Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
What Year Was Yeshua the Messiah Nailed to the Tree?
When was Yeshua the Messiah nailed to the tree outside Jerusalem? What was the YEAR of the crucifixion of the Messiah? Was it 33 A.D. as Catholics claim? Was it 31 A.D.? Or was it in 30 A.D.? What is the truth? And what difference does it make? Here is vital information and historical proof that Yeshua the Nazarene was indeed the promised Messiah!
by HOIM Staff
Yeshua's ministry began in 28 A.D., about the time of the Passover. Therefore, to know what year he died, it would help if we could determine the length of his ministry. How long did he preach, before he was killed? This, too, is a matter of great controversy! Some say three and one half years; others claim he preached one year, and others, like Ernest Martin, say his ministry lasted only two years. But what is the truth?
Yeshua's ministry began soon after his baptism, by John the Baptist, when the holy spirit came upon him in a special way. We read in Luke, chapter 3:
"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from ` heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age . . ." (Luke 3:21-23).
Yeshua, of course, was literally begotten of the holy spirit at his conception (Matt.20-21; Luke 1:35). As he grew up as a boy, he "waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). What then is meant by the Holy Spirit coming upon him at his baptism? This can only refer to the holy spirit anointing him to begin his ministry, and to begin preaching the gospel, the purpose for which he was sent!
Since the Messiah was born about September, in 3 B.C., he would have been "about thirty years of age" (in his 30th year using the Jewish inclusive method of reckoning) in the spring of A.D. 28. Thus he was baptized before Passover in A.D. 28, and "anointed" for his ministry at that time.
Notice what Luke says:
Now in the FIFTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF TIBERIUS CAESAR, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being high priests, THE WORD OF THE GOD CAME TO JOHN the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins...(Luke 3:1-2, NKJ).
Here Luke says that John the Baptist began his ministry in Tiberius' 15th year. According to the Roman reckoning this would have been somewhere from August 19, 28 A.D. to August 18, 29 A.D. However, according to the Jewish way of computing regnal dates, this would have been from Tishri 1, 27 A.D. to Tishri 1, 28 A.D. -- or Sept/Oct. 27 A.D. to Sept/Oct. 28 A.D. This is the dating Luke used in his narrative, and was common among easterners in the Roman Empire. Writes a student of Old Testament chronology --
From the time of the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon, the official scribes of the southern kingdom of Judah counted the regnal years of their kings from the month Tishri (September - October)....Proof that Tishri reckoning was employed in Judah may be found by comparing II Kings 22:3 with 23:23, where the discovery of the law by Hilkiah and the subsequent passover in Nisan, which must have occurred several months later, are both dated in the 18th year of Josiah (Chronology of the Old Testament, page 1. www.internetdynamics.com/personal/spadkins/god/study/oldtest/chron.htm).
With the Accession-year system that the scribes of Judah used, that portion of a year which followed a king's accession to the throne, and which preceded the official New Year (Tishri 1), was called his accession year and his first official year did not start until after Tishri 1.
Now, since Yeshua's 30th year (according to Jewish regnal dating) occurred between Tishri 1, 27 A.D. and Tishri 1, 28 A.D., we see that this dovetails nicely with the time of John's ministry, and nicely with the dates regarding the rebuilding of the Temple. Yeshua was baptized by John the Baptist sometime in either October or November of 27 A.D. at the beginning of the Sabbatical Year, and began his ministry with the Passover and Pentecost season of 28 A.D.
At this point, Yeshua went up to the wilderness, and fasted forty days, and was tempted of the devil (Luke 4:1-13, Matt. 4:1-11). This was special preparation for his ministry. After this, he departed into Galilee, and dwelt in Capernaum (Matt. 4:12-13), and began to preach the gospel.
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17).
This was after John was put into prison (Mark 1:14-15). Luke tells us further:
"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all" (Luke 4:14).
The First Passover of Yeshua's Ministry
Yeshua had already begun healing the sick miraculously, and casting out demons. He established a reputation with his preaching and miracles throughout the region of Galilee. At the Passover, that year, 28 A.D., he went up to Jerusalem. John records:
"And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem" (John 2:13).
At Jerusalem, Yeshua found the Temple of YEHOVAH God polluted by those who sold doves and oxen and sheep for sacrifices, and a host of moneychangers. Angered, he made a scourge of small cords, and drove out all the animals and their sellers, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers (John 2:14-17). This first Passover would have been in the spring of 28 A.D., shortly after his ministry got started.
At this Passover, Yeshua was asked, "What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" (John 2:18). Yeshua answered: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (v. 19). What did Yeshua mean? Using a "day" for a "year" principle, he also implied that three years from that time, or three Passovers hence, he would be killed, and resurrected! "Three years"! In other words, this statement is proof that Yeshua's ministry lasted exactly three years!
Notice what follows: "Then said the Jews, FORTY AND SIX YEARS was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body" (John 2:20-21).
The Temple of Herod
When did Herod begin construction on the Temple? This statement was made at Passover 28 A.D. If we subtract the 46 years the Temple was in building, 46-28 = 18 B.C.; but since there is no year zero, we must add "1" year, bringing us to 19 B.C. However, the Jews in Yeshua's day used an inclusive method of reckoning, so this would bring us back to the year 18 B.C.! Did Herod begin his massive reconstruction project on the Temple in 18 B.C.? Does this fit in with history?
This is confirmed by the Bible dictionary Insight On the Scriptures. Notice!
In The Jewish War (I, 401 [xxi, 1]), Josephus says that Herod rebuilt the temple in the 15th year of his reign, but in Jewish Antiquities (XV, 380 [xi, 1]), he says it was in the 18th year. This latter date is generally accepted by scholars...(Vol. 2, 1988, p. 1079).
In Volume 1 of this dictionary, under the heading "Herod," we read --
According to Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, XV, 380 [xi, 1]), that work [of rebuilding the Temple] began in the 18th year of Herod's reign. If counting in the way that the Jews had viewed the regnal years of their kings, that could mean 18/17 B.C.E. (p. 1092).
Josephus gives two indications of the length of Herod's reign: 1) He says Herod had a reign of 37 years from the time he was proclaimed king by the Romans and; 2) 34 years after the death of Antigonus -- which occurred just after Herod took Jerusalem. Herod captured Jerusalem in 36 B.C. since Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, book XIV, chapter XVI, 2) says Herod's siege of the city was during a Sabbatical year -- and 36 B.C. was a Sabbatical year. The other closest Sabbatical years were 7 years before and 7 years after 36 B.C.; and both these dates are untenable for dating Herod's capture of Jerusalem. Also, it should be noted, all Sabbatical years ended on Yom Kippur. Josephus records that Herod's capture of Jerusalem coincided with Yom Kippur (ibid., book XIV, chapter XVI, 4) and he (and the Jews) remembered it well because it was an outrage to carry out a siege on this holy day.
In another clue for correctly dating Herod's reign, Josephus mentions that it was 27 years TO THE DAY from when the Roman Pompey entered Jerusalem and carried out his abominations. This, once again, brings us to 36 B.C. for Herod's capture of Jerusalem. Since the Jews used the Accession-year system for computing the years of their kings, the date to start Herod's 34 years would be on Tishri 1 in 35 B.C. Therefore, Herod's 18th year would fall between Tishri 1 of 18 B.C. and Tishri 1 of 17 B.C.
William Filmer, in a study entitled The Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great (Oxford's Journal of Theological Studies, October 1966), argues persuasively that the actual dates for beginning Herod's 37 and 34 years were 39 and 36 B.C. respectively; and that Josephus used an Accession-year reckoning which considers the initial year of a reign an "accession year" and that "year one" of a reign was the NEXT year.
Unfortunately most references -- not understanding the Jewish method of counting the regnal years of their kings -- have placed the starting of the Temple rebuilding to 20 or 19 B.C.
Counting 46 inclusive (Jewish reckoning) years, then, from 18 B.C., brings us to 28 A.D. -- the very year Yeshua the Messiah began his ministry, and celebrated the first Passover of his ministry!
Public Announcement at Pentecost
Luke tells us further: "And He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the SABBATH DAY, and stood up for to read" (Luke 4:14-16).
The Greek word for "sabbath" here is actually the plural sabbaton, and literally means "sabbaths" or "weeks." This was the "day of weeks," or most likely the Feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost! Thus we see that the Messiah began his ministry in the spring of the year, in 28 A.D. As he addressed the worshippers in the synagogue, we read in Luke's account:
"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it is written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bear him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luke 4:17-22).
His own hometown folks didn't believe in him. He replied to them, "Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country . . . No prophet is accepted in his own country" (v. 24).
The Second, Third and Fourth Passovers of Yeshua's Ministry
The second Passover of Yeshua's ministry is mentioned at the end of the second chapter of John's gospel. By this Passover Feast, Yeshua had already developed a well-established reputation as a doer of miracles and wondrous deeds. The brief account is as follows:
"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man" (John 2:23-25).
This brings us to 29 A.D.
The third Passover of Yeshua's ministry is mentioned several chapters later in the gospel account of John. This would be the Passover of 30 A.D. John declares:
"And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh" (John 6:4).
The final and fourth Passover was the Passover of 31 A.D., at which Yeshua was crucified. This is the Passover which culminated the Messiah's ministry, showing that his ministry lasted a period of three years. We read of the events of this Passover, beginning in chapter 11 of the book of John:
"And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves" (John 11:55).
"Then Jesus six days before Passover came to Bethany . . ." (John 12:1). "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end" (John 13:1).
"And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!" (John 19:14).
Yeshua's ministry began about Passover time, in 28 A.D., and ended, then, at Passover, 31 A.D., with his being slain and killed as our Passover lamb, as the apostle Paul wrote: "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (I Cor. 5:7-8).
The Number 3
This evidence proves that Yeshua's ministry was not just one and one half years, or two and one half years, or three and one half years, in length. All the evidence shows that the Messiah's ministry was THREE YEARS IN LENGTH! Interestingly, "three" is YEHOVAH God's number of "decision," the number of "finality." It is "YEHOVAH's number." Time and time again, the number "3" appears in Scripture, and is connected with "YEHOVAH" in a very special way.
The number "three" is the number of finality, and of decision. Peter denied the Messiah three times (Luke 22:34, 61). Later Yeshua asked him three times, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-17), and told him three times, "Feed my sheep." Paul besought YEHOVAH God three times to heal him of a thorn in the flesh (II Cor.12:8-9). Yeshua was three days in the grave (Matt.12:40). His ministry lasted three years, and he spent three years "teaching" the disciples. Later, Paul, as an apostle, said he also saw the Messiah and was taught by him: "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (I Cor.15:8). He also was taught of the Messiah "three years" -- in the wilderness of Arabia (see Gal.1:15-18). Thus the number "three" is very significant with YEHOVAH God. It is clearly the correct length of the Messiah's ministry. Yeshua began preaching in spring of 28 A.D. and was crucified in spring of 31 A.D. -- three years later.
An argument that is commonly used against a 3-year ministry for the Messiah, is the prophecy of Daniel 9:27 that says the Messiah was to be cut off in the "midst" of the week. People who use this argument are making a number of rather large assumptions. First, for some reason, they take the "midst" to mean the exact middle of the week as we know it now. The fact is, the Hebrew word that is translated "midst" does not necessarily mean the exact middle of anything! This becomes very apparent when you examine Old Testament verses that use this word. Second, the week, as we know it today, DID NOT even exist during Old Testament times! To take Daniel 9:27 and propose that the Messiah was cut off (put to death) on a Wednesday (the "midst" of the week in our Gregorian calendar) and then, by extension, had a ministry of 3 1/2 years is sheer nonsense!
At the time of the Messiah the Jews delineated the week as follows: 1st Day of the Week, 2nd Day of the Week, 3rd Day of the Week, 4th Day of the Week, 5th Day of the Week, Preparation Day, and Sabbath. Now Yeshua was put to death on the Preparation Day (see Matthew 27:62. 28:1; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54, 24:1; John 19:31) which was the 6th Day of the Week, however, the midst of the week (if one insists that "midst" means the exact middle of the week) would fall on the 4th Day of the Week! To use this as an argument for insisting on a "Wednesday" crucifixion and then, by extension, that the Messiah had a 3 1/2 year ministry, is tenuous to say the least!
Even the time from the crucifixion to the walk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-21) -- when properly counted as a Hebrew did -- proves the crucifixion did not occur in the middle of the week. According to this passage, the period of time from the Messiah being condemned to death and crucified, to the time he was walking with his disciples on the road to Emmaus, was three days -- in fact, it says "today is the THIRD DAY since these things happened." Now what day were the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus? That same day! The same day as what? The same day as Mary Magdalene and the others found the Messiah's tomb empty (Luke 24:1-12). This was THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK.
If the crucifixion occurred in the middle of the week, according to proper Hebrew counting practices it would have been FIVE DAYS from the crucifixion to that walk along the road to Emmaus -- NOT three days! Consequently, the Messiah was not "cut off" in the exact middle of the week, and we need to look for a better understanding of Daniel 9:27.
It is only fitting, therefore, that the Messiah's ministry would be "three" years long! This fits perfectly like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, into the Biblical picture.
From Crucifixion to Collapse
Some say he was crucified in 30 A.D. However, this would make his ministry two years in length. Furthermore, it would destroy the relationship between the year of his crucifixion and the year of the destruction of the Temple, in 70 A.D.
It is significant that there were forty years from the death of the Messiah in A.D. 31 till the conquest and overthrow of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus and Vespasian in 70 A.D.! "Forty" is YEHOVAH's perfect number denoting "trials" and "trouble" and "tribulation." Yeshua was tried and tested of the devil while fasting 40 days (Matt.4:1-2; Luke 4:1-2). Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years (Num.14:34). And there were 40 years from the death of the Messiah till the fall of Jerusalem, which he himself prophesied (Matt.23:36-38; Luke 23:28-31). "Forty" is the number of divine JUDGMENT!
But what these people don't realize is that the Jews used a method of INCLUSIVE reckoning! In an e-mail sent to me by a Bible scholar in Scandinavia, we find the following comments --
The problem with the article [that the Bible scholar read] is that the author seems very comfortable with the huge majority favoring A.D. 30, and makes a simplistic arithmetic calculation to derive A.D. 30, when in fact by ignoring actual months and days totally (he deals ONLY with years in his simplistic subtraction), and ignoring Jewish INCLUSIVE RECKONING, when referring to elapsed time (a part of a year counts for a full year, when stating "forty years before the destruction of the temple"), he makes a BIG mistake in that the Jews who wrote the Talmud would NOT count the spring of A.D. 30 as having fallen "40 years before the destruction of the temple"! To a classic Jew of Jesus' time, and presumably 400 years later, when the Talmuds were written, "40 years before the destruction of the Temple" reaches back from August of A.D. 70 NO FURTHER BACK THAN AUGUST OF A.D. 30! It includes Yom Kippur in A.D. 30, BUT NOT PASSOVER IN A.D. 30! This is classic use of inclusive reckoning in expressing elapsed time.
Writes Jim Sorenson:
In America (read Western) culture a child is not considered to be one year old until he has reached his first birthday. But in reality, that child is in his FIRST YEAR from his birth up to his first birthday. He is then in his second year immediately following his first birthday. The term "a son of one year" in the Hebrew language is used to describe a child from birth to his first birthday. In other words, a child "one year old" by American or western idiom is "a son of TWO years" in the Hebrew idiom. Therefore, in Hebrew thought, a person is not in his 30th year following his 30th birthday, but rather he would be in his 30th year following his 29th birthday! Consequently, he would be in his 31st year following his 30th birthday. This is EXACTLY how the term "a son of (XX) years" in Hebrew is used in the Bible (Counting in the Hebrew Idiom, pp. 1-2).
For further information on this subject, send for the above article.
Therefore, when all the evidence is pieced carefully together, we come up with the following picture. Notice!
1) Born -- 3 B.C.
2) Ministry -- began A.D. 28, when about 30 years old
3) Ministry lasted 3 years
4) Crucified -- 31 A.D.
5) Destruction of Temple -- A.D. 70, 40 years later (inclusive Hebrew reckoning).
The Incredible Events of A.D. 31
The year 31 A.D. was truly a significant year. It was the year the Son of God died, paying the price for our sins! Is there evidence, outside of the Bible, that indeed A.D. 31 was the year the Messiah, the Son of the Most High God YEHOVAH, literally DIED and was PUT TO DEATH by wicked, conspiring men?
The astounding answer is, yes indeed -- there is shocking, incredible evidence that 31 A.D. was a year of astounding infamy and miraculous occurrences! According to Jewish history, preserved in the Talmud, there were four miraculous signs which all occurred in 31 A.D. These signs did not occur in 30 A.D., or in 33 A.D., or 29 A.D. or any other year. These signs also point to something very unusual occurring in A.D. 31 which earned the wrath and anger of YEHOVAH God upon the Jewish nation of that time.
In the gospel accounts dealing with the crucifixion of Yeshua the Messiah, we find that some weird, bizarre, and strange events occurred, connected with the event of the crucifixion.
In the book of Matthew we read: "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. . . . Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were split; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that slept were raised, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now, when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:45-54).
Let me interject here that the "bodies of the saints that slept" that arose, following this earthquake which accompanied the death of the Messiah were the bodies of believers or saints who had recently died. This is not talking about Old Testament saints, patriarchs and prophets, but simply men and women who had recently died, and who were resurrected back to normal, physical life.
Alfred Edersheim describes the events which occurred when the Messiah died on the tree. Writes Edersheim in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,
"And now a shudder ran through Nature, as its Sun had set. We dare not do more than follow the rapid outlines of the Evangelistic narrative. As the first token, it records the rending of the Temple-Veil in two from the top downward to the bottom; as the second, the quaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks and the opening of the graves. . . while the rending of the Veil is recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel, it may have been connected with the earthquake, although this alone might scarcely account for the tearing of so heavy a Veil from the top to the bottom. Even the latter circumstance has its significance. That some great catastrophe, betokening the impending destruction of the Temple, had occurred in the Sanctuary about this very time, is confirmed by not less than four mutually independent testimonies: those of Tacitus, of Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition. The most important of these are, of course, the Talmud and Josephus. The latter speaks of the mysterious extinction of the middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick, forty years before the destruction of the Temple; and both he and the Talmud refer to a supernatural opening by themselves of the great Temple-gates that had been previously closed, which was regarded as a portent of the coming destruction of the Temple" (p. 610).
The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Forty years before that date -- according to Jewish inclusive reckoning -- would be 31 A.D. -- the year of the crucifixion! But that is not all: 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 Edersheim, "it would seem an obvious inference to connect again this breaking of the lintel with an earthquake" (p. 610, op. cit.). 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.
Sanhedrin Judged and Banished
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 Temple Mount)" (Shabbat 15a).
Forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. is 31 A.D. -- the very year of the crucifixion of the Messiah! Why was the Sanhedrin moved in the very year Yeshua was crucified? Could it have been forced to do so because of damage caused by the earthquake associated with the crucifixion of Yeshua? Was it direct punishment for their complicity in handing Yeshua over to the Romans and condemning him to death? Was this evidence of YEHOVAH God's official displeasure with their actions?
Prior to the War with Rome, Josephus tells us, the Sanhedrin had to move once again. This time they moved to an area outside the Temple complex, in an ordinary part of Jerusalem -- actually a place west of the Temple near a building called the Xystus (see Josephus' Wars of the Jews, V, 4, 2). What a demotion and humbling!
The smug, self-righteous members of the Sanhedrin of that time would not have made such a humiliating move -- voluntarily! It had to be forced upon them by circumstance. There is no record of the Roman government compelling such a move -- they stayed out of Jewish religious life. Nor would Herod the king have been responsible -- to offend the entire Sanhedrin would have been a disastrous political mistake. Only a "natural cause" or "Supernatural" cause, which men could not remedy, would cause such a humiliating and abhorrent move on the part of the Sanhedrin members.
Was the Sanhedrin rebuked by YEHOVAH God in 31 A.D., and forced to "relocate" to a much lesser station and position than that which they had previously held at the Temple itself? Was this due to the vicious, unprecedented "kangaroo" trial and phony "judgment" they had perpetrated upon Yeshua the Son of YEHOVAH God?
Writes Rabbi Leibel Reznick of this traumatic event, in The Holy Temple Revisited:
"Although this was the largest structure on top of the entire 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 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, 31 A.D., the year the Messiah was crucified, was also the year they CEASED to judge capital offenses! To humble them, they were reduced to meeting at a "shopping mall" where regular "commerce" and business of "trade" was conducted! Their authority was no more important, now, than mere buying and selling merchandise! Surely this constituted a withering and scathing rebuke from YEHOVAH God himself who was displeased with their treatment of and jealous rage against His own Son!
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 (Sanh.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 Romans denied the Jews the right to perform capital punishment. It was this very year when the Sanhedrin was forcibly removed from the Temple Mount!
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). YEHOVAH seriously punished them for their disregard of His Son. But that punishment was only the beginning of His warnings of further judgment to come!
Talmudic Evidence of the Messiah and A.D. 31
In the centuries following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish people began writing two versions of Jewish thought, religious history and commentary. One was written in Palestine and became known as the Jerusalem Talmud. The other was written in Babylon and was known as the Babylonian Talmud.
We read in the Jerusalem Talmud:
"Forty years before the destruction of the Temple [i.e., 31 A.D.] the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open" (Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p. 156-157).
A similar passage in the Babylonian Talmud states:
"Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b).
What is this talking about? Since both Talmuds recount the same information, this indicates the widespread Jewish community accepted the knowledge of these events.
The Miracle of the "Lot"
The first of these miracles, the "lot" which was cast on the Day of Atonement to determine which of two goats would be "for the Lord" and which goat would be the "Azazel" or "scapegoat," has fascinating significance. During the two hundred years before 31 A.D., when the High Priest picked one of the stones, the random selection was governed by the laws of chance, and each year he would select a black stone as often as a white stone. But for forty years in a row, beginning in 31 A.D., the High Priest picked the black stone! The "odds" against this happening are astronomical (2 to the 40th power). In other words, the chances of this occurring are 1 in approximately 5,479,548,800 -- or about 5.48 billion to one! Your chances would be much better at winning the "Lottery"!
The lot for Azazel -- the black stone -- contrary to all the laws of chance, came up 40 times in a row from 31 to 70 A.D.! This was considered a dire event. This foreboded supernatural evil for the entire Jewish community. The "Azazel" goat represented Satan the devil! (See our articles, Who is Azazel? and New Insight on the Day of Atonement).
The Miracle of the Red Strip
The second miracle was of the crimson strip or cloth tied to the Azazel goat, which up until 31 A.D. had always turned white, remaining crimson. This undoubtedly caused much stir and consternation among the Jews, because it showed the sins of the people which had been confessed over the Azazel goat, represented by the red color of blood, were still crimson -- that is, they had not been pardoned and "made white." As YEHOVAH God told Israel through Isaiah the prophet, "Come, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet [crimson], they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as [white] wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
Beginning in 31 A.D., the red strip placed on the Azazel goat, symbolizing the sins of the people, did not turn white, for forty years, till the destruction of the Temple itself! The clear indication is that the whole community was guilty of some great "sin" in 31 A.D., for which they were not pardoned, and their collective guilt remained for every year till 70 A.D.
Concerning the crimson strip, for the previous two hundred years, since the time of Simon the Righteous, this ceremony, though not mentioned in the Scriptures, was associated with the day of Atonement. During the 40 years he was High Priest, a crimson thread, which he had associated with his person, always turned white when he entered the Holy of Holies. The people noticed this. Also, it was noticed that "the lot of the LORD" -- the white lot -- came up for 40 straight years during his priesthood. The Jews began to believe that these signs showed YEHOVAH's pleasure or ill favour. They noticed that the "lot" picked by the priests after Simon would sometimes be black, and sometimes white, and that the crimson thread would sometimes turn white, and sometimes not. The Jews came to believe that if the crimson thread turned white, that YEHOVAH God approved of the Day of Atonement rituals and that Israel could be assured that YEHOVAH forgave their sins. But after 31 A.D., the crimson thread never turned white again for 40 years, till the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of all Temple rituals!
What did the Jewish nation do in 31 A.D. to merit such guilt? On Nisan 14, 31 A.D., Yeshua the Messiah was crucified on the day of the Passover sacrifice. His enemies put a completely innocent man --the Messiah -- to death, though no fault was found in him!
The Miracle of the Temple Doors
The next miracle, which the Jewish authorities acknowledged, was that the Temple doors swung open every night of their own accord for forty years, beginning in 31 A.D. The leading Jewish authority of that time, Yohanan ben Zakkai, declared that this was a sign of impending doom, that the Temple itself would be destroyed. Says the Jerusalem Talmud:
"Said Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai to the Temple, 'O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. For it has been said, 'Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars' (Zechariah 11:1)' (Sota 6:3).
Yohanan ben Zakkai was the leader of the Jewish community during the time following the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., when the Jewish government was transferred to Jamnia, some thirty miles west of Jerusalem.
The Miracle of the Temple Menorah
The fourth miracle was that the most important lamp of the seven candlestick Menorah in the Temple went out, and would not shine. Every night for 40 years -- or over 12,500 nights in a row -- the main lamp of the Temple lamp stand went out of its own accord -- no matter what attempts and precautions the priests took to safeguard against this event!
Earnest Martin states in a recent research paper published by him:
"In fact, we are told in the Talmud that at dusk the lamps that were unlit in the daytime (the middle four lamps remained unlit, while the two eastern lamps normally stayed lit during the day) were to be relit from the flames of the western lamp (which was a lamp that was supposed to stay lit all the time -- it was like the 'eternal' flame that we see today in some national monuments) . . .
"This 'western lamp' was to be kept lit at all times. For that reason, the priests kept extra reservoirs of olive oil and other implements in ready supply to make sure that the 'western lamp' (under all circumstances) would stay lit. But what happened in the forty years from the very year Christ said the physical Temple would be destroyed. . .? Every night for forty years the western lamp went out -- and this in spite of the priests each evening preparing in a special way the western lamp so that it would remain constantly burning all night!" (Research Update, April 1994, p. 4).
Again, the odds against this happening are astronomical. Something supernatural was going on. YEHOVAH God had cursed the "light" Menorah, representing contact with Him, and His spirit, and removed His Presence in a special way after the crucifixion of His only begotten Son, Yeshua the Messiah!
It should be clear to any reasonable mind that there is no natural way to explain all these four signs connected with the year 31 A.D. The only possible explanation has to be supernatural.
YEHOVAH God Almighty intervened, to show the Jewish nation His utmost displeasure with their actions and particularly with what they had done to His Son!
After 31 A.D., and the death of the Messiah, great trouble and awesome trials began to come upon the Jewish nation. Yeshua himself foretold it. 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).
When we take an objective look at the events of 31 A.D., who can doubt that it was indeed the true year of the crucifixion and resurrection of the true Messiah YEHOVAH God sent to Israel? Who can deny that Yeshua of Nazareth is the one and only true Messiah?
Who else has fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament -- including the amazing prophecy of Daniel 9 and the "70 weeks" -- coming at the very year predicted for the Messiah to appear?
Isn't it about time, after denying he is the Messiah for the past 2,000 years, that the Jewish people, and rabbis, in particular, as well as all "professing Christians," take another look at this prophesied "Messiah," and the merits of his claim to the Messiahship?
Like Pieces of a Divine Puzzle
All the evidence points to the Messiah's crucifixion as being in A.D. 31.
All the Biblical evidence, and secular evidence from history, pinpoints the beginning of his ministry, the length of his ministry, the day of the week of his death, and the year of his death.
When all this evidence is weighed in the balances, who can seriously deny that Yeshua the Messiah -- Yeshua Ha Moshiach -- is the Messiah of Israel, the Redeemer and Saviour of mankind?
Isaiah the prophet, 800 years before his coming, perfectly and beautifully prophesied:
"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was bruised for OUR iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes WE are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a LAMB to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was CUT OFF out of the land of the living: For the transgression of MY PEOPLE was he stricken.
"And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt MAKE HIS SOUL AN OFFERING FOR SIN, he shall see his seed, he shall PROLONG HIS DAYS, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
"He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall `MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT JUSTIFY MANY; for HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto DEATH: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and HE BARE THE SINS OF MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:1-12),.
Isaiah could not have described Yeshua the Messiah, and his life, mission and purpose, more accurately, if he had been there himself, at Yeshua's side, as an eyewitness to his life and ministry! The apostle Peter, who was literally an eyewitness of the Messiah's ministry, and sufferings, wrote of him as well:
"Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self BARE OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BODY on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but now are returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (I Peter 2:21-25).
Isn't it about time we looked to the Messiah, studied his life, and his death, and came to know, and appreciate the one who did so much for us? Truly, all mankind has gone astray. All have turned to their own way. Isn't it about time we turn back to YEHOVAH God the Father and elevate Him to His proper place ABOVE the Messiah?
Isn't it about time we really "get to know" our Saviour and Redeemer, the Messiah of Israel -- Yeshua of Nazareth, and his Father YEHOVAH God -- the ONE true God of Israel?
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