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This is part of a testimony of someone who came out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, written as an apology and explanation to a friend that she had convinced should become part of HRM. Posted with permission.

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I left the BL congregation a couple of months before I moved to the west coast, and I never really looked back.  I had a member call me, and when he found out I was moving, I never heard from any of them again.  The last few times I attended, I had a heaviness I could not explain.  I was crying a lot at home, I was burdened, and I felt confused.  I felt something in my soul urging me to not go back.  Why?  I felt my relationship with Christ was becoming diluted; replaced by the Torah…the SHADOW of what He came to do.  It’s far more profound than that, though.  Do I think Believers should know and understand the Feasts?  Yes.  Should we understand Torah and know its purpose?  Absolutely.  But the doctrine that “We are Israel,” and other ideas are false.

There is such a sense of pride and arrogance with the Hebrew Roots Movement, and in a way, it’s essentially culture idolatry and Torah worship.  It took me a while to be content that I’m a Gentile, to not let that make me feel “less spiritual,” or like a “regular old Christian like the rest of ‘em.”  I went to BL because I was in pain from my Mom’s death and wanted answers.  They told me she was not in Heaven, and would not be until Christ’s Second Coming.  Heresy.  Before, I’d been dissatisfied at my former church. I was jumping from one disappointing  congregation to another.  I think we all do it, as we wrestle with getting to know the Lord, to shut out doubts we have about the world.  But something I noticed at BL after being there a while, is that they twist scripture to their own benefit, to keep this movement going.  That elated feeling I had when I first attended had waned, because I began to see through so many things.  I was given sarcastic, snappy answers sometimes, because the “rabbi” clearly couldn’t explain how the Gospels, the TRUTH in Christ, refuted what he was saying.

I know that there are some doctrinal problems there, but after much praying, seeking, studying, I’ve realized this is universal with Hebrew Roots and their Systematic Theology.  If I ask you anything, it is to forgive me for influencing you in any way.  I have felt bad for quite a while about this, and when you told me your family is divided, I just wanted to get you all on a conference call and apologize.  And I know even recently I’ve said some things that can be construed as in support of it.  Mainly out of confusion and just feeling uneasy about all of it.  My prayer is for forgiveness and that you don’t think of me as double-minded or two-faced.  What the Lord had shown me is the New Covenant is one of grace.  No, it doesn’t mean “do as you wish,” it means as a saved Believer, you’re going to WANT to obey the Lord… Gentiles were not given the Mosaic Law.  (I can see the folks at BL shouting “blasphemy.”)  We know what’s right and wrong, but FAITH and LOVE is what dominates…two things I struggle with and why I floundered into HRM.

BL thrives on pulling people in who are already saved, giving them the idea that Christ is not enough and they must be an “exclusive club that knows things from a Hebraic mindset that ‘the church’ doesn’t.”  The Lord clearly says he hates secrets.  Why would we witness to those already redeemed by HIS blood?  Why would we focus on His race, a covenant not made with the Gentiles, why try (and fail) to learn a difficult, ancient language, when he came for “all nations, tribes and tongues?”  Don’t get me wrong, Hebrew is beautiful and the Lord’s chosen language for the Jewish people.  But He created us Gentiles as an entirely different culture for a reason.

One night, I printed out the laws of the Torah.  My mouth dropped.  There is no way one can be “Torah observant” without (just a few I’ll list here)… stoning an unruly child, stoning adulterers…stoning  those who’ve had sex before marriage, not leaving your dwelling on the Sabbath, etc.  Even driving or studying on the Sabbath is considered “work,” so that’s one that I was breaking, trying to “keep” it.  The Torah was given exclusively to the nation of Israel – the biological Jews – and even THEY couldn’t keep the Law – and some of course were absolutely fanatical about it.  And because of that…we have the whole purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection.  This is one simple truth, the whole POINT of salvation, and I overlooked it, because I felt something was missing from Christianity.  What was missing was MY faith problem and MY poor relationship with Christ because of my own problems.  The way I’d been let down by people and the church had nothing to do with my relationship with the Father through his Son.

That’s another point.  I noticed we at BL went straight to the Father.  They disregarded that Christ said no one can come to the Father except by Him.  Christ was mentioned here and there, sort of like salt and pepper on the “meat,” which was the Torah… (And…do know how long it took for me to be able to call Him “Jesus” without feeling I was calling on the name of a pagan god?)  Again, that was more brainwashing.  I was weak and fell prey to lies.

I realized when the itinerary for the home Shabbat service followed that of BL, I became concerned.  The worship services of the HRM are based on rabbinical tradition, the Talmud and Kabbalah.  All I can say is…Judaism is definitely not Christianity, and when one tries to incorporate a little of one into the other, a bit of what each means is lost.  And that’s more confusion.  I don’t want my relationship with Christ fade even more because of that, especially with the tough times I’m going through right now.  I do want to add that I sat down over a few weeks and read the Gospels, then I read Galatians, more than once.  There’s no way one can reconcile being Torah observant with what Paul writes, without twisting scripture and coming up with a far-out, exaggerated translation.  And believe me, when I asked the rabbi at BL questions about why Galations refutes everything about the Sabbath and keeping Torah, he had the strangest explanations that were so convoluted it was ridiculous.  And sadly, I became suspicious of anything Paul wrote and still have difficulty with things because of the intense influence that I encountered at BL.  They want to be Christians, but Jewish… “just in case.”  And that is a theme that resonates throughout all of the Hebrew Roots Movement and Torah Observance.

Looking back, I see that they are planting a destructive seed that takes the focus off of Christ, and puts it on Laws that were not even given to us, but those who were set-apart to bring Christ’s birth and death to fulfillment.  The key is the focus which IS NOT on the strength, the power, or the salvation which is CHRIST, as it should be.  The Gospels, of course, focusing on the person of Christ, and the rest of the New Testament focusing on our purpose in Him.  I think the Lord can use the HRM for his Glory, like he used the Jews’ short-sightedness to His Glory.  I believe I was allowed to get involved to show me how we all want some type of “exclusivity,” a sort of “us” vs. “them.”  But the Gospel is inclusive, not an exclusive club.  And even though I know the home services don’t operate like that, the foundation is the worship style at BL, and that’s the agenda.

We now have the freedom to choose to celebrate the feasts, to choose to adhere to the dietary laws, but we are not obligated, because of the sacrifice Christ made.  Before going to BL, I never let the Gospels and what Paul said sink in.  I was just restless with “church.”  But it has gotten to the point…I realized I either need to believe the Gospels, the words of my Savior and of Paul, or focus solely on the study guide/tutor (Torah) and neglect the entire purpose of Christ’s finished work.

I hope and I pray that this makes sense, and again, I ask that you forgive me for the influence I had in leading you to look into HRM.  I didn’t even know it was called that.  They were very careful at BL to not “label” anything.  But the whole idea that all things Christian are pagan…well, again I will tell you the Talmud and Kabbalah, which is where their worship styles, Bible interpretations, and doctrines come from, are more pagan than most things you’ve ever seen.  I do hope this does not in any way affect our friendship.  And yes, I was so happy to share my newfound knowledge with you back then.  That was before I was confronted with the heresies that began surfacing very quickly once I dug deeper into it.  At the end of the day, it’s all about what the Son did for us, why, and what that accomplished for the world.  And thank the Lord for that!

 

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I was watching an interesting interview on TV the other day.  The interviewer is known for their “spiritual” approach to life – but really finding “God” in all wrong places compared to a Biblical understanding.  The interviewee and interviewer were in agreement as to how “God” is found > for instance:  in the silence of the woods sitting and enjoying a grassy area, smelling the grass, and sensing in the quietness … a recognition of “God” and birth of spirituality [this birthing process is not limited to the woods, it can be any “epiphany” experience].  The interviewee stated that they had found God *in* music in that special place and equates that with their “birth” of spirituality leading them to 40 years as one of the most famous musical entities of our time.  The interviewer remarked, closing out the TV special, that God IS the music, not just IN the music.

Thus began several hours of this writer’s introspection as to why people get so caught up into the “spiritual” but totally miss the Spirit of Almighty God – due to their search for “the experience”.  I reminisced, going back to those points in my life when I had run after the elusive – believing I too had found all the answers in spiritual experiences and equating them to be about “God”.  Much like the person above who sought after the elusive experience on which their belief system was founded, I recognized the longing and the desire to be “special” even within the framework of what I believed to be Biblical, but was in reality a dense spiritual “mist” that fogged up my perception.

A friend remarked to me that these kinds of spiritual experiences and expectations were nothing more than free ice cream.  They taste good and make you feel fabulous …. a person can come up with a pretty amazing multiple-scoop cone, depending on who is offering such delights in the name of spiritual excellence.

Since the beginning of the world, people have searched for the spiritual.  Adam and Eve were tempted to be like God – satan’s first offering of his kind of “ice cream”.  The Tower of Babel comes to mind as well.  Even in that ancient time, men built a tower to reach into the Heavens to touch God > the “ultimate ice cream cone”!  It has become “faddish” to want nothing more than to “feel” God – to bring Him down to our likeness, to our standards of emotion and perceptions – as if the experience has achieved a God-like “high” and one has “arrived” on some superior spiritual level making their ice cream cone a wondrous display of the experiential to be envied and desired.

What does all this have to do with Messianic Hebrew Roots?  The ongoing “flavor of the week” is the tallit or prayer shawl [Although, to be fair – some segments of Christianity have topped the “cone” with it as well].   This “flavor” has been browsed so many times in the search engines that people pop up on this blog looking for information on it more than any other topic.  And no surprise.  Of all the concepts in HR, this one captivates a “feely touchy” mystic [read “kabbalah”] two-fold experience … to be reminded of the Mosaic Law and to enter one’s “prayer closet” > those being the two central themes of necessity to find favor with God and to be “holy”. 

In order to bind the tallit more snuggly to one’s spiritual “etherealistic” expectations, a bunch of teachings ranging from the sheet [tallit] let down in Peter’s vision; to Jesus [wearing a “talitha” 🙂 ] raising the young woman [= talitha] from the dead; to “God’s tallit” in the sky = Heavens; to the “the chupah [covered four cornered wedding arch] = a tallit”, etc.  Added to that is the wringing out from a variety of OT texts, the tallit, as “special revelation”.  All this free ice cream makes for one huge sloppy mess – almost impossible to eat, but profusely dribbling down from the chins of those who dote on these things. The bottom line is that the tallit did not exist in Biblical times.  It was added to Judaism through their Rabbinical interpretation system in the middle ages.  The word “tallit” is not even a Biblical Hebrew word > it’s Yiddish [13th century]!  The HR “teachers of greater truth” are offering free ice cream from a soggy dripping cone.

Is this different than a person who chases after an elusive “epiphany” experience believing they have “found” what they believe is “God” through some magical aura in which they “sense” the spiritual and believe it is “the real thing”?  The “thing”, the “experience” … is not God and it is not about God.  It is a feeling that equates knowledge with the four senses. Knowing God is by blind faith, not by seeing, touching/feeling, smelling or hearing something ethereally emotional and making that about God … because when the “feeling” or “thing” becomes about God, it is just plain free ice cream.  It gives a sugar rush for the moment, but it has nothing to do with the Lord God Almighty and serving Him.

 

2 Cor 11:3  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

2 Cor 11:4  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

2 Co 11:12  But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

2 Co 11:13  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2 Co 11:14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

2 Co 11:15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

 

 

 

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Myth. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah not Christmas, and we should be celebrating Chanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.

A.   Hanukkah is a celebration and holiday within Judaism about the Jewish people, for practicing Jews of Judaism only. It is an offence to them for Gentiles and those outside of Judaism to participate in this holiday and we as believers in Jesus Christ are called to cause none offence.

Although it is suggested that Hanukkah be celebrated because of the universal desire of mankind for liberty, within Judaism many believe it to be a memorial about the historical and ongoing conflict of Jewish culture and faith versus non-Jewish beliefs and what many call the Gentile/Greek influences and faith.

Others articulate that the celebration of these festivals is to continue strengthening the Jewish people in all aspects of their lives. The very name of Hanukkah imparts the belief that when Jews have dedicated themselves to their faith and through the pursuit of their religious ideals, Judaism is strong. The goal then is to strengthen the Jewish religion and their people and that is what is being commemorated in celebrating Hanukkah.1

Also called Lights, The Feast of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, 2 the historical name for the festival was not the Feast of Lights but the Feast of Fire. 3.  Hanukkah, (also Hannukah, Chanukkah, Chanukah) which means Dedication, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after having been desecrated by Gentile forces. Based on the Maccabean revolt (discussed below), and victory over Antiochus of Syria, the subsequent cleansing and rededication of the temple, culminated in the legend of the oil burning in the temple eight days, which many believe is true.

Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. While stating that the actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabeean military victory to that of a claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 4

The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did that caused harm to fellow Jews and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil to become the focus and with it, masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserted more religious significance. 5

Celebrated anywhere from late November to late December, for many within Judaism the eight day holiday has become very much a children’s holiday, reminiscent of Christmas and (for some) instead of Christmas, celebrated with decorated and lit Hanukkah ‘bushes’. It is a time when family comes together to commemorate this holiday by lighting a candle and exchanging gifts for each of the eight days, and eating special food. Traditionally children received gifts of coins which were meant as a remembrance of the coins minted by the Maccabee state after the military victory. The receiving of gifts on each of the eight days became a later tradition, meant to parallel what is done at Christmas with Christians, although Christians that do exchange gifts normally do so only on one day. Prayers and Psalms are recited according to Talmudic and kabbalist traditions. The prayers and recitations during Hanukkah have much to do with the view of the Jews’ salvation[s], redemption and miracles via God using the Maccabees and other people/wars/events historically.

Hanukkah in the Scriptures

The Hebrew word of hanukkah or chanukkah is used in the Old Testament eight times. It means ‘dedication.’ and is found in Numbers 7:10, 11, 84, 88; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 12:27 and Psalms 30:1. The secondary language found in the Old Testament, Aramaic, uses hanukkah precisely four times, in Daniel 3:2,3 and Ezra 6:16 & 17 and spells it chanukka. Invariably, the word hanukkah refers to the dedication of the altar in front of the Tent of Meeting, the Temple built by Solomon, or the wall of Jerusalem. The two times in Daniel 3 it is not used for those purposes, but rather is found used in reference to the dedication and worship of the image of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Those that refused to worship it were to be thrown into a fire.

Daniel 3:3…. were gathered together  unto the dedication <chanukka’ (Aramaic)> of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up…”6

The one Scriptural reference to dedication in the New Testament is found in John 10:22. Many Messianics are using this passage to say that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah and therefore that means we should.

It is necessary to view the passage of John 10 as a whole first, and read the whole chapter because the verse in reference to the feast of dedication, does not in fact say that Jesus was celebrating it. It was a statement of what time of year it was.

John 10:22  And it was at  Jerusalem the feast of the dedication <egkainia>, and  it was winter.

G1456 >dedication <egkainia> 1456. ἐγκαίνια  egkainia

Thayer Definition:

1) dedication, consecration

1a) in particular the annual feast celebrated eight days beginning in the 25th of Chislev (middle of our December), instituted by Judas Maccabaeus [164 BC] in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes”  7

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries > 1456…Neuter plural of a presumed compound from G1722 and G2537; innovatives, that is, (specifically) renewal (of religious services after the Antiochian interruption): – dedication.

Prior to verse 10:22, we see that the context began while Jesus was teaching in the Temple from chapter 8:

John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:52-54 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. [KJV]

Jesus healed the blind man just after leaving the scene at the Temple, John 9:1, and said:

John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

John 9:14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Joh 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [KJV]

Summary –the Jews cast out the blind man cured by Jesus. Jesus finds him and reveals who He is and the healed man believes and worships Him.

–the Pharisees there witness this and are told they are blind

10:1-5–the sheepfold parable-the Pharisees did not understand

10:6-16–about the sheepfold, Christ the door of the sheep, Christ the good Shepherd, the hirelings, laying down His life for the sheep,

Jesus had been healing and teaching prior to healing the blind man, and the Pharisees were disputing him, some claiming He had a devil. Starting at verse 10:17, it says the following:

John 10:17  Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19  There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20  And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21  Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? 22  And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24  Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us
plainly. 25  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
26  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30  I and my Father are one.
31  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42 And many believed on him there.
[KJV]

Many of the Jewish and Gentile people gathered in Solomon’s porch because it was winter and it was cold. Solomon’s porch bordered the outer court and was where the Gentiles congregated, because they were not allowed into the inner court with the Jews. Jews could interact with the Gentiles on the porch, which was located on the east side of the outer court of Herod’s Temple, i.e. the Second Temple. There was a sign posted at the inner court warning all non-Jews that to enter would be punishable by death. The actual quote inscribed on the sign tablet[s], read:

“No foreigner may enter within the railing and enclosure that surround the Temple. Anyone apprehended shall have himself to blame for his consequent death!” 8

Alfred Edersheim suggests in his writing, The Temple-It’s Ministry and Service in the time of Jesus Christ, written during his seven volume work from 1876-87, “…These halls or porches around the Court of the Gentiles must have been most convenient places for friendly or religious intercourse- meetings or discussions.” 9

Jesus went to where the people were and spoke the truth of who He was. He was not received by most of the Jews present, especially the Pharisees, which many Messianics claim Jesus was celebrating with. They, in fact, wanted to stone Him. There is nothing that says Jesus entered into any celebration. From what is stated in this chapter, the preceding and following chapters and verses, Jesus was there to share the things of God and who He was/is. He was about His Father’s business. And when they tried to seize Him, He left Jerusalem.

Unlike the Maccabees, whose original mission was to protect and include the Jews and their beliefs while excluding Gentiles and their beliefs, Jesus came to include all mankind who believed in Him, so they could be part of the kingdom of God which He was building. Jesus was teaching that He was the Good Shepherd and that not only were there going to be ‘other sheep’, meaning the Gentiles, brought into the sheepfold with the Jews but, all must enter the sheepfold through Him. The resulting flock of sheep would be comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, which was prophetic and part of the Abrahamic covenant from Genesis

These teachings are contrary to the Hanukkah festivities and focus, which was/is to separate fully from anything or anyone non-Jewish, and celebrate the Maccabees, with the focus of some on that ‘messiah.’

In sharp contrast to the Maccabean mission of physical liberty through war, self focus and revolt to the governing authorities, disassociation and for some, resentment or hatred for those outside of Judaism, Jesus instead taught of loving enemies and forgiving and bringing those viewed as unclean into the fold through the only door that would make all spiritually clean. Himself. He taught and fulfilled, for example, the Isaiah prophecy of making God’s house a house of prayer for all people. He taught that all mankind, not just the pagan Gentiles, needed His cleansing.

Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.  [KJV]

Jesus often made a distinction between ‘the religion of the Pharisees’ and what He and the Scriptures said. That is why many could not receive Him. They went by man made religion and thought over the Truth in the Scriptures. The Scriptures were there for them. Jesus said so.

John 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [KJV]

Regarding Hanukkah, there is no doubt that if the legend of the oil was true in that God kept the oil burning for 8 days, He is more than able. However, Hanukkah is not about God, but rather about the Maccabees and the Jewish people within the religion of Judaism. God was very specific about how the Menorah was to be made, with 7 candlesticks. There was no divine directive to change that or celebrate with anything different, or in fact, change the law of Moses. God forbids the changing of His commandments and the adding to them, and yet we have Messianics following rabbinic traditions that do just that. That Judaism elevates their traditions and writings of the sages (found within the Talmud and kabbalah) above the Scriptures is what makes Judaism what is today. It is totally separate from what Christians or those who believe Jesus are to be about.  And that is the issue. The things of Christ are not about days and such, nor is our focus or glorying to be on man, but God alone:

Colossians 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;  [KJV]

For Christians , we need to apply the verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.   [KJV]

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Myth: Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of the oil and the victory of the Maccabees over the Gentile rule and should be celebrated by those in Hebrew Roots or Messianics instead of pagan Christmas.

A. Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration for the Jewish people. It was never to be including those outside of Judaism. The historical facts show a far different story than many weave to bring others into celebrating this event. The Maccabee’s story is central to understanding what is legend and what is fact.

The Maccabean Revolt

The revolt that inspired the keeping of Hanukkah was through the actions of Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons: Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah, who eventually led the uprising. This small group of Jews called the Maccabees rebelled and risked their lives to, “live according to Jewish law,” and to prevent any further desecration of the Temple. 1

The story of the Maccabees and the Maccabean Revolt was reportedly commissioned by the Maccabees themselves, and is found in the Apocrypha’s 1st & 2nd Maccabees, which are found in Catholic and some Protestant Bibles. However, none of those writings are found in Jewish Bibles, but rather, the Maccabean Revolt is found referenced to in the extra-biblical writings of the Talmud. 2

From those and other historical sources such as Josephus’ Antiquities, we know that Antiochus or “Epiphanes”, outlawed the practice of Judaism prior to the second century BC. Idols and altars were established throughout Jerusalem where sacrifices were made to the various ‘gods’. In full rebellion to Almighty God, an idol was erected in the Temple, with many historically believing it to be an image of Zeus. Jews who disobeyed the directive to burn their Torah scrolls and cease from practicing Judaism were murdered. By about 167 BC, Mattathais Maccabees and his sons determined to stop the sacrilege of the Temple and proceeded to overthrow the Syrians. Judah Maccabees took the lead and the Jews recaptured the Temple. According to the various writings, they rededicated the altar on the 25th of Kislev, that is, November-December. The celebration for the dedication of the altar went on for eight days followed by the rededication of the Temple to God. 3

Following the Maccabean War, peace was re established temporarily with the Seleucids, and the Maccabean state became known as the Hasmoneans. They did not cease their war however, but discarded the temporary peace and continued with a civil war against the Seleucids and Hellenized Jews within Jerusalem. It was then that the Maccabees commissioned and paid for the writing of their war history called I Maccabees, which was fully propaganda about their exploits. Jewish loyalists called the Hasidism, who had also been against the Hellenizing Jews, were outraged not only by that propaganda, but also by the Maccabees claim to political and religious power. In response they formed a new opposition political party called the Perushim aka the Pharisees, who were separatists. 4

It was descendents of those Pharisees that Jesus dealt with many times and it was they who tried to stone Him and in the end, most rejected Him.

The Pharisees eventually became the Rabbis, who (years later) were responsible for writing the Mishnah and Talmud, and through them kept their hatred of the Maccabees entrenched in the writings. The Pharisees believed the Maccabees had committed blasphemy by uniting the political power seat with that of the priesthood. The Maccabees had used their military power to forcibly expand the Jewish kingdom by becoming a military dictatorship, forcing such as the Idumeans (Edomites descended from Esau) to convert to Judaism and follow the laws and rituals, as well as submit to the Jewish government. It became obvious that the more successful and wealthy they became, the more Hellenization took place within Jewish society. They became the major force behind it, doing exactly what they started out to overthrow.  Their political rule was eventually terminated by the conquest of the Romans. By the time of the Rabbis, the descendents of the Pharisees and Hasidism, Israel had faced massive loss of life, not just in the initial revolt, but in the following civil war where Jew rose up against Jew.  5

Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. The actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, but the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabees military victory to that of the claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 6

The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did which caused harm to fellow Jews, and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil. By making the oil the focus, they masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserting more religious significance, which in turn used to strengthen and build Judaism.  7

As an added point, the Eastern Orthodox Church venerates the Maccabees as Saints and The Dictionary of Bible and Religion suggests that the Maccabees were exalted to the point of Messiah.  8  Many venerated Judah Maccabees specifically as the awaited Messiah. These are the facts surrounding Hanukkah.

Some Further History on Jews Killing Jews

As stated above, while many celebrate Hanukkah and the Maccabees, what many do not realize is that the Maccabees themselves became a destructive force to Judaism.

For many years, Hanukkah symbolized the overthrow of pagan Gentile influence from Jewish spirituality, and the rededication to God and the Mosaic Law. However, history reveals that the wrath which was dealt out by the Maccabees did not end the path of disaster which Israel had been treading. Whether reading ‘Gentile’ historical or Jewish resources, the end result was that the Maccabees became power hungry and corrupt. What started out for many as a zealous spiritual endeavor based on wrath, became immersed in corruption, murder and destruction, and the eventual act of Jews killing Jews. The war and rebellion became a civil war. According to Josephus in his Antiquities, within 65 years of the initial revolt, a challenge was put forth by a number of Pharisees towards one of the corrupt leaders of the Maccabees, one Alexander Janneus. During the Feast of Tabernacles, Alexander who was performing as high priest, corrupted the libation ceremony by pouring the water over his feet instead of on the altar as the Pharisees had decreed. [Please note this ceremony was not from the God-given Law, but added in and decreed by the Pharisees as part of their oral traditions.] In response, the religious Jews pelted him with lemons. It was after that time that Janneus had a partition-wall of wood built around the altar and the temple, where it was only lawful for the priests to enter. In this way, he kept the multitude of Jews from coming at him. 9 Outraged by the lemon incident, Janneus ordered his soldiers to slay 6,000 of the Jews, resulting in a civil war which lasted six years and by the end, approximately 50,000 Jews were killed. At the end of the war, the Jewish soldiers were ordered by Janneus to crucify 800 of the Pharisees. He then ordered the throats of their children and wives cut, while they watched. 10

The initial Revolt lasted about four years, from 167-163 BC. By 66 AD, the Zealots again revolted against their Gentile oppressors. Just as with the earlier Maccabees, again the revolt ended with Jews killing Jews, and many would agree that it changed the course of Jewish history forever. Many know that by 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple, burned Jerusalem, and slaughtered thousands of people. The last stronghold at Masada ended with the rebel Jews committing suicide.

From a Christian perspective we know that Jesus foretold of the destruction of the Temple.(Matthew 24) Many view it as a physical ending of the sacrificial system and the change in priesthood, meaning also the closing of the door on the Mosaic covenant with the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Isaiah 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isaiah 49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

It meant that now all, both Jew and Gentile, could come to God through Jesus Christ who was the final sacrifice, once for all.

Ephesians 2:13-19 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

There is no need for a Temple, because Jesus is the Temple and has also made us the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The sacrifice of our bodies and the sacrifice of praise take the place of the offerings.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [KJV]

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Myth: God ordained Hanukkah and it is Scriptural, therefore Messianics and Christians should celebrate it instead of Christmas. The ceremonies are found in the Scriptures.

A. There is no Scripture that suggests that God commanded or suggested the keeping of Hanukkah. It is not found in the commandments given to Moses for Israel and is not listed in any of the feasts or holidays commanded by God. It was first celebrated by the Maccabees and became a religious holiday which became enforced by the Pharisees and rabbis through the Talmud. It was not God ordained in the Scriptures.

In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that the Pharisees brought in many traditions, observances and festivities which were not part of the written law of Moses given by God. These additional traditions, often referred to as the oral law, are what were rejected by the Sadducees. However, most Jews defend and fully support the additions found throughout the Rabbinic writings of the Talmud and Kabbalah, which have become ingrained in Judaism as it is known today. According to Hyam Maccoby, the Pharisees not only added the festivals of Hanukkah and Purim, they added to the canon of Scripture and added new doctrine to Judaism, which included new rites to Temple worship, and they have continually brought in new prayers and ceremonies for use in Jewish synagogues. These are all additions that many Messianic congregations also utilize and participate in. 1

The principal source for the story of Hanukkah and the legend of the oil is found in the Talmud and many Jewish and non-Jewish sources discuss the fact that the legend of the oil burning for eight days in the Temple is just that, legend. Which brings one to an interesting point.

We have been told that most Messianics do not approve of, nor do they embrace the teachings from the Talmud, although some have admitted to this author that they do, and one merely needs to peruse the writings of many leadership to see they do. And of course the activities and Messianic dress is based on rabbinic aka talmudic or kabbalist traditions. So, why are most using the Legend of the Maccabees and the associated Miracle of the Oil story to enter into the celebration for that Legend?

Hanukkah Ceremonies

The 9-candle menorah (Chanukiah) is used to celebrate Chanukah and contemporary use of it is in celebration of the victory of what many view as a Messiah, Judas Maccabees and his brothers. The story includes the cleansing of the Temple and the legend of oil miraculously burning for eight days.

Some suggest that initially, the lighting of the Temple menorah in the rededication ceremony  was based on the commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil as is written in Leviticus 23 and 24. That was immediately followed by the commandment to observe the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot festival for 8 days, which means 7 days of  Sukkot followed by Shemini Atzere. “The Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanukah should be for 8 days.” 2   The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated in the fall, not late November to late December when Hanukkah is celebrated, yet this conflict does not appear to be noticed by most.

Following the seven days of Sukkot, the eighth day is called Shemini Atzeret, which literally means “the assembly of the eighth day”. It is actually a separate holiday from Sukkot, and does not involve the special rituals of Tabernacles. Rabbinic writings (Talmud) explain it that, “our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day”. Another explanation is that Sukkot is a holiday for all of mankind to participate in, but when it is over, only the Jewish people are invited by God to stay the eighth day for a more intimate celebration with Him. 3

According to the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism, the eighth day for Hannukah is the final ceremony for when the dedication of the altar took place by the Maccabees and it is  the “seal” of the High Holiday season of Yom Kippur (day of atonement) , and is therefore considered a time to repent out of love for God. Due to this belief,  many Hasidic Jews greet each other with the traditional Yom Kippur wish, “may you be sealed totally for good”. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly favorable for answers to prayers. 4

Through kabbalah’s gematria, eight is viewed as representing the Jewish People’s special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, meaning the completion of the material cosmos, and planets and eight represents the Infinite. The Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only. Similarly, in Judaism the rite of circumcision which brings a Jewish male into God’s Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. In Judaism, Hanukkah’s eight days celebrate their  victory over Hellenistic humanism,  and as such have great symbolic importance for practicing Jews.

To simplify, what they are saying regarding the implementation of this holiday, is that within Judaism’s writings, they changed the timing, purpose and length of the Feast of Tabernacles as ordained by God and as described in Leviticus in the Law of Moses. They then ascribed to it the new celebration proclaimed by the Maccabees and which was then enforced by the writings of the rabbis in the Talmud. That despite the very clear warning by God to not add to or change what He had commanded in the Law.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

…12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.

…12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. [KJV]

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Myth: The Hanukkah Menorah with nine candles symbolizes Christ and therefore all Messianics and Christians should be celebrating Hanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.

The Candle Question & Messianics

A. The Hanukkah festival is observed in Judaism by the lighting of a special nine candle Menorah, although the Menorah ordained by God for the Temple has seven candles. One candle is lit per night, and each additional candle is lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to the eighth on the last night. The ninth candle, separated either above or below the rest, is called the ‘shamash’ or guard or servant candle, which is lit each night in order to light the other candles. It’s purpose is fully secular, not religious, and is strictly for Judaism to which this holiday belongs.

According to the Talmud, the purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in Tracate Shabbat 21b–23a, against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah story. 1

And yet, we have Messianics who utilize the rabbinic writings, including the Talmud and the Zohar which is the kabbalah, and state that the whole use of 9 candles was a prophecy about Christ.

Some Messianics also align Chanukah to a celebration of the conception of Mary, with some going so far as declaring that December 19 was “the evening before the conception of Mary”.

One Messianic stated in an email:

“…the evening’ before the conception of Mary. “*** From Peter: For all of you awaiting the day of the conception of Yeshua, it will be in the early evening hours of Sunday. It occurred in the early evening when Miryam entered the home of Elizabeth. At that very moment in history the Messiah Yeshua, the Word/Torah was made flesh in the womb of Miryam.  peterm ” 2.

According to these people, the proof of the conception of Mary calculations are found in the writings of various Messianics practicing kabbalah and gematria, with the approximate time of conception believed to have fallen sometime in late November to late December. They proudly proclaim that this is exactly the period of time for the Festival of Chanukah, which is also when they believe the Magi arrived fifteen months later. Another said:

“…for Jews who light the Chanukiah this year, or for those who can learn from our customs, we should keep in mind that in our encounter with “darkness”, we don’t want to use the flame to burn and destroy the world, but rather, we want to use it to illuminate the whole world with Torah. We want to light the way for all the Nations so that they can prosper materially and spiritually. Even though they will never fully respond to this before the coming of Mashiach, we must still give them this prescription. It is the same as it was in the time of the Hellenistic oppression: by increasing our light, the darkness fades and the bright Morningstar arises.”3

Words cannot express how un-Scriptural these things are. The man-ordained celebration was never intended to represent the conception of Mary — and it is certainly not viewed like that in Judaism nor their writings in the Talmud or Zohar. Nor did Almighty God feel it necessary to suggest precisely how and when these things happened. However, that does not hinder many from delivering the intent of Hanukkah as being for Gentiles to join with the Jews in this celebration, so that the Jews can “illuminate the whole world.”  What a sharp contrast to the historical and original intent of the Maccabees–to separate from all Gentiles and their practices and beliefs, and also the current view of Hannukah by practicing Jews of Judaism.. And what a very sharp contrast to the Scripture where Jesus said He was the Light of the world.

John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”  [KJV]

Jesus also said those who followed Him were to be salt and light of the world.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. [KJV]

Christians are told in the Scriptures to do the following:

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Luke 24:44-47 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [KJV]

Nowhere are we told to go into all the world and preach Torah, because it is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some Messianics have determined that the whole legend of the oil as being true and go on to declare that the original and specially designed menorah and all the symbolism was meant to symbolize Jesus. It is also being stated that the Jews were free to change what and how God ordained the Temple menorah and feasts to be. The belief is that the Maccabees wanted to make the holiday so much more special, (than the God commanded ones?) that they copied the Feast of Tabernacles, but changed the menorah to the 9 candles instead of the seven. The 9th candle is, according to them, used to light all others and represents Jesus. 4  Which of course is fully contrary to what Judaism teaches. And it is their celebration…

Some teach that the original Chanukiah, aside from the 9 candles, had the Star of Remphan, also called the Star of Moloch, emblazoned as a symbol on it and which people today refer to as the star of David.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica’s article, Magen David, acknowledges that the hexagram was used by  magicians in connection with Judah Maccabee.

” The oldest text mentioning a shield of David is contained in an explanation of a magical “alphabet of the angel Metatron”…among the Hasidei Ashkenaz of the 12th C. But here it was the holy Name of 72 names which was said to have been on this protective shield together with the name MKBY, which the tradition of the magicians connected with Judah Maccabee.” 5

Some of those very facts are discussed in the Kabbalah, Talismans and Masters of the Name and other articles in the series, “To Embrace Hebrew Roots.” 6

Of the many Scriptures concerning this are:

Acts 7:42,43 ” Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the STAR OF YOUR GOD REMPHAN, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

Amos 5:26-27 But ye have born the tabernacle of your Moloch, and Chiun (Remphan) your images, the STAR OF YOUR GOD, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore, will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord…

Exodus 25:30 And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.  [KJV]

God dealt with the issue of the star of remphan/chiun/molech that some in Israel went after…

Referencing Strong’s Concordance about Remphan, we see:

4481 Rhemphan [hrem-fan’] by incorrect transliteration for a word of Hebrew origin 3594; n pr m AV – Remphan 1; 1 Remphan = “the shrunken (as lifeless)” 1) the name of an idol worshipped secretly by the Israelites in the wilderness.”

3594 Kiyuwn [kee-yoon’] from 3559; n pr dei AV – Chiun 1; 1 Chiun = “an image” or “pillar” 1) probably a statue of the Assyrian-Babylonian god of the planet Saturn and used to symbolise Israelite apostasy.”

Various articles reference The Talisman of Saturn, which involves a pentagram and a hexagram. From one occult source concerning the use of this symbol:

“On the first face is engraved…a pentagram or a star with five points. On the other side is engraved a bull’s head enclosed in a SIX-POINTED STAR, and surrounded by letters composing the name REMPHA, THE PLANETARY GENIUS OF SATURN, according to the alphabet of the Magi.” (Christian, p. 304-5) 7

In other words, the hexagram used today as the star of David came historically from non-Biblical foundations. Some within Judaism openly admit that it came from Babylon.

The point is, neither Hannukah, nor the 9 candle menorah were ordained by God in the Scriptures. And it is to the Scriptures that we are to turn to confirm our beliefs and doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

James 1:21-22 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  [KJV]

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Myth. Christians believe Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

A. Obviously it is not, although some would be inclined to say it is the actual birth day of Christ. For those in Hebrew Roots, December 25 is anathema, and by using the pagan roots of secularism attempt to apply them to how Christians celebrate Christ’s birth. They push the “real date” back to the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall as the correct date, but do little to celebrate His birth in any case, as everything about “Jesus” is pagan and everything about keeping the feasts is right. Once the issue of the person and name of Jesus Christ being pagan is established as a ‘fact’, then the Scriptures can be overturned, which is done systematically, until the New Testament is believed to have been totally corrupted by pagans.

Christmas, although having many secular and unnecessary elements, for most Christians, means a time to publicly tell the story of the miracle of Jesus Christ’s birth and all related to it, including the fulfillment of prophecies. May we never be silent on these Truths.

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Original article and footnotes can be found here:

http://www.seekgod.ca/hr/hrfaqs4a2.htm#1

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Labyrinths seem to have made their way into most religious venues, including  Christianity.  I ran across an interesting article on labyrinths, which I found to be quite informative.   Included here are several quotes, but the full article is well worth the read.  The link for it is at the end.

The Labyrinth Journey:

Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

By Carl Teichrib

Forcing Change: www.forcingchange.org

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“Symbols are keyholes to doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into Eternity…Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are a celestial alphabet…”- Manly P. Hall [1].

“…symbolical rites are the external expressions of man’s inward desire to unite with Divinity.” – Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. [2].

“Whilst we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for, they were clearly a symbol of the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life.” – About Labyrinths and Mazes [3].

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I was struck by the simplicity of the above statement: that labyrinths are “clearly a symbol of the Christian way.” An interesting position, especially given the fact that the authors of this particular quote admit, “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for…”

We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression – particularly as we try to build relevancy in a post-modern culture – it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences.

Paradoxically, while the evangelical Christian community talks about “spiritual warfare” and “putting on the full amour of God,” many of these same churches can be found embracing that which they claim to counter. In seeking relevancy, we have become dangerously “experiential,” and old forms of mysticism are becoming center-pieces in “experiences of faith.”

The labyrinth prayer-walk, which follows a single winding path to a central location, is a case in point. Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the spiritual journey. But are labyrinths part of the Christian encounter, as suggested by the third introductory quote above?

Understand, Christians looking for ways to bring in new relevancy within church worship did not rediscover the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. As we shall see, it’s been part of the esoteric world for a very long time. Which is why, today, labyrinth walks and “prayer journeys” are being promoted by Rosicrucian groups [4], at New Age festivals and celebrations [5], and throughout the neo-pagan world. Not surprisingly, one of America’s largest witch, shaman, and neo-pagan assemblies, the 2005 Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria, OH, held a night-time Summer Solstice Labyrinth ritual, which was described as a “transformative, walking meditation through an all night labyrinth formed by 1000 lighted candles” [6].

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The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring – the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him [7].

Each year, King Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, demanded that seven boys and seven girls be given as a sacrificial tribute to be devoured by the Minotaur. One year, a hero named Theseus accompanied the children. Taking a ball of twine, he unravelled the string as he went through the labyrinth, giving him a trail leading back out. Once inside the labyrinth, Theseus followed the maze to it’s center, where he battled with the Minotaur and eventually beat the creature to death.

The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today, but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk; the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster – and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.

Don’t forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day; that’s the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore: for the simple reason that this is the intended context.

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On the mystical journey to spiritual fulfillment, the middle-eye of the labyrinth becomes a place of divine illumination. Even Kimberly Lowelle, the President of The Labyrinth Society – a network of labyrinth scholars and enthusiasts – recognizes this basic function. “The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendant nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine…” [10]

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“Labyrinths are temples that enhance and balance and bring a sense of the sacred – a place where we can confirm our unity with the cosmos, awaken our vital force and elevate our consciousness. These structures are space/time temples where we can behold realities that oddly enough transcend space and time. The orientation, form and geometry of a labyrinth has symbolic as well as spacial [sic] importance. It is a mirror for the divine…

…Moving through a Labyrinth changes ordinary ways of perception connecting the inner and the outer, the right brain and the left brain, the involutional and the evolutional through a series of paths that represent the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. These realms are associated with planetary movement as a process that induces Union with the One.” [12]
Divine illumination is the end-goal of esoteric philosophy; it’s the central arena of occultism.

Manly P. Hall, one of the 20th century’s greatest esoteric philosophers and an eminent Masonic historian, tells us that the labyrinth was symbolic of man’s search for truth [13]. Other occult scholars tell us that the labyrinth symbolized to the people “the difficulty of finding the Path to God” [14]. All of this points to the same thing – the mystical realization of our own divinity.

As Hall states in one of his earlier books, “Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood…” [15]. Rosicrucian authority Christian Bernard explains this mystical goal as the building and unfolding of the inner Temple, “The Temple of the Universe, the Temple of the Earth and the Temple of Life are only one in the Temple of Man. This is why the time has come to work towards rebuilding it, for the Messianic Light must emanate from the Heavenly Jerusalem which vibrates within us.” [16] Laying it out very plainly, Annie Besant – an early Theosophical leader – simply said, “Man is not to be compelled; he is to be free. He is not a slave, but a God in the making” [17].

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Freemasonry: when the Masonic candidate undergoes his initiation, he is led on an invisible path from station to station throughout the Lodge room. Each point and part of this journey is given an exoteric explanation – that is, the real meanings are cloaked in allegory and symbolism. After completing the journey around the Lodge, he is led to the center of the room where he kneels before an altar. The Worshipful Master asks what the candidate most desires, and the initiate responds with “Light” [20]. Know this, the light requested is not incandescent light or some other physical light energy, but spiritual illumination [21].

Order of the Golden Dawn: Initiations rites such as the Ceremony of the Grade of Philosophus have the candidate embark on a spiritual journey, following an invisible yet tangible path throughout the Lodge room. This journey, like that of Freemasonry, is intended to elevate the candidate’s level of transformative enlightenment [22].

Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis: In AMORC’s Temple ritual, Second Portal, the student partakes in an allegorical journey searching for light and knowledge. While engaged in the ritual, the student follows a path to each point on the compass, and returns to a central triangle. Again, like the two other illustrations above, this act is part of the mystical journey towards “light” and cosmic unity [23].

Order of the Eastern Star: As a co-Masonic body, the OES engages in a series of ritualistic initiations. Unlike Freemasonry, the OES ritual work is performed on a giant floor-rug pentagram. This pentagram, with an altar placed in its center, is called a Labyrinth. Each of the various initiation rites – journeys on the path to greater understanding – takes place in and around this Labyrinth [24]. Beulah Malone, Past Grand Matron and Secretary of the OES explains,

“The winding in and out of the labyrinth symbolizes the human soul stumbling and struggling through life; learning by mistakes and experiences that the way leading to the supreme life and to God is not easy but is a way of testing one’s power and strength.

By following the examples symbolized in the lives of the heroines of our Order [Author’s note: this is part of the OES Labyrinth journey], we may come into a full light of His Star and into wisdom and understanding. The great magnet of our Star as it shines forth in the world is missioned to bring Unity, the Truth of Fatherhood of God, and Brotherhood of Man.” [25]
And herein lies the deeper spiritual meaning of the labyrinth-walk that has become so fashionable today. It’s the symbolic journey of illumination, completely spiritual in nature, and dependent on our works – the “journey,” or the “testing [of] one’s power and strength.”

The path to the center of the labyrinth is as the invisible but tangible path leading to the esoteric altar – it’s an initiation into the mystical.

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Hundreds of Christians have taken part in labyrinth prayer walks, and many churches across North America and Europe are embracing this tool as a means to expand their spiritual experience. The Rev. Jill Geoffrion, a “certified labyrinth facilitator” and author of such books as Christian Prayer and Labyrinths and Praying the Labyrinth, writes,

“We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.” [26]

On her labyrinth prayer website, Geoffrion offers suggested prayers for different labyrinth events. In dedicating a new labyrinth, she suggests that those in attendance form a circle on the pattern and extend “the energy that is in our hearts and minds through their hands towards the labyrinth.” Following this exercise is a meditative time where each person physically lays hands on the labyrinth and calls forth “the image of a loved one walking this labyrinth and receiving what is needed.” After more “imaging,” she recommends this responsive prayer,

“Community: We dedicate this labyrinth to spiritual awakening and reawakening.
One: With hearts extending in many directions, Let us pray…Sacred Sustainer, Way to wholeness, Creator of possibilities, Supporter of change, Forgiving Releaser, Freedom, Honesty, Wisdom, Hope, Joy…we thank You for the beautiful spiritual tool on which we are standing…” [27]

Geoffrion suggests other reflective meditations for the labyrinth, including short prayers from the “Christian Tradition,” “Egyptian Tradition,” “Hindu Tradition,” and “Sufi Tradition” [28].

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For Christians holding to the exclusive message of Jesus Christ in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” a serious rift is now encountered. It’s the dilemma that exists between what Geoffrion’s first quote described verses the religious pluralism that the labyrinth appears to propagate. And because of the nature and metaphysical history of the labyrinth, this spiritual pluralism is inescapable. However, this ever-widening religious inclusiveness – which is the expression of the esoteric idea of the Fatherhood of God – shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in the labyrinth experience every path is relevant, every road is right, every religion is valid.

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Grace [Cathedral], San Francisco’s prominent Episcopal Church, has been North America’s “pathfinder” congregation in the labyrinth movement, hosting prayer walks on their two labyrinths for years. Moreover, Grace’s outdoor labyrinth is open 24 hours, and the church now has an involved global networking organization dedicated to advancing the labyrinth experience. Hence, Grace has been viewed by many Christian labyrinth advocates as the driving influence for this new spiritual expression in North America.

There’s no doubt that one reason for Grace Cathedral’s success is their connection to Chartres Cathedral in France. As an ancient medieval church, Chartres hosts an original pattern that is today’s recognized prototype for the Christian prayer walk. Grace meticulously copied Chartres, has marketed it very well, and is now a major spokes-church for the Chartres experience. Consider Grace’s website titled “Walking the Labyrinth: Reflections from Chartres, “A profound meditation tool, a metaphor for the spiritual path, a feminist Christian icon, a symbol of Mary or even all Christianity, even perhaps an almost cult-like centerpiece of a movement – the labyrinth is, most everyone can agree, a powerful inspiration.” [29]

The labyrinth exercise, Grace further explains, should be viewed in three parts,

“Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.” [32]
As an institution, Grace is no ordinary church. Not only has it been extremely influential in propagating the labyrinth prayer walk, it has been a hotbed for global interfaith work.
In the 1990’s William Swing was Bishop of Grace. During the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary, Swing proclaimed that Grace would work towards the building of a global interfaith network. After an intense amount of travel and lobbying, Swing succeeded in forming the United Religions Initiative – one of the world’s leading UN affiliated inter-religious partnerships. Today, the URI is an active player in advancing global religious unity.

Why does this matter? Remember all the connections between various esoteric philosophies with the labyrinth concept? A parallel runs between both themes; Unity. As a spiritual interface, and as Grace Cathedral reminded us, the mystical labyrinth belongs to “all religions traditions.”

Grace is open about the deeper meanings of the labyrinth. On the front piece to their labyrinth website, Grace states,

“The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.” [30]

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Reiki Master Kate McManus, in her article “Walking the Fire Labyrinth,” tells of her friend’s spiritual journey.

“This year a friend mentioned an event that was to be held further out west a week after our winter magic festival. She described it as a fire labyrinth ritual in which a stone labyrinth would be lit at night to be walked with conscious intent and so mark the end of the year and begin a new one, a shedding of the old and birthing of the divine child.” [35]

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In an earlier quote by the Rev. Jill Geoffrion, she proclaimed that “God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.”

On the surface this sounds great. But is God really blessing this “new thing”? Moreover, can God bless something that has its origins in esoteric doctrine and ancient pagan mythologies? Adding to its historical pagan significance is the fact that the labyrinth has never lost its occult meaning. As mentioned earlier in the article, labyrinths are still being used, and will continue to be used, as an instrument of pagan spirituality.

If God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to deal with Deuteronomy 12:1-14, 18:9-13 and Exodus 34:10-17? In each of these Scripture passages God explicitly tells His people to refrain from anything used in pagan practices. Moreover, the entire book of Jeremiah is a warning against involvement in alternative religious practices.

Furthermore, if God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to excuse the interfaith aspect that is common throughout the movement? John 14:6 clearly states that the only path to the Father is through Jesus Christ, and by no other way.

Yes, the majority of Christians would affirm that their labyrinth prayer walk is completely focused on Jesus Christ. That may be true, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the labyrinth is, by its theological nature, an inter-religious and deeply mystical device. If God is going to bless the labyrinth experience, how is He going to deal with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16?

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?…”

http://www.forcingchange.org/the_labyrinth_journey

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In this document, I will discuss some of the writings of traditional Judaism that intentionally denigrate, as well as openly blaspheme the finished work of Jesus Christ. I feel the need to do this evaluation, because many of these texts are now being quoted by television evangelists such as Perry Stone, Steve Monsey, Benny Hinn and others. They are also used in the works of Christian book authors such as Grant Jeffreys, who appeared on the Benny Hinn show, as well as by some Pastors in their teachings to the people in their congregations. Some of the texts that I will discuss are the Talmud, the Toldoth Yeshu, the writings of the Jewish mystical system known as Kabbalah, as well as the Shem Tov book of Mathew, which is part of the Jewish writing titled Even Bohan.

The Talmud speaks negatively of Jesus in various books that comprise its writings. The Talmud is a rabbinic commentary on the Torah, which Christians know as the first five books of the Old Testament. Recently, some in Judaism have tried to state that the Talmud is speaking of another person(s) named Jesus, and not Jesus Christ, but conervative rabbi’s such as Daniel Lapin have clearly stated that the Talmud does in fact denigrate Jesus. Here is a quote by Mr Lapin that can be found on his website:

“Do we really want to open up the Pandora’s Box of suggesting that any faith may demand the removal of material that it finds offensive from the doctrines of any other faith? Do we really want to return to those dark times when Catholic authorities attempted to strip from the Talmud those passages that they found offensive? Some of my Jewish readers may feel squeamish about my alluding to the existence of Talmudic passages uncomplimentary toward Jesus as well as descriptive of Jewish involvement in his crucifixion. However the truth is that anyone with Internet access can easily locate those passages in about ten seconds. I think it far better that in the name of genuine Jewish-Christian friendship in America, we allow all faiths their own beliefs even if we find those beliefs troubling or at odds with our own beliefs. This way we can all prosper safely under the constitutional protection of the United States of America.

http://www.towardtradition.org/article_Mel_Gibson.htm

In the Talmud, great measures are taken so that Jesus is never referred to by His actual Hebrew name of Yeshua, because His name itself means He is Salvation, and is a description of His finished work. Jesus is referred by many othe names and titles such as Otho Iysh, which is translated in the English version as “that man”.  In Abhodah Zarah, 6a, it is stated that “He is called a Christian who follows the false teachings of that man, who taught them to celebrate the feast on the first day of the Sabbath, that is, to worship on the first day after the Sabbath”.

Jesus is also referred to as Peloni , which is translated as “A Certain One.” In Chagigah, 4b, we read:
“Mary…the mother of a certain one, of whom it is related in Schabbath…” (104b)

Jesus is also referred to as Naggar bar naggar – “the carpenter son of a carpenter”, also Ben charsch etaim – “the son of a wood worker.”

He is also called Talui – “The one who was hanged.” and him who was hanged, as well as “the one who was hanged on his banner.”

Below are some Talmudic passages that denigrate Christ:

Sanhedrin, 67a ~ Jesus is referred to as the illegitimate son of Pandira, a Roman soldier.

Sanhedrin 106a . Says Jesus’ mother was a whore

Sanhedrin 106 ~ Revels in the early age at which Jesus died

Sanhedrin 43a ~ Says Jesus (“Yeshu” / Yeshu “the Nazarene”) was executed because he practiced sorcery.

Gittin 57a ~ States that Jesus is being boiled in “hot excrement.”

Sanhedrin 43a . Jesus deserved execution: “On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu was hanged…Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a Mesith (enticer)?”

Abhodah Zarah II ~ Also referred to as the son of Pandira, a Roman soldier.

Schabbath XIV~ Again referred to as the son of Pandira, the Roman.

Schabbath, 104b ~ Called a fool and no one pays attention to fools.

Sanhedrin, 103a. ~ Suggested corrupts his morals and dishonors self.

Sanhedrin, 107b. ~ Seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel.

Abhodah Zarah, 21a — Reference to worship of Jesus in homes unwanted.

Orach Chaiim, 113 — Avoid appearance of paying respect to Jesus.

Iore dea, 150,2 — Do not appear to pay respect to Jesus by accident.

Abhodah Zarah (78c) — Festivals of followers of Jesus regarded as idolatry.

Kallah, 1b. (18b) ~ Illegitimate son and conceived during menstruation.

Sanhedrin, 67a ~ Hanged on the eve of Passover.

Sanhedrin, 43a ~ On the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus.

Sanhedrin 90a ~Those who read the New Testament  will have no portion in the world to come.

Shabbath 116a (p. 569) ~Jews must destroy the books of the Christians, i.e. the New Testament.

Rosh Hashanah 17a ~ Christians (“minim”) and others who reject the Talmud will go to hell and be punished there for all generations.

Sanhedrin 105ab ~ “Jesus fornicated with his jackass.

Gittin 57a ~ Jesus is in hell and is being punished by being boiled in semen. Christians are boiled in dung.

Talmudic passages are also used as the basis for the writing titled Toledot Yeshu, which translated means The Geneaology of Yeshu. This writing reports a distorted view of who Jesus was, with many blasphemous statements directed towards Him, claiming that he was the rebellious illegitimate son of a Roman soldier (Pantera) born of unclean conception or niddah, who practiced witchcraft by speaking the sacred or ineffefable name of God who tried to lead Israel astray. In this writing, it is also stated that he set up a brick and worshipped it, and that he was hung, which denies the blood atonement, and His finished work on the cross. The actual Biblical name for Jesus in Hebrew is spelled Yod-Shin-Vav-Ayin which is Yeshua (H3442~H3443), a shortened form of Yehoshua (H3091). Yeshua means He is salvation or He saves. By shortening the name to Yeshu, they effectively deny His work of redemption. In order to get the name Yeshu, the ayin is dropped from His Biblical Hebrew name. All Hebrew letters represent something in Judaism. As an example, the lettter represents the hand. The letter ayin in the Hebrew language, is  known to be representative of the eyes. Here is an excerpt from the Toldoth Yeshu:

Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to Yeshu.

The above quote from the Toldoth Yeshu tells us that His name deteriorated to Yeshu. Deteriorated is a term that obviously does not have a positive connotation. It should be noted that informed believers object to the name Yeshu, because they understand it as a rabbinically modified form of the name Yeshua, and In some versions of the Toledot Yeshu, the name “YeSHU” is used as an acronym for “Yemach Shemo U’zikhro” which translated means “May his name and memory be blotted out”. Yemach comes from the root word Machah (H4229) meaning to blot, Shemo from the root word shem (H8034) which means name or reputation, and zikhro from the root word zayker (H2143), which means a memorial or remembrance. This statement is spoken in the form of a curse, because to erase the name and memory of a person is to erase all knowledge of their being. It should also be noted, that this phrase, or a shortened version is often used in Jewish writings when the name of a despised individual (Hitler, Amalek, Hayman, etc) has been mentioned. This could be a possible allusion to Psalms 109:13-15, where king David curses the enemies of Israel:

13 let his posterity be cut off; let their name be blotted out (yimach shemam) in the following generation;
14 let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered to YHWH; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out;
15 let them be always before YHWH, so that He may cut off the memory of them from the earth; (v’yak’rat ma’erets zikram)

It could also be fashioned after the Biblical curses found in the Torah, that were placed on the enemies of Israel, such as Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:19. In Exodus we find “machoh emche et zeykher Amaleq mitachat hashamayim” translated as “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven”. Amalek is also cursed in Deuteronomy 25:19 as well.

In the Shem Tov Matthew, in many places the name of Jesus is also written in the Hebrew as Yeshu. The Shem Tov Matthew is a theologically altered middle ages manuscript (1390 ce), which was copied from a Latin text that originated from the Greek making it a third generation altered copy at best. This anti-Christian version of the book of Matthew was included in the writing titled “Even Bohan” which translates as “The Touchstone.” The Shem Tov Matthew has modified passages in some chapters that use Talmudic references, as well as some references from the Toldoth Yeshu.

This document was authored by Shem Tov, who resided in Spain during the fourteenth century.  He was an anti-Christian Jewish writer, who wrote this in an attempt to stop the Jewish people from accepting Christianity as their faith. The Shem Tov Matthew has anti-Christian polemical commentary written by him throughout the document. There are a handfull of Shem Tov manuscripts available, but many of them are not in agreement with each other.  Before his death, Shem Tov attempted to also translate a theologically altered version of the book of Mark, as he had done with Matthew, but the work was never completed.

In an excerpted article from the Jewish Encyclopedia quoted below, this was stated about Shem Tov, the author of Even Bohan, which includes the Shem Tov Matthew:

“…As a Talmudic scholar he carried on a correspondence with Sheshet. At Tarazona he completed his “Eben Bohan” (May, 1380 or 1385), a polemical work against baptized Jews…”

[IBN SHAPRUT (SHAFRUT, By : Richard Gottheil ;  Meyer Kayserling

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=43&letter=I&search=shem%20tov%2&#8243;,,-1,0,,,,]

From the American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR) of Brandeis Hebrew University, a well recognized school of traditional Jewish learning, we find this dissertation by student Joshua Levy. Mr. Levy is a doctoral candidate in the department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, studying medieval Jewish history. His dissertation, titled “Sefer Milhamot Hashem, Chapter Eleven: The Earliest Jewish Critique of the New Testament”, is an examination of medieval Jewish criticisms of the Gospel of Matthew:

“This study will begin with a critical edition of one chapter of an early and important medieval Hebrew polemical text, chapter eleven of Jacob ben Reuben’s Sefer Milhamot Hashem. The critical edition will be accompanied by a translation and commentary. Additionally, the dissertation will examine subsequent Jewish and Christian reactions to this pathbreaking text. Written by Jacob ben Reuben, a Jew living in southern France in the late twelfth century, Sefer Milhamot Hashem is one of the earliest extant Jewish polemical texts. Sefer Milhamot Hashem, as a whole, presents Christian, biblically-based arguments for the truth of Christianity and the subsequent Jewish counterarguments. Chapter eleven strikes at the heart of Christianity: it is a Jewish critique of the Gospel of Matthew. My work on this chapter will lead to an examination of the influence that this chapter had on later authors. Shem Tov ibn Shaprut, a Spanish Jewish author of the late fourteenth century, used the criticisms of Jacob ben Reuben in his own translation of the Gospel of Matthew; I will examine his translation to see how Jacob’s attacks were adopted and modified. Nicholas de Lyra, a Franciscan friar of the early fourteenth century, was the first Christian to write a refutation to Jacob’s criticisms. I will use his refutation to understand how the Church responded to Jewish attacks.” [http://www.brandeis.edu/ajs/dissertations.php?id=28]

Some other articles by Joshua Levy can be found here:

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history_community/Medieval/TheStory6321666/Christendom/Crusades.htm

As we can see from the article quoted above, Jacob ben Reuben was a Jewish rabbi who lived in Spain, who wrote polemical writings against Christianity during the twelveth century. He wrote a book titled the Sefer Milhamot Adonai or Book of the Wars of the Lord as a response to attacks by the convert Petrus Alphonsi. This book was comprised of twelve chapters. In it was refutations of the Christian arguments demonstrating Jesus as the promised Messiah of the TaNaKh (Old Testament), coupled with a written criticism of the Gospels as well as the book of Acts, in which he attempted to point out what he viewed as contradictions within the Book. This was the main foundation that Shem Tov built his own writings on. We can clearly see some of these theological alterations implemented by Shem Tov Ibn Shaprut, by simply comparing passages from the Shem Tov Matthew against any of the standard translations:

These passages fail to identify Jesus as the Christ/Messiah/Annointed one who was predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT).

Mat 1:1 “…the generation of Jesus Christ…”

Shem Tov “…the generations of Jesus…”  [Jesus is written in the Hebrew text as Yeshu]

Mat 1:18 “…now the birth of Jesus Christ…”

Shem Tov “…birth of Jesus…”  [Jesus is written in the Hebrew text as Yeshu]

In these passages His ability to forgive the sin of His people is eliminated, which denies His Deity:

Mat 1:21 “…thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”

Shem Tov “…you will call his name Jesus because he will save my people from their sins.”

Mat 9:2 ” And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Shem Tov  “9:2, “They brought to him one who was sick with contractions, that is, paralitico, lying upon his bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the sick man: Have courage my son. It is by the faith of God that your sins have been forgiven.”   [Jesus is written in the Hebrew text as Yeshu]

In this passage Jesus is made equal to the earthly scribes or sages.

Mat 7:29  “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Shem Tov “because he was preaching to them with great power, not as the rest of the sages

The part of this passage which stresses His Deity is eliminated:

Mat 28:20 – Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and,  lo ” I am with you always, even unto the end of the world ” Amen

Shem Tob – and teach them to carry out all the things which I have commanded you forever.

In this passage the coming of a future Kingdom is eliminated

Mat 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Shem Tov “may your kingdom be blessed; may your will be done in heaven and on earth”

In this passage the preaching of the gospel is eliminated.

Mat 11:5 “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

Shem Tov “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are revived and the poor are acquitted.”

In this passage the temple is exalted above Christ

Mat 12:6 “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.”

Shem Tov “Truly I say to you that the temple is greater than this

In this passage the behavior of the Pharisees is questioned, and not their false doctrine.

Mat 16:12  “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

Shem Tov “beware of the behavior of the Pharisees and the Saducees…”  [This does not have the verses broken up by number. There is a group of verses listed as 9-12 , with no verse 6, 7, or 8a.]

Mat 16:9-12  9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Shem Tov  16:9-12, “Do you remember the five loaves and four thousand men how many seahs were left over? Therefore you should understand that I am not speaking of natural loaves but I am saying to you that you should (beware) of the behavior of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

In this passage Elijah becomes the savior.

Mat 17:11  “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”

Shem Tov   “11. He answered them and said: Indeed Elijah will come and will save all the world. 12 “I say to you, he has already come, they did not know him, and they did to him according to their desire. (So) they will do to the Son of Man. 13 “Then the disciples understood that regarding John the Baptizer he was saying this””

Mat 18:11 “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”

Shem Tov  18:11, “and the Son of Man has stopped saving the enemy.”

In these passages the Deity of Christ is eliminated.

Mat 19:28 “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,…”

Shem Tov  “Jesus said: Truly I say to you who follow me, in the day of judgement when man sits upon the throne of his glory you also will sit upon the twelve thrones of the twelve tribes of Israel.”  [Jesus is written in the Hebrew text as Yeshu]

Mat 20:30 “…when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.”

Shem Tov  “…It was said to them: The prophet Jesus from Nazareth is coming. Then they cried out saying: Son of David, have mercy on us.” [Jesus is written in the Hebrew text as Yeshu]

Mat 28:9 “.. Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”

Shem Tov “As they were going Jesus passed before them saying: May the Name [HaShem} deliver you. They came near to him, bowed down to him, and worshipped him”     [Jesus is written in the Hebrew text as Yeshu]

In this passage preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ becomes, “the Anti-Christ” and “abomination of desolation.”

Mat 24:14-16 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: ”

Shem Tov “And this gospel, that is, evungili, will be preached In all the earth for a witness concerning me to all the nations and then the end will come. This is the Anti-Christ and this is the abomination which desolates which was spoken of by Daniel [as] standing in the holy place. Let the one who reads understand. Then those who are in Juda, let them flee to the mountains.”

In the passages below, Jesus is hanged in accordance to what is written in Talmudic writings and the Toldoth Yeshu, instead of being crucified. This eliminates His blood atonement and His finished work on the cross. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the death by hanging of Judas Iscariot in reference to being hanged by a rope.

Shem Tov

Matt 26:2

Do you not know that after two days will be the Passover and the Son of Man will be delivered into the hand of the Jews for the gallows.

KJV

Matt 26:2

Ye know that after two days is [the feast of] the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Shem Tov

Matt 27: 22,23

Pilate said to them: If so, what shall I do with Jesus who is called Messiah?  All of them answered that he should be hung. Pilate said to them:  What evil has he done?  Then they vigorously cried out: let them hang him, let them hang him, let them hang him.

KJV

Matt 27:22,23

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

Shem Tov

Matt 27:26

Then he released Barabbas (to them), and delivered to them Jesus for beating and affliction that they might hang him.

KJV

Matt 27:26

Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [him] to be crucified.

Shem Tov

Matt 27:31

When they had mocked him (much), they stripped the robe from him, and dressed him in his own clothes, and gave orders to hang him.

As they were going out from the city, they met a man whose name was Simon the Canaanite.  They compelled him to carry the gallows, that is, “The Cross”.

27:35

When they had placed him on the gallows they divided his garments by lot

27:38

Then two thieves were hung with him, one on his right and one on his left.

KJV

Matt 27:31,32

And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him].

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

If Jesus were hung, He would have not been thirsty, because medical science has determined that it is impossible to drink or speak when one is being hung. This would then eliminate all of the words that are recorded in the Gospels that He spoke while on the cross, and He would have never been able to say “It is finished”. Also If He was hung, then there would have been no need for the soldier to pierce his side, because He would have been dead almost instantly,  which would deny His suffering. This errant translation of these passages denies all of His finished work, and also denies the cross and His finished work, because there is no blood shed during hanging, hence no redemption.

Yeshu is currently the name that many people refer to Jesus as when speaking modern Hebrew in Israel.

I would admonish anyone who has been using any of the above writings that I have evaluated as a source of learning and wisdom, to turn away from them immediately. In the NT writings we are told that Christ and Belial have no fellowship, therefore we need to understand that it is impossible to learn about who Jesus is and what He has done, from those who have not only openly denied Him and His finished work on the cross, but also have intentionally and deliberately blasphemed Him

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posted with permission

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The term “shekinah” is used within the Messianic movement to refer to the presence of God – or His “dwelling” in the Tabernacle.  Shekinah is also used to define the glory of God within His Presence.  Shekinah comes from Rabbinial Judaism and is a term that found it’s origins in kabbalah.   The concept of  shekinah has become so popular that it is used across the board in Christianity as well as Hebrew Roots.  I think if people understood that shekinah is the feminine essence of God interwoven with the feminine Spirit of God, known as the “Mother Spirit”, they would probably run, not walk away from using it Lightning
[alternative transliterations of shekinah:  shechinah, shekina, shechina, schechinah, sh’khinah (this variation is used by David Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible version)].

Please note, in this first definition, it shows that shekinah comes from the Hebrew word “shk’n” [shaw-kan – H7931]. The word shawkan is used 92 times in the OT, but there is no such hebrew word called “shekinah” in the Bible  No

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-07.

Shekinah

(shk´n) (KEY) [Heb.,=dwelling, presence], in Judaism, term used in the Targum (Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible) and elsewhere to indicate the manifestation of the presence of God among people. Whenever the Hebrew text speaks of the presence of God in a way that implies certain human limitations, the Targum paraphrases by substituting the word Shekinah for the word God (e.g., “And I will cause my Shekinah to dwell,” in the Targum Onkelos). Although the Shekinah is rarely intended by the rabbis in the Talmud and Midrash as an intermediary between God and people, the word is sometimes used in such a manner that it cannot be identical with God, e.g., “God allows his Shekinah to rest.” The medieval Jewish philosophers, however, wishing to avoid the problems of anthropomorphic interpretation of this concept, posited a separate existence for the Shekinah, which played a minor role at best in their systems. In the kabbalah and other mystical works of the later medieval and modern periods, the Shekinah is given far more importance and is often treated as the consort of God who can only be reunited with God through human fulfillment of all the divine commandments, which would likewise signal the messianic age. 1
See S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (1909, repr. 1961); G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1946, repr. 1961); R. Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (1967).

http://www.bartleby.com/65/sh/Shekinah.html

Please note that “shekinah” is the feminine essence of God in kabbalah as found in this article:

Shekinah-Shakti

Shekinah: The Feminine Element in Divinity

Gershom Scholem: On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead, Schocken, 1991

VII

In conclusion, I would like to respond to a question that has no doubt occurred to a number of readers during the discussion of these notions of the feminine within the divine. Can the Shekhinah be described as a cosmic force in the same sense as we find the feminine in the image of Shakti in Indian Tantric religion? To my mind, I believe that we can discern quite clear differences between the two conceptions — differences no less profound than their affinities.

It is impossible to apply this to the Kabbalist schema without misconstruing the sense of the symbols. None of the Sepheroth appearing as male in these pairs could be identified with the masculine in Indian symbolism, albeit the idea of femininity as producing the motion of time may indeed correspond to an astonishing passage in Sefer ha-Bahir.

This passage describes the Shekhinah as the precious gem that brings forth the years i.e., time, which flows from the primal time gathered therein, but I am by no means certain that this primal time can be identified with eternity

On the other hand, when dealing with these comparisons, we must not forget that the Shekhinah is split in the Kabbalah, so that the active element within the feminine has been primarily absorbed in the symbolism of the upper Shekhinah. The latter is the womb of the Sefiroth, of the aeons and cycles of the worlds (shemitoth), while other aspects of Shakti, such as the eternal feminine and the destructive element, are expressed in the final Sefirah or Malkhuth. On the other hand, the notion of the masculine as purely inactive and passive, an idea that seems intrinsic to the doctrine of Shakti, is totally alien to the Kabbalah, in which the male is perceived as active and flowing.

http://www.psyche.com/psyche/txt/scholem_msog_194.html

Here is a common understanding by Judaism of “shekinah” and how some poor deceived soul is comparing shekinah to the presence of God/Christ in the NT. Also, it should be noted that in the Talmud/kabbalah, the Holy Spirit is considered feminine – there is a link between the “feminine essence” as found in the “shekinah” and the Holy Spirit Shocked6838


THE HOLY SHEKINAH SPIRIT

Among the Hebrews one of the traditional names of God is the Shekinah, and, interestingly, it is a feminine gender noun. Many Hebrews saw her as the mother or feminine aspect of God. The early scribes (later called rabbis) added Shekinah in biblical verses where the verb shakhan is used in relation to God. Shakhan literally means “to dwell” or “to live with”, or even “to pitch one’s tent.” The Shekinah means the God-Who-Dwells-Within, and developed primarily after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in 587 BCE, especially as it proffered hope to a people lost in bitter exile. To console an Israel in Diaspora, the comforting, forgiving and loyal presence of the Shekinah emerged. In the Talmud it says: “They were exiled to Babylon, the Shekinah with them. They were exiled to Egypt, the Shekinah with them.” And, it says in Lamentations 1, 5, “Her children are gone into captivity,” and immediately after (1,6), “From Zion her splendour is departed.” (Note the use of “her” for God and “splendour” is also one of the ways to describe the Shekinah). Other terms referring to the Shekinah are “the glory” and “radiance”, and she was the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night that led the Israelites through the Sinai wilderness. She is also closely related to the Sophia tradition in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) in Proverbs and other books. Sophia (a Greek feminine noun) is the Wisdom aspect of God. As a Wisdom Teacher Jesus was very closely related to the Sophia Tradition.

The Shekinah eventually became an interchangeable term with the Holy Spirit in both Judaism and Christianity. She is often pictured as a bird or dove. In Christianity the Holy Spirit is seen as the Advocate, Guide and Comforter (John 14:16-26 and Acts 9:31), and we can clearly see the Judaic origins of this tradition. There is even a more direct connection to the Hebrew tradition of the Shekinah, as St. Paul, the former Pharisee, stresses the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit throughout his famous passage in Romans 8: “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:8) There is even a universalist tradition in some Hebrew Midrash writings: “I call heaven and earth to witness that whether it be Gentile or Israelite, man or woman, slave or handmaid, according to the deeds which he does, so will the Holy Spirit rest upon him.” This is reminiscent of John’s report of Jesus’ statements to Nicodemus, when Jesus said: “The wind [Spirit] blows where it chooses . . . ” (John 3:8), that is, the Holy Spirit will serve all peoples, not just Christians or Jews. Paul also offers a similar notion in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave and free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” And, it is well-established that both Paul and John frequently equated Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit as seen in the Romans 8 passages and the Paraclete passages of John 14-16.

Call upon her for comfort, for advise, for blessing, and for guidance. She will only respond in love and radiant light.

http://shekinah.elysiumgates.com/

I think you get the idea Swoon These are only the “mild” references. It gets pretty icky the deeper into kabbalah that you study this phenomenon because of the feminine nature of shekinah Gaah

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An excerpt from My Testimony [ https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/ancient-paths/]:


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Quote:
Although the Messianic movement replaces Christian baptism with the mikveh, they are different procedures. Baptism requires a pastor or leader to submerge one backwards under the water [usually up to waist deep] and raise them up out of the water.

Mikveh requires a deep [a little over chest deep] fresh water source in which one is completely naked and alone. A sauna, whirlpool and swimming pool are not considered “kosher”, but only a Rabbinically defined and built mikveh pool. One must be physically clean before one does a mikveh and must shower with soap and water beforehand. All jewelry must be taken off and the hair combed to prevent knots that would keep one from total immersion – every part of the body must be completely wet. One enters the water in a forward motion, submerging into the water and then floating without touching any part of the mikveh pool for a few moments. This is repeated two or three times depending on tradition. A prayer is offered before immersion, in most cases. It is a mystic experience and not a “baptism” as an outward expression from sin and into Messiah. It is a ritual process to purify one’s self from uncleanness [tamei]. This does not refer to a sinful condition, but Talmudically defined impurity – like a woman’s monthly cycle [niddah] for instance. A donation or paid membership is usually required in order to use the mikveh (4).

The purification system of the OT Temple is not rendered as a “mikveh” – although Judaism teaches this. Mikveh, in the OT text, is used only as a body of water. It appears to be a Rabbinic addition [middle ages].

Picture a Messianic “mikveh” done in the shallow end of a swimming pool, baptized Christian style, while clothed in some way (smile). [end quote]

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The following is from a Jewish website describing and explaining Judaism’s mikveh. In no way does this resemble what Messianics are promoting as a mikveh, which is a Rabbinic concept filled with mystical associations.

Quote:

Conversion

Mikveh: Immersing in the Ritual Pool

Immersion in the mikveh actualizes the transition between the convert’s old identity and his or her new one as a Jew.

By Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Excerpted with permission from Becoming a Jew (Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.).

What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Is there a sign so dramatic, dynamic, and all-encompassing that it could represent the radical change undergone by the convert to Judaism?

Jewish tradition prescribes a profound symbol. It instructs the conversion candidate to place himself or herself in a radically different physical environment–in water rather than air. This leaves the person floating–momentarily suspended without breathing–substituting the usual forward moving nature and purposeful stride that characterize his or her waking movements with an aimlessness, a weightlessness, a detachment from the former environment. Individuality, passion, ego–all are submerged in the metamorphosis from the larval state of the present to a new existence.

Ritual immersion is the total submersion of the body in a pool of water. This pool and its water are precisely prescribed by Jewish law. Immersion, tevillah, is the common core component of every [traditional] Jewish conversion process, for male and female, adult and child, ignoramus and scholar. It is sine qua non, and a conversion ceremony without immersion is unacceptable to the traditional religious community and simply not Jewish in character.

This requirement of immersion admits of no compromise, no matter where in the world one finds oneself. {While Conservative rabbis similarly require mikveh for conversion, Reform rabbis generally do not, although a tendency to more traditional symbols and a sense that a uniform conversion process is desirable are encouraging greater use of the immersion component even among the Reform.)

Religious Functions of the Mikveh

Several religious functions are served by this powerful symbol of submerging in water. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the mikveh was used by all Jews who wanted to enter the precincts of the Sanctuary. The law required every person inside the Temple grounds to be in a spiritually pure state appropriate to the pristine spirituality of the Sanctuary itself.

Throughout Jewish history, unmarried women have immersed in the mikveh prior to their wedding; married women immerse at the end of seven days of stainless purity from the end of each monthly menstrual cycle, in preparation for the resumption of family relations in their most fertile days.

A major function of immersion in the mikveh is for conversion to Judaism. The sages declare that a gentile who wishes to become a Jew must undergo the identical process by which Jewish ancestors converted. As Jews performed immersion at Mt. Sinai to complete the conversion process they had begun with circumcision as they left Egypt, so converts in every age must immerse in a mikveh.

Water Symbolizes Birth as a Jew

Submerging in a pool of water for the purpose not of using the water’s physical cleansing properties but expressly to symbolize a change-of-soul is a statement at once deeply spiritual and immensely compelling. No other symbolic act can so totally embrace a person as being submerged in water, which must touch and cover every lesion, every strand of hair, every birthmark. No other religious act is so freighted with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a total commitment to a new idea and a new way of life as it swallows up the old and gives birth to the new.

The water of the mikveh is designed to ritually cleanse a person from deeds of the past. The convert is considered by Jewish law to be like a newborn child. By spiritually cleansing the convert, the mikveh water prepares him or her to confront God, life, and people with a fresh spirit and new eyes–it washes away the past, leaving only the future. Of course, this does not deny that there were good and beautiful aspects of the past. But, in the strictest religious sense, that past was only prologue to a future life as a Jew.

There is a second layer of meaning to mikveh. It marks the beginning of the ascent to an elevated religious state. This function of mikveh goes beyond the basic purpose of purification. Anthropologists refer to this threshold of higher social status as “liminality.” The person at this moment of transition is a “liminal” or “threshold” person. The liminal state is common to virtually all persons and societies, ancient and modern, and it marks a move to an altered status or to a life transition. Entering adulthood from adolescence, for example, requires a tunnel of time, a rite of passage, a liminal state that acknowledges by symbolic acts the stark changes taking place in one’s self-identity, behavior, and attitude.

In a sense, it is nothing short of the spiritual drama of death and rebirth cast onto the canvas of the convert’s soul. Submerging into waters over her head, she enters into an environment in which she cannot breathe and cannot live for more than moments. It is the death of all that has gone before. As she emerges from the gagging waters into the clear air, she begins to breathe anew and live anew–as a baby struggling to be born.

If we take this graphic metaphor a step further, we can sense that the mikveh is a spiritual womb. The human fetus is surrounded by water. It does not yet live. The water breaks in a split second and the child emerges into a new world. “As soon as the convert immerses and emerges, he is a Jew in every respect” (Yevamot 47b).

What is a Mikveh, Halakhically?

The mikveh must comply with a number of precise halakhic [Jewish legal] qualifications. The mikveh must be built into the ground or the structure of the building. It must hold a minimum of 24 cubic feet of water–200 gallons. The depth must be such as to enable an average adult to stand upright and have the water reach at least 11 inches above the waist, so that immersion can be performed without backbreaking contortions.

The water must originally have been transported to the mikveh in a manner resembling the natural flow of waters. The general practice is to build cement channels at the sides of the mikveh roof, which will enable rainwater to flow directly into the mikveh. Done right the first time, with the required initial amount of water, other piped waters may be added later in whatever quantities and at any time, and the mikveh will still retain its religious validity.

The waters must be stationary and not flow (not even the flow caused by a filter) while the mikveh is in use. The water, by all means, should be chlorinated to assure its meeting the highest standards of hygienic cleanliness. (While the chlorinated water may be somewhat discolored, it does have to retain natural water color.)

Water deriving from a natural spring is considered a valid mikveh if it complies with halakhic conditions. Also quite proper is immersing in the ocean, where there is no mikveh available, given the satisfaction of certain halakhic conditions.

Parameters of the Mikveh Experience

The ceremony must take place on a weekday [and not on Shabbat, the Sabbath] and during daylight, as do all other Jewish court procedures. In cases when a full circumcision has to be performed (unlike the touch of blood for previously circumcised males), enough time will have to elapse to be certain that the wound has healed completely.

The only assurance that the immersion will accord with halakhic requirements for a male convert is the presence of the rabbi at the mikveh; a female is to be accompanied by a person familiar with the practice, such as a rabbi’s wife, the mikveh escort, or a very knowledgeable friend who herself uses the mikveh.

The body must be thoroughly cleansed immediately before the immersion. The convert should be careful that there are no adhesions such as bandages, Band-Aids, or ointment; that the hair is thoroughly brushed; the nails of the hands and feet are pared; and that no traces of cosmetics or nail polish remain. The whole body must be immersed at one time, not sequentially, and the submerging must be total, without even a single hair remaining above the water.

The Conversion Blessings and When They Are Recited

The blessing in the mikveh is as follows:

Barukh atah Ado-nai Elo-henu melekh ha’olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’tevillah.

Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the immersion.

Blessings over the performance of mitzvot [commandments] in Jewish life always take place before the action of the mitzvah. The reason for this is that it focuses the soul, raising the consciousness for the action to be undertaken, establishing the purpose of the mitzvah, and demonstrating that its origins are in God’s command. Also, the blessing enhances the mitzvah by providing the reason for undertaking the symbolic action. Ritva [a medieval Talmud commentator] notes that, since the blessing is a statement of the soul, it should precede the statement made by the physical action of the body.

There is one exception to this general practice of placing the blessing before the mitzvah–the immersion of a convert. The convert needs to recite the blessing after the immersion, not before. The reason is simple: One cannot declare “God commanded us” if one is not commanded by God because he or she is not Jewish. The convert becomes a Jew only after the immersion is completed.

After the blessing, the convert immerses twice more and then leaves the mikveh.

A second blessing is required by most, but not all, authorities. It is called she’hecheyanu, and with it a person thanks God that He has enabled him to live to experience the greatness of this moment.

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Rabbi Maurice Lamm holds the Chair in Professional Rabbinics at Yeshiva University, is the former senior Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation–Beverly Hills, and is President of National Institute for Jewish Hospice. He has written five books and sold 450,000.

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycl…eh_Prn.htm

[end quote]

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The following,  is a very interesting story about mikveh’s from 1934. It is a true story that gets to the heart of the Jewish people and how much they esteem the mikveh. My intent with posting the story is to allow you to reach into the soul of the Jewish people. They have obviously denied Christ, but they are human beings who have misplaced traditions having been ingrained into a system that they believe is of God. This is no different than others who also are in deep deception for their choice of a religious system, like Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

For the Jewish people, nothing is as offensive to them as Messianics who play at their religion – it is a very sad commentary that Messianics come in the name of the Lord – or whatever they perceive as the Almighty – to take part in Jewish rituals like the mikveh. These rituals are way out of line from New Covenant beliefs in which we serve a risen Savior, who shed His blood for our sins to reconcile us to God. I fear for their lack of understanding to incept a system that is so far removed from the teachings of the Bible.

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In May 1934, a young doctor completed his studies in Warsaw and returned to Byalestok. With the help of his father, a well-to-do farmer who some years earlier had moved his family to the city, he set up a small office in view of the town clock.

As the months sped by, his reputation grew and with it the size of the crowd in his waiting room. Handsome and amiable, he was at ease in the social circles of Byalestok, quickly becoming the toast of the secular Jewish community. Wealthy industrialists vied for the opportunity to introduce their daughters to him and the intellectual elite were constantly after him to address their groups and attend their social gatherings. More often than not he declined their invitations, unimpressed by the glitter of their parties and by the all-too-familiar topics of their conversations. He devoted his time to his practice; his leisure hours he spent strolling through the streets and parks of the city.

Between patients, he often glanced across the room at the graduation photograph of his elementary school class, dated 1922. Time was passing quickly. He was a doctor, respected, almost famous in Byalestok, but he was not happy with his accomplishments – something was missing. The life around him lacked purpose and consistency. Even his work depressed him at times. The death of a young patient, as he looked helplessly on, touched him deeply. What was the meaning of his life, he asked in his heart. Why did it have to happen?

One day late in October the Assistant Mayor of Byalestok, a tall educated Pole, called on the doctor.

A year earlier, the city administration had hired a new District Attorney, Andrei Maritus, who immediately set in motion a number of projects. The unabashed purpose of one of them was to close down all the mikvehs in Byalestok. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, after hundreds of Jews had immersed themselves in the mikveh of the Main Synagogue, Andrei Maritus, accompanied by the City Health Inspector and three policemen, collected two samples from the water that had become dark and turbid. A day later all the mikvehs in the city were ordered closed, pending a hearing to be held two weeks hence. Late that same afternoon, the Assistant Mayor paid Dr. Schreiber a visit.

“It’s simply a matter of health,” said the Assistant Mayor, a tall, square-shouldered Pole with a rim of reddish hair around his bald scalp, smiling genially. “The community must be protected from an outbreak of typhoid fever. Why, only last month six cases were discovered in Olsztyn, another four in Siedlce.” Dr. Schreiber stared expressionlessly across the table. The Pole met his gaze and grinned affectedly. “This is a sample taken from the mikveh”, he said, placing the vial on the table. “We want you to examine it and report to us in three days.”

“I see,” Dr. Schreiber said. Now the purpose of the visit was clear to him: he, a respected member of the Jewish community, was to provide the conclusive evidence.

Sensing a hint of indecision in the Doctor’s eyes, the Assistant Mayor said: “It is a simple matter of health, Dr. Schreiber – the water is clearly polluted. We want your confirmation. Needless to say, you will be handsomely rewarded for your time.”

Dr. Schreiber sat for a long time at his desk. From the street below came the sounds of children playing. He went to the window and looked down. Squeezed between shadows the roseate sunlight of evening blanched the faces of the children. For the first time since he had taken occupancy in this office, he wondered if they were Jewish. At length, he turned around and picked up the sample. He placed a drop on a slide, then slipped it under the eyepiece of the microscope. One glance showed him that it was full of bacteria – he did not bother to analyze it further.

He apologized to the patients waiting outside his office and hurried down the stairs into the street. He walked through the main square with the pedestrian traffic, then strolled pensively through the gardens to the commercial center of Byalestok. From there he headed toward the Main Synagogue. The enormous, domed structure dominated the surroundings for many blocks. Here and there, Jewish children played in the dusty streets, dressed in rags, their earlocks drifting in the breeze.

The doctor had never made real contact with the observant Jews of Byalestok; in his social circle they were regarded with disdain, as one thinks of a distant relative who is squandering his life, but at whom one can only shrug one’s shoulders in helpless disapproval. He never understood their ways – then again, he never tried. His university days came to mind; there had been more than a trace of anti-Semitism in the air but, somehow, absorbed as he was in his studies, he made little of it, attributing it to the ignorance of a few misguided individuals in the faculty.

Suddenly, a five or six year old boy came out of a lane carrying a pail of water, and stood directly in front of Dr. Schreiber. A brown cap with a narrow visor extending over his brow covered his head, while a torn black coat concealed the little biy’s body from neck to ankles.

“Where is your skull cap?” he demanded with a nuance of contempt, jutting his chin upward.

“I don’t wear one,” said the doctor, smiling.

“Every Jew must wear a skull cap!” asserted the boy, hot with anger.

“Not every Jew.”

“Yes, every Jew!” he insisted stubbornly, pursed his lips, and shook his head reproachfully like an adult. “You wear glasses, don’t you, but glasses are heavier than a skull cap,” he said, with a talmudic thrust of the thumb.

The following week two elderly Jews came to Dr. Schreiber’s office. One was the Chief Rabbi of Byalestok, the other Leib Orenstein, President of the Main Synagogue. They had learned that the doctor was scheduled to testify at the upcoming hearing.

“The mikveh is not a place to wash ourselves,” said the aged Rabbi through the slit in his long, white beard. The axe-like handle of his cane leaned against his breast; he clasped it tremulously and went on, his narrow eyes set deeply between the swollen lids: “The mikveh is life; it is like the waters of the placenta in which the fetus lives and develops – when the infant breaks through the waters, it is alive. And so it is with a Jew when he comes out of the mikveh in the morning; he is rejuvenated, eager to serve the Creator.”

The wan cheeks of the Rabbi merged into his beard and all one saw was the dark, patient eyes and the serrated outline of his beard against the backdrop of his black coat. Dr. Schreiber nodded respectfully.

“Even if you do not understand what a mikveh means”, said Leib Orenstein, a clean-shaven man of sixty, in a voice straining to be calm, “you must respect that it is of the greatest importance to thousands of Jews in Byalestok. When a woman goes to the mikveh, she feels assured of a healthy child. This is not a detail in our lives; it is everything!” Unable to contain his emotion, he went on: “And do not deceive yourself into believing that this is an isolated event and that is will end here. Should they, G-d forbid, force the mikvehs to close it will encourage them to attempt more; soon they will want to destroy our slaughter-houses – cruelty to animals they will charge! Then our schools will be attacked, and then Dr. Schreiber – I ask you – what will be left?”

Dr Schreiber gazed somberly at his visitors.

“The water is full of bacteria,” he said frankly. “it is a health hazard.”

“No Jew has ever become sick from a mikveh,” stated Mr. Orenstein, his lips trembling at the Doctor’s misconception.

“That may be so, but nevertheless the water does pose a danger to the health of the community,” he said, weighing his words carefully.

“Science and logic are not everything, Dr. Schreiber,” said the Rabbi. “The history of the Jews is ample evidence of that.”

The visitors stood up to leave. The doctor accompanied them to the corridor. He expected them to plead with him, to evoke in him a sense of guilt. But they said no more, and he respected them for it. He extended his hand to them; the Rabbi held it lightly between both his hands as if to transmit a final message through it.

Dr. Schreiber took to wandering through the streets alone, a deeply troubled look on his face. In the religious district he imbibed the hum of Torah talk seeping out of the windows and the smell of challah baking for Shabbos. He was touched by the simplicity and devotion of their activity, admiring with envy the consistency of it all. But in the Jewish secular districts he reverted to his concern for truth, his intellectual desire to defend it wherever it might be threatened.

The night before the hearing Dr. Schreiber made his way into the dark deserted mikveh room of the main synagogue. He switched on the small electric lamp. The stark nakedness of the dressing room made him shudder; the piebald walls were cracked in many places; the toilet, uncomfortably close to the benches, leaked a vivid brown fluid, and in the high corners of the room, spiders spun their gossamer webs. He stepped slowly over the wooden floor to the stairs leading down to the pool. The dressing room lamp shed a pale light over the murky water. He crouched for a better look, leaning to a side to allow the light past him. Here and there, little clusters of lint intertwined with hair floated on the dark, still surface of the water that had not been changed for weeks. He scooped up a handful and let it spill through his fingers. He smelled it, then wiped his hand thoroughly on the sleeve of his coat. A frown suffused his face and he could not remove it.

The highly publicized hearing attracted officials and journalists from all over Poland. The hall was crowded. In the front row to the left, sat three rabbis, the Chief Rabbi in the middle, his trembling fingers dovetailed over the handle of his cane. The stage was set. The District Attorney, a tall bespectacled Pole with a grape-sized growth in the middle of his right cheek, veritably bursting with confidence, strutted back and forth between his colleagues, adding the final touches. The judge, a towering man distinguished by his flowing gray hair and an involuntary smile, called the hearing to order.

Andrei Maritus wasted no time. First on the witness stand was a former janitor of the Main Synagogue, a drunkard named Babules. Anyone who was even vaguely acquainted with Babules knew that for a swig of whiskey he would testify that grass was blue. Today, however, he was a different man. Dressed in a new suit and tie, his pitch black hair slicked down, he indeed had the appearance of a decent, law-abiding citizen. Only his eyes betokened the real Babules; bloodshot, they strove in vain to follow the District Attorney as he paced back and forth in front of him a little too quickly. With a coherence that surprised many of the onlookers, Babules described conditions at the mikveh as he claimed to know them. Using adjectives and superlatives utterly alien to him, his description of the squalid conditions brought the hostile audience to shouts of outrage.

“How often I pleaded with the rabbis to permit me to change the water daily!” he testified bitterly.

“And did they let you?” prompted the District Attorney, radiant with anticipation of victory.

“No! Never!”

“Why?”

“Money! What else?”

“You should have offered to do it for free,” suggested Andrei Maritus magnanimously.

“I did! Out of the goodness of my heart, Babules offered! I could not endure the odor, Sir! You see – I should have mentioned this earlier – but the older men were not reluctant to sneeze into the water.”

“That’s all for now, Mr. Babules”, said the District Attorney, smiling unrestrainedly as he fondled the growth on his cheek. He glanced meaningfully at the judge, who lowered his eyes to the notepad on his desk.

Six witnesses followed. The testimony of each was increasingly more devastating. However, it was clear that the prosecutor’s case rested on statements of questionable witnesses. There was no hard evidence, no scientific facts. For that, he called on Dr. Schreiber, who was seated in the back row of the hall.

“Now, Dr. Schreiber,” began the District Attorney, slowly and deliberately, “you were given a sample of water from the mikveh and asked to analyze it. I presume you have had an opportunity to do so.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dr. Schreiber answered politely, his stern gaze wrinkling the corners of his eyes into a tiny staircase of furrows.

“What are you findings, Doctor?” asked Andrei Maritus, pointing to the glass of blackened water which a court officer had placed on the ledge of the witness stand.

“The water is dirty,” said Dr. Schreiber without a trace of hesitation, meeting the Attorney’s eyes with a hard stare.

“How dirty, Doctor?” he continued with confidence, glancing discreetly at the judge.

“Very dirty,” answered the Doctor in the same resolute tone. A wave of silence rippled through the room.

Feeling the firm ground of his case, Andrei Maritus glanced at the crowd with a slight inclination of the head. He could barely collect himself to pose the decisive question. Meanwhile the visitors had become noisy with excitement. The District Attorney beckoned the crowd to be silent. At length, he turned to Dr. Schreiber, straining to control his every muscle.

“Would you say, then, that the water is hazardous to health?” he asked in a tone that permitted only one answer.

“The health of whom, Sir?” the doctor asked with exaggerated politeness.

A sudden hum of voices coursed through the hall.

“Silence!” the Judge ordered.

“Humans, of course!” the District Attorney enunciated haltingly, a shocked look of outrage on his face. Then he grinned nervously at the judges and pinched his cheek.

Dr. Schreiber lifted the glass to his eyes as if to ponder the question.

“For humans?” he asked reflectively, pausing for one final glance at the water. Before the stunned eyes of the crowd he brought the glass to his lips and drank it down in one gulp. Showing no sign of discomfort he placed it back on the ledge in front of him. “Are there any more questions, Sir?” he asked courteously.

Originally published in Di Yiddishe Heim Journal
Reproduced from http://www.chabad.org
© 2001-2004 Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center

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Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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Editor’s note:

The unsavory condition of the mikveh in the story was clearly a function of the oppressive conditions under which Judaism struggled to survive in communist USSR. The mikvehs of today are clean and sanitary, with the women’s mikvehs at a level that can accurately be described as aristocratic.

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