The three Matzahs recall the three measures of fine meal from which Sarah made three cakes for the “three men” who came to Avraham by the Oaks of Mamre.
1 And YHWH appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.
2 And he lifted up his eyes and looked. And behold, three men stood over against him. And when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed down to the earth,
3 And said, YHWH. If now I have found favor in your sight, pass not away I pray you, from your servant.
4 Let now a little water be fetched and wash your feet, and recline yourselves under the tree.
5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and stay you your heart. After that, you shall pass on, forasmuch as you are come to your servant. And They said: So do, as you have said.
6 And Avraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly, three measures of fine meal; knead it, and make cakes.
(Gen. 18:1-6 HRV)
The Hebrew word for “cakes” here is EGOT (plural for EGAH). The Greek translators used a very interesting word to translate this word with EGKRUFIAS. The typical word for such a “cake” is EGKRIS. The word EGKRUFIAS seems to merge this word with the Greek word KRUFIAS meaning “hidden, secret, concealed”. It may be that EGKRIS is fried, while EGKRUFIAS is baked by covering it with a cover which is covered in hot coals. At any rate the ancient Jewish writer Philo, who lived about the same time as Yeshua, quickly noticed the unusual Greek word here. Philo writes concerning Gen. 18:6:
Now it is very good that these three measures should, as it were, be kneaded together in the soul, and mixed up together, in order that so the soul, being persuaded that the supreme being is God, who has raised his head above all his powers, and who is beheld independently of them, and who makes himself visible in them, may receive the characters of his power and beneficence, and becoming initiated into the perfect mysteries, may not be too ready to divulge the divine secrets to any one, but may treasure them up in herself, and keeping a check over her speech, may conceal them in silence; for the words of the scripture are, “To make secret cakes (EGKRUFIAS)” (Gen. 18:6) because the sacred and mystic statements about the one uncreated Being, and about his powers, ought to be kept secret; since it does not belong to every one to keep the deposit of divine mysteries properly.
(On Birth of Able XV 59-60)
Philo goes on to tie these three measures for three cakes in with the “cakes” of unleavened bread eaten at Passover. He writes:
For the stream of the intemperate soul, flowing outwards through the mouth and tongue, is pumped up and poured into all ears. Some of which having wide channels, keeps that which is poured into them with all cheerfulness; but others, through the narrowness of the passages, are unable to be bedewed by it. But that which overflows being poured forth in an unrestrained manner, is scattered in every direction: so that what has been concealed escapes and floats on the top of it, and, like a random torrent of mud, bears along with it in its flood, things worthy of being tended with all care. In reference to which, those persons appear to me to have come to a right decision who have been initiated in the lesser mysteries before learning anything of these greater ones. “For they baked their flour which they brought out of Egypt , baking secret cakes (EGKRUFIAS) of unleavened Bread.” (Exodus 12:39). That is to say, they dealt with the untameable and savage passions, softening them with reason as they would knead bread; fore they did not divulge the manner of their kneading and improving it, as it was derived from some divine system of preparation; but they treasured it up in their secret stores, not being elated at the knowledge of the mystery, but yielding and being lowly as to their boasting.
(On Birth of Able XVI. 61-62)
Who were these “three men” in Genesis 18 which correspond to the three measures of flour for the three “secret cakes”? The Zohar comments on this passage saying:
Who were the “three men”? They are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…”
This does not mean that Abraham Isaac and Jacob appeared before Abraham. In the Kabbalah Abraham, Isaac and Jacob represent the Three Pillars of the Godhead, as we read in the Bahir:
Through the merit of Abraham who was worthy of the attribute of Kindness (CHESED), Isaac was worthy of the attribute of Terror (PACHAD), Jacob was worthy of the attribute of Truth, which is the attribute of Peace.
Abraham… was worthy and took Kindness (CHESED) as his attribute, as it is written “Kindness to Abraham” (Mic. 7:20). Isaac… was worthy and took the attribute of Strength (GEVURAH), which is called Terror (PACHAD). It is thus written “And Jacob swore by the terror of Isaac his father.” (Gen. 31:53)… Abraham is above and Isaac is below him, you will be in the center and take all three. What is the center? It is peace , as it is written “You give truth to Jacob” (Mic. 7:20). Truth is identical with peace, as it is written “Words of peace and truth” (Est. 9:30) It is also written “For peace and truth will be in my days” (2Kn. 20:19)
(Kindness, Truth/Peace and Strength/Terror are terms commonly used to refer to the Three Pillars.)
Throughout this chapter the scribes altered several occurrences of YHWH to “Adonai” (verses 3, 22, 27, 30, 31 and 32). These are six of the 134 places where the scribes altered Adonai to YHWH, all in this one chapter.
Philo says of these “three men”:
…the one in the middle is the Father of the universe, who in the sacred scriptures is called by his proper name, I am that I am; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his creative power, and the other his royal power. And the creative power is God, for it is by this that he made and arranged the universe; and the royal power is the Lord, for it is fitting that the Creator should lord it over and govern the creature. (122) Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guards, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three;
(On Abraham XXIV 121b-122a)
After some bit more he writes that one of these three was the “Word”
For this reason, it seems to me to have been, that Sarah, (Genesis 18:15.) the namesake of virtue, who had previously laughed, denied her laughter to the person who questioned her as to the cause of it, fearing lest she might be deprived of her rejoicing, as belonging to no created being, but to God alone; on which account the holy Word (Logos) encouraged her, and said, “Be not afraid,” thou hast laughed a genuine laugh, and thou hast a share in real joy…
(On Abraham XXXVI 206)
Thus the Three Matzahs represent for us the Three Pillars of the Godhead, as we read in the Zohar:
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 Three Matzah are placed together to show their unity, as we read in the Zohar of the Three Pillars of the Godhead:
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 (i.e. a Tri-Unity).
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 Infinite One) to the end of the “All”. Because of the voice in which it is done, in these are three that are one (i.e. a Tri-Unity).
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.
Genesis 18 ends with:
And YHWH went His way as soon as He had left off speaking to Avraham, and
Avraham returned unto his place.
(Gen. 18:33 HRV)
And the next chapter begins:
And the two angels came to S’dom at even, and Lot sat in the gate of S’dom. And Lot
saw them, and rose up to meet them, and he fell down on his face to the earth.
(Gen. 19:2 HRV)
Why “two angels”? Because one of the “three men” being called “YHWH” in the previous chapter “went His way”, while the other two “came to S’dom”. As the Zohar comments on this passage:
Rabbi Jose pointed that the preceding verse, “And the Lord went His way as soon as he had left off peaking with Abraham”, indicates that only when the Shekinah departed from Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place, did the two angels come to Sodom at eve. It says two because one of the angels departed in the Shekinah, leaving only two.
In verse 18 Lot addresses these two “angels” as YHWH. Once again the scribes have altered this passage to read Adonia, but the original read YHWH (This is one of 134 places where the MT reads “Adonai” but which the Masorah indicates that the text originally read “YHWH” and had been altered by the scribes in an attempt on their part to clarify the text.)
Then we get to verse 24 where we read:
Then YHWH caused to rain upon S’dom and upon Amora,
brimstone and fire from YHWH, out of heaven.
(Gen. 19:24 HRV)
The Zohar says of this passage:
And YHWH caused to rain upon Sodom. The term V’YHWH (and YHWH)
signifies the grade of the lower Court which requires authorization from on high.
The Targum Onkelos paraphrases the passage:
And the Word of YHWH caused to rain upon S’dom and upon Amora,
brimstone and fire from YHWH, out of heaven.
(Gen. 19:24 Targum Onkelos)
Thus identifying the YHWH which causes the rain to come down from YHWH out of Heaven to be the “Word of YHWH”.
It is worth noting that according to the Talmud (San. 38b) a certain Min used this very passage in debating the deity of Messiah with Rabbi Ishmael ben Jose.
It is important to define this Talmudic term MIN (singular) / MINIM (plural).
The fourth century “Church Father” Jerome writes of the Nazarenes and Ebionites:
What shall I say of the Ebionites who pretend to be Christians?
Today there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues
of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans,
and which is still condemned by the Pharisees; [its followers]
are ordinarily called ‘Nazarenes’; they believe that Christ,
the son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary, and they hold him
to be the one who suffered under Pontius Pilate and ascended
to heaven, and in whom we also believe.”
(Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)
Now Ebionites and Nazarenes were two distinct groups with varying beliefs (the Ebionites split off from the Nazarenes round 70 C.E.) but both of these groups were known by Rabbinic Jews as ” Minim” or as Jerome calls them in Latin “Mineans”.
According to the Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalami and Midrashic Literature, Marcus Jastrow defines MIN “…sectarian, infidel… a Jewish infidel, mostly applied to Jew Christians”. Jastrow uses the term “Jew-Christians” to refer to Ebionites and Nazarenes although these groups did not call themselves “Christians”.
Many scholars believe that the term MIN began as an acronym for a Hebrew phrase meaning “Believers in Yeshua the Nazarene”.
The so-called “church fathers” also saw a special significance to this passage. Ireanaeus, who wrote around 185 C.E. writes:
And again, referring to the destruction of the Sodomites, the Scripture says:
“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah
fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.” (Gen. 19:24)
For it here points out that the Son, who had also been talking with Abraham, had received power to judge the Sodomites for their wickedness.
(Ireanaeus; Against Heresies 3:6:1)
When we examine the Zohar, the Targum, the Talmud, Philo and Ireaneus on this portion of Torah, it becomes clear that the three men that visit Avraham represent the three pillars of the Godhead. One of them returns to Heaven at the end of chapter 18, leaving “two angels” in chapter 19 which are also called “YHWH” and which cause fire and brimstone to rain out from YHWH which had returned to Heaven.
The Greek translator of the LXX and Philo knew that the unleavened “cakes” of Ex. 12:39 and the “cakes” of Gen. 18:6 contained a mystery. It was this mystery of the Three Pillars of the Godhead and the three Matzah of the Passover Seder that Yeshua referenced when, on the night of his betrayal he took the bread, and blessed and broke, and gave to His talmidim, saying: “Take you, and eat this, which is My body (Mt. 26:26; Lk. 22:19; Mk. 14:22) which is broken for your sakes; thus do for My memorial. (1Cor. 11:23-24).
This he broke into pieces and passed around to be eaten as the AFIKOMEN.
In the days before the destruction of the Temple, when the Passover lamb was still offered, a piece of the Passover lamb had to be the last thing eaten in the meal (m.Pessahim 10:8) so that one was left with the taste of the Passover lamb in the mouth. (b.Pes. 119b). Since the destruction of the Temple the broken middle matzah represents the Passover Lamb and becomes the AFIKOMEN. The word AFIKOMEN in Greek means “last thing eaten” but in Aramaic it means “My Presence has been raised up”.
This is the mystery of the three “secret cakes” of unleavened bread, and the broken middle matzah, the Middle Pillar of the Godhead, the Son of Yah.
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