Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shiloh and the Tribe of Judah

The End of Days

"Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's children shall bow down before you.  Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (Genesis 49:8-10).

The Midrash and Rashi comment that Jacob desired to reveal to his sons the mystery of the End of Days and the Messianic Era, but was prevented from doing so:

Rabbi Yehudah in the name of Rabbi Eliezar bar Avina said: Two men had the end revealed to them, but it became hidden away from them later on; they are Jacob and Daniel.  Jacob here says, 'that I may tell you which shall befall you in the last days,' but goes on to rebuke Reuben instead (Genesis Rabbah 98:3).

The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan:

When the twelve tribes assembled and surrounded Jacob's golden couch on which he rested [they thought that he would reveal to them the ultimate blessings and comforts]; and after the glory of the Shechina of the L-rd had been revealed to him, the time when the King, Messiah, was going to come was concealed from him.

These opinions about Jacob's desire are gleaned from the text where Jacob declares that he is going to tell them what will happen b'acharit ha'yamim (in the last days), but instead begins by rebuking Reuben.  Jacob may not have begun to reveal the events of the last days when he spoke to Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, but he certainly proceeds to reveal the last days when he blesses Judah, prophesying about a scepter that would not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes.  

Shiloh and the Messiah

It would seem that the prophet Ezekiel is referring to the 'scepter' prophecy as well as the term Shiloh when he prophecies:

"I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more until He comes Whose right it is" (Ezekiel 21:27).  

The Hebrew word for the phrase "whose right it is" is asher-lo, which is essentially the same as the word Shiloh used by Jacob in Genesis 49.  The Aramaic Targum Onkelos also equates Shiloh in Genesis 49 with the Messiah:

"Until Messiah comes to Whom belongs the kingdom . . ."

 As does Pseudo-Jonathan:

"Until the time that King Messiah shall come . . ."

 We also find support in the Talmud for the interpreting Shiloh as the Messiah:

Rabbi Yochanan taught that all the world was created for the Messiah.  What is His name?  The school of Sheeloh taught: His name is Shiloh as it is written (Genesis 49:10) 'Until Shiloh come and unto Him shall the gathering of the peoples be.' (Sanhedrin 98b).

 Genesis Rabbah:

'He stooped down, he couched like a lion' (Genesis 49:9).  Some interpret it to mean, "He couched", that is, He waited from Zedekiah until King Messiah (Genesis Rabbah 98:7).

The Midrash Tanhuma relates the Genesis 49 passage to the Messiah:

'The scepter shall not depart.' This means the kingly throne . . . 'The lawgiver from between His feet.' refers to the time when the King will come to Whom belongs the Kingdom.  

The Yalkut understands the word Shiloh as a contraction of shailadonai, words which are found in the book of Isaiah and mean "gift of the L-rd."  The Yalkut, therefore, relates Shiloh to the Messiah:

Until Shiloh come; He is called by the name of Shiloh because all the nations are destined to bring gifts to Israel and to King Messiah, as it is written., 'In that day shall the present be brought to the L-rd of Hosts.' (Yalkut 160)

Judah's Prominence until Shiloh

We have demonstrated that traditional Jewish thought equated Shiloh with the Messiah.  History would bear out another aspect of Jacob's prophecy concerning Judah: that Judah would legislate until Shiloh (the Messiah) come.  

Zedekiah was the last king of the southern kingdom of Judah before our people were carried away by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. During the captivity, Nebuchadnezzar would liberate another legitimate king of Judah, Jehoiachin, from prison.  Later, after the Babylonian captivity, one of Jehoiachin's descendents would lead the returning exiles under King Cyrus.  His name was Zerubabel.  It was Zerubabel to whom the returning exiles looked for political leadership in Judea.  

Even when the Hasmoneans, who were from a Levitical and therefore non-Davidic and non-Judean lineage, took over the leadership in 167 BCE, the religious Jewish leadership denounced their rule and those who were faithful to G-d's Word never recognized the illegitimate rule of the Hasmoneans, but continued to express fealty to the Judean religious body. 

The upshot of all of this is that the scepter did not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between 'his feet' until after 30 CE, about the time when Y'shua the Messiah was crucified.  It is also interesting to note that the Sages taught that a number of changes occurred in the intervening 40 years between Y'shua's crucifixion and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. 

According to our Sages, the lot for the goat to be sacrificed on Yom Kippur ceased to come up on the right hand of the High Priest as in previous years and the crimson cloth they put out on Yom Kippur would not turn white as it had before (cf. Rosh HaShana 31b).  The Western light would not remain burning as before; and the doors of the Temple would no longer open of themselves (cf. Yoma 39b).

The Obedience of the Nations

"And to Him shall the gatherings of the peoples (goyim) be."  The Midrash Tanhuma relates this statement to the "root of Jesse" in the prophecy spoken by Isaiah: 

'Velo Yikhat Amim' means the One to Whom in the future the nations shall gather, as it is written in Isaiah 11:10 'A root of Jesse who will stand for an ensign of the peoples.  To Him shall the nations seek.

Another rendering of ve-lo-yikhat is "to whom the peoples shall render obedience."  Therefore, the goyim will gather and obey the Messiah which relates back to the promise to Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.  

Isaiah, as mentioned above, foresaw that the Messiah would become a nes or an ensign to the nations.  (Interestingly, nes, ensign, is usually translated miracle).  Both Isaiah and Micah spoke of a time when the mountain of the L-rd's house would be established and the nations would all flow unto it (cf. Isaiah 2 and Micah 4).  The prophet Jonah was sent to the goyim in Nineveh in hopes of sparing them from G-d's judgement and wrath. 

The prophet Zechariah also spoke of a time when:

It shall come to pass that ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the tzit-tzit of him that is a Jew, saying we will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you (cf. Zechariah 8).


  1. I think I understand most of what you've written.

    A couple of questions:

    1. If Y'shua is Messiah, and He reigns in heaven, then the scepter will NEVER depart from Judah, yes?
    2. I realize that the Jewish leadership thought the Word of the Lord failed when the Romans took away their power to inflict the death penalty. However, it seems to me that the legitimate heir had in fact "come". He was living and pounding nails in Nazareth at the time, not sitting on a throne. But He was in fact "here" in the sense that He was alive and living in the Nation. More importantly both the government of Israel and representatives of a foreign government had all ready confirmed his legitimacy as king.
    #3 This idea of "end times" is a bit confusing simply because "end times" can mean any number of different things. How are you able to decide what period of time it is referring to?

  2. 1. Yes, I would agree.

    2. Again, yes, and the main point of the post. There was never a time when the scepter departed from Y'hudah, until Shiloh come. And 'until' in the Hebrew sense is nothing like the English sense where 'until' implies the end of something. "Ki", the Hebrew particle translated 'until', has a variety of meanings: that, for, because, when, as though, as, because that, but, then, certainly, except, surely, since. Using 'since' or 'because' is an exciting rendering that augments your first point nicely. 'Since' or 'because' or 'when' Shiloh comes, the scepter will never depart ... Again, the vast majority of our people have to grapple with the identity of Shiloh and decide if Y'shua fits the bill. There's the rub, as always: Who do you say that I am?

    3. Generally speaking, the "end times" or the "latter days" refer to the days of the Messiah in Jewish thought, which I would argue were inaugurated at the Messiah's advent when the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given . . .

  3. Ok on #3 there are events that are talked about but that do not seem to have happened yet. So "generally speaking" may cover a significant portion messianic references, however you still have significant sections of scripture that reference a physical kingdom, with a recognizable king reigning in a city that is described with physical measurements and dimensions.

    I'm not taking into account anything in the brit chadashah since it isn't reasonable to bind that on someone who doesn't accept the claims of Y'shua. I can see a logical objection by Jews of the identity of Y'shua. Those events related to "end times" clearly have not taken place and they are clearly foretold as being related to His coming.

    Without a unified eschatology, which would be dependent on parts of the brit chadashah, a Jew could reasonably conclude that Y'suha didn't usher in a physically recognizable kingdom.

    So how do you reconcile unfulfilled physical prophetic descriptions without using the brit chadashah?

    Sorry that was a long way to go to play devils advocate.

  4. "Those events related to "end times" clearly have not taken place and they are clearly foretold as being related to His coming . . . Y'suha didn't usher in a physically recognizable kingdom."

    You are absolutely correct. Our Sages teach us that the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) all experienced a blindness due to different circumstances. Abraham was blind to who his heir would be i.e. Isaac (a spiritual blindness). Isaac actually suffered dimming of his eyes blindness, which was taken advantage of by Jacob. And finally, Jacob ended up with Leah due to a physical blindness i.e. it was dark and not until morning did he know he had married Leah. The Sages believed that the combined blindness of the Patriarchs foreshadowed the blindness that Israel would experience when the Messiah arrived (and as you and I know, according to Rav Sha'ul [the Apotle Paul] Israel has experienced a blindness in part). In other words, a number of the Sages understood that Israel would not recognize the Messiah when He came.

    Now to complicate matters just a bit further. There was also the idea of two Messiahs: Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David. Messiah ben Joseph would come and suffer and die, while Messiah ben David would come as a ruling King to usher in the Messianic age, the physical kingdom you so correctly referred to.

    Another related view comes from Zechariah and Daniel: If the Jewish people were unworthy, the Messiah would come lowly and riding on a donkey; if the Jewish people were worthy, He would come in the clouds.

    You and I look at this, and we say to ourselves, "Oh, so close . . . but yet . . ." So, what our people do not recognize is that it is not two Messiahs that will come, but one Messiah coming twice. In one of my first blogs, "Who is the Jewish Messiah", I mentioned a key the role of the Messiah that has been so overlooked at least since Rashi, may be a bit earlier: His role as the suffering Servant.

    This role is almost non-existent today and down-played at the very least. Isaiah 53 was traditionally read as haftarah portions in the cycle of readings twice a year: at Passover and just and in the weeks leading up to the High Holy Days of the fall. No longer.

    So , this is the challenge as you rightly observed: Y'shua did not usher in a Messianic kingdom during His first sojourn among us (although He continually gave hints that He would be the One to do so someday, hints which would have resonated strongly with traditional Jewish teaching, but He would often say that His time had simply not yet come cf. John 2 and the wedding at Galilee as just one example). Miriam thought that it would be good time for Yeshua to inaugurate the kingdom, for she would have been familiar with the idea that in the days of the Messiah, wine would be flowing without ceasing. Yeshua tells her that it is not yet time, but does give a hint through the miracle that she was not far off in her understanding, just her timing. There are many things like this.

    It therefore becomes important for you and I to be able to do as the disciples did in the 1st century and demonstrate from the Tanakh and prove that the Messiah had to come, suffer, die and rise again according to Torah and the Prophets.

    The vast majority of the Jewish people are only getting half of the story, and sadly, that half is being deliberately hidden from the Jewish people by many rabbis and sages even today, as I am sure you are well aware. Of course the second half remains in the future . . . which is why many in THAT DAY are going to look upon the One Whom they have pierced and mourn as for an only son.

    There is so much to share with you - you truly have no idea. These are good conversations and we will keep at it. Your perception continues to amaze.

  5. blindness of the Patriarchs foreshadowed the blindness that Israel would experience

    Counter point: It's not blindness if there is no light to see by. I can see no clear teaching in the TANAK concerning the ekklesia. As I understand it there are 3 classes of generally accepted Hebrew hermeneutics, and one 4 step process. Which of these methods would provide a correct understanding of the role of Y'shua?

    There was also the idea of two Messiahs: Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David.

    I am ignorant of this teaching. Can you point me in the right direction for more information?

    If the Jewish people were unworthy, the Messiah would come lowly and riding on a donkey; if the Jewish people were worthy, He would come in the clouds.

    There is no way the Jews, at any point in history have been worthy in any sense of the word. Normally they lurched around form a state repenting of gross national sin to a state of engaging in sins. You're going to have to enlighten me on this teaching as well, because I can't see where this is substantiated.

    she was not far off in her understanding, just her timing.

    Good point about His mother, I can buy that. Again I have to raise the point concerning how would a Jew know this from the TANAK?

    The only irrefutable scriptural evidence is in the fulfillment of prophecy. I'm not sure how many checked Mary's hymen. John was recognized as a prophet and he testified to Y'shua's identity. His ministry satisfied written prophecy. We have Dan 9:25, the exact day Y'shua is made know to the city of Jerusalem.

    demonstrate from the Tanakh and prove that the Messiah had to come, suffer, die and rise again according to Torah and the Prophets.

    I agree and accept this as true.

    As fun as this was, I'm still back at the beginning: "How are you able to decide what period of time "end times" is referring to"? We are limited on choices, its the end of the world or some other end.

  6. "I can see no clear teaching in the TANAK concerning the ekklesia."

    By "ekklesia" I assume you mean "Church".

    In the Torah, one of the most common ways to refer to the community of Israel was to use the Hebrew word "kehillah". The Greek word you referenced (ekklesia) is literally "called-out ones". This Greek term represents exclusively "kahal" which is related to "kol", voice, and means a summons to an assembly and the act of assembling. Kahal is from the same root as kehillah.

    So, the idea is that G-d is calling His people out to assemble them in order that they might hear, worship, and serve Him. With this linguistic connection it is fairly straightforward to see how the "Church" is connected to the kehillah of the Torah.

    Therefore, linguistically and conceptually, "ekklesia" is the same in the period of the Tanakh and the period to which you were referring, the time of the Renewed Covenant: both G-d's chosen, called out to worship and serve Him.

    In the Torah, throughout his encounters with Pharaoh, Moses repeatedly declares: "Thus says the L-rd, 'Let My people go that they might worship Me'" (cf. Exodus 7, 8, etc,). Later, at Mount Sinai, G-d calls out His people to serve Him. As G-d gives the Torah to His people, He commands the people to sanctify themselves i.e. set themselves a part to serve Him by faithfully living out the terms of the covenant He was forging with them (cf. Exodus 19-24).

    In other words, the "ekklesia" has its roots in the Tanakh and cannot be understood very well without that background (and I do not believe that the ekklesia replaced Israel, but that is fodder for another post). The idea of a 'called-out' people of G-d exists in the Tanakh and under the Renewed Covenant. The Greek word "ekklesia", as you probably know, frequently refers to Israel in the Septuagint and was therefore known to Paul, Peter and others.

    I have treated your point at a linguistic and conceptual level, and I understand that the Church is very far removed from the concepts I offered above. So much so that in most traditional Christian circles it is commonly accepted that there is the "Church" and there is "Israel". (This perception also exists in the Jewish side of the aisle). It is a reality that I can't deny, but I still challenge the premise and the notion of the separation the two that has developed over the centuries in light of a number of Scriptural teachings in the Tanakh and in the Greek writings (Ephesians 2, Romans 9-11, and the many, many places in the Torah (and Tanakh) where the foreigner is referenced).

    I have to get to work . . . I hope to address the rest of you points later this evening.

  7. ekklesia", as you probably know, frequently refers to Israel in the Septuagint

    Actually I never made that connection. It makes sense linguistically. It just never entered my head. In my mind the main benefit of the Septuagint is two fold: 1. Greek being more modern than Hebrew provided an accurate and translatable text for other languages. 2. The translation of the LXX occurred prior to the advent of Christ, validating the cannon of the TANAK and providing a historical evidence of the preexistence of messianic prophecy.

    With this linguistic connection it is fairly straightforward to see how the "Church" is connected to the kehillah of the Torah.

    Perhaps I'm only revealing my ignorance further, I don't know. I admit to being able to see the linguistic connection. I don't see a hermeneutic connection. The community of Israel is not the same thing, and maybe not even a close analogy to "church". In one sense both are a group of people, so there is that connection, after that the similarities decrease. If you accept the idea of "family or people of God" as a group similarity, then you also have to examine the apparent differences in group membership, method of inclusion, etc. At that point the analogy falls apart.

    I realize what I'm saying flies in the face of most churches dogma. I can't accept replacement theology as hermeneutically sound Christian doctrine for a number of scriptural reasons.

    Israel was, is and will forever be, a unique and exclusive group, enjoying a special relationship with God.

    The church (as defined by divine perspective not mans) is a group of people who accept a universal invitation to repent of their sins and worship a Jewish king for eternity.

    The clear teaching of scripture is that there is only one name under heaven by which man can be saved. Gentiles may worship Him as may Jews. The difference is Jews are worshiping one of their own. Jews get the promises, the history and a unique understanding as well as the role of being the people who participated in making it happen. Gentiles get to respond in faith to a gift that the seed of Abraham delivered.

  8. 'I am ignorant of this teaching. Can you point me in the right direction for more information . . ."

    if Israel repents, it will be redeemed, and if not, the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise against them a king whose edicts will be cruel like those of Haman . . . if we do not repent, the events of ben Joseph will come to pass. But if we repent, they will not, and Messiah ben David will appear to us suddenly. And if Messiah ben Joseph precedes him he will be as a messenger of Messiah ben David, as one who prepares the nation and clears the road of stones . . . and as one who cleanses in fire those guilty of great sins . . when all the living of Israel who believe will be ingathered, then will the resurrection of the dead . . . and ben Joseph will be at their head, for he is a saintly and much-tried man, and the Creator will recompense him in good measure (Sa'adya Gaon, Emunot v' De'ot, ch. 8 p. 152 - 157, excerpts).

    (cf. also Sukkah 52b)

    "You're going to have to enlighten me on this teaching as well, because I can't see where this is substantiated."

    Sanhedrin 98a

    R' Yehoshua noted a contradiction: On the one hand it is written: And behold! With the clouds of Heaven, one like a man came, which implies that the Messiah will come swiftly. But on the other hand it is written, a humble man, riding on a donkey, which implies that the Messiah shall come sluggishly [because of humility the Messiah will choose to ride on a donkey, as opposed to a more stately animal].

    R' Yehoshua ben Levi resolved this contradiction as follows: if the Jews are deserving [i.e. they repent without being forced to do so], the Messiah will arrive with the clouds of Heaven. If they are not deserving, he will come as a humble man riding on a donkey [you and I know how he arrived in Jerusalem . . .]

    The Gemara is teaching here that depending on the circumstances, the redemption may differ in date and in process. If the redemption is effected through the repentance of Israel, the Messiah's arrival will be of a miraculous nature, otherwise it will be of a different nature i.e. gentle and humble and riding on a donkey.

    The donkey, for the Sages, symbolizes that the Messiah is coming for some reason other than for the people's merit. They understand the donkey as a beast of burden which signifies that the Messiah is coming as the result of a harsh and heavy burden.

    If you have Sanhedrin start exploring beginning in 97a forward. I think you will find the material there quite interesting to say the least.

    "Again I have to raise the point concerning how would a Jew know this from the TANAK?"

    The connection is with King Solomon's reign, considered the apex of Israel's monarchy of and a type that foreshadows the reign of the Messiah.

    In the World to Come, the Holy One, blessed be He, will make a banquet for the righteous in the Garden of Eden ... He will give them to drink wine preserved in its grapes since the six days of creation ...(cf. Numbers Rabbah 13:2).

    When the time of Messiah arrives, the wine will not run out:

    In the world to come a man will bring one grape on a wagon or a ship, put it in a corner of his house and use its contents as if it was a large wine cask ... There will be no grape that will not contain thirty kegs of wine, for as it is said in the Scriptures [in Deuteronomy 32:14], "You drank the foaming blood of the grape." (Ketubot 111b)

    When Miriam said to her son, "They have no more wine," she was in essence saying, "I know you are the promised Messiah, who is supposed to bring in the endless supply of wine, so bring some now."

    Y'shua essentially responded, "What can I do about it now? The messianic era, when the supply of wine will be inexhaustible, has not yet come."

  9. I am happy to go into more detail in an email. The blog space simply does not permit me more exhaustive answers . . . but hopefully it provides some direction for an astute researcher such as yourself.

  10. You've given me a good deal to think about. It's more to ponder than I can take in at the moment. Basically I have to reorder my own thought process to accommodate some of what you are saying.

    Prior to this conversation I've been rethinking my stand on eschatology. I've been moving towards a position similar to millennialist thinking. This is a radical change in what I have traditionally believed. Some of what you are putting forward as possible understanding of scripture complicates that theological perspective. Unfortunately it doesn't clear anything up.

    On the other hand your explanation of the water into wine sheds a great deal of understanding on that event. I have often wondered if the wedding was for a family member and that is why He was invited with his disciples, and if that was why His mother was concerned over the wine. I've also wondered if that was the case, how many of those in attendance had mocked him over His parentage as a boy. "What is that to me" takes on a different tone if they are family.

    Scripture gives us an approximation of the size of the containers for the water. How does that compare to the amount of wine to be given by a single grape? Is there a correlation in terms of the actual number of gallons supplied?

  11. I send people here to read your work. I think it's probably best to leave the comments where anyone can follow them. Your page views are increasing and based on my observations with my own blog, it won't belong and you should start seeing more comments form interested people.

  12. Count me as one of those interested people. This is fascinating and has connections with what I've recently begun learning about types & symbolism, after walking with God over 20 years.

  13. Where can I find more information about things that changed in the religious rituals, after the Perfect Lamb was sacrificed? I've heard of a few things, but have no source, and I know nothing about the writings of the sages. Almost everything I know is from the Bible or Edersheim's books. I've always wondered how the priests reacted to the torn curtain -- how could they possibly explain such a thing?!

  14. @Kiwi the Geek

    Permit me to recommend a couple of standard texts that will help get you started:

    "The Messiah Texts" by Raphael Patai

    "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" Edersheim (You may already have this one)

    "Pesikta Rabbati" Yale Judaica Press Series

    For more regular teaching along these lines which have captured your interest, you may pay a visit to www.jewisheyes.org if you get a chance.

    I hope this is helpful to you.

  15. Thank you for the recommendations. I looked in the Edersheim book, but couldn't find anything about after the crucifixion & resurrection. I did find an explanation of the scapegoat ritual in his book about the Temple, but still nothing about how it changed afterward. Can you tell me what chapter it would be in?

    I might be able to get the other two through interlibrary loan... The Messiah Texts looks really fascinating.

  16. @Kiwi

    The references you are interested in are in couple tractates of the Talmud. Rosh Hashana 31 and Yoma 39. I recommend the Schottenstein edition with all the elucidation - but the Soncino is adequate and generally more affordable. You can also get electronic versions and even apps for your phone if you're somewhat tech savvy. You also might explore the appendices in Edersheim's "Life and Times", if you haven't already.

    Ginzberg's "The Legends of the Jews" also contains some fascinating material and I believe is accessible on line.