Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Pharisees, Hasidim, and the Early Judahite Ecclesia
During the time of the Messiah, there were two divisions among the Pharisees, called the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. The School of Shammai was rigorous, strict, and was in control and dominated religious affairs in Jerusalem. The "Hasidim" also were religious leaders admired by the common people. What was the difference between these Judean groups and Yeshua the Messiah? What did Yeshua think of them? What does the record of early church history tell us about their relationship to the early Judahite Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God?
by HOIM Staff
What was Yeshua's view of the world of Pharisaism of His time? Many modern religionists seem to think that the Messiah had nothing but scorn and withering denunciation of all things pertaining to the Pharisees. But is this conclusion true? Many today say they will have nothing whatever to do with the "Pharisees." They seemingly conveniently overlook the fact that the apostle Paul was himself a Pharisee, and boasted of this fact, and even said he was a Pharisee some 25 years after his conversion (Acts 23:6), and again mentioned this fact in his letter to the Philippians some 30 years after his conversion (see Philippians 3:4-6).
However, in a recent article in Jerusalem Perspective, author Shmuel Safrai states categorically:
"Jesus was closer to the world of the Pharisees than to that of the Sadducees or Essenes. He certainly did not share beliefs, religious outlook or social views with the Sadducees, and he would have had little in common with the isolationist views of the Essenes and their overt hostility toward anyone who did not accept their stringent views on ritual purity....
"Jesus' education and understanding of Torah was in agreement with the Pharisees' norms, based on both the Written and Oral Torah (Lk. 2:41-47). He even taught his disciples and followers: 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses, so be careful to observe everything they tell you' (Matt.23:2-3). The expression 'seat of Moses' is also found in midrashic literature and such seats have actually been found in ancient synagogues. Jesus, however, warned the people not to behave like the Pharisees, because 'they say, but do not do' (Matt. 23:3)" (Jerusalem Perspective, January/June 1994).
How close were Yeshua's views to the basic, underlying teachings of the Pharisees? Shmuel Safrai points out that "Jesus contributed the required annual half-shekel for the Temple, an innovation of the Pharisees or their predecessors. This innovation was accepted by neither Sadducees nor Essenes" (see Matthew 17:24-27).
Furthermore, we know that Yeshua went into the synagogues frequently, to worship, "as his custom was" (Luke 4:16). It is not known whether the Sadducees took part in synagogue services, but considering their antipathy toward the Pharisees it is unlikely, since the synagogues were another innovation of the Pharisees, and all known synagogues were Pharisaic in origin and practice. Says Shmuel Safrai regarding Yeshua's custom in this respect:
"Jesus, however, customarily went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, to read from the Torah and the Prophets and afterwards to teach from them. All of this is in keeping with halachah and the practice described in tannaic literature.
"Jesus' method of public instruction was also in keeping with Pharasaic practice. He employed educational techniques such as the parable that were common only in Pharisaic teaching, and some of the basic themes in his teaching such as 'kingdom of heaven' and 'repentance,' are found only in the teachings of the sages. The prayers of Jesus and the motifs they contain are likewise similar to those of the sages" (ibid.).
However, as Shmuel Safrai points out, the world of Pharisaism was not a monolithic world. It was not a huge united rock-like structure, but was rent by cracks and splits. "The many differences between the house of Hillel and the house of Shammai pertained not only to specific details in halachah, but also to the basic underlying principles of halachah and religious and social thought." Shmuel adds, "There is much that needs to be clarified regarding the place of Jesus and his teachings in relation to this Pharisaic world."
Hasidism and the Galilee
Also preaching and teaching during the time of the Messiah, and also coming from the region of Galilee, were the religious pietists and worshipers known as the "Hasidim." In fact, says Shmuel Safrai, all the references to the Hasidim in the Second Temple Period relate to the Galilee.
Although Jerusalem Pharisees tended to look down their long noses at Galileans, and others away from Jerusalem, in the period before (compare John 7:52) and immediately after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., the Galilee was noted as a place where Torah was taught in public, and in many respects the moral and religious behavior of the Galileans was on a higher level than that of the Judeans. Rabbinic literature refers to Galilean sages teaching in their academies and in the open air of the Galilee, much as Yeshua the Messiah did. Says Safrai:
"Jesus, who was quite closer to the Hasidim and perhaps even involved with some of them, does not therefore reflect Galilean boorishness or ignorance, but rather the dynamism and ongoing creativity of Jewish life in Galilee."
The Hasidim, like Yeshua the Messiah and the apostles, referred to YEHOVAH God in a very intimate way as "Father," or "Abba." The intimate term "my Father in heaven" is found only once in a rabbinical text, and that is actually a text belonging to Hasidic literature. In Hasidic works however the phrase is found often -- no fewer than seventeen times in "Seder Eliyahu." This literature is unique in that it reflects what remains of Hasidic thought and practice embedded in the greater corpus of rabbinic literature. Says Shmuel Safrai:
"It appears...that the Hasidim and those associated with them, including Jesus, considered their relationship with God to be one of extreme familiarity...However, in Hasidic circles the relationship of a Hasid to God was not just one of 'child of God,' but of a son who can brazenly make requests of his father that someone else cannot make. The Hasid addressed God as 'abba,' 'my father,' or 'my father in heaven,' and the LORD responded the way he responded to 'Hanina, my son.'"
Generally, it was the Hasidic element within the Pharisaical movement to which the people looked when they desired prayer for healing, or exorcism of evil spirits. They had more faith in the prayers of a Galilean Hasid, than in a Jerusalem priest, who were not considered to be that "close" to YEHOVAH God. When the Hasid prayed, they "begged" YEHOVAH, like a little child begs his father. It was "obvious" to them that their prayers would be answered -- they had true "faith."
The Hasidim, also like Yeshua, stressed the qualities and advantages spiritually of poverty. In Hasidic thought, poverty is the ideal state that leads to all other positive and praiseworthy qualities of character. Rabbinic sources, or the Pharisees, on the other hand, seemed to value wealth and at least moderate income, and as a consequence many during the time of the Messiah had become corrupted by the accouterments of power and authority, and the "pleasures" of life that wealth could bring. The tomb of Caiaphas, for example, which was recently found in Jerusalem, showed that he was a wealthy high priest who made use of the perks of his office for self advantage.
What was the view of the Messiah concerning poverty? In the sermon on the mount, He declared: "Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh" (Luke 6:21). "But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep" (verses 24-25). When the young rich man came asking him what to do to inherit eternal life, Yeshua told him he should keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17-19). When the man said he kept them, and asked what he still lacked, Yeshua replied: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me" (v. 21). On hearing that saying, the young man departed sorrowful -- for he had great wealth, and was not willing to part with it (v. 22).
Considering the deceitfulness of riches, Yeshua then told his disciples: "Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23-24).
The Pharisees of the school of Hillel the Elder already differed from the Hasidim in this respect, during the time of the Messiah. According to Hasidic thought, YEHOVAH God tested Israel in the furnace and found no quality more conducive to holiness than poverty. This view was not, however, common among the Rabbinic sages or Pharisees. Although the typical Pharisee did not esteem to great wealth, he did not look upon poverty as a spiritual blessing to be desired, either.
In another example, Hillel taught that "The ignorant man cannot be a fearer of sin, and the am ha-eretz [poor man or "farmer", literally, "man of the earth"] cannot be a Hasid." He was reacting to the teaching of the Hasid who emphasized that DEEDS are more important than "study." Hillel disagreed, obviously, and emphasized the importance of study of Torah. The story is told about Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah who had to admonish a priestly Hasid who was seemingly ignorant of a number of laws of ritual purity. Says Shmuel Safrai,
"Unlike the sages, however, the Hasidim did not seek a balance between 'study' and 'deed,' but maintained that the deed is to be preferred even at the expense of Torah study. When they mentioned the saying in the Mishnah that refers to the fruits of certain deeds that are enjoyed in the world to come, they delete the saying's conclusion which states that 'the study of Torah is equal to them all.'"
There are a number of anti-Hasidic stories found in rabbinic literature. Even as the Pharisees looked down on the Messiah, and rejected him, they also tended to denigrate and hold in contempt the lowly Hasidim. However, the Hasidim in their views were much closer to the Messiah than the Jerusalem Pharisees, or either the schools of Hillel or Shammai.
Another contrast between the Pharisees and the Hasidim was their view of "faith" and "trust" in YEHOVAH God. The Pharisees took a more worldly, "practical" view of this matter. If a city were surrounded by an enemy king, who demanded the life of a righteous man in the city, or else he would destroy the city, the Pharisees reasoned that it is better for one man to die than an entire city -- and would give him up. Most rabbis today would probably say the same thing. It seems practical -- common sense.
However, the Hasidim believe YEHOVAH God answers prayer, and they would refuse the evil king's request, and pray to YEHOVAH and trust in Him to defend and protect the city! "According to the teaching of the Hasidim, the residents of the city would not have been harmed had they refused to hand Ulla over to the authorities. Elijah blamed Rabbi Yehoshua for not trusting in God's intervention."
Concludes Shmuel Safrai: "Basically, we have only veiled references to Hasidic teachings in a literature that is close in spirit but not identical to theirs. This is enough, however, to show us how similar Jesus was to this first-century Galilean group. For the most part, his deeds were in keeping with the tenets of that group."
However, Yeshua also had much more in common with some of the Pharisees than with others. A careful investigation of the teachings of the schools of Shammai and Hillel shows that in many respects, the school of Hillel came closer to the teachings of the Messiah.
The Teachings of Hillel
A book, The Life and Teachings of Hillel, by Yitzhak Buxbaum (1994, Jason Aronson, Inc.), provides a fascinating insight and glimpse into the Judaism of the first century, during the time Yeshua the Messiah walked the highways and bi-ways of ancient Judaea. Many people, out of ignorance, have had a completely distorted and incorrect view of the ancient Pharisees of Yeshua's time. This new book helps set the record straight.
Looking at the New Testament Scriptures alone, one might assume -- and many people have -- that the Pharisees were a contemptible lot, a bunch of religious low-lifes who in their pride, corruption, and vanity, rejected the Messiah, and sought his crucifixion. But this idea is far from the truth -- it is shallow, distorted, and very one-sided. What many have not understood is that the New Testament accounts were never intended to portray a comprehensive picture of the Pharisaical movement in ancient Judaea, but rather merely depicts the Pharisees (primarily their leaders) as they interfaced with Yeshua the Messiah, and later with the apostles and the early Church.
In this regard, the New Testament does not always bitterly attack or condemn the Pharisees. Paul himself, even after his conversion, boasted (in a godly way, for instructional purposes) of his background in religious training as a Pharisee. When brought before the council of the Sanhedrin, Paul addressed the group saying, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question" (Acts 23:6). At this point, interestingly, the religious leaders -- who were a mixture of Pharisees and Sadducees -- became divided in their opinion of Paul, and a strong dissension arose among them (verse 7). "And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God" (Acts 23:9).
Paul himself was brought up and taught as a Pharisee. He told the Jewish people on another occasion, "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, yet brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law [the oral and written torah, no doubt, which the Pharisees taught] of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day" (Acts 22:3).
Gamaliel, Paul's teacher, was the grandson of Hillel, and was one of the few Pharisee teachers accorded the title "Raboni." He was undoubtedly of the School of Hillel. We read in Acts that when the Sadducees and Pharisee leaders in Jerusalem brought the apostles before the council to punish them, seeking the death penalty on them for spreading "heresy," it was Gamaliel who stood up in the counsel and intervened on the behalf of the apostles. "Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men." After reciting several instances of false messianic movements which arose, and then self-destructed, Gamaliel cautioned the council, "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God" (Acts 5:34-39).
Now, since Gamaliel was the leader of the faction of the Pharisees known as the school of Hillel, being the leading sage of his time and one of only seven to be given the title of "Raboni" ("our teacher"), as opposed to the usual "Rabbi" ("my teacher"), it is obvious that all the members of the school of Hillel would have backed him up in his counsel and advice. And since he was a man of great reputation, he even persuaded the members of the school of Shammai, or many of them, to support his position concerning the apostles. Obviously, the school of Hillel was relatively tolerant toward religious Jews who differed in certain respects and was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, or at least to co-exist with them, believing that YEHOVAH God in due time would show who was right and who was wrong.
The council agreed to the sage advice of Gamaliel, and after warning the apostles not to teach in Yeshua's name, and whipping them, they let them go (vs. 40-41). Their lives were spared, largely on account of the moderation and wise counsel of Gamaliel -- a leader of the School of Hillel. Obviously, it was the Sadducees and school of Shammai, which were by far the most intolerant toward the apostles and the early ecclesia (Acts 4:1-2, 6, 15-21). Why were the Judean religious leaders so strict and hostile toward the apostles? The truth is that they felt threatened -- they were worried that the whole nation of the Judahites might "convert," and leave them without a power base, and they would be relegated to the slag heap of religious unimportance. They would lose their respect in the eyes of the people, their authority, their control over the tithes and offerings of the people. When they heard of the miracles being performed by the apostles, "they doubted of themselves hereunto this would grow" (Acts 5:24).
Gamaliel, the Doctor of the Law
Says Unger's Bible Dictionary about Gamaliel:
"The grandson of the great Hillel, and himself a Pharisee and celebrated doctor of the law. His learning was so eminent and his character so revered that he is one of the seven who, among Jewish doctors only, have been honored with the title of 'Rabban.' He was called the 'Beauty of the Law,' and it is a saying of the Talmud that 'since Rabban Gamaliel died the glory of the law has ceased'" ("Gamaliel," p. 388).
Gamaliel's character was not trammeled by the narrow bigotry that characterized the Pharisees who were of the School of Shammai, who were in authority during the time of the Messiah and the apostles. He rose above such narrow prejudices and was a man of candor and wisdom, and broad-mindedness. Ecclesiastical traditions of the early church fathers states that he himself later became a Christian and was baptised by Peter and Paul, together with his son Gamaliel, and Nicodemus. Gamaliel died about A.D. 50, twenty years before the destruction of the Temple.
Says The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible of Gamaliel:
"Son of Simon and grandson of Hillel, Gamaliel was a doctor of the law and a member of the Sanhedrin. Representing the liberal wing of the Pharisees, the school of Hillel, as opposed to the school of Shammai, he intervened with a reasoned and persuasive speech at the trial of the apostles (Acts 5:33-40). Paul acknowledged him as his teacher (Acts 22:3), and he was held in such high honor that he was designated 'Rabban' ('our teacher'), a higher title than 'Rabbi' ('my teacher')" (p. 451).
Clearly, even the Biblical evidence from the New Testament tells us that not all the Pharisees were narrow-minded bigots and wickedly corrupt teachers as many people have assumed. Some of them, primarily of the school of Hillel, were much more free-thinking, liberal, and peaceable in their interactions with the apostles and the early Church.
Many of the Pharisees, particularly those of the school of Hillel, had a "live and let live" attitude toward the early Ecclesia. They did not accept Yeshua as the Messiah, but they considered the early Nazarenes -- followers of Yeshua of Nazareth -- as fellow Judahites, and perhaps even as a new "school" or "sect" within the Pharisaical movement!
The School of Hillel
The school of Hillel, to which Gamaliel -- and the apostle Paul -- belonged, believed in teaching the "spirit of the Law" or Torah. Hillel believed that YEHOVAH God should be understood as being perfect from the viewpoint of His mitigating the written Torah or law with the qualities of forgiveness, mercy, compassion and love. These were among the teachings of the Oral Torah which came down from Ezra the scribe. Hillel's position was that the Torah should serve mankind as a wife serves her husband -- it should help a person to obtain eternal life in the world to come.
Hillel lived in the Israelite colony in Babylon, where he was born and educated, before he moved to Judaea and became famous there. In Babylon, the Israelites were of Chassidic and Kabbalistic belief and position. Hillel is generally regarded as the greatest of all Chassidic (Hasidic) teachers.
In reading the book The Life and Teachings of Hillel, it becomes apparent that Yeshua and the original apostles taught either within or very similar to the beliefs and practices of the Hasidic position and doctrine of the school of Hillel. The inflammatory rhetoric Yeshua used to castigate the Pharisees in Matthew 23 was directed at the disciples and leaders of the dominant school of Shammai, who had corrupted and perverted the Oral Law and the written Torah, by their many additions, restrictions, and traditions which they had incorporated in their legalistic interpretation and teachings. On many occasions, and statements Yeshua made in Matthew 23, he demolished the positions held by the opponents of the school of Hillel -- the adherents of Shammai. Most modern Christians believe the worst about the Pharisees because the gospels are written from the standpoint of Yeshua being virtually in the shoes of Hillel and having to rebuke the strict and demanding Pharisees who followed the onerous and burdensome teachings of Shammai.
Hillel himself was a Hasid. A single line preserved from the eulogy at his funeral contains three vital characterizations of the man:
"O hasid! O humble man! -- disciple of Ezra" (Sanhedrin 11a).
While Hillel was a "hasid" in the full sense of the word -- his contemporary adversary/opponent Shammai was a parush. The "hasid" is distinguished by his love for people; the "parush" was distinguishedby his separation from those he considers sinful or irreligious, according to his strict standards.
Yeshua encountered many such Shammai "parush" in his travels -- Pharisees who rebuked him for eating with those whom they looked down upon, "tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners." Yeshua said to them, "But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil (demon). The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children" (Matthew 11:16-19).
The School of Shammai
The school of Shammai, however, believed in teaching and enjoining the "letter of the law" or Torah upon the people. Shammai taught that YEHOVAH God could be best understood as being perfect from the viewpoint of His strictness, judgment, and uncompromising righteousness -- doing everything to letter perfection. This attitude was derived from the absolute strictness involved in performing the Temple rituals by the Levites, and such strictness was carried over into the everyday life of the Jewish people. To Shammai and his disciples, YEHOVAH's justice and judgment were more important than His mercy, love or forgiveness.
The superstrict school of Shammai appears dominant in the time of the Messiah, judging from the rebukes Yeshua gave to the Pharisees of his time, calling them a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 23:33). These Pharisees noticed that Yeshua "sat at meat in the house," and "behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples" (Matthew 9:10. They objected to Yeshua eating with such people, and asked his disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" Yeshua heard them, and replied, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have MERCY, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:11-13).
These same Pharisees condemned the healing of the sick on the Sabbath day, and the disciples of the Messiah plucking a few ears of wheat in the field on the Sabbath and eating them. Yeshua rebuked their strict interpretation of the law, saying, "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless" (Matthew 12:7).
These self-righteous Pharisees did not appreciate his rebuke or correction. They repudiated it, and his message, "and held a council against him, how they might destroy him" (Matthew 12:14).
These members of the school of Shammai, when Yeshua performed miracles of healing, denied it was by the power of YEHOVAH God, and ascribed the healings to the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24). When Yeshua healed a man born blind from birth, on the Sabbath day, some of the Pharisees -- undoubtedly mostly those of the school of Shammai -- said, "This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day" (John 9:16). Other Pharisees, probably of the school of Hillel, argued, saying, "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them," says the Gospel of John (John 9:16).
The school of Hillel taught very similar to the teachings of the Messiah. Shammai was not a beloved figure among the people. His life did not serve as an example followed or honored by the people. Many popular stories about Hillel arose and were recorded in the Talmud; but those about Shammai were but a shadow by comparison. This does not mean that Yeshua endorsed the "school of Hillel," however. It merely points out that of the two major schools among the Pharisees, that the school of Hillel was closer in many respects to the truth than the school of Shammai!
"An Unworthy Generation"
According to the Talmud, Shammai's temporary success in forcing his views through on a number of issues, and thus humiliating Hillel, was a day of sorrow and lamentation in Israel -- "that day was as grievous for Israel as the day on which they made the Golden Calf." According to modern Rabbinic scholars, that generation of Pharisees -- because of the power of the school of Shammai, undoubtedly -- was "an unworthy generation."
Interestingly, Yeshua the Messiah himself said much the same thing. Yeshua declared: "An evil and an adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Matthew 12:39). Speaking of cities where he had done mighty miracles, Yeshua said, "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee" (Matthew 11:21-24). Of course, the wickedness of the Sadducees, and Herod the king and his coterie of sycophants and boot-lickers also made that generation a truly unworthy and wicked one.
A certain gentile once came to Hillel and said, "I'm ready to become a Jew, but only if you can teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel replied, "What is hateful to you, don't do to your fellow man; that is the whole Torah, and the rest...is just commentary. Go then and learn it" (Shabbat 31a; p. 95 of The Life and Teachings of Hillel).
Although he put it negatively, this is nothing less than a form of the Golden Rule that Yeshua the Messiah taught. Yeshua declared, to the crowds who came to hear him: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31). Matthew records his words: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
It is very apparent that there is a direct connection, historically, between the Hebrew prophets, Ezra and his teachings, and Hillel, and later Gamaliel, Yeshua the Messiah, the apostles, and the apostle Paul, and the early Church of YEHOVAH God.
The Seven Kinds of Pharisees
According to Jewish tradition and history, there were theologically seven kinds of "Pharisees." Says Angus in his Bible Dictionary:
"The Pharisees, according to the Talmud, were of seven kinds: (1) The Shechemite Pharisee, who simply keeps the law for what he can profit thereby, as Shechem submitted to circumcision to obtain Dinah (Gen.34:19). (2) The Tumbling Pharisee, who to appear humble always hangs down his head. (3) The Bleeding Pharisee, who in order not to see a woman walks with his eyes closed, and thus often meets with wounds. (4) The Mortar Pharisee, who wears a mortar-shaped cap to cover his eyes that he may not see any impurities or indecencies. (5) The What-am-I-yet-to-do Pharisee, who, not knowing much about the law, as soon as he has done one thing, asks, 'What is my duty now? and I will do it?' (comp. Mark 10:17-22). (6) The Pharisee from fear, who keeps the law because he is afraid of future judgment. (7) The Pharisee from love, who obeys the Lord because he loves him with all his heart" (p. 855).
Over the period of time when Pharisaism began, about 134 B.C., till around 135 A.D., the quality of its adherents diminished. As is true of all human-involved endeavors, as time went on, various types of individuals entered the group, each with his own aims and ambitions. Says The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible:
"At first, when one incurred great danger in joining the party, the Pharisees were men of strong religious character; they were the best people in the nation. Subsequently Pharisaism became an inherited belief, the profession of it was popular, and men of character very inferior to that of the original members joined its ranks. With the lapse of time also the essentially vicious element in the system developed and laid the Pharisees, as commonly represented by the members of the party, open to scathing rebuke. John the Baptist called them and the Sadducees a generation of vipers; and it is well known how severely our Lord denounced them for their self-righteousness, their hypocrisy, their inattention to the weightier matters of the law, while being very particular as to minute points, with other faults (Matt.5:20; 16:6, 11-12; 23:1-39). They became a cunning body of men (Jos. Antiq. xvii. 2, 4). They took a prominent part in plotting the death of Christ (Mark 3:6; John 11:47-57). Yet they always numbered in their ranks MEN OF PERFECT SINCERITY AND THE HIGHEST CHARACTER" (p. 742, article "Pharisees").
Who Killed the Messiah?
It was a Sadducean high priest, Caiaphas, who abused his authority to condemn Yeshua as a "heretic" and who delivered him to Pilate for execution (Matthew 26:57-68). But it was "the chief priests (most of whom were Sadducees), and elders (many of them Pharisees, primarily of the school of Shammai), and all the council" of the Sanhedrin who "sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death" (Matthew 26:59). It would appear at this time that the members of the school of Hillel, at least to some degree, were influenced by these proceedings and went along with them. There is no hint in the gospels of any division among the Pharisees as to the proceedings against the Messiah. Of course, it is probable that any suspected "sympathizers" of the Messiah would have been excluded and did not know about the plot to apprehend the Messiah and have him killed. This would have included such Pharisees as Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathaea (John 3:1-3; 7:48-53; 19:19:38-42), who were secretly disciples of the Messiah but did not let it be known "for fear of the Jews" (John 19:38). .
History of the Early Judahite Ecclesia
The New Testament Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, which began on Pentecost, 31 A.D., with the holy spirit being poured out upon the believers in Yeshua Notzri (Yeshua the Nazarene"), grew greatly during its seminal year. That Pentecost alone some 3000 souls were added to the Church (Acts 3:41-42). The number of believers shortly grew to five thousand (Acts 4:4). After the healing of the man lame from birth at the Temple, the religious leaders of the Jews were worried where they new "sect" was headed and found its staggering growth troubling. But other than threaten and intimidate, there was little they could do, since the people were favorable toward them. "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord within Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women)" (Acts 5:12-14). Daily, in the Temple, and in every house, the apostles "ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).
However, shortly after this beginning, Stephen, a newly appointed deacon in the church and a man "full of faith and of power" (Acts 6:8), had a run in with a more "liberal" synagogue of the Jews -- what today we might call a "reformed" Jewish synagogue. This was a synagogue called "the synagogue of the Libertines [implying they were more "liberated" from the hard and fast rules and traditions of the elders -- more like a "reformed" or "progressive" synagogue today], and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians [of Egypt], and of them of Cilicia and of Asia" (Acts 7:9-10). They began disputing with Stephen, but could not answer his wisdom, and so hired false testimony against him, accusing him of seeking to destroy the Temple and changing the customs or rites given by Moses (verses 11-14). Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin, who inquired if these things were so. His testimony cut them to the quick, and showing their rebelliousness, "they gnashed upon him with their teeth" (v.54), and when he looked into heaven and said he saw the glory of YEHOVAH God and Yeshua at His right hand, they had had enough, and in a violent rage, they "cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him" (Acts 7:57-58).
After this, there was "a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1). "Devout men" buried Stephen, making great lamentation over him (Acts 8:2). This may well have included many members of the school of Hillel who abhorred the murderous frenzy of the mob action which had led to his needless death and bloody murder. "Devout men" would mean the Hasidim -- those who were Hasids, like Hillel, and Gamaliel -- as well as the leaders of the Church. Stephen himself must have been a highly respected and well known doer of good deeds and righteousness (Acts 6:3-5, 8).
This particular persecution seems to have ended when Paul himself, then known as Saul of Tarsus, who was the chief "inquisitor" and who "breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1), was himself converted and became a chief exponent of the fledgling faith (Acts 9:1-18). Now, however, much of the Jewish anger of the high priests and orthodox rabbis, the Pharisees, was focused on Saul himself, and they plotted to slay him (Acts 9:23-24, 28-30). After this, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). This was about 36 A.D. -- five years after the death of the Messiah.
During the ensuing years, although persecution flared up from time to time and from place to place, there seems to have been achieved a sort of "live and let live" accommodation between the Pharisees and Christian leaders.
Although there was no meeting of minds doctrinally, concerning the Messiahship of Yeshua, between the remaining Pharisees of either the school of Hillel or Shammai, and the early Nazarenes, the church was free to preach the gospel and did so. However, as the apostle Paul, sought to preach the Messiah in the synagogues throughout Asia Minor, Greece, and Europe, he encountered sporadic persecution and opposition. Nevertheless, he was allowed, as a Judahite Rabbi who had been taught at the feet of Gamaliel, and as a Pharisee coming from Jerusalem, to preach in the Israelite synagogues (Acts 13:14-15, 42; 17:1-5). Many believed and were converted, but many others did not.
Even many of the sect of the Pharisees believed, and became members of the ecclesia (Acts 15;1-6). This brought about the need to address the question of whether an Israelite convert of the ten northern tribes in dispersion would have to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses to be saved -- that is, whether those of the ten tribes had to become Judahites, as well as followers of the Messiah. The council in Acts 15 addressed this volatile issue, and decided that this was not necessary at all (Acts 15:19-21). It was enough that the northern ten tribes in dispersion would hear the laws of Moses being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day (v. 21), but they were not bound to be circumcised in the flesh or to become a "Judahite" literally, to be saved. This vital church council took place in A.D. 51, according to Usher's chronology.
About ten years later, in A.D. 60, Paul returned to Jerusalem. He found a growing, thriving ecclesia, under the leadership of James. After they met, and heard the wonderful things YEHOVAH God had been doing through Paul's ministry, James and the elders with him "glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands [Greek "myriads," or ten thousands] of Jews [Israelites] there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law" (Acts 21:20). The ecclesia had obviously grown and prospered, spiritually, since the last time Paul had been in Jerusalem in 36 A.D. -- about twenty four years previously.
This certainly implies that a sort of accommodation has been reached between the Pharisees, and Sadducees, and the leadership of the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God. Violent persecution had ceased, and the ecclesia was free to preach, teach, and each Israelite was free to decide for himself what to believe. The Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, then known as the "Nazarenes" by the Judeans, was simply regarded as another "sect" or sub-group within the Judahite religious experience -- possibly as a new branch of the Pharisees, very similar in belief and approach to the Scriptures as the school of Hillel!
The Testimony of Josephus and Eusebius
The Jewish historian Josephus himself seems to allude to this fact, when he tells us about the apostle James, the brother of the Messiah, who later became the head of the Jerusalem headquarters church. Josephus tells us James was highly respected by all the Israelites, because of his righteousness and holiness -- he was a very highly respected leader -- so much so that the new high priest Ananus, who was insolent and bold in temper, and of the sect of the Sadducees, a sect which was very rigid in judging offenders, sought to use him as an example to exercise his priestly authority. Josephus tells us what happened:
"...so he [Ananus] assembled the sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others [or some of his companions;] and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa] desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more for that what he had already done was not to be justified: nay, some of them went so far as to meet Albinus [the procurator], as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent: -- whereupon Albinus complied with what they had said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled three months..." (Ant., xx, ix, 1).
Eusebius tells us in his The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, that James, the brother of the Messiah, was known among the early Christians as "James the Righteous." He was chosen by James, Peter and John to be the "bishop of Jerusalem" (p. 72). Eusebius tells us more about his untimely death at the hand of persecutors:
"When Paul appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews were disappointed of the hope in which they had devised their plot against him and turned their attention to James the Lord's brother, who had been elected by the apostles to the episcopal throne at Jerusalem. This is the crime they committed against him. They brought him into their midst and in the presence of the whole populace demanded a denial of his belief in Christ. But when, contrary to all expectation, he spoke as he liked and showed undreamt of fearlessness in the face of the enormous throng, declaring that our Saviour and Lord, Jesus, was the Son of God, they could not endure his testimony any longer, since he was universally regarded as the most righteous of men because of the heights of philosophy and religion which he scaled in his life. So they killed him, seizing the opportunity for getting their own way provided by the absence of a government, for at that very time Festus had died in Judaea, leaving the province without governor or procurator" (p. 99).
The early church leader Clement tells us that James was thrown from a parapet of the Temple, and clubbed to death. Hegesippus, who belonged to the first generation after the apostles, in his fifth book wrote of James:
"Control of the Church passed to the apostles, together with the Lord's brother James, whom everyone from the Lord's time till our own has called the Righteous...he drank no wine or intoxicating liquor and ate no animal food; no razor came near his head [he was under a Nazarite vow]...He used to enter the sanctuary alone, and was often found on his knees beseeching forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard like a camel's from his continually bending them in worship of God and beseeching forgiveness for the people. Because of his unsurpassable righteousness he was called the Righteous and Oblias -- in our language 'Bulwark of the People, and Righteousness'....those who came to believe did so because of James. Since therefore many even of the ruling class believed, there was an uproar among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said there was a danger that the entire people would expect Jesus as the Christ. So they collected and said to James: 'Be good enough to restrain the people, for they have gone astray after Jesus in the belief that he is the Christ. Be good enough to make the facts about Jesus clear to all who come for the Passover Day. We all accept what you say: we can vouch for it, and so can all the people, that you are a righteous man, and take no one at his face value. So make it clear to the crowd that they must not go astray as regards Jesus: the whole people and all of us accept what you say. So take your stand on the temple parapet, so that from that height you may be easily seen, and your words audible to the whole people. For because of the Passover all the tribes have forgathered, and the Gentiles too.'
"So the Scribes and Pharisees made James stand on the Sanctuary parapet and shouted to him: 'Righteous one, whose word we are all obliged to accept, the people are going astray after Jesus who was crucified; so tell us what is meant by the "door of Jesus."' He replied as loudly as he could: 'Why do you question me about the Son of Man? I tell you, He is sitting in heaven at the right hand of the Great Power, and He will come on the clouds of heaven.' Many were convinced, and gloried in James' testimony, crying: 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' Then again the Scribes and Pharisees said to each other: 'We made a bad mistake in affording such testimony to Jesus. We had better go up and throw him down, so that they will be frightened to believe him.' 'Ho, ho!' they called out, 'even the Righteous one has gone astray!'...
"So they went up and threw down the Righteous one. Then they said to each other 'Let us stone James the Righteous,' and began to stone him, as in spite of his fall he was still alive. But he turned and knelt, uttering the words: 'I beseech Thee, LORD God and Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.' While they pelted him with stones, one of the descendants of Rechab the son of Rachabim -- the priestly family to which Jeremiah the Prophet bore witness, called out: 'Stop! what are you doing? the Righteous one is praying for you.' Then one of them, a fuller, took the club which he used to beat out the clothes, and brought it down on the head of the Righteous one. Such was his martyrdom. He was buried on the spot, by the Sanctuary, and his headstone is still there by the Sanctuary. He has proved a true witness to Jews and Gentiles alike that Jesus is the Christ.
"Immediately after this Vespasian began to besiege them" (quoted in Eusebius, p. 99-102).
It seems ironic that in 31 A.D. the Judean religious leadership wickedly put to death the innocent Lamb of YEHOVAH God, the Messiah our Passover Lamb (John 1:36; I Corinthians 5:7-8), and then 39 years later (Hebrew inclusive counting) the successors to that religious leadership wickedly murdered James, the chief apostle in Jerusalem and the brother of the Messiah -- and that after a period of 40 years, during which YEHOVAH God patiently gave them ample opportunity and witness, so they could repent, when they finally showed their attitude in maliciously killing James, YEHOVAH "immediately" sent the Roman army to besiege them and to destroy their city and Temple in 70 A.D. YEHOVAH God is very patient; but when His judgment comes, it comes like a hammer and is irresistible and complete.
Eusebius quotes a manuscript of Josephus which we don't have, today, and Origen quotes it also. It makes plain the testimony of even this fair-handed historian of the Israelites, who wrote as to the cause of the Jewish-Roman war:
"These things happened to the Jews in requital for James the Righteous, who was a brother of Jesus known as Christ, for though he was the most righteous of men, the Jews put him to death" (Eusebius, p. 102).
"The Great Hatred"
The Jewish people have never fully understood the sins of their ancestors, those who condemned the innocent Yeshua the Messiah to death in 31 A.D., at which time an earthquake shook the Temple, and rent the curtain in two, and caused the offices of the Sanhedrin to have to be removed from the Temple precincts. Nor have they understood the evil committed by those Jews in high office during the time of James, the righteous brother of the Messiah who was condemned to death in a plot of evil-minded Pharisees 39 years later.
The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Forty years before that date would be 31 A.D. (Hebrew inclusive counting) -- the year of the crucifixion! Says Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews:
"Thus also, before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day-time; which light lasted for half and hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was being led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner, [court of the temple,] which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now, those that kept watch in the temple came thereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshewed the DESOLATION that was coming upon them " (IV, 5, 3).
In early writings of the church fathers, Jerome in a letter to Hedibia relates that the huge lintel of the Temple was broken and splintered and fell. He connects this with the rending of the Veil. Says Alfred Edersheim, in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, "it would seem an obvious inference to connect again this breaking of the lintel with an earthquake" (p. 610). The lintel was an enormous stone, being at least 30 feet long and weighing some 30 tons!
The Temple Veils were 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and the thickness of the palm of a man's hand, wrought in 72 squares. They were so heavy that we are told 300 priests were needed to manipulate each one. The Veil being rent from top to bottom was such a terrible portent because it indicated that YEHOVAH God's Own Hand had torn it in two, His Presence thus deserting and leaving that Holy Place.
Jewish sources themselves bear witness to these amazing events. Says the Jewish Talmud in Yoma 39b of the events which occurred in 31 A.D.:
"Forty years before the Temple was destroyed [i.e., 40 years before 70 A.D., or in 31 A.D.]...the gates of the Hekel [Holy Place] opened by themselves, until Rabbi Yohanan B. Zakkai rebuked them [the gates] saying, Hekel, Hekel, why alarmist thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed..."
For the huge doors of the Temple behind the Veil to open, of their own accord, or in association with the great earthquake, would cause them to pull powerfully against the Veil, and with the lintel falling, at the same time, could have torn it in two from top to bottom.
This same year, 31 A.D., the Sanhedrin had to abandon the Chamber of Hewn Stones, near the Holy Place in the Temple, which was its official seat or location. This was about 40 yards southeast of the entrance to the Holy Place. In 31 A.D. the Sanhedrin had to move to another location, called "The Trading Place," farther to the east and a much less significant spot. To be forced to move from a beautiful, gorgeous, awesome location in the Temple to a spot much less beautiful, esteemed, and reverential, must have seemed a terrible "put down." Says the Talmud:
"Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin was BANISHED (from the Chamber of Hewn Stone) and sat in the trading-station (on the so-called Temple Mount)" (Shabbat 15a).
Forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. is 31 A.D. (Hebrew inclusive counting, don't forget) -- the very year of the crucifixion of the Messiah! Why was the Sanhedrin moved in the very year Yeshua was crucified? Could it also have been forced to do so because of damage due to the earthquake associated with the crucifixion of Yeshua -- and be direct punishment for their complicity in handing Yeshua over to the Temple Guard? Was this evidence of YEHOVAH God's official displeasure with their actions?
But this is not all. The events of the year 31 A.D. are amazing, when viewed from the perspective of almost 2,000 years later. Why did so many anomalous events occur during that one single year? Why did so many "curses" begin that very year? Why was the Sanhedrin so obviously rebuked by YEHOVAH God that year, by being forced to "relocate" to a much lesser station than that which they previously held?
Writes Rabbi Leibel Reznick in The Holy Temple Revisited:
"Although this was the largest structure on top of the entire [so-called] Temple Mount, the purpose and function of the Basilica is not recorded anywhere. The TALMUD tells us that when the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) CEASED TO JUDGE CAPITAL OFFENSES, they MOVED from the Supreme Court chambers to the 'shopping mall' (Rosh HaShana 31a). This shopping mall was located on the [so-called] Temple Mount (Rashi)... Perhaps this shopping mall was located within the Royal Basilica. Because this area was built on Herod's extension, it did not have the sanctity of the Temple itself, and commerce would have been permitted" (Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1993, p. 69).
Notice! The year the Sanhedrin was moved was 31 A.D., the year the Messiah was crucified. This was also the year they CEASED to judge capital offenses! This "authority" was thenceforth removed from their purview, denied to them -- another withering rebuke to the sages of the Court which so injudiciously and intemperately MISJUDGED the Messiah himself!
Writes Craig Blomberg of this event:
"...the claim that the Romans retained the sole right of capital punishment (John 18:31) has often been termed a Johanine error, especially in view of the counter-example in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). But this right is strikingly confirmed by a passage in the Talmud, which says that capital punishment had been taken from the Jews FORTY YEARS before the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 (pSanh.1:1, 7:2). Stephen's stoning reads more like mob action which defied technical legalities" (The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, by Craig Blomberg, Inter-Varsity Press, 1987, p. 179).
It was the very year of the crucifixion that the Jews were denied the right to perform capital punishment by the Romans. When the members of the Jewish Supreme Court brought Yeshua to Pilate, he told them, "Take him and judge him according to your law." But they replied, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (John 18:31). Yet they connived and pressured Pilate and stirred up the crowd to demand the crucifixion of Yeshua the Messiah, the Anointed One of YEHOVAH God (John 18:32-40; 19:1-16).
Great trouble and trial has come upon the Jewish nation ever since this moment frozen in time in 31 A.D. As he was led away to be crucified, Yeshua warned the women of Jerusalem, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (Luke 23:28-31). Truly, that was a memorable year of infamy!
Did They Learn Their Lesson?
But did that generation of the Jewish nation, the Pharisees and religious leaders, learn their lesson?
Forty years later, in 70 A.D., they once again conspired to slay the very brother of Yeshua of Nazareth -- "James the Righteous," apostle and leader of the Nazarene Israelite Ecclesia!
And "immediately," we are told, judgment fell upon them by the hand of YEHOVAH God Almighty! As Eusebius, early church historian reports, Titus fell upon the city of Jerusalem "immediately," and besieged it, and over a million Jews lost their lives in the senseless war.
But strangely, Jewish authorities themselves seem to have an understanding -- a "hint" -- of why this great and devastating destruction took place. In the book Judaism, edited by Arthur Hertzberg, we read this remarkable statement:
"The First Temple was destroyed because of the sin of idolatry, sexual licentiousness and murder....But during the time of the Second Temple, the people were engaged in the study of Torah, and the performance of commandments and deeds of lovingkindness. Why, then, was the Second Temple destroyed? Because the people were guilty of GROUNDLESS HATRED. This teaches that the sin of groundless hatred is considered to be as grave as the sins of idolatry, sexual licentiousness and murder" (p. 253; quoted from Yoma 9b).
The death of Yeshua of Nazareth, a righteous and godly person, who committed no sin to deserve the death penalty, was an act of "groundless hatred." Likewise, the murder of Stephen, the first martyr of the Ecclesia, was totally inexcusable and unjustified. Finally, the martyrdom of James, the brother of the Lord, in 69 A.D., was the final act of "groundless hatred," which culminated in and brought upon the Judean nation the loss of the Second Temple, the destruction of the nation, and the punishment of the Judahite exile and Diaspora.
The only way for these sins to be forgiven, is for the descendants of the Edomite Judean religious leadership, or modern Jewry, to admit the "sin of groundless hatred" of their ancestors, and to repent in dust and ashes, and to then study the lives, claims, and examples of Yeshua of Nazareth, as the Messiah, with an open and unprejudiced mind. As the apostle Peter wrote:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard these things, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, REPENT, and be baptized [mikvahed, or immersed in the ritual bath of baptism] every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, SAVE YOURSELVES from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:36-40).
Paul wrote, in a similar vein, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth ALL men everywhere to REPENT: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
In our generation, we will live to see the arrival of Yeshua the Messiah, as his name is in Hebrew, and YEHOVAH God Himself return from Heaven to inaugurate the Messianic Age and YEHOVAH God's Millennial Rule of righteousness throughout the earth. All the glorious Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled. The wolf will lie down with the lamb; and the leopard with the kid; and the calf with the young lion (Isaiah 11:6). The Law or Torah of YEHOVAH God will once again go forth from YEHOVAH God in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4). And all the world will learn, for the first time, the true ways of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).
For the first time in history, many millions of Israelites who have not recognized or known Yeshua the Messiah, will come to know and love him as their true Messiah, the Son of David, and their High Priest and king under YEHOVAH God the Father.
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will come with you: for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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