Out of Egypt I have Called My Son
James Scott Trimm
We read in the Goodnews according to Matthew:
13 And after they had departed, and behold, the angel of YHWH appeared to Yosef in a dream, saying: Arise, take the boy and His mother, and flee you away into Egypt and be there. And there you will stay until I return to you: for Herod is seeking to put the boy to death.
14 And he arose, <and did as the angel had said to him,> and took up the boy and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt,
15 And was there until the death of Herod: to fulfill what was spoken from YHWH by the prophet, who said, From out of Egypt I have called, My Son. (Hosea 11:1)
(Matt. 2:13-15 HRV)
In an attempt to discredit this account, as well as the Messiahship of Yeshua, Tovia Singer and other anti-missionaries have claimed that Matthew quotes this passage of Hosea totally out of context. In reality Matthew’s use of this passage as a Messianic prophecy is perfectly justified, and in fact shows a great deal of Jewish insight.
First off it is important to have a basic understanding of Jewish hermeneutics. In Judaism it is understood that there are four levels of understanding of a passage, which correspond to the four Hebrew letters that spell the Hebrew word PaRDeS (Paradise) The word PRDS is also an acronym (called in Judaism “notarikon”) for:
[P]ashat (Heb. “simple”) The plain, simple, literal level of understanding.
[R]emez (Heb. “hint”) The implied level of understanding.
[D]rash (Heb. “search”) The allegorical, typological or homiletically level of understanding.
[S]od (Heb. “hidden”) The hidden, secret or mystical level of understanding.
These are the four levels of understanding. The Four Gospels each express one of these four levels of understanding of the life of Yeshua.
The Pashat Gospel is Mark. Mark wrote a simple, brief, concise, pashat account of Yeshua’s life for the Goyim (Gentiles) while he was in Babylon with Kefa (1Kefa 5:13). He wrote his Gospel in the Syriac dialect of Aramaic for his Syrian and Assyrian readers in Babylon. Mark thus compiled material from Matthew and Luke and simplified it to create a simple version for Goyim. .
The Remez Gospel is Luke. Luke wrote a more detailed account for the High Priest Theophilus (a Sadducee). The Sadducees were rationalists and sticklers for details.
The Drash Gospel is Matthew. Matthew presents his account of Yeshua’s life as a Midrash to the Pharisees, as a continuing story tied to various passages from the Tanak As a drash level account Matthew also includes a number of parables in his account.
The Sod Gospel is Yochanan (John). Yochanan addresses the Mystical Essene sect and concerns himself with mystical topics like light, life, truth, the way and the Word. Yochanan includes many Sod interpretations in his account. For example Yochanan 1:1 presents a Sod understanding of Gen. 1:1. Yochanan 3:14; 8:28 & 12:32 present a Sod understanding of Num. 21:9 etc.).
Now let us return to Hosea 11:1 where we read:
When Israel was a child, then I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
This passage draws from the Torah Exodus 4:22-23:
Then you shall say to Pharaoh,
“Thus says YHWH:
‘Israel is my first-born 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 first-born son.’”
(Sh’mot (Ex.) 4:22-23)
Now if Israel is the first-born son of YHWH spoken of in these passages, then why did Matthew apply this passage (Hoshea 11:1) to the Messiah?
Why in the world does YHWH identify Israel as His first-born son? Why does Matthew identify Messiah as His son? Who in Judaism is the first-born Son of YHWH? Why the apparent confusion? Is Matthew really taking Hoshea 11:1 out of context?
No Matthew is giving a Midrash, a Drash understanding of Hosea 11:1 and Exodus 4:22-23. In order to understand this Midrash it is important to understand the concept of the “firstborn Son of Yah” in Judaism.
The firstborn Son of Yah referenced in the Zohar and is the Middle Pillar of the Godhead which the Zohar identifies as “The Son of Yah”. The Zohar describes the three pillars of the Godhead as follows:
Then Elohim said, “Let thee be light; and there was light.
And Elohim saw that the light was good…
Why, it may be asked, was it necessary to repeat the word “light” in this verse? The answer is that the first “light” refers to the primordial light which is of the Right Hand, and it is destined for the “end of days”; while the second “light” refers to the Left Hand, which issues from the Right.
The next words, “And God saw the light that it was good” (Gen. 1:4), refer to the pillar which, standing midway between them, unites both sides, and therefore when the unity of the three, right, left, and middle, was complete, “it was good”, since there could be no completion until the third had appeared to remove the strife between Right and Left, as it is written, “And God separated between the light and between the darkness.”…
This is the Middle Pillar: Ki Tov (that it was good) threw light above and below and on all other sides, in virtue of YHWH, the name which embraces all sides.
The right and left pillars are assigned as Mother and Father, the middle pillar, which balances the feminine and masculine characteristics from the male and female sides, is identified in the Zohar as “the Son of Yah”. The Zohar says:
Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off.
This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the Godhead, which is the Son of Yah.
In another Passage the Zohar has:
We may also translate, “he who withholds blessings from the Son”, whom the Father and Mother have crowned and blessed with many blessings, and concerning whom they commanded, “Kiss the son lest he be angry” (Ps. II, 12), since he is invested both with judgement (gevurah) and with mercy (chesed).
And elsewhere the Zohar says of the Son:
The Holy One, blessed be He, has a son, whose glory (tifret) shines from one end of the world to another. He is a great and mighty tree, whose head reaches heaven, and whose roots are set in the holy ground, and his name is “Mispar” and his place is in the uppermost heaven… as it is written, “The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory (tifret) of God” (Ps. 19:1). Were it not for this “Mispar” there would be neither hosts nor offspring in any of the worlds.
This is intended to point the reader back to a familiar passage from the Bahir:
Why are they called Sephirot?
Because it is written (Psalm 19:2),
“The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory (tifret) of God.”
According to the Zohar, the Middle Pillar of the Godhead is not only known as the “Son of Yah” but also as “Metatron”:
Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off.
This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the godhead,
which is the Son of Yah.
The Middle Pillar is also known as “Metatron”:
The Middle Pillar [of the godhead] is Metatron,
Who has accomplished peace above,
According to the glorious state there.
In the Zohar we are also told that Metatron is “the firstborn”:
“And Abraham said to his oldest servant of his house…” (Gen. 24:2) Who is this of whom it said “his servant?” In what sense must this be understood? Who is this servant? R. Nehori answered:
“It is in no other sense to be understood than expressed in the word “His servant,”
His servant, the servant of Elohim, the chief to His service. And who is he? Metatron, as said. He is appointed to glorify the bodies which are in the grave.
This is the meaning of the words “Abraham said to His servant” that is to the servant of Elohim. The servant is Metatron, the eldest of His [YHWH’s] House, who is the firstborn of all creatures of Elohim, who is the ruler of all He has; because Elohim has committed to Him the government over all His hosts.
So in Judaism both Israel and “The Son of Yah” are identified as the “first-born Son of YHWH”.
According to the first century Jewish writer Philo, this firstborn Son of Elohim is also known as “The Word:
Philo Writes of the Word (Logos):
For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man,
(On Dreams 215)
And if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, neverthless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his Firstborn Word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for He is called, “the Authority”, and “the Name of God”, and “the Word”, and “man according to God’s image”, and “He who sees Israel”. . . For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred Word; for the image of God is his most ancient word.
( On the Confusion of Tongues XXVIII:146-147)
Thus, indeed, being a shepherd is a good thing, so that it is justly attributed, not only to kings, and to wise men, and to souls who are perfectly purified, but also to God, the ruler of all things; and he who confirms this is not any ordinary person, but a prophet, whom it is good to believe, he namely who wrote the psalms; for he speaks thus, “The Lord is my shepherd, and he shall cause me to lack Nothing;” (Ps. 23:1.) and let every one in his turn say the same thing,
for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason, his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road.”(Ex. 23:20.)
(On Husbandry 50-51)
Furthermore Philo tells us that “The Word” (Logos) and the Messiah are one and the same:
“The head of all things is the eternal Word (Logos) of the eternal God, under which, as if it were his feet or other limbs, is placed the whole world, over which He passes and firmly stands. Now it is not because Messiah is Lord that He passes and sits over the whole world, for His seat with His Father and God but because for its perfect fullness the world is in need of the care and superintendence of the best ordered dispensation, and for its own complete piety, of the Divine Word (Logos), just as living creatures (need) a head, without which it is impossible to live.”
(Q&A on Exodus, II, 117)
So when YHWH says in Sh’mot (Ex.) 4:22-23 and Hoshea 11:1 that Israel is his first-born son he is speaking allegorically. He is comparing Israel to Messiah.
And when Mattitiyahu quotes Hoshea 11:`1 and applies this sonship to Messiah he is referring to the reality behind the allegory of Hosea 11:1 and Sh’mot 4:22-23. In effect Matthew is saying that Yeshua the Messiah is the figure that later Rabbinic Judaism came to call “The Son of Yah”. Therefore the Torah in Sh’mot 4:22-23 is prompting us that there is an allegorical relationship between Israel and Messiah:
So how is the Messiah allegorically like Israel?
* Both made a major impact on the world.
* Both were born through a biological miracle on their mother’s womb.
* Both were taken into Egypt to save their lives.
* Both are called up out of Egypt.
* Both have been despised and rejected by man.
* Rome attempted to execute each of them.
* Both are resurrected never to die again.
By saying, “Israel is my first-born son”, ELOHIM is saying that by oppressing Israel, it is as if Pharaoh was oppressing the Son of Yah, the Messiah himself.
In fact the Tanya makes use of this same allegory which connects the Son of Yah as spoken of in the Zohar with Israel:
So, allegorically speaking, have the souls of Jews risen in the [Divine] thought, as it is written, “My firstborn son is Israel,” and “Ye are children unto the Lord your G-d”. That is to say, just as a child is derived from his father’s brain, so— to use an anthropomorphism— the soul of each Israelite is derived from G-d’s (blessed be He) thought and wisdom.
(Tanya; Likutei Amarim; Chapter 2)
Similarly is it with the human soul, which is divided in two— sechel (intellect) and middot (emotional attributes). The intellect includes chochmah, binah and da at (ChaBaD), whilst the middot are love of G-d, dread and awe of Him, glorification of Him, and so forth. ChaBaD [the intellectual faculties] are called “mothers” and source of the middot, for the latter are “offspring” of the former.
(Tanya; Likutei Amarim; Chapter 3)
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