My teacher, Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai, recently helped me to understand a very interesting way of looking at the book of Bereans, also known as the book of Hebrews. In this study I should like to use this methodology to glean insights into this fascinating book.
To help give some perspective to this book, my teacher suggests the following:
“The book of Bereans was written much earlier than the destruction of the Bet HaMiqdash, and it was written to a highly knowledgeable group of Gentiles in the Torah - the honourable Bereans. This Epistle has nothing to say to Yehudim (Jews), it was never written to such a Noble Audience.”
The basis for this inquiry is to examine the Greek for each of the words and then insert that definition into my study using the historical and religious perspective of that time period.
To facilitate this study, I will first show the normal King James version in black. Then I will put a literal translation in red. My study and comments will be reflected in green.
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In many parts and in many ways of old God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets,
Who is the greatest prophet? Surely we must say Moses (Devarim 34:10).
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
in last days these spoke to us in-son, whom he appointed heir of all things by whom also the worlds he made.
Notice that the word [his] is in brackets in the KJV. This means that the word does not exist in the original text. This is reflected in the literal translation. Further, there are no capital letters in the Greek. This means that son is NOT capitalized. This tells us that the true meaning of this son is not what one commonly understands.
Shemot (Exodus) 4:22-23 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith HaShem, Israel [is] my son, [even] my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, [even] thy firstborn.
The word world is a translation of the Greek word aeon. Strong’s translates aeon as:
165 aion, ahee-ohn'; from the same as 104; prop. an age; by extens.perpetuity (also past); by impl. the world; spec. (Jewish) A Messianic period (present or future):-age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n- ]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end). Comp. 5550.
An world is the Greek aeon which means an age!
So we could translate this pasuk as:
in last days these spoke to us in-Israel, whom he appointed heir of all things by whom also the ages he made.
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Who being effulgence of glory and exact expression of substance his, and upholding all things by his word of his power, by himself purification having made of sins our, sat down on right hand of the greatness on high,
The right hand is a place of authority but it is not equal to the one who gives authority.
by so much better having become than the angels, as much as more excellent beyond them he has inherited a name.
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
For to which said he ever of the angels, son my art thou: I to-day have begotten thee? and again, I will be to him for father, and he shall be to me for son?
Verse 1:5 is a quote from Psalm 2:
Tehillim (Psalm) 2:1-8 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against HaShem, and against his anointed, [saying], Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: HaShem hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession.
Shemot (Exodus) 4:22-23 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith
This suggests that the writer
to the Bereans is addressing
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
and when again he brings in the first-born into the inhabitable world, he says and let worship him all angels of God.
wor·ship (wûrshp) n.
a. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
b. The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.
c. Ardent devotion; adoration.
d. Often worship Chiefly British. Used as a form of address for magistrates, mayors, and certain other dignitaries: Your Worship.
Strong’s defines the word worship as used here, like this:
4352 proskuneo, pros-koo-neh'-o; from 4314 and a prob. der. of 2965 (mean. to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (lit. or fig.) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):- worship.
Prostration is not the same as worship! When ever we see worship as it applied to Yeshua and to other men, it is always:
Keep in mind that Strong’s uses the colon (:) to terminate the definition and begin displaying the English translation as used in the KJV. So, worship is the translation, in the above definition, not the meaning!
This bowing down was something one did to HaShem and to men. Greek does have as special word for worship as it is understood by most folks. This Greek word is: latreuo. This Greek word is NEVER applied to Yeshua or men! This Greek word ONLY applied to HaShem. Strong’s defines what one did ONLY to Hashem as:
3000 latreuo, lat-ryoo'-o; from latris (a hired menial); to minister (to God), i.e. render religious homage:-serve, do the service, worship (-per).
The word latreuo is defined as “religious homage” as opposed to just prostration. Again, this word applies anly to HaShem.
So, in our passage, worship, or better - bowing down, is a term which is used when speaking of men. This tells us that when the Angels of God bowed down, it was an act of homage paid to MEN!
In short, we could translate this pasuk as:
and when again he brings in Israel (first-born) into the inhabitable world, he says and let bow down to (worship) him all the emmisaries of the Bet Din (angels of God).
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
And as to the angels he says, who makes his angels spirits, and his ministers of fire a flame
What is an angel of God? If You are a Christian you have a vision of a fat little kid with wings flying around. However, if you are a Jew, you know that there are two officers of the synagogue who are called “angels”. There is the Sheliach (angel) of the congregation and the Sheliach (angel) of the Bet Din.
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:8 But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness [is] the scepter of thy kingdom.
but as to the son thy throne O God to the age of the age a scepter of uprightness the scepter of thy kingdom.
Bereans (Hebrews) 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, [even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Thou didst love righteousness and didst hate lawlessness because of this anointed thee God thy God with oil of exultation above thy companion.
Bereans (Hebrews) And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
Bereans (Hebrews) They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
Bereans (Hebrews) And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
Bereans (Hebrews) But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Bereans (Hebrews) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing [that is] not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
Bereans (Hebrews) 2:9 But we see Yeshua, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Bereans (Hebrews) For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Bereans (Hebrews) For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Bereans (Hebrews) Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
Bereans (Hebrews) And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
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The following are some comments on Bereans that were written by my teacher to another of his talmidim, who’s comments are in red:
Let me say then this, that the Epistle should have been titled Epistle to the Bereans. This thing of an Epistle to the Ivri was a Christian invention and perpetuated by the Messianics. Second that it does reflect Hakham Shaul's thoughts, and it is written in elegant Greek because Hacham Lukas, his scribe, wrote excellent Greek. I do not see any contradictions with the Torah, although I see many self-evident scribal errors (horrors) and translation errors (horrors) in the text as appears in most English Bibles. In fact, let me say that the whole book is structured around the seven branches of the Menorah and each section of the book corresponds to a branch of the Menorah - a very Jewish structure I think :-)
From Right to left:
INNER SIDE OF THE MENORAH
1. The Heavenly Son - 1:1 - 2:18 2. The Sabbath 3:1 - 4:13
3. High Priest 4:14 - 5:10; - 8:5
4. The Covenant Mediator 8:6-13 & The Eternal One 13:8
5. The Tabernacle 8:13 - 9:15
6. The Testator 9:16-24
OUTER SIDE OF THE MENORAH
1. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Arrested - 10:22-23
2. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Provoked - 10:24-31
3. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Recalled - 10:32-37
4. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Exemplified -
5. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Materialised - 12:1-14
6. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Purified - 12:15-17
7. Faithful Obedience (Emunah) Perfected - 12:18 - 13:25
2. The Mature - ie. the beloved (ye,we,us,you) 5:1-3; 9-12
3. The Impostors - (they,them,those,he,him) 6:4-8
4. The Immature - (we,us,our,you,yours)
Y'hoshua being "greater" than Moses, Yehudim 3:1-6 versus Devarim 18:15-22
First of all Yehoshuah the Messiah is the very Tzelem Elohim - the Image of G-d, from which he became the ADAM KADMON or prototype Adam, and from which Adam Ha-Rishon was patterned after. If Adam Ha-Rishon was patterned after Mashiach, it follows then that Moshe Rabbenu is patterned after Mashiach as well. In Yochanan 1:1 and subsequent pesukim it is clear that Mashiach is not only the Adam Kadom ( cf. Col. 1:9-19) but also the physical embodiment of the Written and Oral Torah, therefore what Moshe Rabbenu was receiving on top of Har Sinai was nothing else and nothing more than an aspect of Mashiach.
We understand that even the Name of Mashiach is amongst the seven things that were created before the world was created (cf. Pesachim 54a & Pesikta Rab 152b) and the Name of Moshe Rabbenu is not found there. Thus Mashiach is greater than Moshe Rabbenu!
The statement in Devarim 18:15-22 speaks primarily of Yehoshuah (Moshe's Talmid) and secondarily about Mashiach, but the phrase "Ha-Shem your G-d will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken" (Devarim 18:15) does not say that this Prophet will be smaller or greater than Moshe Rabbenu. It simply says another prophet like unto me - (Note not one who was a Kohen after the order of Aharon but one after the order of Melekh Tsadiq - that is of the royal line not of the priestly line).
2. The replacement of the Cohanim system. Yehudim versus Shemot 28- 29, Vayikra 8-10 and B'midbar -54, 4 and 18.
Now to understand this section one needs to understand that there were two High Priests so to speak in Yisrael. One was the Levitical Kohen Gadol, and the other was the Melekh Tsadiq who was also a Noachite "Kohen of the Most High G-d" (Beresheet ) personified in the office of Melekh Yisrael and his officers including the Shof'tim (Judges and Judicial system). In the above verses that Your Eminence speaks about, there is nothing of a replacement, but an identification of Mashiach as Melekh Yisrael (King of Israel), a Kohen of the Most High G-d after the order of Melekh Tsadiq.
Interesting, the history of Yisrael shows the following phases:
1. Kingdom - Moshe Rabbenu as King of Yisrael + Levitical Priesthood
2. Shof'tim -
3. Kingdom -
Mashiach's first coming
Destruction of the Temple
4. Shof'tim -
Return of Mashiach
5. Kingdom -
In fact, if I am reading correctly this most wonderful of Epistles, there is nothing there of "Replacement Theology" although, all Hachamim would agree that since the destruction of the Bet HaMiqdash the Levitical Priesthood has been suspended and in its stead we have been ruled by Shof'tim in the form of Hachamim/Rabbanim through Batei Din. This historical fact is undeniable.
At the same time we have been ruled and are still ruled by Gentile Melakhim, most of which also claim to rule by virtue of G-d's choosing. A sort of Melekh Tsadiq - Kohen L'El-El'yon.
What about the Akedah - where the son of Avraham who was heir to become a Melekh Tsadiq and Kohen L'El-El'yon, was sacrificed and offered as burn offering to HaShem, rose again from the ashes and became after his father's death a Melekh Tsadiq and Kohen L'El'El'yon? Therefore a person can be the sacrifice and then become Kohen Gadol after the order of Melekh Tsadiq, but not after the order of Aharon.
To understand the perspective of this Epistle concerning the Akedah, and it's parallelism to the death of Mashiach on the tree, please read:
The Akedah : The Binding of Isaac Louis A. Berman / Hardcover / Published 1997 Price: $30.00
Aharon Agus / Paperback / Published 1988 Our Price: $24.95.
By the way, there are a group of prestigious Rabbis in Yisrael that believe that if one discards the present pointing system in the Torah one could read the same portion of the Akedah and interpret that Yitscha'aq was actually completely burned in the altar and raised to life as Rivkah and Avraham's servant was approaching in the fields. Hacham Shaul and myself take this interpretation also. And we justify the present pointing (vowel system) and reading as a Rabbinical invention of great antiquity so that no-one would mimic this human sacrifice.
4. The explanation of Malki-Tzedek being a Kohen Gadol and without heritage. Malki-Tzedek was not refer to as Kohen Gadol in Bereshit 14:18.
Yes, He was not a Kohen Gadol after the order of Aharon, but he was none other than the Patriarch Shem and in his order as simultaneous Melekh Tsadiq and Kohen L'El-El'yon he was the Kohen Gadol not after the order (system) of Aharon but after the order (system) of Melekh Tsadiq reigning from Yerushalayim.
Now in the quote from Zohar (Beresheet, Section 1, 87a) we find a certain flame which was created before the world was created which it says is a picture of Melekh Tsadiq (King of Righteousness) Melek of Salem (completeness) - that is, "The King who rules with complete Sovereignty" - So, this Melekh Tsadiq existed before the world was created.
Also not that in 87b of the same text, in defining PRIEST OF THE MOST HIGH G-D, it says - "The whole thus being in the most perfect order; to show that as wicked upset the world and cause blessing to be withheld, so the righteous bring blessing to the world and for their sakes all inhabitants are blessed." In other words, this Priesthood has nothing whatsoever to do with the Priesthood after the order of Aharon, in fact, it is superior than the order of Aharon, since it is more ancient as it is said in 87a., and also because it "brings blessing to the (whole) world and for its sake all inhabitants are blessed."
Thus I see nothing here in the Zohar that contradicts the premise that Mashiach is a Kohen Gadol after the order of Melekh Tsadiq - Kohen El-El'yon. Further in 55:6 one can read that Avraham obtained Priesthood and Kingship or a Priesthood of Kingship which was Melekh Tsadiq. The Rosh Kohen being Mashiach as explained above.
So one must be very careful with this expression "Kohen Gadol" and explain which order are we speaking about.
With regards to Midrash Rabba 46:5 - it reads "R. Ishmael and R. Akiba (reasoned as follows). R. Ishmael said: Avraham was a ROSH KOHEN (High Priest), as it says, "Ha-Shem has sworn, and will not repent: You are a Kohen L'Olam Olamim after the manner of Melekh Tsadiq (Psalm 110:4)" Therefore, Avraham was not a Kohen Gadol after the manner of Aharon, but after the manner of Melekh Tsadiq which is an Eternal Priesthood as opposed to the Levitical Priesthood which is transitory, that is after the Messianic Age in the Olam Haba it will cease to exist. It is to this ROSH KOHEN after the manner of Melekh Tsadiq which is promised "into you shall all the Goyim be grafted in."
As to the phrase "Without father, without mother, without pedigree, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Ben-Elohim (a title for a Hacham or Rabbi, ie. a Torah Shofet); abideth a priest continually" (Bereans 7:3) explains exactly what is said of the Melekh Tsadiq Priesthood in the Zohar (Beresheet, Section 1, 87a), ie. this Priesthood is more ancient and will continue L'Olam Olamim (forever), which is not the case with the priesthood after the order of Aharon. Since it is a priesthood L'Olam Olamim and since this priesthood was created before time was created - ie. before the world and the luminaries were created, it has no father (in the human sense), no mother (in the human sense) no pedigree (in the human sense) neither beginning of days, nor end of life," whom as I mentioned earlier is the Adam Kadmon himself, after whose pattern Adam Ha-Rishon was created and molded.
5. In Chapter 8, verse 13 of the letter, it suggests that the Brit with our forefathers will disappear. A statement that has produces anti-Semitism throughout history.
Sorry Your Eminence the Greek text reads:
EN = In
TOU = the
LEGEIN = saying
KAINON, = refreshed
PEPALAIOUKEN = has made ancient, old, venerable
TEN = the
PROUTIN = first
TO-DE = that which
PALAIOUMENON = grows ancient, old, venerable
KE = and
GIRASKON = Elderly
EGUS = near
AFANISMOU = vanishing
And in v. 7 the word covenant is added and in italics, being not there in the original. Question: what is Hacham Shaul speaking here about - what covenant? - After all it can't be the Torah since it says in v.10, that the Torah (Laws) will be "into their mind, also upon their hearts I will inscribe them" so this KAINOS DIATHIKI - Refreshing of the Covenant has all the Torah both written and Oral. So now the question is what is "old (elderly and near vanishing" (v.13)? There are many covenants in the Tanakh so we need to find out which covenants is Hacham Shaul speaking about that is "growing old and near vanishing". I leave Your Eminence to think on that one. I can assure him that Hacham Shaul is not referring at all about the Torah growing old and vanishing, not for one moment!
In my opinion, this Letter was written after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash to lure Yehudim to assimilate the newly formed Christian Religion, as a replacement of Judaism.
No, to the contrary it was written much earlier than the destruction of the Bet Hamiqdash, and it was written to a highly knowledgeable group of Gentiles in the Torah, the honourable Bereans. This Epistle has nothing to say to Yehudim, it was never written to such an Noble Audience. Perhaps I am giving too much away by now no? :-)
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This study was written by
Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David
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