The Torah and Our Joy in Messiah
James Scott Trimm
We read in the Torah:
4 HEAR, O YISRA’EL: YHWH OUR ELOHIM, YHWH IS ONE.
5 And you shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
6 And these words which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart.
7 And you shall teach them diligently unto your children: and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.
9 And you shall write them upon the door posts of your house, and upon your gates.
(Deut. 6:4-9 HRV)
Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
(Deut. 11:18 HRV)
But what does it really mean to have the Torah in our hearts?
The Messiah is the Torah
Just as the Tanak identifies the Torah as the Way (Deut. 9:12; 11:22-28; 30:15-16) the Truth (Ps. 119:142, 151) the Life (Deut. 32:46-47) the Light (Prov. 6:23; Ps. 119:105; Is. 8:20; 51:4) and the Word (Is. 1:10; 2:3) the Ketuvim Netzarim identifies Yeshua as the Messiah as the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn. 14:6) the Light (Jn. 8:12; 1:4-5, 9; 3:19; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46; 14:6) and the Word (Jn. 1:1-3; 14-18; Rev. 19:13). Because the Messiah is the Torah itself incarnate which “appeared on earth and lived among men” (Baruch 3:29).
We read in the Book of Baruch:
29 Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her [wisdom]
and brought her down from the clouds?
30 Who has gone over the sea, and found her,
and will buy her for pure gold?
This is a reference back to the Torah where we read:
9 And YHWH your Elohim will make you over-abundant in all the work of
your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle,
and in the fruit of your land, for good; for YHWH will again rejoice
over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers,
10 If you shall hearken to the voice of YHWH your Elohim, to keep His
commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the
Torah; if you turn unto YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with
all your soul.
11 For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too
hard for you, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that you should say: `Who shall go up for us
to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should says: `Who shall go
over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it,
that we may do it?’
14 But the word if very near unto you, in your mouth, and in your
heart, that you may do it.
15 See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil,
16 In that I command you this day to love YHWH your Elohim, to walk in
His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statues and His
ordinances; then you shall live and multiply, and YHWH your Elohim
shall bless you in the land where you go in to possess it.
Then a few lines later Baruch writes:
37 Afterward she appeared upon earth and lived among men.
4:1 She is the book of the commandments of Elohim,
and the Torah that endures forever.
All who hold fast will live,
and those who forsake her fast will die.
The Torah has long been recognized in Judaism as a living entity through which YHWH created the Heavens and the Earth. As we read in the Midrash Rabbah:
The Torah declares: ‘I was the working tool of the Holy One, blessed be He.’ In human practice, when a mortal king builds a palace, he builds it not with his own skill but with the skill of an architect. The architect moreover does not build it out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how to arrange the chambers and the wicket doors. Thus Elohim consulted the Torah and created the world, while the Torah declares, IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED (I,1), BEGINNING referring to the Torah, as in the verse, YHWH made me as the beginning of His way (Prov. VIII, 22).
(Genesis Rabbah 1:5)
Let us now look at a passage of the Ketuvim Netzarim which Christians have totally misunderstood, Romans 10:4. It appears in the most Christian translations to say that “Christ is the end of the law”. The Aramaic word used for “end” here is SAKA. Back in 1893 when James Murdock S.T.D. (A Christian) translated the Aramaic Peshitta into English for the first time, he translated this word as “aim”. He noted the original Aramaic word in the margin and further defined it “end, scope, summary”. This Aramaic word is used in the Rabbinic literature to mean “number” “sum” or “total”. In the Babylonian Talmud this word is used as follows “…the SUM of pupils for a teacher in the primary class is twenty five” (b.Bat. 21a) The root verb for this Aramaic noun means “to calculate, count, sum up” or “to look out for, to hope for”.
With this Aramaic word, Paul is saying, not that the Messiah is the TERMINATION of the Torah, but that Messiah is the aim, goal, scope, summary, number, total and sum of the Torah! Paul is saying that the Messiah is the Torah. Messiah is the sum of the Torah.
Rom 10:5 then continues with:
For Moses thus wrote of the righteousness that is by the Torah that `he who does these will live by them.’
Remember now, Paul has just said that the Messiah is the sum of the Torah, and now he is quoting the Torah to prove that “life” comes from the Torah.
Then in Rom. 10:6-8 Paul continues:
And of the righteousness that is by trust, he thus says: `Do not say in your heart: who has ascended to heaven’ (Deut. 30:12) and brought down the Messiah? `And who has descended’ to the depth of She’ol `and brought up’ (Deut. 13:13) the Messiah from among the dead? But what does it say? `The answer is near to you, to your mouth and to your heart,’ (Deut. 30:14) which is the word of trust that we proclaim”
Now Christian commentators have taken Paul to be contrasting “the righteousness that is by the Torah” (Rom. 10:5) with “the righteousness that is by faith” (Rom. 10:6) to prove that Messiah is the “end”/”termination” of the Law as stated in Rom. 10:4.
There are several problems with this interpretation.
To begin with, we have already shown that Paul’s point in Rom. 10:4 is not that Messiah is the termination of the law, but that Messiah is the goal and sum of the Torah.
Secondly Rom. 10:5 and Rom 10:6f both quote passages from the Torah to prove their points.
Thirdly, these commentators totally mangle the point Paul is making in Rom. 10:6-8.
When Paul was teaching the Bereans in Acts 17, we are told that they checked “the Scriptures” to see if what Paul said could be found there, and Paul said they were more noble than others he had taught, for doing this. Now the only Scriptures they had at the time were those of the Tanak (“Old Testament”) so Paul would look to the passages he cites from the Tanak to see that we are applying his words accurately as they are in the Tanak.
So lets be good Bereans and look at the portion of Torah Paul actually quotes in Rom. 10:6-8, see what it actually says in context, and see how Paul is using it. Paul is quoting from Deut. 30:12-14.
Now the first and most important point is that in Deut. 30:12-13 it is the Torah that we do not have to have brought down to us, but in Paul’s citations in Rom. 10:6-7 it is the “Messiah” who does not have to be brought down to us. Paul is applying his logic that Messiah is the sum of the Torah from Rom. 10:4 (thus reaffirming that we are
correct in our understanding of SAKA in Rom. 10:4).
In Baruch that which is brought down from heaven in Deut. 30:12-13 is personified Wisdom (compare 1Cor. 1:24 ) which is identified with an incarnation of the Torah itself having come down to earth to dwell with men.
Moreover, when Paul says “the answer is near to you, to your mouth, and to your heart, which is the word of trust that we proclaim” (Rom. 10:8) Deut. Says “But the WORD is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it” (Deut. 30:14). So the “answer” and the “word of trust/faith” in Rom. 10:8 is the “word” in Deut. 30:14, but in Deut. 30:14 that “word” is CLEARLY the Torah! In other words Rom. 10:8 might be understood “the TORAH is near to you, to your mouth, and to your heart, which is the TORAH of trust/faith that we proclaim”.
Fourth, we find that Deut. 30:15-16 parallel the meaning of Lev. 18:5 so that we can see that Paul is citing these two passages together, not because he is contrasting them, but because they teach the same thing!
Finally if we look back to Rom. 10:6 which is quoting Deut. 30:12 and we look closely at the phrase Paul quotes “who shall go up for us to heaven” in the original Hebrew of Deut. 30:12, and if we take the first letter of each word to from a new word (this is a technique known as “Notarikon”) then we spell the Hebrew word MILAH (which can mean “word” or “circumcision”) and if we take the last letter of each word we find the name YHWH, so hidden and imbedded in this Hebrew phrase is the phrase “Word of YHWH”. Paul’s point is that both the Messiah and the Torah are the “Word of YHWH”.
The Messiah is YHWH
The opening of the Shema reads:
SH’MA YISRAEL YHWH ELOHEYNU YHWH ECHAD
“Hear O Israel, YHWH, our Elohim, YHWH is one (ECHAD)”
Let us examine other passages in the Torah to understand how this word ECHAD (“one”) is used in the Torah:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined
to his wife, and they shall become one [ECHAD] flesh.
And YHWH said, “Indeed the people are one [ECHAD] and they
all have one language…
Thus it is clear that the word ECHAD in no way requires a singularity and can refer to a composite unity.
Now let us to explore how this passage is understood by the Zohar:
The [profession of] unity that every day is [a profession of] unity
is to be understood and to be perceived. We have said in many places
that this prayer is a profession of Unity that is proclaimed:
”Hear O Yisrael, YHWH“ first, [then] “Eloheynu” [and] “YHWH” they are all One and thus He is called “One”.
Behold, these are three names, how can they be one? Is it because we call them one? (literally: And also concerning the proclamation that we call them one?). How these are one can only through the vision of the Holy Sprit be known. And these are through the vision of the closed eye (or the hidden eye) To make known that these three are one.
And this is the mystery of the voice that is heard. The voice is one. And is three GAUNIN: fire and air and water. And all these are one in the mystery of the voice.
And also here “YHWH, Eloheynu, YHWH” these are One. Three GAUNIN that are One. And this is the voice of the act of a son of man in [proclaiming] the Unity.
And to which he sees by the Unity of the “All” from Eyn Sof (the Inifinite One) to the end of the “All”. Because of the voice in which it is done, in these are three that are one.
And this is the [profession] of the daily profession of Unity that is revealed in the mystery of the Holy Spirit.
And there are many GAUNIN that are a Unity, and all of them are true, what the one does, that the other does, and what that one does, the other does.
(The Aramaic word GA’UN (sing.)/GAUNIN (plural) comes from the word for “color” and refers to an “aspect, element, substance, essence”. )
Thus the Zohar understands the Sh’ma to mean that YHWH, Elohim and YHWH are three GA’UNIN. This section of the Zohar also recalls a reading from the Sefer Yetzirah:
Three “mothers”: Alef; Mem and Shin
Their foundation is a pan of merit
a pan of liability
and the tongue of decree deciding between them.
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:1)
Three “mothers”, Alef, Mem, Shin
in the universe are air, water, fire…
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:4a)
(Note: The letter SHIN has a gematria (numerical value) of 300 which is the same as the gematria of the phrase ”Ruach Elohim” (the Spirit of Elohim).)
As it we will demonstrate the “tongue of decree deciding between them” is the Middle Pillar of the Godhead which reconciles the two outer pillars of the Godhead.
The Zohar also calls these three GAUNIN the three pillars of the Godhead. The Zohar teaches that the two outer pillars are reconciled by the middle pillar just as the “tongue of decree” decides between the two pans of the scale in the Sefer Yetzirah. The Zohar reads as follows:
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 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,
writes 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 First Century Jewish Writer Philo says similarly that the Word reconciles the two sides:
…the Divine Word (Logos)…fills all things and becomes a mediator and arbitrator for the two sides….from the Divine Word (Logos), as from a spring, there divide and break forth two powers. One is the creative through which the Artificer placed and ordered all things. This is named “God”. And the royal, since through it the Creator rules over created things. This is called “Lord” And from these two powers have grown the others. For by the side of the creative power there grows the propitious of which is named “beneficial” while (besides) the royal the legislative, of which is aptly named “punitive”. And below these and beside them is the ark.”
(Philo on Q&A on Exodus, II.68)
According to the Zohar the Middle Pillar of the Godhead is the Son of Yah:
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 Zohar also says of the Son of YHWH:
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 Zohar passage is intended to recall a passage from the Bahir:
Why are they called Sephirot?
Because it is written (Ps. 19:2),
“The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory (tifret) of God.”
The Zohar also says concerning the Son of Yah:
“We may also translate “he who withholds blessings
from the Son” (Prov. 11:26), 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. 2:12), since he is invested
with judgment (GEVURAH) and with mercy (CHESED)”
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)
The Targums were authoritative Aramaic paraphrases of the books of the Tanak which were read in the synagogues along with the Hebrew of the Torah and Haftorah readings. Whenever the Targums come to passages where YHWH is anthropomorphisised or seen, or where two or more YHWHs are indicated by the text, the Targums will often substitute “The Word [Memra] of YHWH” for YHWH. For example in Gen. 19:4 the Tanak has:
Then YHWH caused to rain upon S’dom and upon Amora,
brimstone and fire from YHWH, out of heaven.
The Hebrew grammar here indicates that one YHWH rains fire from another YHWH) But Targum Jonathan substitutes “The Word of YHWH/the LORD” for the first of the two YHWHs as follows:
And the Word of the YHWH caused to descend
upon the peoples of Sodom and Gommorah,
brimstone and fire from the YHWH in heaven.
In another example the Torah has:
Ex. 24:1a (YHWH is the speaker, see Ex. 20:1-2)
Now He [YHWH] said to Moses, “come up to YHWH…”
But Targum Jonathan paraphrases the speaker in Ex. 20:1 with the substitution “the Word [Memra] of YHWH” in place of “YHWH.”
And the Word of the Lord spoke all these glorious words…
So it would seem that one of these entities called “YHWH” in these Torah passages was actually understood by the Targumists as being the “Word of YHWH.” It was, according to Targum Onkelos, this Word of YHWH that Abraham trusted in:
And Abraham trusted in the Word [Memra] of YHWH,
and He counted it to him for righteousness.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 15:6)
Moreover Abraham prayed in the name of the Word of YHWH:
And Abraham worshipped and prayed
in the name of the Word [Memra] of YHWH,
and said, “You are YHWH who does see, but You cannot be seen.”
(Jerusalem Targum Gen. 22:14)
Note that here Abraham prays “in the name of the Word of YHWH” to the YHWH who “cannot be seen.” Here two YHWHs are very apparent. Abraham is praying in the name of the Word of YHWH but is praying to the YHWH who cannot be seen. This idea is reinforced elsewhere as follows:
And Hagar praised and prayed
in the name of the Word [Memra] Of YHWH
who had revealed Himself to her…
(Jerusalem Targum Gen. 16:3)
It was this Word of YHWH that Jacob also trusted in:
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying,
“If the Word [Memra] of YHWH will be my support,
and will keep me in the way that I go,
and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
so that I come again to my father’s house in peace;
then shall the Word [Memra]of YHWH be my God.
(Targum Onkelos on Gen. 28:20-21)
King David also urged Israel to trust in the Word of Yah as the Targum of Psalm 62 reads:
Trust in the Word of Yah at all times,
O people of the house of Israel!
Pour out before Him the sighings of your heart;
Say, God is our trust forever.
(Targum on Psalm 62:9)
This “Word of YHWH” was, according to Targum Jonathan, the Creator:
And the Word [Memra] of YHWH
created man in his likeness,
in the likeness of YHWH, YHWH created,
male and female created He them.
(Targ. Jonathan Gen. 1:27)
This idea is also put forward in the Jerusalem Targum:
And the Word [Memra] of YHWH said to Moses:
“I am He who said unto the world ‘Be!’ and it was:
and who in the future shall say to it ‘Be!’ and it shall be.”
And He said: “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel:
‘I Am’ has sent me to you.”
(Jerusalem Targum Ex. 3:14)
The Fragmentary Targum of the Torah also expresses that the Word of YHWH was the Creator:
The first night, when the “Word of YHWH”
was revealed to the world in order to create it,
the world was desolate and void,
and darkness spread over the face of the abyss
and the “Word of the Lord” was bright and illuminating
and He called it the first night.
(Fragmentary Targum Ex. 12:42)
That the Word of YHWH was the Creator can also be seen in the Tanak itself:
By the Word of YHWH were the heavens made,
And all the hosts of them by the Spirit of His mouth.
The Word was also the covenant maker. For example the Noachdic covenant was between the Word and all mankind:
And YHWH said to Noah,
“This is the token of the covenant
which I have established between My Word [Memra]
and between all flesh that is upon the earth.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 9:17)
The Word also made the Abrahamic covenant as Targum Onkelos also paraphrases:
And I will establish my covenant
between My Word [Memra] and between you…
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 17:7)
The Word of YHWH was also the giver of the Mosaic Covenant and the Torah as the Jerusalem Targum (as quoted above) makes the Torah giver “the Word of YHWH” in Ex. 20:1. It was to th e Word that Jacob turned to for salvation:
Our father Jacob said: “My soul does not wait for salvation
such as that wrought by Gideon, the son of Joash,
for that was but temporal; neither for a salvation
like that of Samson, which was only transitory;
but for that salvation which You have promised to come,
through Your Word unto Your people, the children of Israel;
for your salvation my soul hopes.”
(Targum Jonathan Gen. 49:18)
That the Word of YHWH is the savior is expressed elsewhere:
But Israel shall be saved by the Word of YHWH
with an everlasting salvation…
By the Word of YHWH shall all the seed of Israel be justified…
(Targum Jonathan Is. 45:17, 25)
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah,
and I will save them by the Word of YHWH, their God.
(Targum Jonathan Hosea 1:7)
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)
(To be Continued in Part 2)
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