Does Messianic Judaism Have a Part in Rebuilding the Temple?
Hashem’s wilderness Tabernacle (Mishkan) and later Temple (Mikdash) feature prominently in the Tanakh, and by all accounts the Temple remained a focal point of Yeshua’s concern throughout his ministry. Yet Yeshua prophesied the Temple’s ruin (Luke 21:6), and its destruction a generation later in CE 70 has been taken by supersessionists to signify the end of any lingering importance. But in Yeshua’s account, destruction of the Holy City, which included the Temple, was not a permanent state of affairs but rather, “Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the age of the Gentiles has run its course” (Luke 21:24b). The twentieth century saw the horrific pinnacle of the persecution of European Jewry, as well as the reconstitution of a sovereign Jewish nation in the land of promise, a large ingathering of Jewish exiles and a unified Jerusalem declared Israel’s capital. Some Christians maintain there is virtually no theological importance to what they view as coincidences like these, but in light of Yeshua’s prophecy it is hard to imagine that we are not witnessing aspects of the final phases of the “age of the Gentiles.” If the “trampling down” of the Holy City is temporary (albeit lengthy) then the question of rebuilding the Temple must not be left unconsidered.
How should the Messianic Jewish community view its obligations vis-à-vis Yeshua’s Messiahship, the praxis and theology of his first followers, and the second Temple’s destruction? If Messiah’s mission and sacrifice permanently voided all value of the Mikdash and korbanot (offerings), then why were Yeshua-believing Jews who knew Messiah best, including Paul, so keen to be involved in them? In light of both Israel’s reestablishment as a sovereign nation, and of generations of supersessionist Church history, two antithetical hypotheses face the Messianic Jewish community:
- Is the second Temple’s destruction a generation after Messiah’s sacrifice to be understood as divine substantiation of a new theological condition that forever ended Hashem’s concern for a physical Mikdash and associated offerings?
- Or, according to precedent six centuries earlier with the first Temple’s ruin, is its destruction to be understood as a sign of grave displeasure over insubordination, especially to King-Messiah Yeshua, yet unaccompanied by theological implications that prevent rebuilding and service?
Without doubt, ramifications of historic proportion follow either hypothesis. Indeed, supersessionist elements in the Church assumed the first hypothesis is indisputably true, an assumption which has shaped Jewish-Christian relations for centuries. This three-part article considers overarching issues that support the second hypothesis: that Israel, though punished severely by the second Temple’s destruction, was not released by Hashem from obligations to rebuild.
- Part One – Israel’s Obligation to the Makom (Place or Location) speaks particularly to the Messianic Jewish community. This section reviews the Jewish people’s duty to worship at a specific location, beginning from Avraham Avinu until this day, and includes a review of how Moses, David and Paul viewed the Temple and sacrifices. Yeshua’s relationship to the Temple is considered and contrasted against N.T. Wright’s supersessionist views. We find a consistent picture of Israel, including Yeshua himself, honoring the Makom Hashem chose for his name.
- Part Two – Hebrews and the Third Temple speaks particularly to non-Jewish Yeshua-believers. This section focuses on commentary by Richard Hays and Mark Nanos to discover how the book of Hebrews actually relates to the Jewish people, to Yeshua-believing Jews, and ultimately to Mosaic sacrifice. Indisputably, Messiah’s sacrifice is far superior, but are Yeshua-believing Jews forbidden involvement in the Mikdash? This section also reviews themes listed by Scott McKnight in the “five warnings” of Hebrews. We find that Hebrews explicitly exhorted readers not to deny their confession of Messiah Yeshua, which at that time evidently barred them from the Temple, but the author never prohibited worship in the Temple.
- Part Three – Messiah Yeshua and Rebuilding the Temple speaks particularly to the wider Jewish community. This section reviews Yeshua’s claim as Messiah, Son of David, who is heir of the Temple precinct on Har Moriah, and who, according to Torah and Prophets, is evidently obligated to construct a Temple, as was Solomon. The article also investigates Psalm 110 since Yeshua cited it about himself, in conjunction with Psalm 2, as it occurs in the Besorah. The seemingly intractable problem of valid cohanim (priests) is considered in the light of Yeshua’s Messiahship.
The Temple Mount Today
Remarkably, according to a recent Ynet-Gesher poll, Israelis of all backgrounds show interest in a rebuilt Mikdash.
Sixty-four percent responded favorably, while 36% said no…not only the ultra-Orthodox and the religious look forward to the rebuilding of the Temple (100% and 97% respectively), but also the traditional public (91%) and many seculars – 47%.
Greater numbers of Haredim are visiting the Temple Mount than ever before. In the summer of 2011 a surprising report stated Haredi rabbis are encouraging discrete ascent of the Temple Mount to pray for reinstitution of as many mitzvoth related to Temple service as possible, hopefully leading to its actual rebuilding. An active core movement dedicated to rebuilding the Mikdash, though small, enjoys wide support among Jews of the National Religious stripe, and has garnered recognition in other communities, including secular Jews. Christian Zionists, likewise, endorse and encourage Jewish Aliyah and a rebuilt Temple.
In contrast, supersessionist Christians unsympathetically reject Christian Zionist support for this Jewish endeavor. The Latin Patriarch and Jerusalem church leaders rejected Christian Zionism in a strongly worded 2006 declaration. Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer, a leading critic of Christian Zionism, finds no biblical mandate for Christian support for rebuilding the Temple or for maintaining any abiding distinction of the Jewish people. In an October 2011 address to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Sizer went further in his description of Israeli citizens who are Yeshua-believers:
There are certainly churches in Israel/Palestine that side with the occupation, that side with Zionism. One of my burdens is to challenge them theologically and show that they’ve repudiated Jesus, they’ve repudiated the Bible, and they are an abomination.
Other Christians and Jews, though recognizing Hashem’s abiding covenant with Israel, are ambivalent simply because they see no point for a Temple and sacrifices. Then too, the favor expressed by some friends of Israel from the Church may be motivated more by perceived requirements for an end-time Temple than by actual support for Israel’s covenant fidelity.
Palestinians and neighboring Muslims deny any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. The Muslim Waqf conducted notorious unsupervised excavations within the Temple compound (1996-1999) and continually denies a historical Jewish presence. A lesser known incident, though just as alarming, occurred in 2005. A half-meter tall inscription “Allah” was discovered carved on the eastern wall, allegedly by Muslim workers repairing the wall. In 2007 the Organization of the Islamic Conference claimed Israel was attempting to “Judaize Jerusalem” by conducting excavations to repair the pedestrian ramp to the Temple Mount’s Mugrabi Gate. Many other examples could be added to these.
Messianic Jewish Solidarity with Israel
Some in the Messianic Jewish community find rebuilding the Temple dispensable compared to the Great Commission, questioning why we should trouble ourselves with such theoretical and volatile political issues. Mark Kinzer’s portrayal of the bilateral Ecclesia’s Jewish wing, acting in solidarity with Israel, supplies a basis for response:
[T]he New Testament–read canonically and theologically–teaches that all Jews (including Yeshua-believers) are not only permitted but are obligated to follow basic Jewish practice.
Basic Jewish practice, also known as halachah (way of life), is based on interpretation and application of Torah mitzvoth (commandments). Jennifer M. Rosner comments on Kinzer’s view that duties of the heart for Messianic Jews are founded on ancestral vows to Hashem:
If Messianic Jews understand themselves as part of the larger people of Israel, then their commitment to that people and their acceptance of Israel’s covenant responsibilities are rooted in their identification with and participation in that covenant.
Surely brit milah is one of the Messianic Jewish community’s foundational expressions of loyalty to the covenant. The call for the Messianic remnant to fulfill its God-given role leads Kinzer to a sobering and exciting observation:
[T]his portion of Israel must truly live as Israel–that is, it must be exemplary in observing those traditional Jewish practices that identify the Jewish people as a distinct community chosen and loved by God.”
If we truly live as Israel by honoring the covenant, should we not also actively engage our nation in the ongoing process of establishing Jewish practice? In Israel many Jews are not just praying but are taking practical steps to fulfill the ninety-fifth mitzvah of Sefer HaHinuch’s listing of the 613 mitzvoth:
ADONAI said to Moshe, ‘Tell the people of Isra’el…they are to make me a sanctuary [Mikdash], so that I may live among them.’ (Ex. 25:1-2, 8)
The halachic authority Rambam ruled that this mitzvah remains in force for all time, i.e. Israel is obligated to this day to build a Mikdash. Israel’s sages consider earthly attendance of Hashem’s Sh’kheenah (or Shekinah, i.e. Presence) crucial, not just for Israel but for the entire world. The sages understood that Hashem’s Sh’kheenah can be properly served only in the Mikdash he ordered Israel to build. The second verse of Pirkei Avot declares:
The world rests on three pillars: upon the Torah, upon the service of the Temple, and upon acts of loving-kindness. Pirkei Avot 1:2
Even in absentia the Temple remains an integral part of Jewish life. The morning Shacharit service is based on four levels of ascension into the Temple, and Shacharit and Mincha services are analogous to the daily Tamid offering at the Temple. Messianic Jews seeking to truly live as Israel ought to engage the Temple question all the more since Yeshua’s life, death and resurrection is so intimately tied to Ge’ulah (redemption) and Kapparah (atonement). Rosner indeed further describes Kinzer’s vision:
The remnant is called to identify with the Jewish people as well as point this people toward their long-awaited Messiah who fully embodies the mission and identity of Israel.
Testimony about the Son of David has theological and even political ramifications. Yeshua is not a humanly elected prime minister wheeling and dealing to hold together a fragile coalition, but a divinely appointed King, given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). Messianic Jews have an incredible responsibility to discern our King’s will concerning, among other things, the disposition of the Temple Mount, and in that regard we do well to remember his devotion to the Second Temple. John’s gospel says that following Yeshua’s first miraculous sign he went up to Jerusalem at Passover and visited the Mikdash. What he saw drove him to startling corporal action.
He made a whip from cords and drove them all out of the Temple grounds, the sheep and cattle as well. He knocked over the money-changers’ tables, scattering their coins; and to the pigeon-sellers he said, “Get these things out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?” (His talmidim later recalled that the Tanakh says, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”). (John 2:15-17)
Taking John’s gospel at face value, at this early stage Yeshua had no movement behind him nor had his followers received any systematic instruction on his Messianic insights. Simply put, Yeshua, a Torah-loyal Jew fervent for the things of God, acted for Israel’s betterment by cleansing the Temple. In fact, all the Israelite “heroes of the faith” expressed loyalty to the Temple, i.e., the Makom where Hashem reveals himself, as can be seen in the following discussion.
Part One – Israel’s Obligation to the Makom
If Avraham Avinu displayed anything in his life it was his willingness to obey Hashem despite the difficulties. At the beginning of his call he left his father’s house to go to the land Hashem showed him. Toward the end he again obeyed and went to the mountain Hashem showed him, in the land of Moriah, to offer his promised son, Yitzhak (Gen. 22:1-2). When Avraham and Yitzhak reached this place, i.e. the Makom, Avraham made an altar and bound his son, an act known as Akeidat Yitzhak (v. 9). Avraham raised the knife to slay Yitzhak and, at the last excruciating moment, a heavenly Messenger stopped him. Then he saw the ram caught in the thicket.
Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. Avraham called the place [Makom] ADONAI Yir’eh . . . as it is said to this day, “On the mountain ADONAI is seen.” (Gen. 22:13-14)
The Messenger proclaimed Hashem’s blessing on Avraham:
I have sworn by myself – says ADONAI – that because you have done this, because you haven’t withheld your son, your only son, I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendants to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the cities of their enemies, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – because you obeyed my order. (Gen. 22:16-18)
Avraham built Yitzhak’s altar of destiny on Har Moriah, which according to tradition is where Solomon built the Temple (cf. 2 Chron. 3:1). R. Yisrael Ariel of the Temple Institute explains the significance of this location:
[Avraham’s] binding of Isaac is the archetype for all sacred service in the Temple from thence forward: it must contain this perspective of self-sacrifice which befits a person who stands before God. We can now understand the reason for the Torah’s strict insistence that the altar be built ‘In the place which God will choose. . .’ meaning, in the specific location where Abraham built his altar, Mt. Moriah.
At this Makom revealed by Hashem, following the gravest of his ordeals, Avraham received the greatest of blessings for himself and his descendents. No wonder Israel deems this tiny plot so crucially holy.
The Wilderness Tent as the Makom
Though Israel descended to Egyptian galut for an extended period, their hope, expressed by Joseph’s faith-command to bury his bones in the land, was always to return. At the Exodus crossing of the Reed Sea the newly liberated Israelites sang Moses’ Song of the Sea, which exclaims:
You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain which is your heritage, the place, ADONAI, that you made your abode, the sanctuary [Mikdash], Adonai, which your hands established. ADONAI will reign forever and ever. (Ex. 15:17-18)
This text of redemption looks ahead to the Mikdash on the mountain, which most likely is Har Moriah. Yet, even before that day came, while still in the wilderness, Hashem commanded Israel, “Make Me a sanctuary!” out of his desire to dwell among them.
At Sinai Israel was obligated to recurring pilgrimages to the holy Makom, i.e. that singular location in the universe where Hashem’s Presence is manifest to humanity. Israel’s cyclical mode of life testifies that the Creator, in whom we live and move and have our being (cf., Acts 17:24-29) sanctifies the temporal and spatial (cf., Acts 20:16). Moses told Israel on the plains of Moab they may not worship Hashem anywhere they please in the land of promise:
Rather, you are to come to the place [Makom] where ADONAI your God will put his name . . . Be careful not to offer your burnt offerings just anywhere you see, but do it in the place [Makom] ADONAI will choose . . .you are to eat these in the presence of ADONAI your God in the place [Makom] ADONAI your God will choose – you and your sons, daughters, male and female slaves, and the Levi who is your guest. (Deut. 12:5, 13-14, 18)
Israel’s regular appearance before Hashem at the holy Makom was a joyful celebration of Hashem’s bounty for his people. The transportable Mishkan made that location somewhat variable for the Exodus and Judges generations, but the monarchy changed that.
Hashem’s Permanent House – David’s Enduring House
The location of the Makom was fixed during David’s reign at the place he planned to build a permanent monumental House. Moreover, the revelation of building a Temple in Jerusalem features Messianic overtones.
At Israel’s plea for a king, Shaul was anointed by Shmuel the prophet. Yet all too soon Shaul’s disobedience led Hashem to reject him and to seek a replacement who would be “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). Shmuel grieved over Shaul’s failure, but Hashem shook him back to action. He filled his horn with oil and went to Yishai’s house to anoint the son Hashem would choose. Hashem told Shmuel not to look on outward appearance and none of the sons were chosen. The prophet asked Yishai if all his sons were present:
‘There is still the youngest; he’s out there tending the sheep.’ Sh’mu’el said to Yishai, ‘Send and bring him back, because we won’t sit down to eat until he gets here.’ He sent and brought him in. With ruddy cheeks, red hair and bright eyes, he was a good-looking fellow. ADONAI said, ‘Stand up and anoint him; he’s the one.’ Sh’mu’el took the horn of oil and anointed him there in his brothers’ presence. From that day on, the Spirit of ADONAI would fall upon David with power. (1 Sam. 16:11-13)
Hashem rejected Shaul and sought out and appointed David as his Messiah. David did not seek the honor and was not even considered a candidate, nor was he offered a choice to opt out of the responsibility. Young David faced relentless struggles against Israel’s ruling establishment led by the rejected king. Yet David persevered by Hashem’s grace. Following Israel’s disaster where Shaul and his sons fell in battle David was chosen to rule his family tribe Judah (2 Sam. 2:4). Seven and a half years later in Hebron David was chosen by all Israel as king (2 Sam. 5:3). He then conquered Jerusalem the Jebusite city which he made Israel’s capital.
There in his citadel, David’s thoughts turned to honoring Hashem by constructing a monumental Temple to replace the modest Mishkan. David told Nathan the prophet his wish and Nathan told him to undertake all that was in his heart, because Hashem was with him. But that night Hashem gave Nathan a wondrous clarification to tell David.
Moreover, ADONAI tells you [David] that ADONAI will make you a house. When your days come to an end…I will establish one of your descendants to succeed you…and I will set up his rulership. He will build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father for him, and he will be a son for me. . . [Y]our house and your kingdom will be made secure forever before you; your throne will be set up forever. (2 Sam. 7:11-16)
David’s longing to honor Hashem with a permanent Mikdash stirred Hashem’s reciprocal honor, promising David a permanent ruling house, which includes the promised eschatological son, the Messiah. Nathan’s prophecy links the Davidic King-Messiah directly to construction of the Temple. David would not build the Mikdash but his son would. Yet we are told that the Ruach HaKodesh inspired David for plans he gave to Solomon.
Then David gave Shlomo his son the designs for the hall [of the temple]… also the designs for everything he had been given by the Spirit … and gold for the design of the chariot …”All this is in writing, as ADONAI, with his hand on me, has given me good sense in working out these detailed plans.” (1 Chron. 28:11-12, 19)
As the wilderness Mishkan was an inspired design given to Moses, so the Mikdash was an inspired design given to David. Not surprisingly then, Yeshua, the premier son of David, was also zealous for the Temple’s sanctity and proper function.
The “final words” of David include his understanding that Hashem had made an everlasting covenant with him:
The Spirit of ADONAI spoke through me… the Rock of Isra’el said to me, ‘A ruler over people must be upright, ruling in the fear of God…’ For my house stands firm with God – he made an everlasting covenant [brit olam] with me. (2 Sam. 23:2-3, 5)
David, like Avraham, secured an everlasting covenant of blessing from Hashem for his progeny, and it involved his love of Hashem and included the planning of the Mikdash on Har Moriah. David treasured the promise and it is reflected in other psalms.
One may view Nathan’s prophecy to David as a limited literal pledge (Solomon and a physical Temple) that whispers ahead to a far greater certainty (Messiah Yeshua and a spiritual Temple). Yet we must note that Yeshua is literally a human son of David, which implies that under the terms of David’s covenant he too is charged, like Solomon, to build a literal Mikdash on Har Moriah for Hashem.
David Knew Sacrifice was not Crucial
While the NT makes clear that Messiah’s sacrifice transcends Mosaic rites, Israel knew, even in the first commonwealth, that Mosaic rites would not guarantee Hashem’s favor. Inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh, David wrote prophetic ballads throughout his life. Psalm 40 is titled a Psalm of David; we note that Solomon would not build the Temple for yet many years. David says he waited patiently, considering Hashem’s wonders, and said:
Sacrifices and grain offerings you don’t want; burnt offerings and sin offerings you don’t demand. Instead, you have given me open ears; so then I said, ‘Here I am! I’m coming! In the scroll of a book it is written about me. Doing your will, my God, is my joy; your Torah is in my inmost being.’ (Ps. 40:6-8) [Emphasis added]
David prophesied that Hashem is not deeply concerned with expiatory offerings. Indeed, Hebrews cites this psalm to undergird the thesis that Yeshua’s sacrifice trumps all those offered by human hands (Heb. 10:5-7). Yet here, even in light of David’s profound insight, sacrifices continued at the Mishkan and later at Solomon’s glorious Temple.
Both the Masoretic Hebrew and the LXX Greek ascribe Psalm 51 to David, written after Nathan’s censure for grave sin with Bat-Sheva and his unjustifiable execution of Uriah. David makes clear that Hashem has no satisfaction in sacrifices, even in light of adultery and the spilling of innocent blood. “For you don’t want sacrifices, or I would give them; you don’t take pleasure in burnt offerings.” Yet at the psalm’s end he wrote:
In your good pleasure, make Tziyon prosper; rebuild the walls of Yerushalayim. Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then they will offer bulls on your altar. (Ps. 51:18-19)
From terrible first-hand experience David understood that a true “sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God…won’t spurn a broken, chastened heart.” Then again, David knew Hashem was not averse to sacrifice but would graciously accept it, as long as it was made in righteousness, i.e. with a broken spirit.
Psalm 69 likewise includes David’s name in the title and he pleads for Hashem’s relief from unjust suffering:
For your sake I suffer insults, shame covers my face. I am estranged from my brothers, an alien to my mother’s children, because zeal for your house is eating me up, and on me are falling the insults of those insulting you. (Ps. 69:7-9) [Emphasis added]
The disciples took Yeshua as the referent of this psalm after he demonstrated his ardor for the Temple’s sanctity (cf. John 2:17). The psalmist continues and affirms that heart-felt worship is more important than sacrifice.
I will praise God’s name with a song and extol him with thanksgiving. This will please ADONAI more than a bull, with its horns and hoofs. (Ps. 69:30-31)
Asaph, a contemporary of David (1 Chron. 16:4-7), evidently wrote psalm 50 which likewise downplays the importance of offerings. These psalms reveal that first commonwealth leaders did not trust in sacrifices to find Hashem’s favor, yet during David’s reign and for another thousand years Mosaic sacrifices were offered at the Mishkan and Mikdash. It is hard to deny that the Ruach HaKodesh implicitly revealed Hashem’s pleasure always focused on Messiah’s sacrifice, pictured centuries earlier in Avraham’s willingness to offer Yitzhak on Har Moriah.
First Temple Dedication
Hashem chose Jerusalem and permanently fixed his Makom in David’s Mikdash on Har Moriah, built by Solomon (cf. 2 Chron. 3:1). Solomon prayed at the Temple’s dedication:
But can God actually live with human beings on the earth? Why, heaven itself, even the heaven of heavens, cannot contain you; so how much less this house I have built?
Even so, ADONAI my God, pay attention to your servant’s prayer…that your eyes will be open toward this house day and night – toward the place [Makom] where you said you would put your name. …Yes, listen to…your people Isra’el when they pray toward this place [Makom]. Hear from where [Makom] you live, from heaven; and when you hear, forgive! (2 Chron. 6:18-21)
Solomon knew the universe could not contain Hashem, yet Hashem chose the tiny Kodesh HaKodashim in an earthly Mikdash, despite the ridiculous limitation, as the heart of his revelation to humanity in the vast cosmos. Solomon also recognized that national disobedience would result in calamities and exile so he pleaded for clemency.
If your people…turn back to you, acknowledge your name, and pray and make their plea to you in this house, hear from heaven, forgive the sin of your people Isra’el, and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors. …Now, my God, please, let your eyes be open, and let your ears pay attention to the prayer being made in this place [Makom]. (2 Chron. 6:37-40)
In later years Solomon himself turned from fully serving Hashem which led to Hashem’s decree that Israel would be divided (1 Kings 11:11). Jeroboam, son of Nebat, set up golden calves in Dan and Bethel to separate northern Israel from Judah, Jerusalem and the Mikdash. Soon Israel went into Assyrian exile. Then Judah fell and the Mikdash was destroyed:
The period of Solomon’s Temple lasted for four hundred and ten years, and witnessed the passing of twenty generations of kings from the house of David. Then Zedikiah was exiled together with all those who remained in the Land of Judah, when the Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.
In exile Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem (Dan. 6:10) and to this day synagogues around the world are built so worshippers pray toward Jerusalem. In Jerusalem worshippers pray towards Har Moriah where the Temple once stood.
Jeremiah’s New Covenant Does Not Prohibit Rebuilding
During the later days of the first commonwealth Jeremiah prophesied Israel’s New Covenant. Likewise, Ezekiel also prophesied that Hashem would one day regather Israel and transform them with a new heart and spirit. In his closing chapters Ezekiel prophesied Hashem’s pledge of an everlasting covenant and a Temple with offerings. Later prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the generation returning to Zion to rebuild the Temple. Malachi followed these prophets and called the people and cohanim to be faithful in their Temple-centered observance, including sacrificial rites. Just before his warning of the coming of Elijah he exhorted Israel to “remember the Torah of my servant Moses” (Mal. 4:4, cf., 3:22 Heb.).
Jeremiah’s promise, of itself, nowhere bars rebuilding but actually posits faultless devotion to Hashem’s Torah, implying greater commitment to the holy Makom. Hashem’s prophets, and Israel as well, understood they were obligated to rebuild and to serve the Mikdash faithfully. Without explicit commandment to the contrary Yeshua’s inauguration of the New Covenant does not end Israel’s continuing responsibility to rebuild.
Paul and the Second Temple
Acts recounts Paul’s return to Jerusalem five times, together with his participation in Temple services, providing firm evidence of his pro-Jerusalem, pro-Temple stance. A broad scholarly consensus agrees that Paul wrote seven “undisputed” epistles during the period up to his arrest in Acts 21: Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Romans and Philemon. These seven yield remarkable insights in light of his pro-Temple outlook.
Paul regularly used Mikdash-related metaphors to describe the New Covenant economy: spiritual Temple of G-d (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16:17), Messiah the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7-8), provisions received from Temple service (1 Cor. 9:13-14), Messiah as first fruits (1 Cor. 15:20), sacrifices at the Temple (Rom. 12:1), drink offerings (Phil. 2:17) and fragrant offerings (Phil. 4:18). In Galatians 4:21-31 Paul described “present Jerusalem” in most unflattering terms of slavery, Hagar and Mount Sinai. The non-Jewish Galatians, according to Paul’s argument, were not children of slavery, but children of the free woman Sarah who is likened to a heavenly Jerusalem above. These passages establish Paul’s awareness of a new economy based on Messiah’s New Covenant.
Yet Paul remained committed to the existing economy functioning in Jerusalem. He reminded the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:1-4), as he had the Galatians, to organize aid collections that would be distributed in Jerusalem (cf., Gal. 2:9-10; 2 Cor. 8-9). Evidently this project was ongoing and not a onetime donation. Paul wrote explicitly:
But now I am going to Yerushalayim with aid for God’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia thought it would be good to make some contribution to the poor among God’s people in Yerushalayim. They were pleased to do it, but the fact is that they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared with the Jews in spiritual matters, then the Gentiles clearly have a duty to help the Jews in material matters. (Rom. 15:25-27)
Paul evidently wrote this passage not long before his Acts 21 trip to Jerusalem. Upon arrival he participated in Torah purification rites with four Yeshua-believers and paid their expenses, doubtless from these very donations (Acts 21:20-26). Recall as well that the priestly dynasty controlling the Temple had rejected Yeshua for some two decades, yet Acts records no qualms about participating. We may thus posit the following Pauline duality:
- Paul knew of New Covenant Ecclesial service in a spiritual Temple of humanity where Yeshua-believers, Jew and Greek, ministered the sacrifice of Messiah.
- Paul knew of Yeshua-believing Jews serving the second Temple and Mosaic sacrifices in solidarity with Israel and in loyalty to ancestral covenants (cf., Rom. 11:28-29).
Members of the spiritual Temple were to contribute financially to Yeshua-believing Jews who continued with the earthly Mikdash.
Though 2 Thessalonians is disputed, conservatives accept Paul as its author and date it soon after 1 Thessalonians, usually among his earliest epistles. If so, we find another surprising phenomenon. Early on Paul warned that a man of lawlessness is evidently going to sit in the Temple’s holy place and proclaim (may it never be!) that he is G-d (cf., 2 Thess. 2:1-12). Despite this ominous prophecy Paul delivered aid to Jewish disciples in Jerusalem and was personally involved in Temple rites. Paul states this eschatological defilement would be dealt with at the parousia (2 Thess. 2:8) where Yeshua would yet again express his zeal for Hashem’s House. This implies a Temple at the eschaton as well as Messiah’s concern for its sanctity.
Paul saw no inconsistency with Yeshua-believing Jews participating in the Mikdash, whether in view of a superior spiritual Temple, or in view of its prophesied defilement near the eschaton. Modern Yeshua-believing Jews face no Pauline barrier to involvement in Temple activities. Non-Jewish partners find no Pauline opposition to supporting Yeshua-believing Jews who undertake this endeavor.
Yeshua and the Second Temple’s Fall
Cosmic overtones attend the Roman devastation of Jerusalem and the Mikdash in CE 70; it surely was the horrific price of disobedience to Hashem. Supersessionists tangle up this agonizing catastrophe with plenary establishment of the New Covenant.
One cannot but agree that by declaration and deed Yeshua demonstrated the pre-eminence of Israel’s promised Kingdom now breaking into the world by his leadership. Yeshua is one with authority (Matt. 7:29) who is greater than Jonah (Matt. 12:41), Solomon (Matt. 12:42), David (Matt. 22:45), the Temple (Matt. 12:6), even death (Matt. 28:6-10), and who is Master of Life (Matt. 28:18-19). On Shavuot the ascended Messiah poured out the promised Ruach HaKodesh on his followers and yet another facet of the eschatological Kingdom was inaugurated. Four decades later the Temple was destroyed according to Messiah’s prophecy (Matt. 24:2, Luke 21:6). Here a crucial question must be asked:
Did Yeshua, believing himself Messiah, Son of David, construe his redemptive mission as replacement of the bimillennial, Israel-specific Jewish relationship with Hashem?
If we accept the prophetic word in the Lukan version of the Olivet Discourse, that “Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” then we are left with the virtual certainty that Messiah never intended replacement, however protracted the length of punishment might be. But supersessionists, including Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright, are convinced otherwise:
The New Testament is unequivocal in its interpretation of the fall of Jerusalem as being inextricably linked to the vindication of Jesus and his people. Jesus’ whole claim is to do and be what the city and the temple were and did. As a result, both claims, the claim of Jesus and the claim of ‘holy land’, can never be sustained simultaneously.
Yet Wright overstates his case saying the NT is “unequivocal” that Jerusalem’s destruction is linked to the “vindication” of Yeshua. There is no historical report of Jerusalem’s destruction in the NT. Rather destruction is couched in terms of prophecy and parable and is said to be vengeance for defiance (Luke 21:22, Matt. 22:7-8) with the subsequent “trampling down” continuing until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24). Destruction is not said to be vindication of Yeshua’s righteousness. Second, Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead must be the most precious and direct sign of his vindication. Third, the Jewish people have long known that Hashem is not contained even by the highest heavens. Self-disclosure at a particular location, i.e. the Makom, was Hashem’s choice, and Yeshua zealously cleansed the Temple, proving that in his eyes it bore sacred character as Hashem’s Makom. Wright’s claim that an elemental conflict prevents simultaneity of Yeshua and the Temple simply does not hold. Wright also understates the power of repentance while overstating the Temple’s efficacy when he says:
If one was with Jesus, one did not need the restoration of covenant membership which was normally attained by going to Jerusalem and offering sacrifices in the temple: ‘Today salvation has come to this house; this man too is a Son of Abraham!’ (Luke 19:9). The force of such sentences is lost unless it is realized that, in making such pronouncements, Jesus was implicitly claiming to do and be what the temple was and did.
One could better argue that Zakkai, by public repentance, returned to Torah obedience (Luke 19:8) since he resolved to fulfill the mitzvah of helping the poor, as well as paying back defrauded taxpayers. Yeshua the Good Shepherd “came to seek and save what was lost” (v. 10) implying the “lost” were disobedient to Torah. Repentance was the basis for Yeshua’s pronouncement of salvation and Temple worship was implied as part of Zakkai’s repentance. How Wright can see this salvation declaration to mean Yeshua daringly acted as a replacement of the Temple on one hand but then “like a private individual” on the other, bypassing the accredited office, is a mystery. Yeshua’s way of thinking was thoroughly informed by the Tanakh, e.g. Isaiah 61:1-2a; 58:6 (cf., Luke 4:18-19), Ps. 110 (cf., Matt. 22:44, 26:64), doubtlessly the Son of David motif (cf., 2 Sam. 7) as well as Messiah, the Son (cf., Ps. 2). These figures work in concert with Jerusalem and the Temple, not in opposition.
The synoptic “threat-tradition” must be taken seriously, according to Wright; Jerusalem would be destroyed for her rebellion against God, resulting from refusal to follow Yeshua’s way of peace, i.e. loving one’s enemies and marching an extra mile with the Roman soldier. Oddly Wright says these peace teachings are at one level simply Realpolitik. “Where Jesus differed was in his insistence that when this [destruction] happened it would have to be seen as the wrath of Israel’s God against his wayward people.” Wright sees Yeshua’s lamentation over Jerusalem reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision of the departing Shekinah, “See, your house is left desolate to you,” yet he fails to comment on Yeshua’s promise of not seeing him until they say, “Blessed in the name of the Lord is the one who comes.”
For Wright, Jerusalem and the Temple were outwardly cleansed after the Maccabean victory but never re-occupied by the presence of God. Wright then takes Yeshua’s pronouncement, “so will it be with this generation” (Matt. 12:43-45) to mean the clean but empty Temple will suffer a seven-fold catastrophe, analogous to the terrible fate of seven returning demons in place of the one that had been cast out. However, the status of Jerusalem must be far more nuanced than a simple assertion of Hashem’s absence. Why would Yeshua declare that sinners are “making my Father’s house a den of robbers” if Hashem was not present and offended? How could Yeshua assert, “[W]hoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.” (Matt. 23:21) NASB? After the resurrection the disciples continued to worship and bless Hashem in the Temple (Luke 24:53, Acts 2:46). Wright’s assertion seems quite uninformed in light of the many promises of Hashem’s long-suffering at his Makom. But for Wright, Jerusalem’s previous function as locus of his attention has ended:
According to Jesus, therefore, the real referent of Daniel 7 is the destruction of Jerusalem: the Son of Man will be vindicated but the fourth beast (Jerusalem) will be destroyed.
Wright evidently believes that Yeshua’s claim to Dan. 7:13 (the Son of Man coming with clouds) meant he saw Jerusalem as the fourth beast. But it is far more consistent to see Dan. 7 as Messiah’s eschatological victory over foreign invaders that are pictured by the fourth beast. In other words, Yeshua cited this prophecy to tell of his exaltation to be revealed to Israel, even to opposing leaders and to the world, at his parousia. But Yeshua, according to Wright, saw Dan. 7 (cf., verses 19-25) as historical past in his day, something by no means provable. Wright supposes Yeshua applied Dan. 7:13 to himself and equated Jerusalem with the fourth beast that is destroyed forever (Dan. 7:26), thus implying Jerusalem’s destruction ended any redemptive role and any chance of future redemption:
If … Jesus was claiming to be, in effect, the new or true temple, and if his death is to be seen as the drawing together into one of the history of Israel in her desolation, dying her death outside the walls of the city, and rising again as the beginning of the real ‘restoration’, the real return from exile, then the attempt to say that there are some parts of the Old Testament (relating to Jerusalem, Land or Temple) which have not yet been ‘fulfilled’ and so need a historical and literal ‘fulfilment’ now, or at some other time, is an explicit attempt to take something away from the achievement of Christ in his death and resurrection, and to reserve it for the work of human beings in a different time and place. The work of Christ is once again ‘incomplete’.
But surely Isaiah’s eschatological pledge of Jerusalem’s exaltation (Isa. 2:2-3) was made precisely because Hashem foreknew Yeshua’s redemption (e.g., Isa. 9:1-7 where v. 7 specifically promises Messiah’s reign on David’s throne over his kingdom; 11:1-9 where knowledge of Hashem will be universal as “waters cover the sea;” 40:1-11 where Jerusalem and Zion are given Good News; and 53:1-12 which tells of Messiah’s redemptive suffering.). Surely Messiah will sit on his glorious throne with the twelve apostles sitting on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in Jerusalem (Matt. 19:28, Luke 22:30). Moreover, Isa. 2:2-3 and Mic. 4:1-2 are expressed in unadorned language while Wright extrapolates his view from a symbolic apocalyptic text in Daniel. Wright himself says that according to Rom. 8 the entire world looks for redemption:
[A]ccording to the final chapters of Revelation, there will be a marriage of heaven and earth, as God dwells with humankind; according to Hebrews 12 there will be a great celebratory gathering of the whole people of God. God’s intention for the end of the play is clearly, not that certain humans should live in a disembodied state of bliss, but that the creation itself should be renewed, should be flooded with the love of God as the waters cover the sea.
So the question arises: could Israel, dwelling in the land with capital in Jerusalem, and serving in the Temple, finally join humanity’s great redemption song that Wright recounts? Could not the first – rejected initially because of disobedience – truly find redemption at last? Does not Rom. 11:25-29 offer the possibility that a formerly wayward people living in a particular country with a well-known capital would find restoration by the great Go’el?
Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya’akov and this will be my covenant with them …when I take away their sins. (Rom. 11:26-27)
Wright thinks otherwise but his view is not the only possibility.
Yeshua certainly did direct harsh parables to Israel’s chief Cohanim and Elders: the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32), the Wicked Tenants (Matt. 21:33-46) and the Wedding Banquet (Matt. 22:1-14). Yet, Matt. 21:45 explicitly says the leaders understood the parables were directed against them. Yeshua’s outlook was not anti-Israel or anti-Temple then, but anti-sin, especially regarding leaders. How could anyone believe otherwise when just previously he rode the donkey into Jerusalem as predicted by Zechariah?
Then I will guard my house against armies, so that none will march through or return. No oppressor will ever again overrun them, for now I am watching with my own eyes. Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Tziyon! Shout out loud, daughter of Yerushalayim! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, and he is victorious. Yet he is humble – he’s riding on a donkey, yes, on a lowly donkey’s colt. (Zech. 9:8-9)
Hashem promises to guard his house on the day Zion (i.e. the seat of Israel’s leadership) receives her king. Israel is promised that one day she will recognize Yeshua and on that day the nation will be saved from foreign invaders.
Yeshua came to fulfill the Torah and Prophets (Matt. 5:17-20) and he told the miraculously purified man to show himself to cohanim at the Mikdash and to offer the appropriate sacrifice as a testimony to Moses (Matt. 8:4, cf., Luke 5:14; 17:14). Yeshua agreed to pay the half-shekel Temple tax, proving he harbored no antagonism toward the Mikdash (Matt. 17:24-27). The reason he had not paid was not because he denied the tax’s appropriateness or the Temple’s worthiness of it. Rather his explanation, “the sons are free” almost certainly relates to his Transfiguration and Hashem’s bat kol declaration in the presence of Moses and Elijah that Yeshua is his beloved Son (Matt. 17:1-6, cf., Ps 2:7). Alternatively, his word that sons are free may imply that as Messiah (cf., Matt. 16:16) he saw himself heir of King David and exempt from the tax because he was not an outsider concerning the Temple, but heir. Either understanding provides powerful attestation of Yeshua’s pro-Temple view, contra Wright’s antithetical reading.
John’s gospel has Yeshua describe his body as a Temple that he would raise in three days (John 2:18-22, cf., Matt. 26:61, 27:40; Mark 14:58, 15:29). Yeshua said essentially that Hashem’s D’var (Memra, Logos, or Word) indwells him and the theological significance cannot be downplayed. Yet neither can one ignore the fact that he stated this immediately after cleansing the Mikdash with a whip. Yeshua testified of the lack of yirat shamayim (fear of heaven) vis-à-vis the Temple’s Makom. His coming resurrection gave him the right to restore its sanctity. In the synoptic Temple cleansing (cf., Matt. 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46) Yeshua quotes from Isaiah, which in fuller context reads:
I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isa. 56:7)
Yeshua evidently anticipates a day, after his resurrection, when the sanctity of Hashem’s Presence in the Mikdash will rightfully be appreciated. Otherwise his justification for cleansing the Temple makes little sense.
The astounding significance of Yeshua’s promise that a day would come when Hashem’s servants would worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) cannot be overvalued. Arguably, the ripping of the parochet from top to bottom, unveiling the holy of holies at Yeshua’s death, signified that Hashem needed no longer to abide in self-imposed limitation. Yeshua’s disciples could know the very presence of Hashem in their lives forevermore. Evidently this speaks of the promised outpoured Ruach HaKodesh leading to the knowledge of Hashem covering the land as waters cover the sea (Habak. 2:14). From the standpoint of communion with Hashem the Mikdash is not critical for Messiah’s disciples (even as it was not for David, see above) but does that mean Hashem finds no further use for it? If the Mikdash were a liability it would seem that instead of weeping at the vision of its destruction Yeshua would rejoice, but he indeed wept (Luke 19:41-44). Prophecies of the Tanakh and the NT lead one to believe the value of the Temple in Jerusalem has changed but has not vanished.
Far from a parting of ways with Israel, Messiah Yeshua’s words and deeds show him engaging his nation with authority. Even after his harsh rebukes he held out a bittersweet promise that Israel’s leaders would see him by finally calling for his deliverance (cf., Matt. 23:39, Luke 13:35). As Joseph’s brothers finally recognized the stern Egyptian Tzafnat Pa’aneach to be their long rejected brother, so Yeshua expects a day when Israel would recognize him. Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans was not divine substantiation of a new economy but the severe penalty for refusing to welcome Yeshua with “Baruch Haba. …”
Jewish tradition says Messiah Ben David rebuilds the Temple. The Messianic Jewish community must vigorously assert that Messiah Yeshua never rebuilt the Temple in the first century because it still stood. Yet today, Yeshua-believing Jews can also assert that Messiah has never forbidden rebuilding, despite nearly two millennia of supersessionist theology. Nevertheless, the question the Messianic Jewish community must actually address is whether or not Messiah Yeshua wants the Temple rebuilt.
Post-Biblical Jewish Expectations
Jewish tradition since the end of the second commonwealth has steadfastly pointed Israel’s hopes to Hashem’s promises about Jerusalem and the Mikdash, in marked contrast to the Church’s view of the Jewish city’s and edifice’s obsolescence. Jewish sages saw the second Temple’s ruin a severe blow but never considered it a sign of national dissolution. Shimon bar Kokhba, proclaimed Messiah by R. Akiva, indeed captured Jerusalem from the Romans in CE 132. According to Lawrence H. Schiffman:
It is possible that sacrifices were now reinstituted and that work was begun on rebuilding the sanctuary. From the coins Bar Kokhba struck we know of his high priest, Eleazar, who must have taken the lead in efforts to reestablish sacrificial worship.
Yet Bar Kokhba’s defeat ended the attempt and evidently added impetus to the writing down of oral traditions. Jewish leaders feared that the knowledge of ritual practices and ceremonies might be lost by the time the opportunity to rebuild came again. In CE 363 the Jewish people began the process of rebuilding the Temple by the order of Roman emperor Julian the Apostate, but his untimely demise on the battlefield that year ended the attempt. The Jewish population of Jerusalem was given permission to govern the city in CE 614 when Persian Sassanids drove the Byzantines out of the land, and they may have been afforded an opportunity to begin rebuilding the Temple. Yet it appears that after three years the Persians changed their policy and forbade Jews from settling in Jerusalem.
In Arabia that same century Judaism strongly influenced Islamic thinking and originally the Muslim Qiblah (direction of worship) was Jerusalem. Many Jews indeed converted to Islam. Nevertheless, significant numbers of the local Jewish tribes remained steadfast and refused to recognize Muhammad’s claim of Messiahship. Subsequently Muhammad received a new revelation that abrogated previous revelations and Mecca became the new worship center. Islam swiftly became the dominant culture in Israel and the Middle East. The Dome of the Rock shrine was built in CE 691 over what most archeologists think is the location of the holy of holies, ending further Jewish attempts of rebuilding the Mikdash to this day. Middle East commentator Daniel Pipes makes revealing comments about Islamic interest in the Holy City through the centuries:
Where does Jerusalem fit in Islam and Muslim history? It is not the place to which they pray, is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammad’s life. The city never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there.
While Jerusalem had been under direct or indirect Islamic influence for thirteen centuries, for Muslims it simply does not compare to Mecca. For Jews however, the cry of the Psalmist during the first captivity in the 6th century BCE, weeping by the rivers of Babylon, echoes through the ages.
How can we sing a song about ADONAI here on foreign soil? If I forget you, Yerushalayim, may my right hand wither away! May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I fail to count Yerushalayim the greatest of all my joys. (Psalm 137: 4-6)
The Amidah daily synagogue service, which dates back at least a millennium, has implored Hashem to rebuild Jerusalem and to restore “Ha’avodah li’d’vir Beitekah” (the service of the holy of holies at your Temple). At the Amidah’s conclusion, after “Osei Shalom,”it is customary to pray the “Yehi Ratson” beseeching Hashem for the Temple’s speedy rebuilding, “in our days, amen.” Some modern expressions of Judaism see no further need for sacrifices, yet the orthodox hold to the Siddur’s tradition and look for a Temple and offerings.
The state of Israel was founded in 1948 to no small degree on the ashes of European Jewry, and was considered more a refuge for Jews suffering anti-Semitism than fulfillment of ancient prophecies. During the War of Independence, Jews in the Old City were blockaded and eventually surrendered to Jordanian forces that blew up Jewish buildings and synagogues.
The Six Day War in 1967 drastically changed the geopolitical status quo. Israel not only defeated Egypt and Syria but after bloody battles against well-trained Jordanian units reunited Jerusalem by liberating the Old City. A three word radio communiqué by paratroop commander Mordechai Gur announced the capture and has since been immortalized, “Har haBayit B’yadeinu” (The Temple Mount is in our hands). The IDF’s Chief Rabbi at the time, Shlomo Goren, blew a shofar and announced the beginning of Israel’s Messianic Ge’ulah (redemption). At that time an IDF soldier, Yisrael Ariel, who served wounded and fallen comrades as a combat medic, was ordered with his unit to go up on the Temple Mount for patrols (the huge Temple Mount platform is nearly 40 acres). The security situation demanded patrols but the order troubled Ariel, because as an orthodox Jew he dreaded the possibility of treading over the Makom, i.e. the holy of holies. Political expediency soon returned custody of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf.
Twenty years later Rabbi Ariel, who had patrolled the Temple Mount, founded an organization called the Machon HaMikdash (Temple Institute) to help educate the Jewish public about all things related to the Mikdash. The institute is in the process of preparing as many items as possible for service in the Temple and actively seeks ways to make rebuilding a reality. Other groups in Israel like the Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement (founded in 1967) also call Israel back to the cherished hope of a restored Temple on Har Moriah.
Anyone who takes even a superficial look at the issues related to rebuilding will see soaring hurdles, such as determining valid Cohanim. Yet the challenges have not stopped generations from yearning to rebuild. R. Ariel calls Jews to remember the difficult circumstances after the Babylonian exile:
At the time this Temple was built, no king sat on the throne of Israel – Jerusalem was under the complete dominion of the Persian and Median kings. Those who constructed [the Temple] represented a tiny fragment of the nation. The vast majority of the Jewish people – with great scholars and sages amongst them – continued to live the life of exile in Babylon. But these factors did not prevent the construction of the Temple, because the Divine ordinance to build it is a commandment to be fulfilled in every generation.
Realizing the difficulties of those days should encourage Jews of this generation to take heart and to put their hand to work. Israel is a sovereign nation and has far greater resources available than the generation returning from Babylon.
The Messianic Jewish Community Should Engage the Question
In light of the preceding, the first question the Messianic Jewish community must tackle is not how to rebuild, but rather if we are to partake in this enterprise. If we agree that the current movement to rebuild indeed reflects a real obligation, then questions of how to rebuild will follow. Yeshua-believing Jews certainly have faith in resurrection from the dead, and that might be considered a parable for rebuilding the “fallen tent of David” (Acts 15:16-18; cf. Amos 9:11-12). The rebuilding of David’s fallen tent might very well include a rebuilt Temple. Even if the Messianic Jewish community should determine that rebuilding is either currently or permanently forbidden, then a clear voice must be raised in warning to those that would ill-advisedly undertake the project.
Part Two – Hebrews and the Third Temple
… the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh… .
… the blood of Messiah… purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God… .
Cf., Heb. 9:13-14
Of all NT texts, Hebrews arguably provides the foremost methodical display of New Covenant superiority over the Mosaic economy. From the early Church to this day the author’s compelling argument has been assumed to have sounded Judaism’s death knell. The popular NIV Study Bible says Hebrews warns against “continuation in the old Jewish system.” This article, in contrast, sees the author of Hebrews exhorting Yeshua-believing Jews to set an exemplary pattern of obedience to the high standards of Israel’s New Covenant. Our author does not criticize an “old Jewish system” per se but much more an “old Jewish pattern of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11).
Our author’s sublime opening lines of Messiah’s supremacy are soon followed by repeated exhortations for readers to hold on to their confession of Yeshua. The addressees were in the throes of a severe faith-crisis, apparently to the point of apostasy. There is no way to verify the cause with absolute certainty but this article finds a reasonable trigger in karet (i.e. excommunication) from the Temple because of confession of Yeshua, operating on the assumption that Hebrews was written pre-CE 70. Our author assuages their anxieties, proving methodically from the Tanakh that Messiah’s New Covenant provides perfect atonement compared to the Temple’s incomplete atonement. Thus the addressees must never deny their confession of Yeshua, even at the cost of involvement in Mikdash services.
Yet contrary to supersessionist notions, the addressees were never banned from the Temple by our author, as long as they maintain their confession of Yeshua and realize Mosaic sacrifices are shadows of the heavenly. Our author holds the highest regard for Moses, who is faithful (not was faithful) in Hashem’s house (Heb. 3:2). Our author certainly declared Yeshua superior, but with no deprecation of Moses. New Covenant changes have been inaugurated (Heb. 7:2), yet one thing is certain for our author: Messiah never kicked Moses out of Hashem’s house. Our author in fact concedes a technical restriction on Messiah as a result of Moses’ Torah:
Now if [Yeshua] were on earth, he wouldn’t be a cohen at all, since there already are cohanim offering the gifts required by the Torah. (Heb. 8:4)
Our author understood the Torah had some sense of continuing authority on earth, even in light of heaven’s Cohen Gadol, Yeshua. Yeshua-believing Jews could continue to honor the Torah and the Mikdash as long as it did not require denial of Israel’s King, Messiah Yeshua. At any rate, the text of Hebrews is accompanied by disquieting problems that impact its application. Morna Hooker lists questions that have troubled readers from early on.
Who was our anonymous author? And who were the ‘Hebrews’ to whom he wrote? Was the epistle written before AD 70 or after? Was it intended primarily to admonish a congregation who were in danger of abandoning their faith, or to encourage those whose faith had been shaken? When obvious questions produce such different answers and raise so many problems, it is necessary to approach them in a different way.
These worrying questions wield potent hermeneutical force on our understanding of the text, and in light of Hooker’s bleak assessment of modern analysis caution is more than warranted when attempting to draw practical conclusions. In other words, Hebrews ought not be used on its own to determine practice for the Messianic Jewish community. But, in light of other NT sources, pertinent lessons must certainly be applied.
Richard B. Hays, in a landmark article, “Here We Have No Lasting City,” admits that at least “since the time of John Chrysostom, Hebrews has been read as a stern warning to Jewish converts to the Christian faith not to fall back into Jewish practices.” Yet Hays adds:
[S]everal scholars have recently begun to question the supersessionist paradigm for reading Hebrews and to propose new models for understanding the text more sympathetically within a complex reconstruction of first-century Judaism.
Hays cites Pamela Eisenbaum who suggests our author “is not attacking Judaism but is ‘attempting to fill a desperate theological and social void’ ” following, as Eisenbaum sees it, the destruction of the Temple. Eisenbaum indeed argues in another essay that “Hebrews should be clearly distinguished from the work of later Christian writers such as Barnabus, Melito of Sardis, and Justin Martyr, who undertake an explicit polemic against Judaism.”
According to Hays, recent scholarship increasingly recognizes a “complex and gradual” process of identity formation of Jewish and Christian communities in the first century. Hays suggests the author of Hebrews was actually a Messianic Jew “weighing in on a controversy within his own religion.”
Nowhere does Hebrews suggest that the Jewish people have been replaced by a new and different people of God. Indeed, it appears that the addressees of the letter are considered part of God’s ‘house,’ the same house over which Moses was faithful – that is, ‘the house of Israel’ (3:1-6; 8:10).
While Hays acknowledges that an anachronistic reading of Hebrews makes it appear to be an obvious rejection of Judaism, he says that when one stays in the “text’s own narrative world, such a claim may appear unwarranted, even puzzling. For that reason, it may be unhelpful to describe Hebrews’ teaching as a form of ‘Christianity’ over against ‘Judaism’; rather it is better described as a form of Jewish sectarian ‘New Covenantalism.’ “ Hays proposes our author labors to elucidate the new economy for Israel without rejecting his national heritage:
The cumulative force of these observations is to suggest that the classic “new covenant” chapter in Hebrews has often been overinterpreted through a supersessionist hermeneutical framework. The possibility should at least be considered that Hebrews’ use of the new covenant image envisions not the rejection but the restoration of Israel; if so, Heb. 8 is less discontinuous with the original sense of Jer. 31 than Christian interpreters have often supposed. [Emphasis in the original]
Our author never intended a break from Israel when discussing the benefits of the New Covenant. Hays also emphasizes the forward-looking eschatological stance of our author; there yet remained a day for the full implementation of the “powers of the age to come”:
Hebrews – despite its conviction that Jesus has in fact completed his atoning work in the heavenly sanctuary – retains a remarkably open-ended eschatology that continues to look to the future for the consummation of salvation. This future-oriented hope appears repeatedly throughout the letter; to take a single example, consider 9:28: ‘so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, apart from sin, to those who are eagerly awaiting him for salvation.’ Both the author and the readers are conscious of being engaged in a struggle in the present time. This is powerfully articulated in the hortatory word of the final chapter: ‘For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’ (13:14). People who speak in this way make it clear that they stand within Israel’s ongoing and unfinished story… .
Our author continually exhorted his readers to hold fast as they see the “Day” drawing near, which certainly suggests they saw themselves in a transitional stage in Israel’s history. If Hays is right, then since Messiah has not returned, Yeshua-believing Jews yet remain in that tense and uncomfortable transitional stage 2,000 years later.
Mark Nanos does not find Hays’ thesis altogether satisfying and suggests our author and readers were “experiencing insecurity” in their faith either because the Temple had been destroyed, or because they were unable to avail themselves of sacrificial services:
If so, then the language pointing to a superior way to achieve this outcome through the faith of/in Christ Jesus can be understood as one Jewish group’s way of dealing with a matter that the former covenantal arrangements no longer offered to them. In other words, they cannot receive the benefits of sacrifice as they wish to, and for this reason they are troubled and insecure in their faith. The author thus presents what might arguably be better called “Renewed or Continued Covenantalism.” [Emphasis in the original]
Nanos critiques the conclusion Hays reaches in which inauguration of the New Covenant expresses a new stage in Israel’s relation with the Almighty:
[I]f partaking of [the existing Temple] system is still open to them and they are being told to abandon it as bankrupt because there is now a new and better way that makes that covenantal behavior obsolete or counter-faithful, then it would seem to represent a new religious movement, or if a Judaism still, then one that denies to all other Jewish practitioners the viability of their claims; that is, it represents supersessionism and replacement theology, if not of Jews by Gentiles, then of all other Jews by Christ-believing Jews. Instead of representing a saving remnant, they would seem to represent a damning one, excluding others from salvation. That is perhaps well named “New Covenantalism.”
Yeshua-believing Jews who seek to maintain organic identity with Israel will find this critique all the more important to weigh, even if we do not accept Nanos’ estimation in toto. In a recent article, “Response to Nanos: Renewed Covenantalism, Not Triumphalism or Supersessionism” Paul Fronczak makes a point that Nanos overlooks:
The author of Hebrews does indeed indicate a “renewed covenant” in this sense: that the parties to the covenant remain the same, and only the terms are altered. …[L]ike the prophet Jeremiah, the author of Hebrews envisions a final restoration and renewal of all Israel in a state of obedience to the Torah, not a rejection of Israel (or most of Israel) in favor of a new people (or a small remnant).
Fronczak criticizes scholarship beyond Nanos and observes that if the majority scholarly view of the New Covenant in Hebrews is correct, then “the author of Hebrews misappropriates and misinterprets Jeremiah 31:31-34.” But Fronczak observes that commentators almost universally acknowledge that Hebrews envisioned the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophetic oracle as only partial, and then rightly asks:
But if only partial, then why postulate that Hebrews’ audience claimed sole inheritance of the New Covenant, to the (permanent?) exclusion of all other Jewish communities?
Moreover, Fronczak points out that though Messiah established a better covenant and currently ministers in a better Tabernacle, yet the eschaton remains unrealized.
The “Old Covenant” is then equated with the present age, which, along with the Covenant itself, is ready to pass away (8:13). However, it has not yet passed away – it is only getting ready to pass away. Nowhere does the author of Hebrews actually state outright that the Levitical worship, the Mosaic Law, the Sinai Covenant, etc., have actually passed into obsolescence.
Fronczak does consider the possibility that the Temple was already destroyed, and because the anticipated eschaton was still unfulfilled the addressees fell into a faith-crisis that necessitated the letter of encouragement. Nevertheless, he notes that:
Hebrews’ community, in the light of Jeremiah’s oracle, may have perceived itself not as a new people of God to the exclusion of (the rest of) Judaism. Rather, their existence is evidence of the coming age, and the imminent fulfillment of God’s promises through Messiah. Like Messiah himself, they are the first-fruits, a down payment, as it were, on the promises of God, which remain yet to be fulfilled.
Beyond these legitimate criticisms leveled by Fronczak, Nanos did in passing highlight an issue that powerfully affects the interpretation of Hebrews:
Did the addressees of Hebrews have free access to the Temple?
If unhindered access was available, then Nanos’ observation is persuasive. But if they were barred because of confession of Yeshua, then the reasoning behind Hebrews must be understood in a different light. Supersessionism sees no importance to the question of free access. The New Covenant is now in effect and the Sinai covenant is obsolete; Yeshua-believing Jews must cease from Temple involvement and indeed, the practice of Judaism, lest they be found “shrinking back” from Messianic faith.
Then again, Hays observes that however close the Sinai covenant has come to obsolescence, our author does not see the New Covenant fully established, but urges his readers to make every effort to be ready for that day. Evidently for Hays the question of free access to the Temple is not crucial, but he does admit, contrary to supersessionism, that full expression of the New Covenant is yet to come.
Nanos however, though he does not say if the New Covenant has been inaugurated or not, simply denies that any effects of the New Covenant are being experienced:
The author and the addressees know that such a new covenant has not in fact been experienced – witnessed by no less than the need to write this letter to ‘teach’ people who are not obeying the covenant as if the ‘teaching’ (=Torah) was now written on their hearts of minds, as if they had an ontological experience that makes them empirically different from those who are identified with the existing covenant (that is, the one this ‘new’ one makes ‘old’; 8:13a). Those who experience Jer. 31 do not need to have their ‘faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil’ (Heb. 5:14). They do not need to be taught; this kind of letter does not need to be written to them; they just know what needs to be known.
Though Nanos overstates his criticism he can hardly be faulted for his basic critique, especially in view of the Church’s claim to be the recipient of New Covenant grace despite its decided lack of discernment between good and evil many times throughout Church history.
Contrary to supersessionism, neither Hays, Fronczak nor Nanos see the New Covenant fully implemented (or at all for Nanos). In that case the question of free access to the Temple indeed has a powerful hermeneutical effect.
The New, Not Yet Fully Implemented – The Old, Not Yet Fully Obsolete
In some real sense our author and his addressees saw both covenants in force simultaneously in their lives. Our author speaks of the not yet of the New Covenant several times. While describing the Son’s superiority he rhetorically asks if lesser angels are not sent out “to render service for the benefit of those who, before long, will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14) Weymouth translation. He points out that “God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels” (Heb. 2:5) NRS, and adds concerning the exalted Son that “at present we do not see everything subject to him” (Heb. 2:8) NIV. Our author affirms that “the Torah has in it a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestation of the originals” (Heb. 10:1) CJB. Yet our author also describes his readers as recipients of gifts of the new economy: “…those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come…. ” (Heb. 6:4-5) NRS.
The world is in transition for our author and his readers. Could they hold out? Repeated admonitions attempt to bolster the anxiety-ridden addressees:
Therefore, brothers whom God has set apart, who share in the call from heaven, think carefully about Yeshua, whom we acknowledge publicly as God’s emissary and as cohen gadol. (3:1) … provided we hold firmly to the courage and confidence inspired by what we hope for. (3:6). For we have become partners of Messiah, if in fact we hold firm the beginning of our confidence to the end. (3:14)…[L]et us hold firmly to what we acknowledge as true (4:14). Let us continue holding fast to the hope we acknowledge, without wavering; for the One who made the promise is trustworthy. (10:23). [Emphasis added]
The addressees were also reminded of persecution they suffered for their confession and are urged to keep courage, which carries with it such a great reward.
But…after you had received the light, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings…publicly disgraced and persecuted… . [Y]ou stood loyally by those who were treated this way… . [Y]ou shared the sufferings of those who had been put in prison… . [Y]our possessions were seized, you accepted it gladly; since you knew that what you possessed was better and would last forever. (Heb. 10:32-34)
Paul confessed to have harried Yeshua-believing Jews (Gal. 1:13, 23; 1 Thess. 2:14-16; 1 Cor. 15:9; Phil. 3:6) and he probably was not the sole agent. Acts describes the high priests’ authority over Jewish communities outside Judea: “Saul…went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2, cf. vv. 13-14) NRS. Persecution because of confession of Yeshua may have included being barred from the Temple, comparable to Paul being dragged out of the Temple and the great doors shut (Acts 21:28-30).
An alternative source of anxiety may have arisen from the half-shekel Temple tax, which even Yeshua paid (Matt. 17:24-27), and which was derived from a mitzvah that called it a kapparah for their souls.
Everyone over twenty years of age who is subject to the census is to give this offering to ADONAI… to atone for your lives. You are to take the atonement money from the people of Isra’el and use it for the service in the tent of meeting, so that it will be a reminder of the people of Isra’el before ADONAI to atone for your lives. (Ex. 30:14-16)
Authorities collecting the tax at the Temple (or perhaps in the addressees’ province) may have proscribed the addressees, triggering deep anxiety. The tax, per the original mitzvah, is expressly for the Mishkan’s upkeep and our author continually referred to the Mishkan in Hebrews. Perhaps he knew the addressees’ payment had been refused, whereupon he referred to the Mishkan as a measure of consolation. In other words, the addressees need not be troubled that their payment was refused because Yeshua provides a more perfect atonement than the Mishkan and its half-shekel tax could.
Either explanation for anxiety would mean our author penned Hebrews prior to CE 70. Our author used no little overkill to prove the superiority of Yeshua’s indestructible priesthood (Heb. 7:16) if the Temple lay in ruins. It is hard to imagine why he framed Hebrews 10:1-2 the way he did if the altar had been destroyed:
Therefore, it can never, by means of the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, bring to the goal those who approach the Holy Place to offer them. Otherwise, wouldn’t the offering of those sacrifices have ceased? (Heb. 10:1-2)
After CE 70 those sacrifices already had ceased, in which case the author would need to relate to the lack of even this imperfect repetitive purification. Many expositors though, feel priests were then offering sacrifices:
Now every cohen stands every day doing his service, offering over and over the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. (Heb. 10:11)
While the Greek present tense in various passages is understood by some expositors to say services were performed at the time of writing, supporting a pre-CE 70 authorship, it must be said that use of present tense cannot provide final proof because that may simply have been our author’s writing style. Nevertheless, the fact that the Temple’s destruction is not spelled out carries considerable weight for many scholars and thus appears to imply it had not yet been destroyed.
In light of current evidence it is not unreasonable to believe that Hebrews was written to assuage the anxiety of being barred from Temple services, whether directly or by proscription from the half-shekel tax. Our author stresses that they are not barred an audience with G‑d. Yeshua is the Cohen Gadol of Psalm 110 and access through the veil of his flesh is surer. As long as they are barred they must bear their “exile” and endure outside the camp. It is noteworthy that the metaphor does not say to flee to some other place (i.e. to abandon the wider Jewish community) but simply to wait outside the camp.
A Crucial Unexpressed Point
Left unsaid, however, is that if policies change and Yeshua-believers again were permitted in the Temple (cf. Acts 21:20-26), then there would be no condemnation by participating as long as they maintained their confession of Yeshua and kept in mind that earthly rites are shadows of the heavenly. If the second Temple yet stood at the time of writing, which seems likely, our author doubtless thought it entirely superfluous to mention such a detail. Acts and Paul’s epistles describe Yeshua-believers participating in the Mikdash decades after the resurrection, whether directly or by donation, so this supposition of future involvement in the Mikdash by Yeshua-believers is more than justifiable. We must stress that by reason of ambiguity Hebrews is dependent on the rest of the NT for practical elucidation; on its own, Hebrews cannot press demands that appear to run counter to Acts and Paul’s epistles.
The Old is Soon to Disappear
Hebrews 8:13 must be the key verse relative to the supersessionist paradigm that Yeshua’s death means the “old” covenant is already over.
In speaking of ‘a new covenant,’ he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear. (Heb. 8:13) NRSV
We must ask: has the old covenant indeed disappeared? The fact that millions of Jews profess loyalty to Sinai’s covenant must say something. Along with countless Jews in the synagogue, every morning at 6:00 Israel national radio broadcasts the famous recitation: “Shema Yisrael, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI Echad” (Deut. 6:4-9). Should the Church care to make an honest observation it would note that the “old” has not yet disappeared.
The key word of Heb. 8:13 is near or soon which is found in other NT texts describing issues that have been “near” for two millennia, e.g. “blessed is the one who reads this prophecy…for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3) and, “do not seal up the words of this book, for the time is near” (Rev. 22:10). The verbal cognate also speaks of situations abiding two millennia, e.g. “for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:8) and, “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7). Our author indeed refers to a future consummation using this word: “encouraging one another…since you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25).
Use of the word near assures readers that Hashem will faithfully conclude his promises, but it may not delineate an actual time-frame. Our author exhorted his readers to “run the race that is set before us with perseverance” (Heb. 12:1) and that means they must be patient until the day of redemption fully arrives. The Sinai covenant has not yet vanished, and if still in force, then the mitzvah to rebuild has not yet been abrogated.
Five Warnings of Hebrews
Scholars note five warning sections in Hebrews. Contrary to popular notions, not one contains a prohibition against participation in the Mikdash or Judaism:
- Beware of Neglecting Salvation (2:1-4)
- Beware of Not Entering into Rest (3:7 — 4:13)
- Beware of Not going on to Maturity (5:11 — 6:20)
- Beware of Insulting the Spirit of Grace (10:26-31)
- Beware of Indifference (12:18-29)
Readers are exhorted to press on in faith and not to abandon their confession of Yeshua. Scott McKnight has written on the warnings of Hebrews and his blog series on Hebrews provides lists of warning content, including on sins and on exhortations. McKnight says “interpretations that [insist the warnings] are based on a return to Judaism are, in my view, misguided.” Following are the sins and exhortations McKnight lists for each of the five warnings, with additional comments.
First warning (Heb. 2:1-4)
McKnight – SIN: 2:1: slip away; 2:2: violation; 2:2: disobedience; 2:3: disregard one’s salvation.
McKnight – EXHORTATION: 2:1: pay attention.
This assertive warning calls readers to live up to the revelation of Yeshua’s supremacy described in the previous chapter: He is the Agent Hashem used for Creation and who has spoken to Israel (1:2), who reflects Hashem’s glory, who made universal purification for sins and who sat down at the right hand of the Majesty (1:3). He is superior to angels (1:4, 6-7, 13-14) and is the reigning Son (1:2, 5, 8-9, 10-12). Whatever Yeshua first declared to Israel is worthy of diligent attention. The Kingdom is greater than the Mosaic economy and Yeshua’s work of purification is supreme, yet the “message declared through angels was valid” implying there was nothing wrong, of themselves, with the Torah and Mikdash. They are now subordinate to faith in Yeshua but there is no testimony they were banned.
Second warning (Heb. 3:7-4:11)
McKnight – SIN: 3:8: harden your hearts; 3:8: rebellion; 3:8-9: test; 3:10: wander; 3:10: did not know my ways; 3:12: sinful, unbelieving heart; 3:12: turning away from the living God; 3:16: embitter; 3:17: sin; 3:18: disobey; 4:1: fall short; 4:2: was of no value… did not combine it with faith; 4:11: fall.
McKnight – EXHORTATION: 3:6, 14: hold on; 3:13: encourage one another; 4:1: let us fear; 4:11: let us strive hard; 4:14: let us hold fast.
This section warns against hardening of hearts and falling short of the promised rest (cf., Ps. 95) but has no other specific prohibitions. The Exodus generation had been evangelized and now the addressees also have been evangelized about Yeshua (Heb. 4:2). Our author has no qualms positing an Exodus gospel that was disobeyed by hard-hearted people. He exhorts his audience to live up to the Good News of Yeshua and casts no aspersion on the Good News of the Exodus generation.
Third warning (Heb. 5:11-6:12)
McKnight – SIN: 5:11: sluggish; 6:6: fall away; 6:6: recrucify Christ…making a public display of him.
McKnight – EXHORTATION: 6:1: let us carry on to perfection.
The foundational teachings about Messiah (6:1-2) are recognized by many as Judaism 101 and they start off with “repentance from dead works.” This must be the same demand for repentance made by Yohanan and Messiah Yeshua (cf. Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17), and by Peter on Shavuot (Acts 2:38). Notably, none of these three forbade involvement in the Mikdash; indeed the apostles continued to worship there after the resurrection. Instead they warned against hypocrisy, i.e. feigning religious obedience while inwardly remaining a brood of vipers (Matt. 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Acts 5:3). Our author calls for the same repentance from dead works which leads to a humble heart and to good works (cf., Heb. 10:24; James 2:14-26). Such good works might include taking part in Temple services (cf., Acts 21:26). There simply is no equation of dead works with sacrifices or Jewish observance, contra N.T. Wright who believes the dead works include “the continuation of the Jewish Temple rituals, which have become redundant with the achievement of Jesus.”
The “falling away” (Heb. 6:6) does not imply Yeshua-believing Jews had earlier abandoned sacrificial worship or the synagogue upon coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua, but now out of weakness, are falling back. Rather they are threatening to harden their hearts and deny their confession of Yeshua, which, in this case, could be related to approval for involvement in a Temple hostile to Yeshua. Apostasy by those who confessed Yeshua is indeed crucifying him again and holding him up to public contempt.
Fourth warning (Heb. 10:26-31)
McKnight – SIN: 10:25: not meeting together; 10:26: deliberate sin (cf. Num 15:22-31); 10:27: enemies of God; 10:28: reject; 10:29: trample the Son of God; 10:29: regard the blood as common; 10:29: treat with the contempt the Spirit of grace; 10:35: throw away confidence; 10:39: shrink back.
McKnight – EXHORTATION: 10:23: hold on; 10:35: do not cast away your confidence; 10:36: you need perseverance.
This warning expressly addresses committing sin after receiving knowledge of the truth. Willful sin had no remedy and there was no sacrifice for it in the Torah (until the sinner turned in repentance). Our author warns of an even more terrifying outcome, of falling into the hands of the living G-d. The Torah of Moses is not disparaged but instead is the standard to prove how much worse punishment is for those who effectively recant their faith in the Son of G-d by wicked deeds (10:28). This severe warning follows a lengthy excursus on Melki-Zedek, the heavenly Mishkan, and the New Covenant’s supremacy over the earthly Mishkan and Mosaic sacrifices. The willful sin (10:26) is not specified, but our author may have in mind the expedient denial of Yeshua to participate in the Temple since he exhorts them to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.” (10:23)
Fifth warning (Heb. 12:25-29)
McKnight – SIN: 12:1: sin that entangles; 12:3: not be wearied, lose heart; 12:5: forgotten the word of encouragement; 12:15: miss the grace of God; 12:15: bitter root (?); 12:25: refuse the One who speaks; 12:25: turn away from.
McKnight – EXHORTATION: 12:1: let us run with perseverance; 12:7: endure hardship; 12:12: strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees; 12:15: see to it that no one misses the grace of God; 12:25: see to it that you do not refuse.
After describing the heavenly reality of a holy Mount Zion and city of the living G-d, angels, the firstborn, Hashem the Judge, and Yeshua, the New Covenant’s mediator, our author warns his audience not to refuse what they have heard, and again uses the Mosaic economy (i.e. the one who warned them on earth) to set the standard for how much greater the punishment for refusing the heavenly warning.
Throughout Hebrews our author realizes the greatness of Messiah Yeshua as the Son of G-d, and the weakness of the Mosaic economy, yet these warnings are not prohibitions against an obsolete covenant (which for the author is not yet obsolete) but are solemn warnings not to insult Yeshua by choosing anything that jeopardizes confession of him. Supersessionists have read Hebrews with supra-Jewish blinders so that instead of understanding the will of Yeshua as King of Israel, they imposed a flawed hermeneutic against Judaism. Our author’s sober warning ought to caution every expositor, Jew or non-Jew: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Heb. 10:31)
The Heavenly Mishkan
Here is the whole point of what we have been saying: we do have just such a cohen gadol as has been described. And he does sit at the right hand of HaG’dulah in heaven. There he serves in the Holy Place, that is, in the true Tent of Meeting, the one erected not by human beings but by ADONAI. (Heb. 8:1-2)
Our author’s first mention of the Mishkan in Hebrews occurs more than halfway through the book and refers to the “true Tent of Meeting” in the heavenlies, not on earth. Exodus 25, for our author, was evidence the heavenly Mishkan existed before Israel was commanded to erect the earthly one.
But what they are serving is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original; for when Moshe was about to erect the Tent, God warned him, “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.” (Heb. 8:5; cf. 9:23-24)
Our author believed the heavenly original existed prior to Sinai, probably from the days of Creation, and certainly many, many generations before Yeshua’s death. The earthly Mishkan therefore never stood in for the heavenly. Rather, it seems to have fulfilled a two-fold purpose: 1) a divine gift to help Israel appreciate heavenly aspects of covenant obligations; 2) Hashem’s self-appointed Makom, i.e. the spatial location in the universe where Hashem chooses to explicitly manifest his Presence to humanity.
From our author’s perspective the heavenly Mishkan existed in parallel with the earthly Mishkan for centuries and was always superior, even before Yeshua ratified the New Covenant. We are thus alerted to an analogous state in which, according to a strict reading, the Sinai covenant and the New Covenant are also in concurrent existence.
Yeshua-believing Jews cannot fail to acknowledge the superiority of Messiah’s Covenant, yet we also ought to affirm that “the Torah has in it a shadow of the good things to come.” (Heb. 10:1) Messianic Judaism must not insist on mutual exclusivity, but rather on the interconnectedness of a heavenly superior Mishkan and a parallel earthly inferior Mishkan located at the Makom of Hashem’s choosing. If true, the matter of rebuilding the earthly Temple is by no means a moot question.
A Continuing Earthly Mikdash
Our spiritually astute author relied on a straightforward reading of the Tanakh: David prophesied a Shabbat rest which our author expounds in light of Yeshua’s work; the Torah says Moses is a faithful servant over G‑d’s house and Psalm 2 speaks of a Son who must be greater; David prophesied a heavenly Cohen who is like Melki-Zedek, seated at Hashem’s right hand; the Torah speaks of the Mishkan made according to the heavenly form; Jeremiah prophesied a New Covenant. Our author sees all these passages as literal clues pointing to Yeshua.
Moreover, our author sees Yeshua as a literal human being, now glorified after being a little lower than angels. Yeshua is both the Messiah and the Son (Heb. 1:5) who is linked in scripture to a literal Mikdash (cf., 2 Sam. 7:11-14) and to Zion (cf., Psalm 2):
He who sits in heaven laughs; Adonai looks at them in derision…. I myself have installed my king on Tziyon, my holy mountain. I will proclaim the decree: ADONAI said to me, ‘You are my son; today I became your father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance; the whole wide world will be your possession. You will break them with an iron rod, shatter them like a clay pot.’ (Ps. 2:4-9)
In this light it is exceedingly hard to prove our author had no conviction of a functioning Mikdash. More remarkably, to establish the Son’s divinity our author cites Psalm 102 (cf. Heb. 1:10-12) which contains the psalmist’s cry, pleading for Hashem to take pity on Zion.
You will arise and take pity on Tziyon, for the time has come to have mercy on her…. For your servants love her very stones….The nations will fear the name of ADONAI…when ADONAI has rebuilt Tziyon…when he has heeded the plea of the poor and not despised their prayer. May this be put on record for a future generation; may a people yet to be created praise ADONAI…. [F]rom heaven ADONAI surveys the earth to listen to the sighing of the prisoner, to set free those who are sentenced to death, to proclaim the name of ADONAI in Tziyon and his praise in Yerushalayim when peoples and kingdoms have been gathered together to serve ADONAI. (Ps. 102:13-22)
Hashem promises to “rebuild Zion” in the very psalm our author used to establish Yeshua’s divinity. Likewise, our author reminds his addressees they are mekudashim, i.e. made holy, by the suffering Messiah (cf., Ps. 22) who says to Hashem, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” (Heb. 2:12, cf., Ps. 22:22) Our author follows by citing Isaiah 8 (cf., Heb. 2:13):
And he [ADONAI] will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken. Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me [cf. Heb. 2:13, emphasis added] are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. (Isa. 8:14-18) ESV
According to our author’s citations, Yeshua favors the Mikdash, Zion and Jerusalem, even though presently Hashem hides his face from Jacob. Our author certainly anticipated “Mount Zion, the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem; and myriads of angels in festive assembly” (Heb. 12:22) as part of the heavenly invasion for the redemption of earth at Messiah’s return (Heb. 9:28), when a holy Zion would indeed stand on Har Moriah (cf. Zech. 14). Psalms 2, 102, 2 Sam. 7 and Isaiah 8, as cited by our author, add weight to the contention that he never contemplated abolishment of the Mikdash.
This message will no doubt perplex the Jewish majority as much as it will astound non-Jewish Yeshua-believers in the Church. Many Jews, driven by the Church’s insistence that the Temple was destroyed because of obsolescence, have insisted that Yeshua could not possibly be the Messiah. The compelling evidence seen above cannot but provoke the Messianic Jewish community to weigh in on its obligations vis-à-vis the Mikdash, and making its voice heard both in Israel and in the Church.
Part Three – Messiah Yeshua and Rebuilding the Temple
The observant Jewish community abides in faith, be’emunah shelemah, that the coming Mashiach Ben David will rebuild the Temple, yet, at the same time, overlooks certain crucial demands of the Tanakh concerning the House of David. This section explores issues related to Yeshua’s credentials as Messiah in light of the Tanakh and the Besorah and finds compelling evidence for his Messiahship. If the Church and the Messianic Jewish community are obligated to reconsider the validity of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem, then the broader Jewish community too is obligated to reconsider Yeshua, the House of David’s premiere heir of that Temple.
Rambam’s Yad Hahazakah (or Mishneh Torah) has usually been understood to say the eschatological Mashiach Ben David initiates the Messianic Age and facilitates rebuilding. A minority view, such as held by the Temple Institute, holds that Rambam’s teaching does not prevent rebuilding when conditions are favorable, even without the presence of Messiah.
As Maimonides writes in his classic Letter on Religious Persecution, ‘Not one of any of the commandments of the Torah is dependent upon the messiah’s arrival.’ Based upon this understanding it stands to reason that a situation could arise wherein a third Temple could be built in Jerusalem and the messiah has still not yet arrived. This concurs with the opinion expressed in the Jerusalem Talmud: ‘The [third] Holy Temple will in the future be re-established before the establishment of the Kingdom of David.’ Jerusalem Talmud, Ma’aser Sheni 29
We recall the second Temple was built under the direction of Zerubbabel who had been appointed governor by the Medo-Persians. Though a prince from David’s House, Zerubbabel was not king over a sovereign Israel as was Solomon, but Hashem encouraged him all the same by Haggai and Zechariah to rebuild (cf., Hag. 1:1-8; Zech. 1:16, 4:6-9). This supports the idea that the Messianic Age need not be revealed in fullness prior to rebuilding. The foregoing notwithstanding, Yeshua can assert the claim to rebuild based on his Davidic lineage, his proven zeal for Hashem’s House, his resurrection from the dead and his glorification.
Yeshua’s Claim as Davidic Heir
Whatever the Messianic Jewish community’s final decision about rebuilding, Yeshua’s disciples are obligated to offer cogent evidence of his ancestry from David’s house. Every Jew, including every Yeshua-believing Jew, is duty-bound to validate the lineage of the one he chooses as King.
He must be one of your kinsmen, this king you appoint over you – you are forbidden to appoint a foreigner over you who is not your kinsman. (Deut. 17:15)
Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts, Paul, the author of Hebrews, and the author of Revelation depict Yeshua, the apostles and disciples, crowds and heavenly beings expressing belief in his descent from the House of David. While some may find the genealogical differences in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 evidence of inaccuracy there is additional data that eases the tension considerably. Problematic genealogies are recorded in the Masoretic Tanakh, and beyond that, no other living Jew has a similar verifiable ancestry.
Ya’akov, Brother of the Lord
Two of the seven undisputed Pauline epistles refer to Ya’akov (Gal. 1:18-19; 1 Cor. 15:7) and in Galatians Paul calls him “the brother of the Lord” and a “pillar” of the Yeshua-believing community, equal to Peter and John (Gal. 2:9). Indeed, by the time the Jerusalem Council ruled on non-Jewish partnership in the Good News Ya’akov was undeniably a central pillar (Acts 15:13-21). Ya’akov is the only leader of the Jerusalem Messianic community mentioned when Paul arrived prior to his arrest (Acts 21:18) and here we read of the thousands of Torah-zealous Yeshua-believing Jews (v. 20). Also recall that cohanim joined the faith (Acts 6:7) and they were required to have verifiable and valid ancestry. So the crucial concept of valid lineage was well understood early in the community and according to Torah even Ya’akov was obligated to verify his half-brother’s claim.
Josephus said he researched his genealogy from public records and stated he had a brother Matthias “by both father and mother.” Shimon Ben Azzai, an early second century contemporary of R. Akiva, states explicitly in the Mishnah, Yebamoth, 4, 13 that he went to Jerusalem and found a genealogical scroll that proved “So-and-so” (peloni) was illegitimate. Some take the reference by Ben Azzai to refer to Yeshua indirectly, but here we must stress that “the sword cuts both ways.” If Ben Azzai could research genealogies in Jerusalem, then Ya’akov could have as well. Jerusalem, the capital, doubtless had the public central archive prior to CE 70, and it was there that Ya’akov resided and claimed his older brother was King-Messiah. It stands to reason that Ya’akov thoroughly investigated his and Yeshua’s background to substantiate their politically explosive claims. Sadducean leaders had a strong incentive to prove them baseless, and Josephus said his opponents tried to use such defamation tactics. Yet, notwithstanding later Talmudic aspersions on Yeshua’s lineage, there is no early evidence that Sadducean leaders tried to deny Yeshua’s Davidic claim. Acts 21:17 also begins a “we” passage, implying Luke accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. Quite likely at some stage Luke interviewed Ya’akov so that his work would be based on eyewitnesses and proclaimers of the message (Luke 1:2).
It is reasonable to believe Ya’akov verified his family’s Davidic descent from public records and compiled them to prove Yeshua was qualified as King-Messiah. Ya’akov’s citation of Amos to the Jerusalem Council, “I will rebuild the fallen tent of David,” refers to Yeshua primarily, but also highlights his concern for David’s entire house. If Ya’akov could not back up his Davidic claim, it would seem highly unlikely that he could reside in Jerusalem, the city of David’s throne, as well as the seat of the opposition that executed Yeshua. If he could back up his claim, he would enjoy popular prestige as a descendent of David, which would probably thwart his enemies to some degree. Ya’akov likely investigated both his mother Miriam’s descent, and his father Joseph’s, and may have collected the information that was worked into both Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies.
The apparent divergence between Matthew and Luke may find a straightforward solution based on the daughters of Zelophehad in the Torah. Property owning daughters without brothers were required to marry within their tribe to preserve the name of their ancestors (Num. 27:1-11; 36:1-12).
Every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Isra’el is to become the wife of someone from the family of her father’s tribe, so that every one of the people of Isra’el will stay in possession of his ancestors’ inheritance. (Num. 36:8)
Miriam may have married within the tribe and clan to preserve the name of her father if she had no brothers. Young Miriam received the angelic visitation and the announcement of bearing a miraculous child, but we read nothing of her parents, possibly because they were already deceased. It may be that she was determined to perpetuate her father’s name by marrying a fellow member of the House of David.
Now Yeshua himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli. (Luke 3:23)
From this perspective, Heli (Eli) would have been Miriam’s father who had daughters but no sons. While this is conjecture it finds a parallel in Torah with Zelophehad’s daughters.
Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel
Another notable feature of Yeshua’s twin genealogies is that both Matt. 1:12-13 and Luke 3:27 list Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, though otherwise the lines after David are different. The unique pairing of Zerubbabel and Shealtiel several times in the Tanakh leads to the likelihood that Matthew and Luke referred to the same people, and not to a fortuitous naming of different fathers and sons in David’s line. Matthew lists Jeconiah as Shealtiel’s father and Zerubbabel’s son as Abiud. Luke lists Neri as Shealtiel’s father and does not list Jeconiah by name at all, and lists Rhesha as the son of Zerubbabel. Actually Jeconiah is called several names in the Tanakh: Joiachin, Jehoiachin, Jeconiah, Jechoniah, and Coniah. Whether Neri was yet another name is open to question.
|Matthew 1:12-13||Luke 3:27||1 Chron. 3:17-19||Ezra – Haggai – Nehemiah|
|Zerubbabel||Zerubbabel||Zerubbabel – Shimei||Zerubbabel|
|Abihud||Rhesha||Meshullam – Hananiah|
As seen above with the daughters of Zelophehad, various factors could make accurate genealogical lines appear questionable. Indeed, another reason is the mitzvah of yibbum (levirate marriage) which in fact occurred with David’s ancestors Boaz and Ruth.
If brothers live together, and one of them dies childless, his widow is not to marry someone unrelated to him; her husband’s brother is to go to her and perform the duty of a brother-in-law by marrying her. The first child she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be eliminated from Isra’el. (Deut. 25:5-6; cf., Gen. 38:8 ff.)
Boaz says he married Ruth “so that [Mahlon’s] name will not disappear among his family” (Ruth 4:10) and yet the genealogy that follows surprisingly does not mention either Elimelekh or Mahlon, but rather Boaz and his ancestors (Ruth 4:18-22, cf., 1 Chron. 2:10-11). It is thus possible that the mitzvah of the childless widow of Deut. 25, or the brotherless daughter of Num. 36:8, or some combination of these caused the lines listed by Matthew and Luke to converge at Shealtiel. Zerubbabel may have had more children than listed in 1 Chronicles 3, which is certainly possible given the idiosyncrasies of other genealogies in the Tanakh, and this would explain the divergent continuations listed by Matthew and Luke.
An additional issue related to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel has been Jeremiah’s prophecy against Jeconiah’s line. Yet many fail to notice that Haggai also prophesied about the same line and used the same word — signet ring (hotam) — positively which seems quite intentional:
‘As I live,’ says ADONAI, ‘even if Koniyahu [or Jehoiachin] the son of Y’hoyakim king of Y’hudah were the signet ring (hotam) on my right hand, I would pull you off and hand you over to those who seek your life… .’ This is what ADONAI says: ‘List this man as childless; he is a lifetime failure — none of his offspring will succeed, none will sit on David’s throne or rule again in Y’hudah.’ (Jer. 22:24-25, 30)
When that day comes, says ADONAI-Tzva’ot, ‘I will take you, Z’rubavel, my servant, the son of Sh’alti’el,’ says ADONAI, ‘and wear you like a signet ring (hotam); for I have chosen you,’ says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. (Haggai 2:23)
The sages point out that this verse in Haggai illustrates the power of repentance to reverse a prophecy of doom, such as given by Jeremiah. Since Matthew and Luke both include Zerubbabel, their lines include this s’gulah (virtue) of repentance that annuls a prophecy of calamity and restores a prophecy of blessing.
The genealogical lines of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke, though divergent, are by no means contradictory when Torah mitzvoth are kept in mind and when compared with lists of the Tanakh. Beyond that, one cannot dismiss the consistent testimony of NT writers that Yeshua was descended from David, or the lack of antagonistic testimony from Jerusalem-based Sadducees who had a vested interest in disproving the validity of the movement.
The Makom: Owned by the House of David
The quest for a valid Davidic ancestry is also driven by the fact that the House of David owns the Jebusite threshing floor where the altar and Mikdash were constructed.
But when the angel stretched out his hand toward Yerushalayim to destroy it, ADONAI changed his mind about causing such distress and said to the angel destroying the people, ‘Enough! Now withdraw your hand.’ The angel of ADONAI was at the threshing-floor of Aravnah the Y’vusi [Jebusite].
Gad came to David that day and said to him, ‘Go, set up an altar to ADONAI on the threshing-floor of Aravnah the Y’vusi.’ David went up and did what Gad had said, as ADONAI had ordered.
Then Aravnah said to the king, ‘May ADONAI your God accept you.’ But the king said to Aravnah, ‘No; I insist on buying it from you at a price. I refuse to offer to ADONAI my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for one-and-a-quarter pounds of silver shekels. Then David built an altar to ADONAI there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, ADONAI took pity on the land and lifted the plague from Isra’el. (2 Sam. 24:16-18, 23-25)
Aravnah the Jebusite’s threshing floor is the location where Solomon built the Mikdash:
Then Shlomo began to build the house of ADONAI in Yerushalayim on Mount Moriyah, where ADONAI had appeared to David his father. Provision had been made for this at the place David had chosen, the threshing-floor of Ornan [Aravnah] the Y’vusi. (2 Chron. 3:1)
The Messenger in David’s day stopped harming Israel over the threshing floor on Har Moriah. The Messenger in Avraham’s day prevented him from harming Yitzhak on Har Moriah. The parallel seems more than coincidental.
By virtue of his Davidic descent and resurrection from the dead, Yeshua must be considered the premier representative of the House of David and title-holder of the Temple precinct. Servants of the ascended Messiah must seek the mind of Messiah to know his desire regarding Har Habayit (the Temple Mount). It seems incontrovertible that Messiah would bless rebuilding if the endeavor was spearheaded by his servants in the Messianic Jewish community. If Yeshua-believing Jews are willing to express covenant fidelity by injuring eight day old baby boys in an elective surgery (pun intended), then surely construction of one monumental building is no greater stretch of the Jewish imagination. Perhaps at Hashem’s “set time” an outbreak of Yeshua-faith among the Torah-keeping communities in Israel, including those looking for the Temple’s rebuilding, will solve such questions (cf., Matt. 9:35-38). Once the foreign-looking Tzafnat Pa’aneach is revealed to be the greater brother Joseph, Yeshua will doubtless be received as Messiah on a wide scale.
The Sword Shall Not Depart from David’s House Forever
Yeshua’s Messianic claim is often rejected because he died and seemingly accomplished little of what Messiah Ben David was supposed to achieve. On the other hand, a prototype of Messiah in the Tanakh, Joseph son of Jacob, has led sages to propose two Messiahs that are to appear: prior to Messiah Ben David a suffering Messiah Ben Joseph comes to restore the material world and will be killed in war. Some commentators relate the mourning of Zech. 12:10 to the death of Messiah Ben Joseph, seen for example in Yalkut Shimoni: “[it speaks of] Messiah Ben Joseph who was killed, as it is written: ‘And they looked upon me, whom they have pierced, and wailed over him.'” Despite this identification there is no textual proof that the verse speaks of Messiah Ben Joseph. In fact, Yalkut Shimoni provides an alternative interpretation that the wailing is over the destruction of the evil inclination, not Messiah Ben Joseph. In contrast, John’s gospel relates the prophecy to Yeshua as he was crucified (John 19:36-37) and this identification well-matches other bitter prophecies about the House of David that remain in force forever.
If the troubles David suffered are any gauge, we find no reason to doubt that Messiah, Son of David, will suffer likewise. David was anointed years before he took the throne and during that time he was persecuted relentlessly by the existing government; King Shaul did not abdicate but instead tried to kill David. History thus supports the idea that Messiah Ben David will endure persecution, possibly to death, from Israel’s government prior to his reign, as distasteful as this concept may be.
Following the deaths of Shaul and Ishboshet, Israel chose David to rule the nation and he then transferred his throne from Hebron to Jerusalem. Nathan told David that because it was in his heart to build the Temple Hashem would bless his house and his “[Davidic] throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). The term “forever” (ad olam) is found six times in this chapter for the blessings that Hashem promised to David’s house (vv. 13, 16, 24-26). Nevertheless, not long afterward, David sinned grievously with the wife of Uriah. Hashem again sent Nathan to express his new, terrible promise to David (2 Sam. 12:1-14): “And now the sword shall not depart from your house forever (ad olam)….” (v. 10) Hashem added a shocking new condition to his earlier blessings of 2 Samuel 7. It is not hard to understand the sages’ attempt to reduce the duration of the term forever; otherwise the question arises: how can Messiah Ben David be the “Prince of Peace” if the sword never departs, forever? The Rav Kook commentary says the term means “many days” and provides an example where Hannah leaves Shmuel in the Mishkan for all his days (ad olam) (1 Sam. 1:22). But the explanation is not persuasive. In 2 Sam. 12:10, as in 2 Sam. 7, Hashem sent the same prophet to the same king in the same city and used the same words, forever (ad olam), for the same house, the House of David.
David subsequently experienced even more suffering. Just as he judged the wealthy man of Nathan’s parable to pay the poor man back fourfold, so the sages say four of David’s children paid a similar price. Bat-Sheva’s baby died. Amnon, David’s firstborn, was killed by Avshalom. Tamar was considered dead because of her rape. Avshalom was killed. Another commentator exchanges Tamar with Adoniah who was put to death by King Solomon. Here we see violence, unto death, against princes of the house of David. Davidic kings of Judah after Solomon knew few days without rumors of war or actual conflict. From a historical vantage point nothing prevents Messiah Ben David from suffering by the sword.
Yet there is no contradiction to prophecies of peace when one considers the possibility that Messiah will endure violence, even unto death, and then arise from the dead into life eternal. In fact, only a Messiah who triumphs over death can neutralize the bitter proviso of the sword’s threat, which stands forever (ad olam). Yeshua suffered a brutal death, was buried and arose the third day, and he bears the signs forever (ad olam), in his hands, his side, and his feet, which he showed to his disciples (John 20:25-27; Luke 24:39-40).
Yeshua also put to death the power of the evil inclination in his suffering on the tree, as he “made his life a guilt offering.” (Isa. 53:1-12) Yeshua willingly sets free all who trust him and thus he clearly proves he is the true Prince of Peace from the house of David. We wait for his return with the clouds of heaven to save the humble remnant of Israel, and to rule on earth forever (ad olam). If the Mikdash is to be waiting for his return, then the Messianic Jewish community must weigh the profound question of rebuilding.
Yeshua – Everlasting Cohen, Messiah and Son
According to the synoptics, Hashem’s bat kol twice declared Yeshua to be the Son of his pleasure and both instances are recognized to refer to Psalm 2:7. The synoptics also tell of Yeshua quoting Psalm 110:1 twice: once while teaching in the Mikdash to prove that Messiah, the Son of David, is not merely a human descendant, and then applying it to himself as his final testimony under the Cohen Gadol’s Sanhedrin oath. These passages alert the reader to Yeshua’s self-awareness of his unique Sonship and Messiahship, and to the early Messianic Jewish community’s recognition of it.
Many modern scholars suppose Ps. 110 and Ps. 2 are primarily historical texts, as opposed to prophetic, and claim they are royal psalms or coronation hymns composed for David or for a first commonwealth Davidic king. Intended or not, the corresponding insinuation is that Yeshua and his disciples failed to perceive or simply ignored the original sense of these piously embellished hymns when they applied them as Messianic prophecies. In contrast, Michael Rydelnik presents persuasive evidence to the effect that the Tanakh in general and Ps. 110 in particular were written specifically with the eschatological Messiah in mind, who is in fact Yeshua. This section reviews evidence that Ps. 110 and Ps. 2 are indeed prophecies of an everlasting Cohen with redemptive power far beyond that of Aharonic cohanim, and of a chosen Davidic ruler who subdues all opposition to Hashem.
According to the Tanakh the Ruach HaKodesh fell on David mightily (1 Sam. 16:13) and he doubtlessly composed psalms or he would not have been called the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Sam. 23:1). All three synoptics have Yeshua ascribe Ps. 110 to David, while in Matthew and Mark he says it was inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh (cf., 2 Sam. 23:2).
David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord,’ when he says, `ADONAI said to my Lord, ‘Sit here at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet’? If David thus calls him ‘Lord,’ how is he his son? (Matt. 22:43-45)
While David evidently composed psalms related to historical events it is highly likely he also used his considerable musical skill to enshrine prophetic mysteries revealed to him. Assuming David authored these psalms, the question of when would have a significant hermeneutical impact. He evidently wrote them after capturing Zion since it appears in both Ps. 2:6 and 110:2 implying he was already king over all Israel. He probably wrote them after receiving Hashem’s word through Nathan of a never-ending dynasty (2 Sam. 7) and it is clear that to the end of his life David cherished this promise as an everlasting covenant with Hashem (cf., 2 Sam. 23:1-7). The question that comes to mind is whether or not he composed them after his Ps. 51 plea for chesed which followed his repentance from sin (2 Sam. 11). David’s wrongs were not trivial; according to Torah he could have been put to death (cf. Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22), yet he was spared. After David admitted his guilt Nathan declared that Hashemhad transferredhis sin and he would not die (i.e. ADONAI he’evir chatat’kha, lo tamut) (2 Sam. 12:13). This suggestive terminology might be understood to say Hashem himself offered David’s chatat (sin offering) for atonement. In other words the Ruach HaKodesh may have revealed here that Hashem somehow actively provided atonement and did not merely cancel his sin by fiat. This episode could never be far from David’s conscience. Bat Sheva remained his wife and their second son Solomon was blessed by Hashem and called Yedid-Yah (2 Sam. 12:25), who indeed succeeded him on Israel’s throne. The combination of David’s knowledge and life experiences may have prepared him to recognize a different kind of cohen, an eternal Cohen of the order Melki-Zedek, who was also a King, sinless and worthy to be seated at Hashem’s right hand, and who would provide the everlasting atonement he had tasted. In this light Psalms 110 and 2 were not coronation hymns, but prophetic songs of profound mysteries revealed after lengthy soul-searching. From the first century and on, this Messianic understanding was promoted so widely among disciples of Yeshua that, according to the Rav Kook commentary, the sages deliberately re-interpreted Ps. 110 historically in relation to Avraham and Melki-Zedek to thwart the minim; and, even Rashi abides by this interpretation. Today many, including the Rav Kook commentary, teach that it refers to the coronation of David. Yet significant issues defy this analysis.
First of all, David’s coronation over Israel occurred in Hebron (cf. 2 Sam. 5:3) contrary to the psalm’s charge that Hashem would send forth the king’s strength from Zion (110:2). It thus appears the psalm is not related to David’s coronation and it evidently was composed later. Second, it was David who later brought Hashem’s ark (i.e. footstool of his Presence) to the City of David (cf. 2 Sam. 6), which is an awkward reversal of the psalm’s invitation for the nobleman to sit with Hashem. Before the ark arrived Uzzah was struck down (2 Sam. 6:7) and David was fearful of Hashem (v. 9) to the point he left the ark with Oved-Edom. That David could then prophesy so daringly of himself being seated at the right hand of Hashem seems highly unlikely; that he would then portray himself a cohen forever is even more incongruous. Scripture evidence does not favor the notion that David wrote about himself.
After the title line the psalm’s body begins with the Hebrew term “ne’um Hashem” (i.e. Hashem declares). This term typically introduces prophecy and is found nearly 360 times in the Tanakh, mostly in the prophets subsequent to David. None of the 150 psalms contain this prophetic declaration except for Ps. 110. In addition, the term “nishbah Hashem” (i.e. Hashem swears) (v.4) as a declarative formula that leads into a prophecy occurs in this form only five times of the nineteen that it is found in the Tanakh. The four like usages are in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos. Hashem swears about the Davidic nobleman’s appointment as an everlasting Cohen who is superior to cohanim of the Mosaic economy. Unique usages like these strongly suggest the psalm’s predictive character, over against being an embroidered coronation hymn for royal success.
The rare word “hadom” (footstool) occurs in this psalm. Three of this term’s six usages are in David’s mouth and would be the earliest in the Tanakh. David calls fellow-worshipers in Ps. 132:7 to come to Hashem’s dwelling and worship at the footstool of his feet, which signifies the location of the ark in the holy of holies, as in 1 Chron. 28:2. These two usages are in David’s voice, one directed to worshipers and the other directed to companions regarding construction of a place for Hashem’s dwelling. In obvious contrast, Ps. 110 is in Hashem’s voice directed to the nobleman to whom he promises to make his enemies his footstool. While some expositors recoil from a Messianic figure seated at Hashem’s right hand, ancient throne furniture included a footstool which is explicitly mentioned here. The imagery also fully comports with Solomon literally setting a throne for his mother at his right side (1 Kings 2:19) leaving virtually no doubt about Ps. 110’s intended meaning – a heavenly throne upon which the Davidic nobleman sits beside Hashem’s Sh’kheenah. Isaiah later reported seeing Hashem “sitting on a throne” in the Temple (Isa. 6:1-4; cf., John 12:41). These aspects confirm the psalm as a prophecy of David’s offspring who, at the same time, is somehow greater than him.
An incomplete transitional process is implied until the nobleman’s enemies are subdued. How long it would take is unspecified but as a Messianic prophecy the divine time frame could come into play where “a thousand years in your sight are like a day.” (Ps. 90:4) Indeed, from a Messianic Jewish point of view David prophesied this psalm a thousand years before Yeshua. Hashem suppresses opposition beginning from Zion (v. 2), i.e., the fortified complex of the Davidic palace and what would become Hashem’s Mikdash. There is no reason to believe the psalmist considered Zion anything other than literal Jerusalem, where heaven and earth meet, especially so if David composed the psalm. The nobleman is told to rule in the midst of his foes (v. 2), indicating persistent opposition, as well as his enduring success. Kings are shattered in the day of his wrath (v. 5), enemy nations are filled with corpses (v. 6), leaders of the wide earth are crushed (v. 6), yet until they become his footstool he patiently sits at the right hand of Hashem (v. 1).
Psalm 2’s content parallels Ps. 110 – Messiah has a special relationship with Hashem and is installed on holy Mount Zion in the day of his power (cf., Ps. 2:6; 110:2). Hashem in heaven warns earthly foes they will be crushed unless they submit to his chosen Davidic nobleman who will rule with a rod of iron (v. 9). Hashem also addresses Messiah directly as Son (v. 7) and this feature strikingly resembles his declaration to the nobleman to sit at his right hand, and appointing him Righteous King and everlasting Cohen. Would a mortal king, from Solomon to Zedekiah, ever claim that Hashem addressed him as his Son and Righteous King and everlasting Cohen? At the very least it is quite difficult to imagine any first commonwealth king claiming to be an everlasting Cohen. But if these psalms are coronation hymns then yes, not only could every king claim these lofty titles, they were conferred whether desired or not. However we must ask, did David apply such titles to himself? If he did the notion that these are coronation psalms is easier to justify, but if not it is hard to imagine how every son in David’s line could bear the titles but not the dynasty’s patriarch. The Tanakh says Hashem disqualified David from his Temple building hope because he had spilled much blood, but he was promised an everlasting dynasty and a son to fulfill the task. Nathan prophesied that Hashem would be a father to this offspring, and likewise the offspring would be to Hashem a son (2 Sam. 7:14). If David had already experienced this father-son relationship with Hashem, then what is so exceptional about Nathan’s promise? But if David had not experienced this heavenly father-son bond, and since David was excluded from it, then surely he would have contemplated the ramifications to no end. It appears then that this verse was the starting point for David’s reflection on a Son and Righteous King and everlasting Cohenwho was greater than he.
Isaiah 9:6-7 sheds more light on David’s revelation in Psalm 2. A son is born to Israel who bears astonishing divine names, whose dominion will be vast, whose reign of Shalom is endless, and who establishes David’s throne and kingdom from this time and forever more (ad olam). When such prophetic texts are taken as mere pious embellishment of mundane history one may rationalize that they refer to a mortal King Hezekiah (BCE 716–687). Otherwise, Isaiah evidently wrote of the same eschatological Personage who rules in divine power and who will not succumb to death, i.e. the everlasting Cohen and Righteous King.
Isaiah says this Personage is to be born into the world, ensuring his humanity, while his kingdom endures forever, implying his unique divinity. R. Shmuley Boteach provides the latest justification for rejecting the divinity of Yeshua in his popular treatment, Kosher Jesus, saying “Jews can never worship a man-god…. God cannot be divided among multiple beings.” Yet Psalm 33:6 lays the foundation for understanding Hashem’s nature as an expressive being, which in turn sets the stage to question Boteach’s assumptions:
By the word of ADONAI ( b’davar Hashem) the heavens were made, and their whole host by a breath from his mouth (u’b’ruach peev).” (Psalm 33:6)
We justly ignore anthropomorphic notions by remembering that heaven and the highest heavens cannot contain Hashem. Yet this Psalm clearly teaches that we must accept Hashem as an Expressive Being even prior to Bri’at Ha’olam (Creation of the Universe). Only two choices about Hashem’s nature are available:
a) Either Hashem has always expressed the fullness of his unlimited glory, which includes self-awareness of personal identity, or b) he never will.
In other words, Hashem has either fully communicated all of his glory, from eternity, into an infinite Expression that knows personal identity, or else a limited universe with mortal creatures who know personal identity but who are stricken with sin is the best expression of his glory he will ever achieve. The choice for Jews who serve the unbounded living Hashem is clear: Le’g’dulato ain heker (there is no way to fathom Hashem’s greatness).
Unwittingly the sages who compiled the Siddur produced a phrase which sums up this very point. Every morning during Shacharit one rises and recites: Baruch shey’amar ve’hayah ha’olam (Blessed is He | who spoke | and came into being | the Universe). When we consider the “pre-Creation” segment of this verse we have: Baruch shey’amar ve’hayah, in other words, “Blessed is He who spoke ‘Vav Hay Yod Hay.’” These four letters are indeed those of the Tetragrammaton, yet arranged with the “vav” preceding to signify consequentiality, showing that this Expression of the Tetragrammaton is contingent (i.e. utterly dependent) upon Him who speaks, Yod Kay Vav Kay (i.e. Hashem). The unintended lesson of the Siddur is this:
Hashem expresses the totality of his infinite divine glory, and this Expression (Vav Hay Yod Hay) is absolutely dependent on Him who expresses.
Hashem never ceases to be the only true, self-existent G-d, yet his eternal Expression (D’var ADONAI), in complete dependence on Hashem, also bears the divine nature inherent in Hashem. An eternal bond of divine love has never ceased between the Father Hashem, and His Expression, the Son. The sages have stumbled enormously by implying that Hashem’s pre-Creation subsistence was eternal solitude, and not the timeless expression of love toward His eternal Son.
Contrary to R. Boteach’s simplistic allegation that followers of Yeshua worship a man who claims to be god, Yeshua-believers actually assert that the Son willingly entered the Universe and was limited to a Makom, a dwelling place, of human flesh. Yeshua suffered death to annul the curse of the sword on David’s House, indeed to pay for the sin of the Universe, which is the crucial prerequisite to establish the Tanakh’s Messianic promises. Today the Son already performs his duties as the everlasting Cohen. According to the “signs of the times” he apparently will soon reappear as Righteous King to establish the New Covenant Kingdom on earth.
Both Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 were evidently basic texts behind NT descriptions of Messiah’s exaltation and parousia, and both speak proleptically (cf., Heb. 2:8) of authority he will fully wield at the eschaton (cf., Heb. 9:28). While Psalm 110 promises Israel a new kind of king-priest (cf., Heb. 7), there is no sign of a blanket rejection of Israel, or Zion, or the Mikdash. Yeshua’s claim, applying this Ps. 110 to himself, and the NT’s application of Ps. 2:7 to Yeshua via bat kol cannot be pushed away with a straw.
He Will Purify the Sons of Levi
The halachic status of Cohanim is a well-known challenge for Jewish authorities and poses a high hurdle to rebuilding the Temple. Undeniably there is no sense in rebuilding if there are no proven Cohanim to offer korbanot. But if the ascended Messiah Yeshua does indeed want the Temple to be rebuilt, and keeping in mind that any method of verification must be open to the scrutiny of Torah authority, then nothing prevents him from making known who is a valid Cohen.
R. Yaakov Epstein investigated the question of valid Cohanim in his piece, Katav Yuchasin Uma’alato Beyamainu, and notes that though some authorities today think there are Cohanim suitable for Temple service, according to Rambam, Hazon Ish and others, that view is virtually impossible to justify. According to R. Epstein some families of Cohanim do have genealogical records purportedly going back to second Temple times, but he adds that they unfortunately have no halachic value since they have no official Beit Din registration for births through the centuries. Hazon Ish, as cited by R. Epstein, judges that Israel must wait for Eliyahu to reveal the validity of each Cohen and this view is similar to Rambam’s decision in Hilchot Melachim, also cited by R. Epstein, in which Melech HaMashiach will gather all Israel and pronounce their heritage by revelation of the Ruach HaKodesh. Rambam applies Malachi 3:1, “and he will sit and refine and purify” and says Mashiach will purify sons of Levi and determine who is a valid Cohen, and who is a Levi. R. Epstein likewise concludes that no Cohen today is exempt from this judgment of legitimacy by Messiah.
In second Temple days the prophet Malachi promised Israel that the Lord, the Messenger of the Covenant, would come and purify the sons of Levi so that offerings of Judah and Jerusalem would be pleasing to Hashem. According to Matt. 11:10 and Luke 7:27 Yeshua told the crowds that Yohanan is the initial messenger of Mal. 3:1 who announces the coming of this Lord, the Messenger of the Covenant. Yeshua thus implies that he himself is that Messenger of the Covenant. If so, then Yeshua further implies that it is he who will purify the sons of Levi, including the Cohanim, to be able to properly offer sacrifices. Contrary to supersessionist Church doctrine, this eschatological promise is not of the abolishment of Levitical function, but of its restoration and perfection, however limited that may be compared to Messiah Yeshua’s sacrifice. Is there a possible way for Yeshua-believing Jews to participate in Yeshua’s validation process of Cohanim? Perhaps the eleven Shlichim provide a model, regarded soberly in Jewish custom, which would answer that need:
Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over the work and the office of emissary that Y’hudah abandoned to go where he belongs.’ Then they drew lots to decide between the two, and the lot fell to Mattityahu. So he was added to the eleven emissaries. (Acts 1:24-26)
Such a validation process as this is similar to the judgment of Ezra about the family of Barzillai (Ezra 2:62-63), and there are doubtless other possibilities as well. The verification of heredity by no means takes the place of each Cohen’s inner purification by receiving the Ruach HaKodesh from Messiah Yeshua, but the New Covenant transformation makes them yet more suitable for service in the Mikdash. In any case, nothing prevents Yeshua from undertaking the process of verification of Cohanim, today, if he does indeed desire the Temple’s reconstruction. This line of thinking again leads to the idea that a remnant of Israel will both be servants of Yeshua the Messiah, and will be involved in rebuilding and serving in the Mikdash.
When My Mikdash is With Them Forever (Ez. 37:28)
This article has surveyed Avrahamic heritage related to worship at Hashem’s Makom, exegesis of the book of Hebrew that supports the Messianic Jewish community’s participation in the Temple, and Yeshua’s Messianic credentials. Yeshua-believing Jews are challenged to formally engage the Temple question, and in that light, Yeshua-believing non-Jews are challenged to seriously engage the Israel question. The wider Jewish community is challenged to consider the question of Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah, who is promised to restore the Mikdash.
Increasing numbers of Israelis are laboring to see the Mikdash rebuilt. The Messianic Jewish community cannot fail to respond to this crucial issue known to be a perpetual mitzvah, and that so deeply involves our Messiah and his great sacrificial work.
The author would like to express thanks to Elliot and Joyce Klayman for helpful assistance, suggestions and corrections.
Hanoch Ben Keshet
 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3754367,00.html A poll commissioned the following year by the Knesset Television Channel found: “Half the Israeli public wants the Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash) to be rebuilt.” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/138655#.TuRH-Xpc7kc
 “Visits to Temple Mount by haredim on the rise” http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=235012
 “The Haredi Secret: Organized Ascent of the Temple Mount” (Hebrew) http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/224799
 Over the years various organizations dedicated to rebuilding have combined, leaving two prominent groups, The Temple Institute (www.templeinstitute.org) and The Temple Mount Faithful (www.templemountfaithful.org).
 Cf., The Jewish Temple in Contemporary Christian Zionism, http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/temple.htm; Cf., “Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world.” CUFI is led by John C. Hagee. http://www.cufi.org
 “Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist program provides a worldview where the Gospel is reduced to an ideology of empire, colonialism, and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today. We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.” http://www.sizers.org/articles/jerusalemdeclaration.htm
 “The New Testament clearly teaches that God continues to invite Jews and Arabs into His kingdom and in no way is finished with any people group. Further, scripture speaks of Jesus as its ultimate fulfillment. For example, the need for animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthood, and expectation of a rebuilt Temple, find their ultimate fulfillment and completion in Jesus Christ.” http://www.stephensizer.com/; see also Christian Zionism, Roadmap to Armageddon, Stephen Sizer, (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2004); Gary Burge, “Christian Zionism, Evangelicals and Israel,” http://www.christianzionism.org/Article/Burge01.asp
 “Some Christians have been driven by their eschatology to make claims and projections [about Israel] that have been embarrassing to many believers. As an American, I can tell you that this has been true on both sides of the pond and is not simply a concern of Christians in the United Kingdom.” Mitch Glaser, The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supercessionism (Lampeter: King’s Divinity Press, 2009) foreword.
 http://www.archive.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=92517; see also the ADL’s report here: http://www.adl.org/main_Israel/mugrabi_gate_project.htm
 Mark S. Kinzer, Israel’s Messiah and the People of God, (Eugene OR: Cascade Books, 2011) xii.
 Ibid., xii-xiii.
 Ibid., xxi.
 Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from the Complete Jewish Bible, David H. Stern, trans. (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1998).
 Cf., “Each generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt is considered as if they destroyed the Temple.” Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 1:1.
 Kinzer, Israel’s Messiah (2011) xv.
 If this clash is the same as Yeshua’s final week per the synoptic accounts we nevertheless see that dedicated followers are few and popular support inconsistent. Dan Wallace thinks a good possibility exists for Yeshua cleansing the Temple twice: “That the synoptics would not deal with this first cleansing would be due to their geographical concerns: in their presentation, Jesus does not even come to Jerusalem until the week before his death. John, on the other hand, gives a fuller chronology, showing that Jesus repeatedly went up to Jerusalem for the feasts during his earthly ministry.” The Gospel of John: Introduction, Argument, Outline, Daniel B. Wallace, Bible.org, nt. 15, http://bible.org/seriespage/gospel-john-introduction-argument-outline
 “By his actions, [Avraham] exemplified for the coming generations how one must feel in order to truly fulfill his obligation with bringing an offering: to sacrifice a sheep before God, one must feel that his son is bound on the altar – or as if it is he himself. These are the proper intentions and spiritual strengths needed when bringing a sacrifice to the Temple; this is the service God desires.” The Odyssey of the Third Temple, R. Yisrael Ariel, R. Chaim Richman, trans. & adapt. (Jerusalem: G. Israel Publications & Productions Ltd., Temple Institute, 1993), 13.
 Rabbi Shmuel Bar Abba said “The Holy One, Blessed be He, desired to have an abode below, just as He has one above … and when Israel stood before Him as Sinai, He told them: ‘There is only one reason I delivered you out of Egypt – in order for you to erect for Me a Tabernacle so that My presence will dwell amongst you.'” O. Tanchuma Bechukoti 65.
 Cf., Ex. 23:17; 34:23; Deut. 16:16.
 Note that at the giving of this prophecy no son was selected to build the Temple and Solomon would not be born for some time.
 “The same thought is repeated in the royal Psalm by David: (Psalm 21:6-7[7-8]) where he rejoiced that God had ‘made him most blessed forever’ and that the ‘covenantal love of the Most High [to David] would not be moved.’ Psalm 89:28-37 [29-38] also commented on the immutability of this eternal covenant. It would endure ‘forever’ (28, 29, 36, 37): ‘As the days of heaven’ (29), ‘as the sun’ (36) and ‘moon’ (37). God ‘will not violate, nor alter the word that is gone out of [his] lips’ (34); he has ‘sworn by [his] holiness; [he] will not lie to David'(35)” The Davidic Covenant, Quartz Hill School of Theology. http://www.theology.edu/lec16.htm
 Walter Kaiser defends the Davidic authorship of Psalm 40 against post-exilic dating by modern scholars. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Messiah in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), 123.
 The Torah requires expiatory offerings after a leader repents from lesser sins, cf., Lev. 4:22-26.
 David realized that as King, his personal transgression threatened all Israel’s welfare. Thus he prayed for the safety of Zion, for the strengthening of the capital Jerusalem. Psalm 127:1, attributed to Solomon, likewise warns of abiding in Hashem’s favor: “Unless ADONAI builds the house, its builders work in vain.” Both David and Solomon knew that fortification projects mean little unless Hashem is behind the endeavor. The NET Bible translates our verse in Ps. 51, “Fortify the walls of Jerusalem!”
 Paul assumes Davidic authorship in Rom. 11:9-10.
 The meaning of “house” is quite broad in the Tanakh and includes places, buildings, families, kingdoms and nations. It is used for the Mikdash of Hashem’s presence on earth, Beit El, and it is certainly consistent with the cry of this psalm. The zeal for Hashem’s house might include that for the Mikdash and that for the entire nation of Israel.
 This psalm may be behind Yeshua’s word that Hashem seeks worshipers in Spirit and truth (cf., John 4:23-24).
 “Rabbi Yehuda Bar Simon said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: ‘Three things which Moses heard the Almighty utter caused him to recoil in shock … when He told him: “And let them make me a Sanctuary” – Moses spoke before the Holy One, Blessed be He: “Master of the Universe! ‘Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You!’ And yet You say, ‘Let them make Me a Sanctuary?!'” The Holy One, Blessed be He responded to him and said: ‘Moses, you are mistaken! All that is needed is twenty beams on the north side, and twenty on the south side, and eight on the west side, and I will come down and abide My glory amongst them’.'” Pesikta D’Rav Kahana 2; “The Holy One, Blessed is He, is the Makom for the World [He Created], but the World is not the Makom for Him.” Bereshit Rabbah samech-het, tet, pp 777-8, cf., Acts 7:44-50.
 Indeed, in Moses’ final blessing to Israel, Deut. 33:16, we find his depiction of Hashem “who dwelt in the bush” using the same Hebrew word (shokhen) from which comes “Sh’kheenah” or the “presence” of Hashem.
 The Odyssey of the Third Temple, 35.
 Cf., “I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give to them, increase their numbers, and set my sanctuary [Mikdash] among them forever.” (Ezek. 37:26) Sin offerings, burnt offerings and peace offerings are also mentioned, Ezek. 45:13-25. Rambam says the second Temple structure included some of the specifications of Ezekiel, but not all. “The building which Solomon erected has already been explained in the Book of Kings. As far as the Temple which shall be built in the future is concerned, even though it is described in Ezekiel, it remains a mystery. When the Second Temple was built in the time of Ezra, it was based on Solomon’s Temple, with some slight similarities as described in Ezekiel.” Rambam, Beit HaBechirah 1:4.
 “And so it was that fifty-two years after the first destruction, the Temple service was renewed. The walls of Jerusalem, its houses, and even the Holy Temple still lay in ruins – but the service of the daily offering was reinstated: ‘From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord … But the foundation of the Sanctuary of God was not yet laid.'”(Ezra 3:6), The Odyssey of the Third Temple, 36.
 The nature of Jeremiah’s New Covenant is debated, ranging from a “renewed” covenant and taken to mean that mitzvoth of Sinai’s Torah are now lived out from the heart, to a New Covenant that annuls all previous obligations of Sinai (cf., The New Covenant Torah in Jeremiah and the Law of Christ in Paul, Fẹmi Adeyẹmi, (New York: Peter Lang, 2006). The first idea is hard to defend since the New is “not like the covenant that I made with their fathers,” while the second idea simply abolishes all things Jewish. One thing is certain, promises to Avraham 430 years prior to Sinai are not abrogated (cf., Galatians 3:16-17), and the summit of Avraham’s faith must be the offering of Yitzhak on Har Moriah, taken as the very picture of Messiah’s sacrifice. Israel’s sacred memorial to the Patriarchs’ faith on Har Moriah is fitting no matter what the full nature of the New Covenant.
 Acts 9:26-30; 11:25-30; 15:1-2; 18:18-22; 21:15-19.
 Fourteen epistles have been labeled Pauline, though most authorities since Irenaeus do not believe Paul wrote Hebrews. Conservative exegetes see no reason to reject Paul’s authorship of the thirteen remaining epistles, though only the seven listed are undisputed from a broader scholarly consensus.
 Cf., Ephesians 2:21-22, though this epistle is considered Deutero-Pauline by all but conservative scholars.
 N.T. Wright says Paul wanted to make sure non-Jewish Yeshua believers realized their station in the New Covenant economy: “. . . the collection of money which [Paul] took to Jerusalem . . . was not just an example of poor-relief, but a demonstration to Jewish Christians that Gentile Christians were in solidarity with them and a reminder to Gentile Christians that they were a junior part of the same olive tree.” N.T. Wright, “Jerusalem in the New Testament,” Jerusalem Past and Present in the Purposes of God, P. W. L. Walker, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2nd ed. 1994), 53–77.
 Evidently the four participants reached the end of a voluntary Nazirite vow (cf., Num. 6:1-21) that culminated with sacrifices in the Temple.
 Apparently 2 Thess. 1:6-10 speaks of the parousia at the eschaton and that would strengthen a literal interpretation of the destruction of the man of lawlessness at the parousia in the following chapter. See also Daniel Wallace’s essay, “The ‘Temple of God’ in 2 Thessalonians 2:4: Literal or Metaphorical?” Wallace says the language trajectory of Paul indicates a literal Temple here. http://bible.org/article/%E2%80%9Ctemple-god%E2%80%9D-2-thessalonians-24-literal-or-metaphorical Moreover, Daniel 9:27 is widely taught as saying that antichrist actually sponsors rebuilding the Temple at the beginning of a seven year agreement, and this would obviously prevent participation of Messiah’s disciples. But careful review of Daniel 9, including verse 27, fails to support this assumption. The terse wording leaves open the possibility that sacrifices are offered prior to the seven year agreement, and if so, then the Messianic Jewish community might easily be involved in rebuilding.
 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:15-17; 2 Thess. 1:6-8; 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:50-55 provide a composite picture of Paul’s Messianic parousia which includes Yeshua’s descent from heaven, resurrection of dead disciples, translation of living disciples in the twinkling of an eye, a mighty shofar blast, flaming fire, angelic messengers and destruction of a man of lawlessness. The long Roman siege of Jerusalem at best included only fire, making it impossible from a Pauline perspective to see the parousia in the Temple’s destruction CE 70. In other words, Paul’s Messianic parousia yet remains to occur. Preterests, relying heavily on metaphor as their interpretive key, claim Messiah’s parousia, outlined in the synoptic Olivet Discourse, already occurred in CE 70.
 Luke’s record of Peter’s oration (Acts 2:17-21) does not contain the final verse of the passage in Joel: “At that time, whoever calls on the name of ADONAI will be saved. For in Mount Tziyon and Yerushalayim there will be those who escape, as ADONAI has promised; among the survivors will be those whom ADONAI has called.” (Joel 2:32). However Acts 2:39 may be a paraphrase for the final verse in Joel, together with a view ahead of its application beyond Mt. Zion and Jerusalem.
 “God’s house in Jerusalem was meant to be a ‘place of prayer for all the nations’ (Isa. 56:7; Mark 11:17); but God would now achieve this though the new temple, which was Jesus himself and his people.” Wright, Jerusalem (1994) (page references according to pdf: www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Jerusalem_New_Testament.pdf) pdf 13, 7.
 Wright, Jerusalem (1994) pdf 4.
 Cf., Ex. 22:24; Deut. 14:28; 15:7-8; Lev. 19:9-10, 25:35; Deut 24:10-19.
 The Catechism of the Catholic Church also posits Yeshua’s veneration of the Temple: “586 Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter [sic], whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church. He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men. Therefore his being put to bodily death presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: ‘The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.'” www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a4p1.htm
 Wright, Jerusalem (1994), pdf 6.
 Ibid., pdf 14.
 Ibid., pdf 13.
 “When the disciples ask Jesus, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel’ they are presumably thinking of the traditional Jewish expectation that the whole world would eventually be subject to Jewish rule. Jesus’ answer is usually taken as a ‘not yet’: ‘it is not for you to know times or seasons.’ Yet Luke surely intended us to read it as a ‘yes, but not in that way’: ‘You will receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses…to the end of the world.'” Wright fails to mention verse 7b that supports a futurist eschatology against his: “You don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under his own authority.” Wright, Jerusalem (1994), pdf 10.
 The reference to House is understood variously as either the Mikdash or the people of Israel or the Church.
 Voice from heaven, lit. daughter of the voice.
 Cf., 1 Sam. 8:9-17 for a description of the monarch’s rights in Israel.
 Cf., John 14:16-17, 20, 23; 15:26; 16:13-15.
 When Zechariah 14:3-5 is taken to speak of Messiah’s parousia, then evidently a terrible invasion must drive Israel’s leaders to call on Yeshua as their last hope.
 Cf., Lawrence H. Schiffman, The Bar Kochba Revolt: Messianic figure Simeon Bar Kochba led the Jews in a failed revolt against Roman rule. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Ancient_and_Medieval_History/539_BCE-632_CE/Palestine_Under_Roman_Rule/Jewish-Christian_Schism/Bar_Kochba_Revolt.shtml; Moreover, Dore Gold writes that archaeological artifacts found alongside Bar Kochba’s letters indicate he apparently was observant: “The caves yielded additional artifacts, including wool ritual fringes (tzitzit) used on the corners of prayer shawl (talitot) to this day, and phylacteries (tefilin). . . . The letters and surrounding findings demonstrate that Bar Kochba observed the detailed commandments of the Jewish religion. Bar Kochba clearly emerged from Jewish mainstream society, which was not factionalized during its rebellion as it was during the first anti-Roman revolt. Bar Kochba’s efforts even seem to have secured the support of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish religious court.” Dore Gold, The Fight for Jerusalem, Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City (Washington: Regency Publishing, 2007), 51.
 Frank Meir Loewenberg writes: “Once the city was captured, Nehemiah ben Hushiel was appointed governor of Jerusalem. There are reports that he was a strong young man, handsome and adorned in royal robes, but actually we know very little about his reign because no contemporary accounts have survived. There are reports that he had Messianic pretensions. Soon after his appointment the new governor reestablished the sacrificial service on the Temple Mount – something that had not occurred in over five hundred years. He began to make arrangements for the rebuilding of the Temple.” According to Loewenberg, R. Elazer Kalir, an early and prolific Jewish poet who lived in the land at the time of the Persian invasion composed a poem that says the Jewish people indeed rebuilt the altar and offered sacrifices, and started rebuilding the Temple, but did not finish, because Messiah had not come. Cf., “The Persian Conquest of Jerusalem” at Think Israel. http://www.think-israel.org/loewenberg.persianconquestjerusalem.html
 “Three years after Nehemiah was appointed, the Persians removed the Jewish governor of Jerusalem for reasons that were never clearly stated. . . . After executing the Jewish governor and ending the Jewish rule of the city, the Persians forbade Jews from settling within a three-mile radius of Jerusalem.” Ibid.
 Daniel Pipes provides a concise Islamic history of Jerusalem that proves “the Muslim interest lies not so much in controlling Jerusalem as it does in denying control over the city to anyone else.” http://www.danielpipes.org/84/the-muslim-claim-to-jerusalem
 In retrospect many Israeli orthodox Jews regard the Zionist state, despite its limitations, as the first budding of redemption. The book by R. Moshe Bergman, A Question of Redemption, Can the Modern State of Israel be the Beginning of Redemption? (Moshe D. Lichtman, trans.) (Mevaseret Tzion: Kol Mevaser, 2004) was written for the World B’nei Akiva Movement, and answers in twenty chapters halachic questions that show the modern state easily fulfills criteria to be considered the initial blossoming of redemption. The book has been endorsed by former chief rabbis of Israel, R. Avraham Shapirah and R. Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron.
 Sandra Scham writes: “Almost as soon as the Israeli flag was hoisted over the site in 1967, at the conclusion of the Six-Day War, Israelis lowered it on the orders of General Moshe Dayan, and invested the Muslim Waqf (religious trust) with the authority to manage the Temple Mount-Haram al-Sharif in order to ‘keep the peace.'” “Letter from Jerusalem: A Fight Over Sacred Turf,” an article in Archaeology, A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America. http://www.archaeology.org/0111/abstracts/letter.html
 See Part Three under, He Will Purify the Sons of Levi, for possible solutions to this problem.
 The Odyssey of the Third Temple, 37.
 “The targeted audience was an assembly in crisis.” William Lane, Hebrews 1-8, vol. 47, Word Biblical Commentary, (Dallas: Word Books, 1991), lxi.
 Typical suggestions include the destruction of the Temple or exclusion from a Jewish community.
 Cf., “Jesus, who is faithful to him that has constituted him, as Moses also in all his house.” (Heb. 3:1-2) Darby. This translation conspicuously inserts [was] in verse 5 to indicate it is supplied without direct warrant from the Greek, but is added to complete the sense in English. “And Moses indeed [was] faithful in all his house, as a ministering servant, for a testimony of the things to be spoken after; but Christ, as Son over his house, whose house are we, if indeed we hold fast the boldness and the boast of hope firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:5-6) It implies that in the original Greek our author saw Moses’ Torah as a legitimate part of Jewish heritage in the here and now, but subordinate to Messiah’s New Covenant revelation. The venerable Delitzsch translation of these verses into Hebrew makes this point very clear.
 Indeed Moses “suffered for Messiah” and among the heroes of faith our author’s testimony of Moses is exceptional (Heb. 11:23-29).
 Morna D. Hooker, “Christ, the ‘End’ of the Cult,” The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, R. Bauckham, D.R. Driver, T. A. Hart, & N. MacDonald, eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 192.
 Hays once thought Hebrews “relentlessly supersessionist” (cf., R.B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989). However, he changed his mind, coming to the conclusion that, at least in his own case, he arrived at a flawed conclusion by a “superficial reading of the evidence.” Richard B. Hays, “Here We Have No Lasting City,” The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, R. Bauckham, D.R. Driver, T. A. Hart, & N. MacDonald, eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 151.
 Ibid., 152.
 P. Eisenbaum, “Hebrews, Supersessionism and Jewish Christian Relations,” unpublished paper presented at Hebrews Consultation, SBL Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, 2005, 1, cited by Hays, 153.
 P. Eisenbaum, “Locating Hebrews within the Literary Landscape of Christian Origins,” in, Hebrews: Contemporary Methods – New Insights, Gabriella Gelardini (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 213-237, cited by Hays, 153.
 Hays, 153.
 Ibid., 154.
 Ibid., 154-5.
 “When the old covenant is contrasted unfavorably to the new, the specific deficiency of the old is described exclusively in terms of the ancient sacrificial cult as a means of atonement for sins. At no point does Hebrews suggest that the OT is legalistic, that it leads to self-righteousness, that its moral laws are in any way inadequate, or that its conception of God stands in need of correction.” Ibid., 162, 165.
 Hays, 166.
 Mark D. Nanos, “New or Renewed Covenantalism,” The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, R. Bauckham, D.R. Driver, T. A. Hart, & N. MacDonald eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 185.
 Ibid., 185.
 Kesher, A Journal of Messianic Judaism, Issue 26, 2012 https://www.kesherjournal.com/Issue-26/Response-to-Nanos-Renewed-Covenantalism-Not-Triumphalism-or-Supersessionism
 Ibid., 186.
 The Sinai covenant contains many provisions that were not implemented the moment it was made. Israel would have to persevere to attain its fullness. The New Covenant likewise need not be considered in terms of instantaneous transformation, yet as Nanos points out there should truly be some observable change. Nanos admits that from his vantage point the author’s “argument seems quite confused, and confusing.” Ibid., 187.
 Stephen R. Holmes writes that Hebrews, like other NT texts, operates with a “semi-realized eschatology” and that our author “believes in an eschatological moment that is coming in the future.” Yet Holmes believes the primary stress of Hebrews’ eschatology lies on the contrast between “earthly” and “heavenly” realms. It might instead be argued that our author contrasts the two realms precisely because of his concern for the coming eschatological event, the appearance of Messiah (Heb. 9:28) that will permanently decide his readers’ fate. Stephen R. Holmes, “Death in the Afternoon: Hebrews, Sacrifice, and Soteriology,” The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, R. Bauckham, D.R. Driver, T. A. Hart, & N. MacDonald eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 241-42.
 Note these references are found in undisputed epistles.
 General persecution certainly occurred in any case, cf., Acts 13:44-50; 14:1-6; 14:19; 17:1-14.
 “During the Second Temple period, the Temple institution collected a half-shekel tax annually. This tax was designated for the daily and Shabbat (festival) sacrifices, their libations, the omer, the two loaves of bread, the show bread, the communal sacrifices and other needs of the Temple (Mishnah Shekalim 4:1-4). The rabbis linked the annual half-shekel tax to the half-shekel offering in the Pentateuch. . . . Josephus, . . .likewise understood the Temple tax to be the same as the one decreed by Moses in the wilderness. . . .Every Jewish male, 20 years old and up, voluntarily paid this tax once a year. He was to pay the tax either in his province or in the Temple in Jerusalem (Mishnah Shekalim 1:3). . . .Leo Kadman describes an important discovery relating to these Tyrian shekels. He reports: ‘In the spring of 1960, a hoard of about 4,500 ancient coins was discovered near Isfiya on Mount Carmel; 3,400 of the coins were Tyrian Shekels, about 1,000 Half-shekels, and 160 Roman Dinarii of Augustus. The shekels and Half-shekels are dated from 40 B.C.E. to 52/53 C.E. . . the bulk of them from 20-53 C.E… In the middle of the first century C.E., there was only one purpose for which the exclusive use of Tyrian Shekels was prescribed: the Temple-Dues of half a Shekel, which every male Jew of 20 years of age and above had to pay yearly to the Temple in Jerusalem. . .The disproportion between the 3,400 Shekels and the 1,000 Half-Shekels is to be understood from the prescription of the Mishnah that each payment of a Half-Shekel for one person was liable to an agio . . . of 4-8%, while the payment of a Full-Shekel for two persons was exempt from the agio. . . . The 160 Dinarii exactly represents the agio of 8% on the 1,000 Half-Shekel found in the hoard. . . .This hoard of coins was probably from a community of 30,000 Jews living in Phoenicia. The coins were most likely hidden on Mount Carmel when the caravans realized they could not make it to Jerusalem in May AD 67, because the Romans controlled the road from Megiddo to Jerusalem.’ Gordon Franz, “Does Your Teacher Not Pay the [Temple] Tax? (Mt 17:24-27)” http://www.ldolphin.org/templetax-franz.html
 Antioch in Syria, Ephesus, Alexandria, and Rome have been suggested as the location of the addressees of Hebrews, though some scholars also suggest Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem.
 Cf., Heb. 5:1-3; 7:23, 27; 8:3-5; 9:6-9, 13, 25; 10:1, 3-4, 8, 11; 13:10-11.
 The NIV is similar. The ESV says “ready to vanish away.” The NASB says “ready to disappear.”
 To be sure, 2 Peter 3:8-9 cautions against uncalled-for conclusions about the nearness of the Day of Judgment, when fire burns up heaven and earth and the godless are destroyed, because one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.
 E.g., “Early Christian thinking on apostasy receives a powerful statement in the Letter to the Hebrews, where warning passages punctuate the text with rhetorical potency (McKnight). In each warning passage, we find (1) the subjects or audience in danger of committing the sin, (2) the sin that leads to (3) the exhortation, which if not followed, leads to (4) the consequences of that sin. . . .(1) The subjects appear to be believers. (2) The sin is apostasy, understood as deliberate and public refusal to submit to God and his will for persons in Jesus Christ. (3) The exhortation is to repent and to follow faithfully and obediently. And (4) the consequence for apostasy is eternal punishment.” Scot McKnight “Apostasy,” Dictionary of Theological Interpretation of the Bible, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 59. See also, Scot McKnight, “The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusion,” TrinJ 13 (1992), 21-59.
 N.T. Wright, Hebrews for Everyone, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 57.
Our author’s continued reference to the Mishkan in Hebrews, rather than the Mikdash, may be related to the fact that the earthly Mishkan was based on the heavenly Mishkan which never ceased functioning.
 “You are to make it according to everything I show you–the design of the tabernacle and the design of its furnishings. This is how you are to make it. . . .See that you make them according to the design being shown you on the mountain.” (Ex. 25:9, 40).
 Jewish tradition does believe a Temple exists in heavenly Jerusalem which corresponds to Har Moriah and goes back to the sacrifices offered by Adam, Abel and Cain, Noah, and Avraham. “In the heavenly Jerusalem, a sublime spiritual Holy Temple exists where the Shechinah is revealed. This is place of the Almighty’s Throne of Glory.” The Odyssey of the Third Temple, 10.
 Cf., The Jerusalem below corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem directly above. . . . B.t. Ta’anit 5a.
 The Odyssey of the Third Temple, 11.
 Attempts to harmonize Matthew and Luke go back at least to Africanus (third century). Cf., John Nolland, Luke 1-9:20, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1989), 169. Fr. Raymond Brown audaciously asserts “there would be no irreparable theological damage to Christianity if Jesus were proved to have been of non-Davidic descent. The Christian assertion that Jesus was the Messiah required a radical reinterpretation of that concept, and a further reinterpretation which would leave aside a physical descent from David in the Messiah’s ancestry would be intelligible.” Fr. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 511. Brown fails to appreciate that it is by no means intelligible to Jews under commandment to verify a “Jewishman’s Messiah” rather than to non-Jews who are satisfied with an “Everyman’s Christ.” But the fact is there cannot be an “Everyman’s Christ” unless he truly is Israel’s Messiah. Messiahship is nothing unless it meets the demands of the Tanakh. Brown rejects the thesis that “Jesus was of direct, royal lineage or that his family was of the ancestral nobility” but nevertheless says “there is no insuperable difficulty in positing that Joseph belonged to one of the non-aristocratic, lateral branches of the House of David.” Ibid., 511. Brown states why many Christians ignore the question: “The Davidic Messiah was too nationalistic a figure to have primacy in Christian thought.” Ibid., 512.
 Messiah’s genealogy, Matt. 1; Isaiah’s prophecy at the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry, Matt. 4:13-16; the blind at Jericho, Matt. 9:27; the Canaanite Woman, Matt. 15:22; Triumphal Entry, Matt. 21:8, 15; Son of David, Greater than David, Matt. 22:42-45.
 Blind at Jericho, Mark 10:47; Triumphal Entry, Mark 11:9-10; Son of David, Greater than David, Mark 12:35-37.
 Gavriel’s message, Luke 1:31-32 (Miriam from the House of David, as well as Joseph, her fiancé); the angel’s announcement of Messiah from Bethlehem, the town of David, Luke 2:9-11; Zechariah’s Song, Luke 1:69; Messiah’s genealogy, Luke 3; the blind at Jericho, Luke 18:38; Son of David, Greater than David, Luke 20:41-44. Shaliah Kayfa, cf., Acts 2.25ff; Shaliah Shaul, cf., Acts 13.22ff; Shaliah Ya’akov, cf., Acts 15:15-18, Amos 9:11.
 Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8.
 Yeshua is an offspring of David, Heb. 1:5 (cf., 2 Sam. 7:14, 1 Chron. 17:13); Messiah is from Judah, Heb. 7:14; Melki-Zedek in Heb. 7 is from a Psalm of David, Psalm 110.
 Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16.
 Noel Rabinowitz convincingly argues that “[m]odern genealogies are forensic in nature and are designed to verify the direct biological descendants of an individual. Ancient genealogies, however, do not necessarily function in this way. Matthew did not design his genealogy to be a catalog of names listing each and every biological descendant of Abraham. Unfortunately, many believers in Yeshua assume that Yeshua’s genealogy does precisely this. Those who reject Yeshua’s messianic credentials are more than willing to adopt this standard of evidence, a fact that results in further misunderstanding and confusion…[T]he primary function of [Matthew’s] genealogy is theological, rather than historical or chronological. This does not imply that the genealogy is historically inaccurate or that it does not demonstrate Yeshua to be the legitimate heir to the Davidic throne. A careful analysis of the genealogy reveals that it does accomplish these tasks, but these are not the main reason for which it was composed. The genealogy is not simply a list of names designed to authenticate Yeshua’s royal credentials.” Noel Rabinowitz, “Matthew’s Genealogy: A Paradigm for Israel’s Restoration” in Kesher, A Journal of Messianic Judaism, Issue 20 – Winter/Spring 2006. https://www.kesherjournal.com/Features/Matthew-s-Genealogy-A-Paradigm-for-Israel-s-Restoration. Likewise, Donald Hagner says, “In these genealogies we must not expect accuracy by our modern standards. Omissions, variant spellings, and even variant names (i.e. some persons with two names) may be expected in genealogies, with many of these alterations motivated theologically. But to admit theological interest in and impact upon these genealogies need not lead to the conclusion that they are not in any sense meant to be taken as factual.” Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1993), 8.
 E.g., 1 Chron. 5:30-41 (Hebrew) speaks of a father begetting a son (holeed) as in the form of Matthew’s genealogy, and then 1 Chron. 6:5-15 (Hebrew) speaks of fathers whose son is so-and-so (beno), while 1 Chron. 6:18-32 (Hebrew) reverses direction and speaks of the son of so-and-so (ben), similar to Luke’s genealogy; Ezra 7:1-5 is a listing according to sons, is reversed like Luke and omits six generations from the corresponding list in 1 Chron. 6:2-14, which lists according to fathers, and is forward like Matthew. Evidently the same genealogy is represented by several generations of names going one direction in 1 Chron. 6:23-24 (vv. 8-9 Hebrew) (Asir, whose son is Tahat, whose son is Uriel, whose son is Uziyah, whose son is Shaul), and generations with alternate names going the other direction in 6:36-37 (vv. 21-22 Hebrew) (son of Yoel, son of Azariah, son of Tzphaniah, son of Tahat, son of Asir).
 Ya’akov is mentioned in Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3 as one of Yeshua’s brothers (Ya’akov, Yoseph, Yehuda and Shimon). According to John 7:5 he did not believe in Yeshua’s Messiahship prior to the resurrection. Paul recounts eyewitnesses of Messiah’s resurrection and in 1 Cor. 15:7 says Yeshua “was seen of Ya’akov.”
 Citations of Josephus are from The New Complete Works of Josephus, William Whiston, trans. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1999). Josephus’ accuracy is often questioned on details like these. Nevertheless it would seem doubtful that he made up claims out of whole cloth. Cf., “Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records . . . .” (p. 17) Life of Flavius Josephus, Ch 1. Josephus claimed to know his mother’s genealogy, i.e. “by my mother I am of the royal [Hasmonean] blood.” (p. 17) If so, Luke’s genealogy may be of Miriam and not be extraordinary.
 These references in Josephus and the Mishnah, if true, seem to show that genealogical records were available after CE 70. It would not have benefitted either the Romans or Jews to destroy such records, so perhaps they were preserved?; Some believe the archive repository that housed genealogical records and inheritance rights was burned by the Romans, according to the following account by Josephus: “So he gave orders to the soldiers both to burn and to plunder the city; who did nothing indeed that day; but on the next day they set fire to the repository of the archives, to Acra, to the council house, and to the place called Ophlas,” Jewish War, Bk 6, Ch 6, Sec 3. (p. 902) Yet Josephus also says that earlier the Jewish Zealot rebels themselves burned some of the archives with no mention of genealogies: “. . . after which they carried the fire to the place where the archives were deposited and hurried to burn the contracts belonging to their creditors…to dissolve their obligations for paying their debts…to gain the multitude of…debtors…that they might persuade the poorer sort to join in their insurrection with safety against the more wealthy . . . .” Jewish War, Bk 2, Ch 17 Sec 6; (p.759) Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, 1.7 (p. 939) gives a description of how priestly genealogies were preserved in previous conflicts.
 Regarding charges of illegitimacy Raymond Brown sums up: “Thus, as a result of studying both the later and the earlier evidence, I would have to judge that we simply do not know whether the Jewish charge of illegitimacy, which appears clearly in the second century, had a source independent of the infancy narrative tradition – a source that would help to confirm as historical the chronology of an early birth supposed by Matthew and (implicitly) by Luke.” Brown, 541-2.
 Cf., “Mary’s father (Heli?) had two daughters, Mary and the unnamed wife of Zebedee (John 19:25; Matt 27:56). If there were no sons, Joseph would become son of Heli on his marriage, to preserve the family name [of Heli] and inheritance, cf., Num 27:1-11; 36:1-12, esp. v. 8 (Every daughter who inherits land (i.e. has no brothers) in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of their ancestors) which accounts for Mary marrying a man of the family of David.” J. Stafford Wright, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 662. The Jerusalem Talmud mentions Eli as father of Miriam (Hagigah 2, 11a).
 E.g., Rambam, Yad Hahazakah, Hilchot Tshuvah 7:6; Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 37b-38a; Vayikra Rabbah 19:6.
 Three real estate purchases of signal importance are found in the Tanakh: Avraham’s purchase of the Machpelah cave and field (Gen. 23:3-20), Jeremiah’s purchase of a relative’s field foretelling Hashem’s mercy on Israel (Jer. 32:6-44) and David’s purchase of Aravnah’s threshing floor.
 The book of Revelation confounds skilled and pious exegetes and many are its interpretations. It is nevertheless worth noting that Rev. 2:14 should be understood in terms of literal sons of Israel. Yeshua is also from the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). So the remnant’s sealing, i.e. of the sons of Israel in Rev. 7:4-8, including the tribe of Judah, does not have to represent anyone other than literal Jews. Also of note: when the more than 20 lists of patriarchs, tribes or tribal representatives in the Tanakh are compared, the list of Rev. 7 falls well within the range of a literal interpretation, e.g., 1 Chron. 27:16-22 is “missing” Asher and Gad. We are also told in Rev. 11:1 of worshippers in what is termed the Temple of G-d. The term Mount Zion is mentioned in Rev. 14:1 upon which stands Messiah, together with the 144,000. Possibly, in accord with Tanakhic census data, this number represents male heads of houses (who never followed alien worship practices – and thus are “virgins” – according to some interpreters). This could increase the remnant size considerably. Remarkably, the sealed of Ezekiel 9:4-8 are in Jerusalem and the Temple. Perhaps Revelation hints at a large Jewish remnant involved with the Mikdash. At the same time, Messiah’s promise to overcomers of the church of Philadelphia of being made a pillar in the Temple of G-d (Rev. 3:12) obviously speaks of the heavenly Temple and would not preclude the Messianic Jewish community’s rebuilding of, or participation in, the Mikdash in Jerusalem.
 In the wilderness, cf., Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22, and on the mount of Transfiguration, cf., Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; see also 2 Peter 1:17-18.
 Cf., Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; Luke 20:42-43; 22:69. Yeshua’s Ps. 110 Sanhedrin testimony is explicitly joined with Dan. 7:13 (cf. Matt. and Mark).
 As cited by Tyler F. Williams, Assis. Prof. of Theology at The King’s University College, Edmonton, Alberta, Hermann Gunkel classified both as “Royal Psalms” and admitted there are different types, yet all are “concerned entirely with kings.” Hermann Gunkel (completed by Joachim Begrich), Introduction to Psalms: The Genres of the Religious Lyric of Israel (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998); translation of Einleitung in die Psalmen: die Gattungen der religiösen Lyrik Israels [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985]). The Rav Kook commentary (RKC) takes Ps. 110 as a coronation hymn for David or a subsequent king (cf., Sefer Tehilim II, (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 1985), 328, and says that after the fall of the Davidic kingdom the minim (heretics, doubtless referring to Yeshua-believers) understood the psalm from a different perspective, i.e., related to the coming of Melech-HaMashiach in the last days. The RKC also suggests several solutions for Ps. 2 including it being a general hymn sung prior to Davidic kings going to war; or that it is about David himself (Rashi); or indeed that it is a description of Melech-HaMashiach at the end of days. Leslie Allen mentions Ps. 110 as a song for royal coronation, but admits, “[a]ssociation of the psalm with enthronement may be forcing the evidence of its contents.” Allen goes on to say that some scholars refuse to associate it with a Davidic king and regard it as eschatological and Messianic from the outset. Allen adds that of all quoted texts from the Tanakh, Psalm 110 is the “most frequently cited or alluded to in the NT.” Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101-150, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1983), 83-4, 87. Peter Craigie calls Ps. 2 “A Coronation Psalm,” but admits that content determines whether it ought to be classified as such rather than any characteristic form. Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1983), 64.
 Cf., Chapter 11, “Interpreting Psalm 110 as a Messianic Prophecy,” Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology,E. Ray Clendenen, series ed. (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 164-184. Rydelnik surmises that post-exilic redaction of the existing Psalter actually sharpened Messianic hope.
 “The Bible clearly teaches that David was a poet of extraordinary abilities (2 Sam 23:1) and a musician (Amos 6:5; cf., 1 Sam 16:15-23; 18:10; 2 Sam 1:17-27; 3:33-34; 23:1-7) and that he created the temple guilds of singers and musicians (1 Chronicles 6:31-32; 15:16, 27; 25:1-31; 2 Chronicles 29:25-26; cf., Neh 12:45-47). The NT writers likewise assumed that David was the author of many psalms (cf., Matt 22:43-45; Acts 2:25-28; 4:25-26; Heb 4:7) and even spoke of the Book of Psalms as being David’s (Luke 20:42).” W. A. VanGemeren, Psalms, Expositors Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991)5:34, Rydelnik, 166.
 Various psalms reflect the situation in David’s life, e.g., Ps. 52 (Doeg’s treachery), 54 (betrayal by Ziphites), 57 (hiding from Saul in the cave), 59 (Michal’s aid), and 142 (in the cave).
 Should the Cohen HaMashiach (High Priest) sin, the Torah commanded him to offer a young bull as a chatat (sin offering) for his transgression (Lev. 4:3). Moreover, the verb he’evir often describes the horrid practice of passing children through fire as an offering to Molech.
 The meaning of Yedid-Yah is “Beloved” or “Dear Friend of Hashem,” and is from the same root as the name David.
 E.g., Hashem’s sovereign choice of him as Messiah; continued deliverance from danger; chosen by all Israel as king; Nathan’s prophecy of an everlasting dynasty and a son to build the monumental Mikdash; grave transgression, repentance, forgiveness; Ps. 51 prayer for purification; knowledge of the history of Jerusalem with Melki-Zedek and Avraham; and of Yitzhak, the promised son, bound as Hashem’s holy offering on Har Moriah.
 “My King of Righteousness” or “My Righteous King.” (Heb.)
 After composition, these psalms may have been sung at coronations, e.g. Solomon, 1 Chron. 28:5-7 and 29:21-25, but that may not have been their initial or primary purpose.
 Rashi accepts Ha’zal‘s construal of the psalm to refer to Avraham’s victory over Amraphel and associates. This is difficult to accept since we are told in v. 2 that Hashem sends the scepter of his might “from Zion” and Avraham actually pursued the raiding kings from Hebron (cf., Gen. 13:18, 14:13). Rashi interprets “shev le’y’minee” (sit at my right hand) as meaning wait (shev) for the revelation of power by my right hand (le’y’minee), but then again he makes no mention of the rare term “footstool” (hadom) which we might expect to have elicited his comment. Ha’zal’s attempt to steer the understanding away from that of the NT is not convincing.
 Three similar usages occur which combine nishbah and ne’um: Gen. 22:16; Jer. 22:5; 49:12.
 Psalms 110:1; 132:7; 1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 99:5; Isa. 66:1; Lam. 2:1.
 A vowelization change to the Hebrew word resh dalet hay from (rə’deh) to (re’dah), changes the word and meaning from rule to go down (cf., Gen. 45:9; 2 Kings 1:9, 11; Eze. 32:19). The verse would then read “descend into the midst of your enemies” which could hint of Messiah’s parousia at the eschaton (cf., 2 Thess. 1:6-10; 2:1-8; 1 Thess. 4:16).
 “[T]he Masoretic Text inserts accents which divide the titles, resulting in this translation: ‘The Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, calls his name eternal father, prince of peace.’ According to this translation, the first two couplets are names that refer to God himself, and the second two refer to the child that was born. The point of this reading appears to be to negate any thought of considering the child whose birth is described as deity. Additionally, the Masoretic Text reading is decidedly different from the New Testament rendering in Luke 1:32-33.
Hebrew scholar Franz Delitzsch objects to the Masoretic accents and their attendant translation for a number of reasons. First, he contends that it is unlikely that there are two sets of names here, one for God and one for the child. Second, he finds it ‘impossible to conceive for what precise reason such a periphrastic description of God should be employed’ when naming the child. Third, he argues that a dual-name construction, as the Masoretic accents indicate, is not found elsewhere in Isaiah. Fourth, he conjectures that the first two titles would have been written with definite articles (The Wonderful Counselor and the Mighty God) had the author intended to distinguish God from the child. Thus, he concludes regarding the Masoretic accentuation: ‘We must necessarily reject it, as resting upon a misunderstanding and misinterpretation.'” Rydelnik, 43-44.
 According to 2 Kings 18:13, Sennacherib’s massive invasion and capture of all of Judah’s fortified cities occurred in Hezekiah’s 14th year, BCE 701. Afterward Hezekiah showed Temple treasures to Babylonian messengers, spurring Isaiah’s prophecy that nothing of Israel’s wealth would be left that would not be carried off to Babylon (2 Kings 20:16-19) which elicited Hezekiah’s ho-hum reply. His son Manasseh followed him to the throne and did more wickedly than surrounding nations, including passing his son(s) through fire (2 Kings 21:2-9). Tradition says Manasseh had Isaiah put in a tree trunk and sawn in half (cf., Heb. 11:37). It is impossible to square Isaiah’s prophecy of everlasting righteousness and peace to Hezekiah and subsequent kings.
 Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2012), 153. Boteach attempts to make Jesus kosher for Jews by eliminating most of the NT narrative and imposing the notion that he was a Jewish freedom fighter executed for rebellion against Roman oppression.
 Criticism of Jewish sages must not be construed as a sweeping exoneration of Christian creedal constructs on the nature of G-d. Mark Kinzer, for example, points out that while the Nicene Creed has “positive resonance” for most Christians, such is not the case for Messianic Jews. Kinzer graciously points out the positive aspects of this creed, but also explains its shortcomings which can be seen summed up as, “The Council as a whole symbolizes for us the Church’s conscious and decisive turning away from the Jewish people and turning to the Roman Empire.” See the section, The Nicene Problems, in Mark Kinzer’s, “Finding our Way Through Nicaea: The Deity of Yeshua, Bilateral ecclesiology, and redemptive encounter with the Living God.” https://www.kesherjournal.com/Issue-24/Finding-our-Way-Through-nicaea-The-Deity-of-Yeshua-bilateral-Ecclesiology-and-Redemptive-Encounter-with-the-Living-God
 Cf., Psalm 2 is cited in Acts 4:25-26; 13:33; Heb. 1:2, 5; 5:5; Rev. 2:26-27; 11:18; 12:5; 19:15, 19; Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; John 1:49. Psalm 110 is cited in Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; Luke 20:42-43; 22:69; Acts 2:34-35; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:3, 17, 21; 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2; John 12:34, Rev. 3:21.
 Hilchot Melakhim pey yud ” bet, hay ” gimmel