Jerusalem Day and the Prophet Daniel

wallIyar 28th on the Jewish calendar marks the day that Jerusalem was re-united and the Jewish people regained control of the Old City in June of 1967. Could it be that the miraculous events of June 7, 1967 were foretold by the ancient prophet Daniel? In his book, Restoring Abrahamic Faith, Dr. James Tabor (2008) presents a compelling argument that the “completely unanticipated capture of the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli forces during the Six Day War…appears to provide a rather remarkable ‘benchmark’ of prophetic fulfillment” (p. 92).

Tabor shows that the capture of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967 / Iyar 28, 5727 happens to coincide precisely with an ancient event that took place 2300 years earlier. Tabor (2008) stated, “the Persian defeat by Alexander the Great, on June 7, 334 B.C.E. (Artemisius 28th on the Olympiad Calendar), began 2300 years of hostile Gentile domination of Jerusalem” (p.93). As Tabor (2008) puts it, “the fact that the entire Temple Mount, including the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, came under Jewish control on that very day, in that very year, June 7, 1967, is rather uncanny” (p.93). Uncanny indeed. Why so?

The Hebrew prophet Daniel spoke of a he-goat that would defeat a ram. This would be followed by a trampling of Jerusalem by Gentiles, but then after the 2300 days are over there would be a “vindication” (Daniel Chapter 8). Scholars agree that the “he-goat” represents Greece and the “ram” represents Persia. Students of prophecy have often interpreted the “days” of Daniel’s prophecy as “years.” Tabor (2008) shows that Methodist minister, Adam Clarke, in 1825 predicted with close accuracy the restoration of Jerusalem. He missed by one year, presumably because he, “made a mistake in math moving from B.C.E. to C.E., neglecting to add the extra year required (there is no year zero)” (Tabor, p. 92-92).

On this day, as you reflect on the miracle of Jerusalem Day, consider that the events of that day in the summer of 1967, may very well have been seen by an ancient Jewish prophet.

References & Additional Reading

Six Day War. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sixdaywar.co.uk/news_articles-three-soldiers.htm

Tabor, J.D. (2008). Restoring Abrahamic Faith (3rd ed.). Charlotte, NC: Genesis 2000.

Tabor, J.D. (2013). TaborBlog. Retrieved from http://jamestabor.com/2013/05/08/jerusalem-day-june-7-1967/

Israel’s Bible in the Little

littlebibleIn this week’s class, Ross continues with the study of holiness. He begins by covering several key passages that state the charge given to the priests about being Holy and then works through various texts to illustrate this point. He bases the teaching on what he calls, Israel’s Bible in the little (Leviticus 22:31-33). In these few verses, Ross shows that holiness can be clearly defined. What is the secret to holiness? Listen to this teaching to find out.

Click here to listen to this teaching.

Remembering David Horowitz: When Israel Was A Child . . .

1953 began with a new United States Presidential administration. With the transition from Truman to Eisenhower, the US began to distance itself from Israel. A new Middle East policy began to take shape that would influence American decision-makers for the remainder of the century. The greatest danger in the view of the new administration was the Soviet Union. US policy throughout the 1950s would be primarily shaped by the effort to contain communism.

Israelis were disappointed by the Arabs refusal to recognize its existence after the 1948 War of Independence. They were discouraged further by the policies of the new Eisenhower administration, which ranged from apathetic to seemingly hostile. Eisenhower thought that the previous administration had been excessively partial to Israel and he resolved to follow a more even-handed policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The foreign aid program for Israel that Truman had initiated after the 1948 war was quickly reduced. Aid was used as a lever to extract concessions. The Israelis were encouraged to make territorial concessions in exchange for peace with the Arabs. The new president also refused to sell arms to Israel and showed little tolerance for Israeli policies.

In fairness, it’s important we understand the forces at work in the shift of US policy. In addition to the growing cold war with the Soviets, Eisenhower faced a potent challenge in Arab nationalism. Two issues were considerable factors. First, there were the lingering vestiges of British and French imperialism in the Arab world. The fact that the US was formally allied with Britain and France aroused considerable popular resentment in the Arab world. Secondly, the issue was Zionism. The fact that the US had played a key role in the creation of Israel aroused even deeper Arab resentment.

The basic dilemma thus became another all too familiar political juggling act. The US had to keep the Arab states favorably disposed toward the West and keep the region’s oil reserves and strategic positions accessible, while at the same time, remaining committed to Israel’s survival and security, a position that caused deep resentment in the Arab world.

Hanukkah 1953

Hanukkah on Israeli Kibbutz 1953

The new nation of Israel was a mere child, yet five years old, learning to live a new life of self-determination, while surrounded by a world of hostile forces committed to its destruction. Would it survive? Could it? What were the odds? If we could pause and tear a page from history that shows us a picture of the new five year old, what would the child look like? How was it behaving?

Fortunately, we have such a record today. As the US shifted its Middle Eastern policy, we are allowed a look back at the old family photo.

David Horowitz, serving as a Special Correspondent for “The Voice,” a Los Angeles publication with the largest Jewish circulation in the West, had returned from an extended stay in Israel and offered a full report of his findings in the June 12, 1953 issue of the publication. The following is David’s assessment of the new nation in his own words.

JERUSALEM-“My three month visit to Israel, having afforded me the opportunity to traverse the country and study carefully almost every phase of life here, has left me with the following impressions:

  • Israel as a whole is the most dynamic and promising little country in the world. The sturdy, energetic Israelis are creating a Commonwealth along this Mediterranean crescent which, judging by the present intensive activities, has all the signs of becoming a second little “America.” Settlements dotting the nation are expanding and thriving at a pace unequalled in history. Possibilities here are as great as they were in the early days of colonization in America. The wise and the foresighted are putting a stake in this land and now is the time of opportunity. Four or five years hence might be too late in order to get in on the ground floor.
  • Opportunities for foreign investors in nearly every field of endeavor are greater now than ever. The Mapai-General Zionist Coalition, opening a new trend, has enhanced the situation. Former restrictions placed on private enterprises have been relaxed. The political trend is tending more and more towards the center, away from Mapai-Mapam influences (note: Mapai was the largest left wing political party, General Zionists the centrists political party and Mapam, a left wing labor party with Marxist ideology). My survey has shown that more than 30 percent of the population is independent of Party affiliation. Also, many within the Mapai-Mapam Parties find themselves favorably disposed to the new trend. Here lies a great power for the future, a power that may well prove decisive during the next elections.
  • Despite the present economic difficulties, and they are many, no nation in history has doubled its population in so short a time. With population growth from 650,000 to 1,450,000, the State is moving ahead uninterruptedly with numerous national projects. These include roadways, waterways improvements and port developments. Most important, Israel’s military strength has more than tripled since the War of Independence. The leading cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tiberius, Beersheba, Ashkenlon, Rishon, Petah Tikvah, Ramleh, Afuleh and Acre, have all embarked upon large-scale municipal programs which will make these vital centers equal major tourist attractions.
  • Israel is the most music and art-loving country in the world, even surpassing Italy. The strains of the great masters are heard daily from almost every house with the new songs of Zion as happy interludes. There is singing in the streets and dancing during festivals and holidays. The Sabbath in Israel is truly Sabbath. Shops and factories close early Friday afternoon and some two hours before sundown the streets become deserted. Thus universal acceptance of the Sabbath by all Israelis is remarkable. The seventh day rest transcends affiliations. It is a holy day of peace and relaxation for all. While it’s true that only a minority goes to the synagogue, the majority rejoices in the delights of the Sabbath under the canopy of the clear skies, enjoying the seas, lakes and rivers and the many glories this land has to offer. Saturday is indeed Sabbath.
  • As for the Arabs remaining in Israel, their lot has never been better. A buyer of tobacco took me to several Arab villages recently. With us, went an official of the company buying the rich tobacco leaves. He carried a briefcase containing 10,000 Israeli pounds. After the tobacco bales were weighed, the Arab growers were paid on the spot. The inspector revealed to me that during the Mandate days, the Arabs often had to wait up to a year until payment was made, and they themselves had to go into the city from their villages begging payment, thus losing valuable time that could be spent working their plantations. In one of these villages I was invited into the home of an Arab member of the Knesset. A flagpole over this home flew the blue and white flag of Israel. For the Arabs living in this village, this emblem meant something new and good. For they are their own witnesses to the fact that since this flag has flown over their village, their conditions have improved a hundredfold. This was evidenced by the joyful and happy expressions of their children who did not appear any different from the Israeli children of their neighbors.”

Meanwhile, on the world scene, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin dies, the UN and North Korea sign a truce agreement ending the North Korean invasion of South Korea, and King Hussein bin Talal assumes the throne in Jordan. Grandson of King Abdullah bin Hussein who was assassinated in 1951, King Hussein’s rule would extend throughout the cold war and four decades of Arab-Israeli conflict.

At the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold, Swedish diplomat and economist, was elected the new Secretary-General of the UN after Trygve Lie’s resignation. David Horowitz and Dag Hammarskjold were both Swedes. They became good friends and the fact that they shared the same birthplace gave them great chemistry. Their friendship and respectful working relationship would continue until Hammarskjold’s tragic death in 1961. David’s shock and subsequent action will be the subject of a future installment.

An exhausted Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced his intention to withdraw from government and was replaced by Moshe Sharett, who was elected the second Prime Minister of Israel in January 1954. Ben-Gurion would later return to government in 1955 and soon be re-elected as Prime Minister.

In an article written by Adam Garfinkle entitled “The Triangle connecting the U. S., Israel, and American Jewry may be coming apart” and published in Tablet Magazine on November 5, 2013, Garfinkle reported: ”For President Harry Truman, the Jews of America stood for the Jewish people in history as mediated through the prism of Anglo-American Protestantism. Truman actually cried when Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog told him, during his White House visit on May 11, 1949, what he as President had done, in broad meta-historical terms, for the Jewish people. In a private meeting after Truman left the White House, he replied to the thanks offered by the head of the Jewish Theological Seminary by answering his host, “What do you mean helped create Israel, I am Cyrus; I am Cyrus!”

For the young child Israel, a new era had begun.

And a long, long exile had ended.

This is the eighth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” Be sure to read any posts you have missed at our archive here.

BuntynRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

 

 

 

Who is my neighbor?

neighborhoodIn this class, Ross explores the biblical concept of holiness. He begins by making the point that the solutions to the problems in our world might not be as difficult to solve as we think. What if the solutions we seek are to be found in the ancient texts of the Bible? Could it be that the growing sense of hopelessness and helplessness will continue until people turn to, trust in and apply the Scriptures in order to solve the issues with which we are faced? As Ross points out in this class, we do not live in a God forsaken world, but we do live in a God forsaking world. The answers are to be found within the ancient Bible of Israel, specifically in the rules contained in the holiness code of Leviticus chapter 19. In this teaching, Ross focuses on how our behavior can lead to a better world. In particular, Ross highlights a command that most people know, but that few have taken to heart. You will not want to miss this teaching.

Click here to listen to this teaching.

It is Not too Late to Join us This Weekend: 2015 United Israel Annual Conference

 It is Not too Late to Attend our

2015 UNITED ISRAEL ANNUAL CONFERENCE!

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The 72nd Annual Conference of United Israel will be held over the weekend of April 24-26, 2015 in Charlotte, NC at the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in South Park. Please register here using the form provided and give us all the names of those attending in your party–children included–for name tags. You have an option to pre-pay the modest registration fee which we appreciate. You can also register at the door when you arrive.

Our block of rooms at the Doubletree Hotel in SouthPark  has expired but if you want to get a room you can still contact the hotel and see if there is availability. If not you can check nearby hotels–Charlotte has many options nearby.  All rooms are suites with partial kitchen facilities and can sleep a family or group. 

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Our program begins Friday evening at 7pm with Rabbi Dennis Jones leading us in song and worship welcoming Shabbat and continues through Sunday afternoon at 5pm. Saturday morning Patty and David Tyler will also present a special program “Our Message in Music.” We encourage those who can to stay overnight Sunday. Here is the complete program:

UI 72nd Program 2015

 

100 Years of History: Archived at our United Israel Research Center

The United Israel archives contain over 50,000 documents related to the life and work of David Horowitz (1903-2002). They include his early life, his career at the United Nations from 1945 until his death, and the entire history of UIWU from 1944 until the present–over 100 years of materials. All of the documents have been carefully copied and and the originals sealed in air-tight bags for preservation. The arduous task of sorting, cataloging, and collating has now begun.

 

 

Remembering David Horowitz: Twin Flames of Freedom-An Eternal Bond

This is the seventh installment of Ralph Buntyn’s ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” We are publishing it, appropriately on David’s birthday. He was born on April 9, 1903 so he would have turned 112 today! For those unfamiliar with David’s long life here is a biographical sketch of some of the highlights with photos.

 

Building off the previous year’s success and momentum, United Israel World Union continued to expand.

Newlywed President David Horowitz sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion regarding the establishment of colonies in Israel.

UIWU also announced the formation in Greater New York City of a Young Men’s and Young Women’s Anti-Discrimination Auxiliary under the name B’nai Sinai. It was a program designed to unify and strengthen the ranks of an Israeli youth of a new age, one born out of the Hitlerian holocaust. It would offer renewed hope and faith in the eternal ideals of their heritage born at Sinai. Response and growth was widespread among the young men and women of the Empire City and the organization would soon have its own officers and committee heads.

On April 22, 1951, UIWU held it’s eighth Annual Meeting and announced plans for the building of the organization’s second Hebrew Altar to serve a growing congregation in West Virginia. The dedication was scheduled to take place in the town of Wilbur during the Feast of Tabernacles in October.

The Korean War had intensified. China had intervened and two hundred thousand Chinese troops had entered North Korea. On April 11, US President Harry Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of his Far Eastern command.

May 1951 marked a new chapter in American Zionism and David Horowitz would witness firsthand many of the new developments.

The Zionist Organization of America’s Salute to Israel Rally was held at New York’s Madison Square Garden on the evening of May 13-commemorating the Third Anniversary of the State of Israel. The pageant entitled “Twin Flames of Freedom” was presented at the rally before over 20,000 spectators. The marvelous pageant-conceived by Israeli Ben Aronim and produced by Isaac Van Grove-linked the destinies of the oldest and youngest world democracies. It drew a sharp parallel in the struggle of the United States and Israel to achieve independence. The very nature of this unique pageant symbolized the link that would bind the two democracies into a bond of eternal friendship involving ongoing cooperation and co-ordination of action and activities.

The celebration continued as two warships of the Israeli Navy arrived in New York harbor on a goodwill tour of American ports. It marked the first visit of any unit of Israel’s armed forces. Representing the world’s youngest navy, the warships (frigates) named “Misgav” (Secure Haven) and “Haganah” (Defense) were veterans of Israel’s War of Independence. Members of the crew were from over 30 different countries. Many bore the brand of Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps and had personal, dramatic stories to share of survival and migration to Israel. Mrs. Nan Reilly, new UIWU associate editor and David’s new wife, interviewed Israeli sailors during the warship’s NY visit for United Israel World Union.

An announced Israeli bond drive of one half billion dollars opened in the US. Following an extensive tour of leading American cities on behalf of the bond issue drive, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion left New York on the afternoon of May 31st aboard the Queen Mary. At Paris, he would board an El Al Israeli National plane for the return trip to Israel. On the eve of his departure, Mr. Ben Gurion made the following statement at a meeting with the representatives of the press: “I am returning to Israel profoundly moved by the warmth and cordiality of the reception which Mrs. Ben Gurion and I have experienced on all sides during our stay in this country. In Washington, I twice had the opportunity of meeting with President Truman and of learning firsthand of his deep personal interest in the welfare and development of Israel.”

Truman Eban Ben Gurion

David Horowitz personally met and interviewed several members of Hollywood’s leading personalities appearing in NY for the festivities. Peter Hanson, Joan Taylor and Nancy Hale were among Paramount’s Golden Circle who spent time with David at a luncheon held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on May 15th.

Israel and the United States-it was a golden celebration.

On July 20, 1951, King Abdullah Ibn Hussein of Jordan is assassinated as he leaves the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. His murder is attributed to his willingness to negotiate with Israel. David Horowitz, who had carried on a written dialogue with the King in the mid 1940’s, was deeply saddened. An account of this dialogue was covered in a previous release entitled Dialogue with an Arab King.”

In late August 1951, David was back in Israel. He was fortunate to have arranged a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. The occasion of the visit marked the presentation to the State of Israel of United Israel’s first symbolic flag at the behest of the West Olive unit in Michigan. The Premier accepted the flag enthusiastically and would later convey his appreciation. Dated August 29, 1951, the Prime Minister wrote:

“Your kind letter of August 20th was conveyed to me by Mr. David Horowitz. I was deeply moved by its contents and by your fine gesture in sending us your symbolic flag. I have told my colleagues in the Government of Israel of your letter and of your gift. The flag I will hand over to the State of Israel and, in accordance with your wishes, it will be kept in Jerusalem, the Holy City, the capital of our State.” 

On October 14, 1951, the second UIWU Altar was dedicated at Wilbur, West Virginia. The Clarksburg Telegram of October 15 carried a full report of the dedication in a front-page story.

Yasser Arafat of the Husseini clan begins organizing Palestinian radicals in Cairo and recruits Abu Iyad, Abu Jihad, and other future leaders of the PLO.

In early 1952, UIWU began experiencing financial difficulties and announced they were no longer able to have the United Israel Bulletin published. It was replaced by a number of “Personal Letters” consisting of several legal sized pages with a bulletin-like format. The last magazine style bulletin appeared in March 1952. It was not until April 1957 that the bulletin reappeared, this time in a tabloid form.

In Personal Letter #5 of July 1952, David reported that he has a new column entitled “Behind the Scenes at the United Nations” which the Western Jewish News of Winnipeg, Canada, had assigned to him to write for the publication. A leading magazine in Bombay, India and the “Jewish Herald” in Johannesburg, South Africa soon picked up the column as a regular feature. In the first few columns, David referred to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s participation at the UN in connection with her deep understanding of Israel. Upon reading the columns, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote David a nice note of appreciation.

During July 1952, King Farouk of Egypt is dethroned by a bloodless coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat and others. Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, in a Knesset speech, extends the “hand of friendship” to the new Egyptian regime and privately offers economic and political assistance, which Egypt responds to favorably. Private conversations would continue until December 1954.

Returning from a trip to Spokane, Washington in October, David stopped over in Kansas City, Missouri and had a long visit with one of President Truman’s closest friends, Eddie Jacobson. Jacobson and Truman were once business partners and were also buddies during World War I. It was felt that Jacobson also had influenced Truman on the matter of the recognition of the State of Israel. David later received a letter from Jacobson telling him that he had finished reading David’s autobiography “33 Candles” and that he planned to visit David at the UN in November.

On November 9, 1952, the first President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, died while in office. In a little known fact, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion offered Albert Einstein the position of President. Einstein declined the honor, saying he was “deeply moved by the offer, but didn’t consider himself suited for the position.” Yitzhak Ben-Zvi would succeed Chaim Weizmann as president. The office of the President of Israel is a largely ceremonial position with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister.

Einstein and BenGurion

In the November 1952 Presidential election, former five-star general and Columbia University President, Dwight David Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson, becoming the 34th President of the United States.

Under the new US administration, Israel would soon learn just how much they missed President Harry Truman.

This is the seventh in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” Be sure to read any posts you have missed at our archive here.

BuntynRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legacy of Passover

The legacy of Passover has inspired the cause of liberty, as a natural right, in the United States in particular and throughout the globe in general.

I have compiled the following reflections on Passover based on writings by Jewish sages as a backdrop to the notion of liberty as a God given right.

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The Exodus took place around 1500 BC. The Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish year and the introduction of natural and national spring (Nitzan is the Babylon word for spring and the Hebrew word for bud). Nissan (“Ness“-miracle in Hebrew-is the root) is the month of miracles, such as the Exodus, parting of the sea, Jacob wrestling the Angel, Deborah’s victory over Sisera and Daniel in the lion’s den. The 15th day of any Jewish month is endowed with a full moon, which stands for optimism in defiance of darkness and the most difficult odds.

Passover has four names: Holiday of Pesach (the sacrifice), Holiday of Liberty, Holiday of Matza and Holiday of Spring. It is the first Jewish holiday, according to the Jewish calendar, which starts in the spring (Aviv in Hebrew). A time when all things come alive. The word spring is mentioned three times in the Torah, all in reference to Exodus. Passover, which commemorates the creation of the Jewish nation, lasts for seven days, just like the creation of the universe.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father, highlighted Passover’s focus on the land of Israel and memory (UN Commission, 1947): “300 years ago, the Mayflower launched it’s historical voyage. How many remember the data of the voyage? How many passengers were on the Mayflower and what kind of bread did they consume? However, 3,300 years earlier, the Exodus from Egypt took place. Every Jew knows the date of the Exodus, the 15th day of the month of Nissan, and the kind of bread, Matza (unleavened bread) consumed. To this day Jews all over the world, tell the story of the Exodus and eat Matza on the 15th of Nissan. They conclude the story of the Exodus (Hagadah) with the statement: “This year we’re slaves, but next year we shall be liberated; this year we’re here, but next year in Jerusalem.” Consistent with Ben Gurion’s comments, Jacob and Joseph demanded to be buried in Hebron and in Shchem (Nablus) and not in Egypt, since burial sites perpetuate presence and deed.

Passover, just like monotheism, the Sabbath, Ten Commandments and repentance/Yom Kippur, constitute a Jewish gift to humanity. It has been a global inspiration to liberty and to national liberation (Let my people go).

The Exodus inspired the Puritans, the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, who considered themselves “the modern day People of the Covenant”, King George III “the modern day Pharaoh”, the Atlantic “the modern day Red Sea” and America “the modern day Promised Land”. The term “Federalism” is based on “Foedus“, the Latin word for “The Covenant”. The Founding Fathers considered the political structure of the Twelve Tribes, sustaining semi-independance, governed by Moses, Aharon, Joshua and the 70 person Legislature, a model for the 13 colonies and the US political system.

Moses, the hero of Passover, has become a role model of leadership. The Mosaic legacy has greatly impacted US democracy, hence Moses’ marble replica at the House Chamber on Capital Hill, at the Rayburn House Office Building’s subway station and at the Supreme Court (holding the Ten Commandments).

The Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Torah, equal to the 50 years of Jubilee, another historical pivot of liberty. “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10) is inscribed on our Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Our forefathers viewed our country’s founding through a biblical lens. Consider:

*George Washington and John Adams were compared to Moses and Joshua.

*Adams, Jefferson and Franklin proposed a depiction of Moses parting of the sea as the official US seal and Benjamin Franklin proposed the following design:

Benjamin Franklin's Great Seal: A New Exodus

Benjamin Franklin’s Great Seal: A New Exodus

*John Locke considered Moses’ 613 laws as the most fitting legal foundation of the new society in America.

*Ezra Styles, the President of Yale University, stated that “Moses, the man of God, assembled 3 million people, the number of people in America in 1776…” (May 8, 1783).

*John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts: “God has entered into a Covenant with those who are on their way to wilderness in America, just as He had entered into Covenant with the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai…” (1630 sermon on the Arbella).

The legacy of the Exodus has nurtured optimism, principle-driven defiance of odds, long-term tenacity and the centrality of tradition, education and national memory. It may be best summed up by a statement by President Calvin Coolidge on May 3, 1925: “The Hebraic mortars cemented the foundations of American democracy…”

For more on this subject, please see previous UIWU blog articles entitled: “America’s Hebrew Heritage” and “Christmas 1776: George Washington, an American Joshua“.


Buntyn
Ralph Buntyn is Executive Vice-President of United Israel World Union, a retired senior VP for Motion Industries, and now spends his time on historical research–much related to the 70 years of archives of United Israel.

Was Christ our Passover?

RossNicholsPublicityRDAs Easter approaches millions of Christians will associate the death of Jesus by crucifixion with the Jewish rite of Passover–reinforced by sermons, readings from the Bible, and liturgy. In this article, that appears with permission from Ross Nichols, this association is examined from a Biblical and historical standpoint. The article was originally published in a revised version here at Ross’s Roots of Faith web site. We encourage readers to visit Roots of Faith for a wealth of Biblical studies and information including hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings.

On a positive note, more and more Christians are searching Scripture in an effort to orient themselves towards a more Hebraic understanding. Non-Jews are celebrating biblical festivals, taking up dietary rules prescribed in the Torah, abandoning their previously learned anti-nomian beliefs, learning Hebrew, and returning to the Hebraic roots of their faith. These people are good and sincere souls seeking deliverance from nearly two thousand years of spiritual slavery, during which, false religious teachers have held them captive and oppressed them. A modern day Moses might well go forth today with a message to modern day pharaohs saying “Let my people KNOW!” No doubt there will be those who do not wish to leave the comfort of their Egypt, desiring the onions and leeks served daily in the only home they have known, but others are willing to endure the hardships of a new Exodus. It is for these who seek deliverance that the present article is written. Christians have inherited lies, vanity and things wherein there is no profit, when it comes to a true and biblical understanding of Passover.

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In a text attributed to the apostle Paul, we learn that Christians are encouraged to participate in Passover. “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (I Corinthians 5:6-8).

Based upon this text and the gospel accounts associated with what are referred to as the passion narratives, Christians have come to certain conclusions that support their theology. The messiah, or Christ as the Greek puts it, becomes a sort of symbolic Passover lamb. The Passover lamb is then presented as merely a shadow of things to come, finding its real meaning in the death of Jesus. The writer of John’s gospel in fact lends support to this comparison when John the baptizer sees an approaching Jesus and is made to say, “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29b).

Searching for more similarities, Christians often point out that according to the gospel narratives, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem four days before Passover and is examined by the priests. This they argue fulfills the Torah’s obligation to “take a lamb” on the tenth day of the first month, and “keep watch over it until the fourteenth day” (Exodus 12:3-6). The purpose? Leaving aside the age of the lamb, and the fact that it can be taken “from the sheep or the goats,” it is to prove whether or not the lamb is “without blemish” (Exodus 12:5).  Jesus was killed on the day of preparation, between the evenings, and yet despite the horrors of crucifixion, not a bone was broken (John 19:14, 32, 33, 36). So too, these reports seem to fulfill certain requirements for the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, cf. Psalm 34:20).

Participants in messianic circles will likely learn that every aspect of the seder also point to Jesus. They are often shown the matzah and told that this bread, with piercings and stripes, represents the body of Jesus that was wounded for them, though the manufactured and boxed up bread today probably looks far different than the unleavened bread of antiquity. Further, they may be taught that the 3 matzos known as the afikomen represent a triune God, and that the symbolic meaning of taking the middle piece, wrapping it in linen, hiding it, and bringing it back also point to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The meal then, is presented as a teaching tool to share the deeper meaning of an ancient Hebrew Festival, which sadly and evidently has been kept from the ones who were charged to “keep” it in the first place!

So what’s so wrong with a seder such as is taught by Messianic Jews as advertised in this video? Just about everything. Much of what is taught has no connection with the first Passover described in the book of Exodus. Many of the teaching points are based upon traditional Passover meals, some of which find no direct support in the biblical texts. When it comes to making Jesus the Passover lamb, there are some difficulties as well.

One difficulty is sorting out the last supper. Was it a seder as is commonly taught, or a meal eaten the prior day? The original Passover meal was eaten AFTER the lamb was killed since the lamb was one of the key components to the meal. In other words, if Jesus is representative of the Passover lamb, he must be killed before the meal. The writer of John’s gospel suggests that this meal took place on the day of preparation, BEFORE the Passover (John 13:1; 18:28; 19:14, 42).

Other problems exist in making the Passover about the death of Jesus. The lamb had nothing at all to do with sin. The fact that the bones were unbroken aside, the year-old lamb was to be taken from “the sheep or the goats,” roasted and eaten. What about the blood? The blood of the sacrifice was to be applied to the doorways of the Israelites for one reason and one reason only. “For when YHVH goes through to smite the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, and YHVH will pass over the door and not let the destroyer enter and smite your home” (Exodus 12:23). This leads to perhaps the biggest error in associating the death of Jesus with the redemption brought about through the Festival of Passover as taught in the Torah.

While Christians teach that the Passover is a picture of the death of God’s son, the Torah teaches the exact opposite! The Hebrew Bible recognizes that God has a son and this is an essential part of the authentic Passover message. The story of Passover however is not about God’s son dying, but about God’s son NOT dying while the sons of the oppressing nation are killed. As Moses prepares to go before Pharaoh the first time, we read the message that he is charged to deliver. “Thus says YHVH, Israel is my firstborn son. I have said to you, ‘Let my son go, that he may worship me, yet you refuse to let him go. Now I will slay your firstborn son’” (Exodus 4:22-23)! A careful reading of the narrative of Passover affirms this in several places (Exodus 12:12, 27, 29; 13:15).

While Christianity teaches that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” (Galatians 5:6), the Torah says the opposite. Circumcision is required of any male that will eat the Passover. It’s not enough, as Paul would have us believe to be circumcised inwardly (Romans 2:28). As far as a matter of the heart, the Hebrew Bible would agree (Deuteronomy 10:12-16; 30:1-6; Jeremiah 4:1-4), but this does not negate the clear language concerning the requirement for a circumcision “of the flesh” (Exodus 12:43-49).

As a faithful Jew, the historical Jesus likely kept the Passover Festival every year of his life (Luke 2:41). We do believe that Jesus was killed at the precise time and day that the lambs were killed. This finds support in the gospel narratives as well as a reference in the Talmud, which says, “On the eve of Passover, they hanged Yeshu” (Sanhedrin 43a). If truth be told, it is improbable that the hateful Pontius Pilate had a custom to release any Jew at any time, let alone during Israel’s festival of freedom. It is more probable that in some way he was pleased to put one of Jacob’s sons to death at the very time when they would be speaking of their deliverance from oppression.

The prophesied salvation of Israel is what must have been on the mind of Jesus on the final day of his life, Passover day in year 30 of the Common Era. Perhaps his cryptic answer about one coming on the clouds, clearly a reference from Daniel chapter 7, was intended to declare his unwavering faith in the ancient prophecies of his people. This passage, though understood to be a prophecy about a messiah that would come on the clouds of heaven, is about restoring the kingdom to the people for which it was intended. If it is messianic at all, it has to do with a corporate messiah represented by the people of Israel (Psalm 105:12-15).

Passover is indeed a story of salvation and deliverance. It is meant to symbolize forever the redemption of God’s son, who does not die but is preserved alive. This is the only meaning that any child of Israel, including Jesus of Nazareth has ever known. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

References and Further Reading

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Articles by Dr. James D. Tabor

http://jamestabor.com/2010/03/18/was-jesus-last-meal-a-passover-seder/

http://jamestabor.com/2013/03/29/jesus-died-on-a-thursday-not-on-friday/

Passages from the Hebrew Bible related to Passover

Exodus 12-13; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:4-8; Numbers 9:1-15, 28:16-25, 33:3; Deuteronomy 16:1-8; Joshua 5:10-15; 2 Kings 23:10-14; Ezekiel 45:2; Ezra 6:19-22; 2 Chronicles 30:1-27, 35:1-9

Passages from the New Testament related to Passover and Jesus

Mark 14:1-57; Matthew 26:1-46; Luke 2:41, 22:1-53; John 11:55, 12:1; 13:1-38, 18:28; I Corinthians 5:7-8

 

Today is the Biblical New Year–Happy New Beginning to All!

January 1 on the Gregorian calendar is universally celebrated now as the New Year in most countries of the world. In addition the Chinese have their New Year, as do the Muslims, and of course the Jewish “New Year” of Rosh HaShanah, that falls in September or October–the 7th lunar month–is well known.Almost entirely overlooked is the original Biblical New Year–the 1st day of the 1st month of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. In the book of Exodus Moses tells the Israelites:

This month shall mark for you the beginning of the month; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you. Exodus 12:2

Today is Nisan 1st, the first day of the lunar month, which is always they month that leads up to Passover. Even though the focus on the 1st day of the 7th month is dominant in Judaism today has been picked up even in our culture as “Rosh HaShanah,” the Jewish “New Year,” in biblical times such was not the case. This is indeed the beginning of the “Sacred” year, not the civil year, and the return of the cycle of Sabbaths, New Moons, and Festivals. There is a lot in the Bible about this New Year’s Day and this season. The ancient Hebrews began their year in the Spring–a time of New Beginnings, not in the dead of Winter or in the Fall as everything was dying. There is a lot in the Bible about this day and this season.

first-day-of-spring

The terms “first day of the first month” in the Hebrew Bible, marking the ,”New Year” signal a new beginning, or renewal of life, including here in this text in the time of Moses at the Exodus. It is also called the turning of the year, and has to do with the sprouting of the barely, and with what we call “Spring”–at least in the northern hemisphere!

According to the Torah Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Gen 17:17).  A year earlier, when Abraham was 99, we have an important set of references to what was ahead.  Three “men” appeared to Abraham, one of whom is subsequently revealed to be an “epiphany” of Yahweh. The Yahweh figure tells Abraham explicitly twice:

I will certainly return to you when the season comes around, and lo, Sarah your wife shall have a son (Gen 18:10).

Is anything too hard for Yahweh?  At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes around, and Sarah shall have a son (Gen 18:14).

Two precise Hebrew expressions are used here, lending strong emphasis to the precise timing of the birth of Isaac.  There is great meaning in all this.  The first phrase, “when the season comes around,” is literally, “at the time (or season) of life.”  It is a reference to the new year in the Spring, in the month of Abib or Nisan (see Exodus 12:2).  It is worth noting that in the traditional reading of the Torah portions this section is paired with a reading from the Prophets, from 2 Kings 4.  There we read of another extraordinary birth, that of the son of the Shunammite woman during the time of Elisha (2 Kings 4:16).  Truly this month of Nisan is a month of miracles and “new birth” as we shall see.  The second phrase, “at the set time,” stresses the exactitude of the timing of this important event.  It will come at a precise time or season.  These are not merely superfluous passing references.  Three chapters later we read:

And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Gen 21:2).

What we learn here is that Isaac was born in the Spring of the year, likely in the month of Nisan, at a “set time.” In the book of Exodus we read of another “Spring” birth–this time the birth of the nation of Israel. Whether the author intended to link the two ideas or not is difficult to say:

Israel is My son, My first-born,
and I have said unto you: Let My son go (Exodus 4:22).

When Israel was a child I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son (Hosea 11:1).

Exodus 12:40-41 explicitly states that this “birth” of a nation taking place at this precise time:

Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.  And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the very day [i.e., Passover], it came to pass that all the host of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt.

The reference to the very day is to the 15th of Nisan, the evening of the Passover Seder.  But what about this intriguing reference to 430 years?  Scholars have disputed over the meaning of this chronological note.  It should be noted that the verse, when properly translated, does not say that Israel was in the land of Egypt for 430 years, but rather the that the time of their “sojourning” was 430 years.  What event happened, 430 years earlier, “to the day,” from Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, based on the chronological records now preserved in the traditional Hebrew “Masoretic” text.

Some have suggested plotting this 430 year period of “sojourn” with the Call of Abraham in Genesis 12.  Others have counted the 430 years from the circumcision covenant with Abraham, when he was 99 years old (Gen 17).  Still others have begun the 430 years with the birth of Isaac in Genesis 21.  The Rabbinic source Seder ‘Olam preserves a traditional solution to this question.

In Genesis 23:4 Abraham tells the children of Heth, from whom he purchases the burial cave of Machpelah in Kiriatharba or Hebron, “I am a stranger and a sojourner” with you.   Abraham refers to himself as a ger (stranger) and a toshav (sojourner), even though the Land of Canaan had been promised to him. Abraham never received the Land of Promise in his lifetime; he remained a “sojourner” until the day of his death.  The same is true for Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and their 70 descendants who went down to Egypt.  The question is, precisely when did this “sojourning” of the people of Israel begin?  According to Seder ‘Olam it begins not in Genesis 12, with the Call of Abram to leave his father Terah’s house in Haran, but five years earlier, when he left the city of Ur in Babylon.  Note carefully, when Abram leaves Haran he is 75 years old (Gen 12:4).  But according to Genesis 11:31 “they went forth . . . from Ur of the Chaldees” some years earlier.  This is the actual beginning of their wandering or sojourning.  There is a significant reference in this regard in Genesis 15:7:

And He said to him: “I am Yahweh that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it.”

One might have expected, on the basis of Genesis 12:1-3, for the text to read “who brought you out of your father’s house,” i.e., from Haran.  But in the Genesis tradition, picked up on by the Rabbis, the initial “Call” of Abram was out of Ur in Babylon, not from Haran in the land of Canaan.  In other words, the wandering, or “sojourning” of Abram begins before his call from Haran at age 75.  Also, the Hebrew word here is crucial.  The phrase here translated “brought you out” is from the verb yatz’ah, the same word used in Exodus 20:2 introducing the Ten Words at Mt Sinai:

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

That would mean that according to the Masoretic chronology Abram left Ur, which was his own personal “Exodus” from idolatry and paganism, on the very same night, Nisan 15th, which later becomes the Passover.

The precise chronology of the Masoretic Hebrew text confirms this.  Note the following references and numbers (the years are given as AM, “after Man (i.e., Adam),” which correspond to the traditional numbering of Jewish years since Creation):

Abram leaves Ur    Abram 70    Year    2018 AM (Gen 11:31)

Abram leaves Haran    Abram 75    Year 2023 AM     (Gen 12:4)

Birth of Isaac    Abram 100    Year 2048 AM    (Gen 17:17)

Birth of Jacob    Isaac 60    Year 2108 AM (Gen 25:20)

Israel to Egypt    Jacob 130    Year 2238 AM (Gen 47:9)

Exodus    210 yrs later    Year 2448 AM (Ex 12:40)

The total years from Abram leaving Haran at age 75 (2023 AM) until Jacob going down to Egypt (2238 AM) are 215.  To this we add the 210 years of Egyptian slavery for a total of 425 years: from Abram leaving Haran, until the Exodus in the year 2448 AM.  Since Exodus 12:40-41 designates 430 years rather than 425 the conclusion becomes obvious. The five additional years are by default the time Abram spent in Haran.  Accordingly, he must have left Ur at age 70.  Thus, the total years of “sojourning of the children of Israel,” is precisely 430 years, from the Abram’s “going out from Ur” at age 70 (2018 AM), until Israel’s “going out of Egypt” in the year 2448 AM.

One important additional note here.  Why would Exodus 12:40 speak of the sojourn of the “children of Israel” as 430 years when this period begins with Abram?  The answer is that Abram stands for the whole people.  The term “Israel” is both a name and a title which includes Abraham and his entire line through Isaac and Jacob.  The Covenant with the Jewish people begins with Abraham.  The Rabbis love to play with letters and point out that the name ISRAEL in Hebrew is spelled Yod, Shin, Resh, Alef, Lamed.  These five Hebrews letters are the first letters of the names of the Patriarchs and their wives, namely Yod=Yitzak (Isaac) and Yaakov (Jacob); Shin=Sarah; Resh=Rebecca and Rachel; Lamed=Leah!

Isaac is born at a “set time,” when the “season of life” comes around.  We have already seen that this is a reference to the beginning of Spring, or the month of Nisan.  In Jewish tradition Isaac, as a miraculous child of promise, was born on Nisan 15th or Passover.  In fact Genesis hints at the festivals and holy days of Israel, later set forth in the Torah, as known in various ways in much earlier times (Gen 1:14; 8:13).  For example, there is a reference to Lot preparing “unleavened bread” or matzos, for the heavenly guests prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:3)!  Why matzos?  In the previous chapter Abraham has been told that Isaac will be born “at this season next year” (18:14).  So, in the text of Genesis we know we are in the time of Nisan, when Abram is 99, a year before Isaac’s birth.  Does Genesis imply that God rescued and removed Lot and his family from Sodom around, or even on, the very night of Passover? The text contains several Passover motifs.  The angels keep urging Lot and his family to leave, to hurry, and not to delay.  In a similar way the Israelites make haste to leave Egypt, not even allowing their bread to rise.