed chaos into cosmos, disorder into order, emptiness into fullness … The two words, without form and void, express one concept—chaos. The earth had been reduced to this state—it was not the way God had first created it.”

In 2 Peter 3:5-7 it states;

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Many Christian bible teachers believe this reference is to the Deluge during the days of Noah.  But we must reconcile the fact that Genesis 1:2 also describes the earth as being covered in water – “..darkness was over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water.”This text indicates that that there was a previous cycle of time prior to the creation of Adam by two phrases: 1) the heavens and earth, which are now and 2)  the heavens were of old. Peter also indicates that people in the last days, specifically mockers would be willingly ignorant of these facts.

Two Creation Accounts

Genesis 2:4 is suggestive of more than one creation account:

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

Generations in the Hebrew is the word toledot a plural.  Toledot of Genesis 2:4 is part of a system of ten toledot-divisions throughout the book of Genesis has long had the attention of biblical scholars. These toledot, normally translated generations occur in Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1, 11:10 and 27; 25:12 and 19; 36:1 (and 9); 37:2. Some scholars theorize that the toledot in Genesis are evidence of the fact that at the time when Moses wrote down the Torah, written texts were already available and these catch phrasesthese are the generations of…were used as references to these ancient texts. We should note that there are references to obscure books known to the ancient Israelites – the Book of Yasher, the Book of the Wars of the Lord, and within Genesis, Sepher Toledot Adam – the Book of Generations of Adam in Genesis 5.

Genesis 2:4 may be a reference to one of these texts.  Genesis 2:4 to 2:25 is known as the Second Creation Story (it’s actually the 3rd, if you count Genesis 1:1 as a separate cycle).  There are some apparent inconsistencies between the first and second creation accounts: Genesis 1:3 and subsequent verses say that God created the world in six days. In Genesis 2:4, some translations say that it took one day.

In the first account, fruit trees appeared before Adam and Eve; in the second, God created Adam, then the fruit trees, then Eve. In the first account, God created animals before Adam and Eve; in the second, God creates Adam, then the animals, then Eve. In the first account fish appear on the 5th day; in the second fish are not even mentioned.

Instead of maligning the text of the Torah, as liberal scholars often do, it’s possible the text is quoting from an unknown source which recounts the creation story differently or is indicating another creation cycle.

God’s Terra-forming Project

Any traditional translation of Genesis 1:2  describes the Earth as being flooded, desolate, and in darkness:

“And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

(KJV)

An examination of the Hebrew reveals that the traditional translation is a poor rendering of what the actual text is conveying. The Hebrew hayah

הָיָה translated as was is occasionally used with a simple accusative in the sense of to be made, or to become. An example this may be found in Genesis 19:26, the history of Lot’s wife, of whom we are told, that “she became a pillar of salt.” A far more correct rendering would be the the earth became without form and void. The following evidence reinforces this.

According to most translations, the earth was without form, and void.  This, however, is not a reflection of the Hebrew, but a glaring illustration of the influence of of the establishment hivemind. The words translated as without form and void are translations of two Hebrew words – tohu and bohu meaning ruin and desolation and emptiness respectively. Now these words are found together only in two other passages, in both of which they are clearly used to express the ruin caused by an outpouring of God’s judgement and subsequent wrath.

The second use is in the Book of Isaiah which emphatically testifies that God did not create create – bara – the earth ex nilio in a formless and void state.

“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens Who alone is God, who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited. I am the Lord, and there is none else.”

The last occurrence appears in the Book of Jeremiah where God through Jeremiah is warning Israel of impending doom. In a vision Jeremiah is taken to to the earth of Genesis 1:2 where he sees another divine judgement that rendered the earth tohu and bohu:

I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were pulled down before the Lord, before His fierce anger.

Clearly tohu and bohu is a phrase which references a past cataclysm prior to to the creation of Man. As such, the passage should be corrected to say that the earth became a desolate ruin and empty. In the Siphra’ Di-Tseni`uthah, a rabbinic work, tohu and bohu is suggested to allude to an exile. And in fact I believe that the text is contrasting the perfection of Genesis 1:1 with the horror of Genesis 1:2. This is reflected in the Hebrew of verse two. Genesis 1:2 begins with a vav

ו  and many translations simply ignore it rather than translate it.  The KJV translation to it’s credit renders the vav as and which helps in showing some kind of transition. However, that would be better served if the vav was  translated as BUT rather than AND.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth became a desolate ruin and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”

Both verses together lead in to the reason or need for God’s other creative acts following verse two. The perfect universe that HaShem created suffered a tragic cataclysm which rendered the earth desolate and empty of all life, as Jeremiah saw in his vision.  This is the reason that the Torah uses the verb bara – to create out of nothing, is to fill an empty earth with living creatures and living sentient beings known as Man. He also clears the sky of all the debris, smoke, ash and dust caused by the destruction, which is essential for life to propagate.

One of the problems solved by understanding that Genesis 1:1 is a separate creation cycle is the appearance of light. Light was listed as appearing on day one, but its source (the sun and stars) did not appear until day four. This was a source of confusion for some time. Merrill Unger, a Christian commentator, notes that the acts of day four are not the original creation of the heavenly lights but are made to appear or become visible on day four. Let there be light is accomplished when the dust and ash from earths destruction is cleared allowing the pre-existing sources of light through.

The seven days of the current creation cycle again demonstrate the perfection that once existed in Genesis 1:1 – God has set things right.  And it was good…..for a while.

What The Torah/Prophets/Sages Say About Worshipers Of Other Religions

I recieve numerous emails from various sources regarding the topics we speak about on this blog. Most of them I would not quote in their entirety simply because they are not pertinent to the primary theme of this blog – Israel in Prophecy.  The following article is an email I recieved from a Sephardic rabbi whom I have tremendous respect for and whom often focus’ his sharp critique of his own faith of Torah Judaism.  While I certainly do not agree with his take on some topics, his wisdom and understanding shine through regardless.

What The Torah/Prophets/Sages Say About Worshipers Of Other Religions

 By Ariel Bar Tzadok.  Copyright (C) 2013 by Ariel Bar Tzadok.  All rights reserved.

Preliminary Word

Let me begin here by saying that after years of being involved in religious polemics, I now have come to the conclusion that such polemics and religious debates are a complete waste of time.  I believe that faith is a matter of heart, and that while faith will forever be debated, it will never be proven to the unbeliever.

Faith can only be embraced, or rejected.  Faith is always justified in the mind of the believer.  In the mind of the believer, one’s faith makes total sense and is clear for all to see.  Nevertheless, there will always be the vast majority who believe differently, and who, just do not, and will not, see what any other particular believer sees.

I do not believe that faith can be proven, so, I do not believe that one should ever try to prove it.  I believe that this includes my faith as well.  In my opinion, among the religious faiths that cannot be proven include modern-day secularism and atheism.  Belief in no God is as much a statement of faith as belief in God.

 Rather than argue, debate and come to blows over which faith is the correct one, I believe that it is the duty of every human being to focus on moral and righteous human behavior, regardless of our different faiths.  Torah teaches that God looks to our behaviors, not at our beliefs.  “Yet, I will look to this, to the man who is humble and contrite in spirit, who fears My Word” (Isaiah 66:2)  Therefore, it is in this light that I address this topic, with the hope to document how Torah views worshipers of other religions.

Everyone wants to fight for his god, and for his religion.  Everyone wants to prove that his religion is the right one and that his god is the true God.  In spite of everyone saying that God is one, no one really believes that the god of others is, in fact, the one true God.

So, are we destined to shoot it out til the end, with the last man standing being the winner, and thus being the only one left, to proclaim his faith as the true faith?   After all, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before in the past.  In the fights over religion, might definitely makes right.  This is the history of Christian and Muslim growth. And yet the fights continue.

What will it take for people to stop fighting over religion?  I confess, I have no idea.  Catholics fight Protestants, Sunni fight Shia, and in Judaism, the so-called Haredim (ultra-orthodox) fight everyone.  Granted the Haredi are not as violent as Christians and Muslims have been historically, but with regards to religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, they are psychologically no different from the most radical sects found in the other religions.

Judaism’s Haredim are today so out-of-control that they have hijacked authentic Torah Judaism, and their influence and revision of classical Torah is growing like a deadly virus.  There is no telling what insanity the Haredim of the not-to-distant future will do, if and when given the chance.  Judging from present circumstances, the future indeed looks bleak.

I know that many of my readers are offended by what I say about the Haredim, but deep down, almost everyone of my readers know that I am right! But, I am not here to write about the Haredim. I do not care about them. They are God’s problem, not mine. My concern, as a rabbi, is to make sure that the classical Torah of our Sages throughout the centuries is not lost under a tidal wave of bizarre extremism under the guise and name of Torah. I mention here the Haredim to juxtapose them in opposition to righteous Gentiles.

Religious extremists of all kinds embrace a very monolithic black-and-white skewered view of reality.  For the extremist, there is only one right way, and that those who do not walk it, are cut off from God, both in this world and in the world to come.  While the scriptures of other faiths may proclaim these views verbatim, we do not find such sentiments within Torah scriptures.

Unlike the religions that have grown out of Torah, the mother faith, the Torah, Prophets and Writings do not express absolutes about the after-life.  Torah contains no threats about eternal damnation for those who do not believe the proper doctrines.  Torah does not speak much, if at all, about anything in the after-life.  The emphasis and concern of Torah is how we live in this world, not how we worry about the world-to-come.

Idolatry is the worship of foreign gods.  It is considered the quintessential denial of faith.  Yet, one man’s believer is the other man’s idolater, blasphemer or infidel.  Yet, Torah did not go on a diatribe against idolatry because of theological or doctrinal reasons.  Idolatry was forbidden because ancient idolatrous practices were cruelly inhuman.  The behaviors of ancient idolaters were barbaric, often including human sacrifice and other equally depraved behaviors.  Torah prohibited these practices for the sake of elevating human behavior, and not for the sake of nebulous doctrinal purities.

In ancient times, there were those idolaters who understood the need for humane behavior in their practices, and each, in their own ways, acknowledged what they understood to be the Creator.  While the purpose of this short essay is not to review ancient idolatrous practices, it is to look into Scripture to see what exactly the prophets have to say on the subject.  In order to understand the teachings of the prophets, I need just refer to one scripture verse.

At the end of the prophetic period, the prophet Malakhi gives to us an interesting and revelatory word from God. In chapter 1, verse 11, the prophet states in God’s Name:

“For, from the rising of the sun until its setting, My Name is great among the nations, and everywhere offerings are burnt and offered up to My Name, yea, a pure oblation, for My Name is great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts.”

Now, we must ask, in the days of the prophet Malakhi, which is the generation of the original return of the Israelite exiles, in approximately 500 BCE, where and how is the Name of the God of Israel great amongst the Gentile nations?  Which nations is the prophet referring to here?  Granted God’s Name is great in Israel, but Israel is one nation (in the singular), not nations (in the plural).  So, what nations does the prophet refer to?  Apparently the understanding is as follows.

God knows the limitations of human intellect, and understands well how we human beings are often erred in our understandings of spiritual matters.  Knowing human limitations, God does not judge us, any of us, by what we think in our limited human minds, blemished as they are the the metaphorical forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Good and Evil.  Instead, God looks into the human heart, and judges us, all of us, by our moral and righteous behaviors.

When it comes to Divine worship, God apparently does not judge the form, but rather the intent of the individual worshiper.  While said worshiper might be worshiping within a religious system defined by Torah as idolatrous, nevertheless, God does not hold that against the individual worshiper.  Instead, God looks to the heart, and if that individual is sincere, and that one’s behavior righteous, then God calls such a one “the righteous of the nations” (hasidei umot haolam).  God accepts and blesses such an individual, even if such an individual be practicing idolatry, as defined by Torah.

This understanding is clearly expressed by the classical Torah commentators to this verse in Malakhi.  The classical commentary Rashi quotes one of the Talmud’s interpretations of this verse and says, “Our Sages stated (Men. 110a): For they [the nations] call Him [the Creator] the God of the gods. Even one who has an idol knows that He [the Creator, the Heavenly Father] is the God Who is over all of them – and everywhere they [the nations] donate in My Name.”

Another classical commentator, the Mahari Karo states, “from one end of the world to the other, all the nations call upon my great Name.” And, “in every place even a Gentile offers a sacrifice to my Name, he brings a pure offering… the nations honor Me, but you [Israel] dishonor.”

The Metzudot David commentary writes, “from the place where the suns rises to where it sets, my Name is great amongst the idolaters (Akum), for they all acknowledge that He (blessed be He)  is the First Cause that gives to all.”

Rabbi David Kimkhi (RaDaK) writes, “if I were to command them [the nations] like I have commanded you, they would be offering to My Name a pure offering, not like what you do, for you bring an unclean offering… this is the opposite of the nations for they honor and respect My Name.”

I could go on and show the commentaries of Ibn Ezra and the Malbim.  They expand on the above sentiments, and reinforce them.  Yet, I feel that the point here should already be clear.  God loves sincerity and praises it, and God hates hypocrisy and condemns it.

When the idolatrous nations do good, God acknowledges it, and when Israel does bad, God exposes it.  Let this serve as a lesson to all the racists, and chauvinists out there who think themselves superior and call themselves, “God’s people,” all the while that their deeds are that of Hell, instead of those of Heaven.  This is as much a lesson for those who embrace “replacement theology” as for those who do not!

God does not condemn sincere worship based on the theology of the worshiper.  This is made very clear by Ibn Ezra, Malbim, the Metzudot David and others.  God cares, now and forever more, about what we do, and not so much about what we think!

Later Torah tradition, teaches us, in no less than in the name of the immortal prophet Elijah that Gentiles can receive Divine inspiration and prophecy equal to any child of Israel, depending upon one’s behavior.  “I call Heaven and Earth to bear witness, be it a man or woman, Jew or Gentile, freeman or slave, all can receive Divine inspiration (Ruah HaKodesh, the holy Spirit), all in accordance with their actions.” (Tana Dvei Eliyahu, Rabbah 9a).

In his commentary to Maimonides’ code, the Mishneh Torah, Torah Foundations, in the discussion about prophets and prophecies, Rabbi Aharon Soloveitchik has written that if there ever was a tried and true Gentile prophet to rise from the nations, it would be obligatory for even Israel to heed his words at the direction of God. (Sefer Perah Mateh Aharon, page 57)

In Isaiah it is written (66:21), “And from them too will I take for priests and for Levites,” says the Lord.” God will make priests and Levites from the nations to serve Him in the rebuilt Temple (see also Rashi).  In Tana Dvei Eliyahu, Zuta, 20:6 it states that the righteous of the nations are referred to as God’s priests. “Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your devout ones sing praises” (Psalm 132:9). “Your priests,” these are the righteous of the nations of the world.  They are the priests to the Holy One, blessed be He in this world, such as Antoninus and those like him.

What we learn from this is that Torah does not view the theologies of others as being a hindrance to their being righteous human beings who are blessed and acceptable to God.  Unlike other religions, Judaism does not condemn non-believers and delegate them to an after-life of suffering and torture due to their practice of their own sacred beliefs.  While Judaism believes idolatrous beliefs to be mistaken, such a mistake does not in Torah eyes, evoke Divine wrath and eternal punishment.

So, why argue over religion?  Missionaries of all kinds will never cease to exist.  Peoples with all agendas will go on and on.  Everyone is so convinced that “my way” is right, and therefore “your way” has to be wrong. And equally everyone wonders, why can’t others see the things that are so clear and “self evident” to “me.”

You see!  This is the absence of faith!  When one demands that everyone be just like them, this is the opposite of faith and the very definition of the path of impurity, that, as we have seen above, is hated by God.

Now, maybe you have a little more insight into why I am so vocal in condemning the hypocrisy that exists in my own greater community.  I pray that each of us would have the courage to not only recognize, but also to speak out against the modern day extremists and desecration!

If we want to save religion, then we have to act sincerely and truly religious.  This requires of us to expose and condemn the religious extremists and hypocrites, especially when they are in our own camps, calling themselves “ultra-orthodox.”  There is no such thing!  We have Torah and we have Halakha (Law).  Those who walk in their path are called Torah faithful.  Those who do not, (in spite of extremist appearances), simply are not walking the Torah Way, and thus are far from Torah’s God and His Grace.

God expects from us courage.  We have to have the courage to acknowledge, beyond ethnicity and nationality, who are the true children of God and who are not.  This will never be defined by national identity or by doctrinal proclamations.  Rather this will be decided as God Himself has said (and repeated by the classical Sages), those who are sincere and righteous are God’s people, those who are neither are not! It is that simple.

It is better to live among righteous Gentiles than to live among unrighteous Jews.  Painful as this may be to some, it is true.  God looks to behavior.  Look around where you live, without your “rose-colored” glasses, and ask, are these people, my neighbors, the ones who truly give glory to God? Are these my neighbors the kind of people I want to be, and I want my children to be?  Be careful how you answer, remember God is reading your minds and knows your thoughts.  If you are a hypocrite or if you judge by superficials or ethnicities only, God will judge you.

Be mindful.  Be honest.  Be courageous.  Be a true and sincere child of God, and serve Heaven properly.

Shalom,

Ariel Bar Tzadok

KosherTorah.com