Yet such a rabbi, even if his study of all the prophecies surpassed the study of all other rabbis, would have been amazed had he actually met Rabbi Yeshua, seen his ministry, witnessed his death on the Cross, heard the news of his Resurrection, and seen the Holy Spirit’s power given to his followers.
The tzadik would have seen every Messianic prophecy fulfilled in Rabbi Yeshua, starting with Micah’s prophecy of his birthplace. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” Mic 5:2.
Some years ago, during a historic conversation between Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik on Atheism, Fundamentalism, and the Future of Faith 1:13:46, Rabbi Soloveichik quoted Rabbi Sacks 2:20 as observing that in the Tanakh we encounter two kinds of leaders, kings and prophets. Most of the kings are immediately forgotten, but the prophets and their messages endure, because kings have power while prophets have influence. Judaism sees influence as the true mark of leadership. Here we will see how God uses prophets to influence man’s free will.
After meeting Rabbi Yeshua, the tzadik would not only return home to his sacred books saying, “Yes, He was the one foretold,” but also, “he was more than the one foretold.”
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” Deut 18:18.
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” Is 2:2–4.
“Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” Is 32:16–18.
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken’” Is 40:1–5.
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land for ever, the shoot of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified” Is 60:19–21.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’” Jer 23:5–6.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, says the LORD of hosts, that I will break the yoke from off their neck, and I will burst their bonds, and strangers shall no more make servants of them. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, says the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid” Jer 30:8–10.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, and I showed myself their Master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” Jer 31:31–34.
“My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. They shall dwell in the land where your fathers dwelt that I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there for ever; and David my servant shall be their prince for ever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” Ezek 37:24–27.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them, says the LORD your God” Amos 9:13–15.
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken” Mic 4:1–4.
“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love” Zeph 3:14–17.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” Zech 8:23.
“And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one” Zech 14:9.
“If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and cleave to him” Deut 13:1–4.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Fulfillment
The rabbis say, He was not a prophet.
“An important character of a prophet is that he speaks not for himself but for God. Rabbi Yeshua said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise” Jn 5:19. He emphasized, “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” Jn 5:30.
All three synoptic evangelists quote his extraordinary prophecy of the Temple destruction. “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down” Mt 24:2. “And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down” Mk 13:2. “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” Lk 21:6. The Temple was so immense, so substantial, that a fulfilled prophecy of its destruction could only come from God.
The rabbis say: He did not build the Third Temple.
“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore” Ezek 37:26. Rabbi Yeshua said that he himself was the new Temple Jn 2:19–21, and, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Mt 18:20. As long as no new stone Temple is built the evidence points toward him as the new and eternal Temple. It’s been about 2,000 years from Abraham to Rabbi Yeshua, and about 2,000 years from Rabbi Yeshua to today. Even modern Israel has never attempted to rebuild the Temple.
The rabbis say: He did not gather all Jews back to the land of Israel.
Isaiah prophesied, “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth” Is 43:5–6.
Rabbi Yeshua fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. Remember Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel” Ezek 37:11–13.
Now look at the fulfillment at the moment of Rabbi Yeshua‘s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross: “The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many” Mt 27:52–53. It’s an exact match!
The rabbis say: He did not bring peace on earth.
Isaiah prophesied, “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” Is 2:4. Rabbi Yeshua opened the kingdom of heaven Lk 23:43. He told us that, at the Second Coming, the righteous would go into eternal life Mt 25:46.
The rabbis answer that some of the prophetic language speaks of earthly features. “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain” Is 40:4. But this is spiritual language; do the sages anywhere call for huge numbers of men with shovels to alter the physical terrain?
The rabbis say: He must be descended from King David on his father’s side.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” Gen 49:10. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” Is 11:1. When they say Rabbi Matityahu 1:16 and Rabbi Lucas 3:23 cannot claim St. Joseph as the father of Rabbi Yeshua because no seed passed from him to the Blessed Virgin Mary, citing the Annunciation, the rabbis confirm Rabbi Yeshua birth as miraculous!
Moreover, as the halakha tells us, only a father or mother has authority to name a child. St. Gabriel the Archangel had told Mary, before the Child was conceived, “You shall call his name Jesus” Lk 1:31. The angel’s command to Joseph three months later, “You shall call his name Jesus” Mt 1:21, meant that he was to be a halakhic father to Rabbi Yeshua, a father in Jewish law, and therefore that Rabbi Yeshua was to be a halakhic son of David.
The rabbis say: His line included Jeconiah. As the halakha tells us, Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel” Mt 1:12. Some rabbis try to say that the line of David in Rabbi Matityahu‘s Gospel was broken, quoting Jeremiah: “Write [Coniah, also called Jeconiah], down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days; for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah” Jer 22:30.
But God forgave Jeconiah, and he fathered seven sons: “And the sons of Jeconiah, the captive: Shealtiel his son …” 1 Chron 3:17. And so the line of David remained intact in Rabbi Matityahu‘s Gospel Mt 1:12.. Of course, the line of David also remained intact in Rabbi Lucas’ Levirate genealogy, in which Shealtiel’s father is Neri rather than Jeconiah.
The rabbis say, Rabbi Yeshua changed the Torah. It was the Pharisees who had become corrupt. “Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.’ He answered them, ‘And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘he who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.’ But you say, ‘If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God” Mt 15:1–6.
Rabbi Yeshua did not change the Torah. Rather, He showed us what our Father had placed in it on Mt. Sinai. Rabbi Yeshua explained the summary this way: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
Jewish tradition holds that the Shma summarizes all of the Ten Commandments. In the Book of Deuteronomy the Shma follows the Ten Commandments Deut 5:6–21 as if it were a summary. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” Deut 6:4–9.
Rabbi Yeshua‘s second great commandment is implicit in the Shma itself. If we love God, we must also love his image and likeness Gen 1:27. But it also appears explicitly in the Torah. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Lev 19:18.
The first four commandments (in the Jewish way of counting) teach us how to love God: First, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” Ex 20:2. It can be understood as a commandment to worship God. Second, “You shall have no other gods before me …” Ex 20:3–6. Third, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” Ex 20:7. Fourth, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy …” Ex 20:8–11.
The remaining six teach us how to love one another. Fifth, “Honor your father and your mother” Ex 20:12. We are to respect all who have authority over us, our Father in heaven most of all, but also parents and teachers. On the second tablet were the commandments teaching us how to love one another. Sixth, “You shall not kill” Ex 20:13. Seventh, “You shall not commit adultery” Ex 20:14. Eighth, “You shall not steal” Ex 20:15. Ninth, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” Ex 20:16. Tenth, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s” Ex 20:17.
All of the 613 mitzvot are, moreover, summarized in the Ten Commandments, which in turn are summarized in the Shma. Each one tells us in some way how to love God, or our fellow man. These are all the subjects of the 613 mitzvot; every one fits either under love for God or love for one another!
No ordinary man had authority even to re-state God’s unchanging law in a different way. King David prophesied, “For you take no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Ps 51:16–17. The rabbis understood this to be God’s will, but they still had to perform the Temple sacrifices. However, Rabbi Yeshua as the Son of God was sent to speak for the Father Jn 5:19, 5:30.
Consistent Use of the Fulfillment Criteria
Rabbi Akiva, one of Judaism’s greatest scholars, announced Bar Kokhba the King Mashiakh for his leadership of the second Jewish revolt against Rome AD 132-135. Bar Kokhba never built the Third Temple, gathered all the world’s Jews back to the land of Israel, or brought peace on earth. After Bar Kokhba‘s defeat, Rabbi Akiva had to withdraw his pronunciation. It did not end well for him.
1,500 years later Shabbatai Zvi was accepted as King Mashiakh by many of the world’s rabbis. Shabbatai Zvi also never rebuilt the Temple, gathered all the world’s Jews back to Israel, or brought peace on earth. As the centuries have passed, at least some prominent rabbis have claimed many men as King Mashiakh who did not meet the criteria they apply to Rabbi Yeshua. How can we understand this inconsistency?
Judaism since the time of Abraham had some belief in the Resurrection. The Torah speaks of Abraham Gen 25:8, Ishmael Gen 25:17, Isaac Gen 35:29, Jacob Gen 49:33, Moses and Aaron Deut 32:50, as “gathered to their people.” Later in the Tanakh we find, “Your dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!” Is 26:19, as well as “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” Dan 12:2. Sheol offered both gloom and hope.
After many Jews followed Rabbi Yeshua, Rabbinic Judaism put much greater emphasis on its own resurrection traditions, so much that Maimonides’ Thirteen Articles of Jewish Faith began with the existence of God and ended with the Resurrection. Rabbi Yeshua‘s fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in heaven, the life to come, either immediately or at the Second Coming, would fit well into the overall Jewish narrative. Perhaps someday it will.
Two Pairs of Prophecies
Two pairs of prophecies were crucial because they pointed with absolute clarity to Rabbi Yeshua. First, God’s Mashiakh was to be both a king and a suffering servant, and second, both a king and a priest. In each case, what ordinary man could be both at once? Each of these individually was so extraordinary that whoever would be both king-and-servant and also king-and-priest must absolutely be the Mashiakh.
First Prophecy: King And Suffering Servant
God’s Mashiakh was to be a king. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until it comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” Gen 49:10. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’” Is 9:6.
A Suffering Servant
But he was also to be a suffering servant. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” Is 53:3. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, 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 has laid on him the iniquity of us all” Is 53:5–6.
The crowds saw the king who was also a suffering servant. Pilate wrote on Rabbi Yeshua‘s Cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” Jn 19:19. But they also saw in him Isaiah’s suffering servant. Even Dismas knew. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power” Lk 23:42.
Second Prophecy: King And Priest
No ordinary man could be both king and priest. Israelite kings had to come from the line of Judah. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah Gen 49:10.” Priests had to come from the line of Aaron the Levite Ex 6:16, 20, 26. “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to serve me as priests” Ex 28:1.
Mashiakh was to be a king. “The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter” Ps 110:2. But if Mashiakh was a king, how could he also be a priest? “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests” Heb 7:14.
St. Joseph was in the line of David, and therefore Judah, the line of kings, based on both natural descent and Torah law. In Rabbi Matityahu‘s genealogy, based on natural descent, St. Joseph was the son of Jacob. Rabbi Lucas‘ genealogy, based on Levirate law Deut 25:5–10 concerning a widow whose husband died childless, shows that Joseph was the son of Heli Lk 3:23. St. John of Damascus explained:
Therefore Jacob and Heli became brothers on their mother’s side, Jacob being of the tribe of Solomon and Heli of the tribe of Nathan. Then Heli of the tribe of Nathan died childless, and Jacob his brother, of the tribe of Solomon, took his wife and raised up seed to his brother and begat Joseph. Joseph, therefore, is by nature the son of Jacob, of the line of Solomon, but by law he is the son of Heli of the line of Nathan.1
The prophet Zechariah had foretold, “Behold, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey” Zech 9:9. A rider on a horse was prepared for war. Horses were always used for war. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” Prov 21:31. “… all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army …” “When you go forth to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own …” Deut 20:1. “Solomon also had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen” 1 Kings 4:26.
Why would Rabbi Yeshua ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Most people walked; riding suggested that he came as a king. Moreover, at that time only kings had authority to requisition transportation. Rabbi Yeshua requisitioned a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy Mt 21:4–5. Moreover, it was a very young donkey, “on which no one has ever sat” Mk 11:2, reminding us, as he did through the very young Blessed Virgin Mary, that his redemptive Final Sacrifice would create the world anew. Arrival on a donkey was humble, a message of peace. Pope Benedict XVI adds: “This passage announces a poor king—a king whose rule does not depend on political and military might. His inmost being is humility and meekness before God and men. And a vivid illustration is that he rides on an ass—the mount of the poor, the counter-image of the chariot that he rejects. He is the king of peace—and by God’s power, not his own.”2
Mashiakh was also to be a priest. “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek’” Ps 110:4. Therefore, all Catholic priests are also priests forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Peter in Rome
Old Testament Prophecy of a Roman Church
The prophet Daniel was exiled to Babylon ca. 605 BC. During his time there he lived a Torah-observant life. For instance, he was not sure the king’s food was prepared according to the kosher laws, so he did not eat the delicious foods at the king’s table Dan 1:8, but only water and vegetables Dan 1:16.
Daniel had several visions. Two of them together revealed a succession of four earthly Gentile kingdoms that would reign over the Jewish nation until the coming of God’s Mashiakh who would restore the Kingdom of God on earth.
Daniel’s First Vision: A Roman Church
King Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream an enormous statue. God helped Daniel to understand it:
You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces; then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. Dan 2:31–35.
That was the dream. God also helped Daniel interpret it:
You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the sons of men, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things; and like iron which crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever; just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure” Dan 2:37–45.
Daniel’s interpretation is particularly important in its last two verses:
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever; just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold Dan 2:44–45.
These four heathen kingdoms were the Babylonian Empire (ca. 587-539 BC), the Medo-Persian Empire (ca. 539-331 BC), the Greek Empire (ca. 331-168 BC), and the Roman Empire (63 BC-AD 70).
Each of the four kingdoms anticipated God’s Messiah. During the Babylonian Empire Ezekiel and Daniel called King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon a “King of Kings” Ezek 26:7; Dan 2:37. Rabbi Yeshua was called the King of Kings 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16.
During the Medo-Persian Empire Second Isaiah called King Cyrus of Persia “Anointed” (mashiakh) Is 45:1, a remarkable name for a Gentile king. Rabbi Yeshua was called Mashiakh Jn 1:41; 4:25. Alexander the Great united the Mediterranean world, chose to be called “Son of God,” and died at the age of 33 years. Rabbi Yeshua was often called Son of God Mt 14:33.
The Roman Empire caused Rabbi Yeshua to be born in Beth Lekhem (Hebrew: “House of Bread”) Jn 6:51. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. … And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed, who was with child. … And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” Lk 2:1, 4, 5, 7.
St. Gabriel the Archangel, whose name in Hebrew, gavriel, means “mighty man of God,” told Daniel, “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place” Dan 9:24.
“Seventy weeks of years” means God‘s people Israel had 490 years (70 x 7 = 490) to prepare for the arrival of the Mashiakh. The starting point would be “the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem” Dan 9:25. The Logos Timeline gives 458 BC as the date Ezra gathered Israelites in Babylon for a journey to Jerusalem to start rebuilding the Temple and Jerusalem. From that date, if we add 490 years we get to AD 32, Rabbi Yeshua’s public ministry! If we assume two years from the first time Artaxerxes gave his approval to the time Ezra completed his preparations, the date moves back to AD 30, right when Rabbi Yeshua public ministry began! Confirming that date, Dionysius Exiguus calculated Rabbi Yeshua’s crucifixion as AD 33. St. Gabriel the Archangel appears in Scripture on only one other occasion, Lk 1:26–27.
St. Gabriel gave Daniel additional prophecies of “seven weeks” and “sixty-two weeks” Dan 9:25. From the Catholic perspective, these are concerned with Herod’s rebuilding of the Temple and the Roman General Titus’ final destruction of it in AD 70, but as they’re not necessary to highlight a Roman Church, we’ll pass by them here.
Daniel’s Second Vision: The Son of Man
Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, ca. 553 BC, shows four beasts coming from a great sea: “The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand upon two feet like a man; and the mind of a man was given to it” Dan 7:4. “And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side; it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh’” Dan 7:5. “After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back; and the beast had four heads; and dominion was given to it” Dan 7:6. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns” Dan 7:7.
The winged lion is a common motif for the Babylonian Empire. The bear “raised up on one side” is the Medo-Persian Empire, within which the Persian part was much stronger; the three ribs in the bear’s mouth indicate that the Medo-Persian Empire defeated the alliance of Egypt, Lydia, and Babylon. The four-winged, four-headed leopard is the Greek empire. Its four wings represent its rapid growth under Alexander the Great. The four heads were the four generals who divided the empire into four provinces, Macedonia, Asia Minor, Egypt, and Syria, after Alexander’s death. The fourth beast is not an animal at all, but something “terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong.” Daniel tells us that “As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces” Dan 7:23.
In this vision as in the first, above, God intervened supernaturally during the kingdom of the Fourth Beast. “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” Dan 7:13–14. When Caiaphas asked Rabbi Yeshua whether he was the Son of God, Rabbi Yeshua replied, “I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” Mk 14:62.
Perhaps most astonishing of all, the terrible beast is of course Rome, with its terrible persecutions of the Christians for three hundred years until the time of Constantine. But then look what Daniel foretells: “And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them” Dan 7:27. As we know, the Roman Empire ended, and Rome was given to the “saints of the Most High,” the Catholic Church.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Presence
The Jews had expected the Mashiakh to conquer the Roman Empire and restore Davidic Israel. Rabbi Yeshua’s own shlikhim had asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. In their time he used a Roman Empire instrument of torture, the cross, to save the world. In the time of many then still living, through Rabbi Kefa, he established his see in Rome. Holy Mother Church’s continuing rule from the seat of the Roman Empire and use of its language is a sign to the Jews. Rabbi Yeshua did conquer Rome, his Letter to the Romans is a book of the New Testament, and he did bring into being the new Israel he had prepared from ancient days.
Rabbi Yeshua had set the bar high for belief. It was more than using the Cross to save the world. There were two great tests, the Noahide law on eating flesh Gen 9:4 and the Torah mitzvah against consuming blood Lev 17:10. Only a Jew prepared to be Isra-el in his heart, to struggle with God in the spiritual exercise that strengthens our souls, could overcome these concerns.
The rabbis understood authoritative Torah interpretation. They knew that God’s Mashiakh, when he came, would be the supreme interpreter. Rabbi Yeshua’s bet din would likely have concluded that Rabbi Yeshua was God’s Mashiakh; the evidence warranted belief. But Caiaphas and his chief priests in the Sanhedrin had been the authoritative interpreters, and they liked it. The prospect of becoming like Moses, humbly obedient before the Supreme Interpreter, did not appeal to them. They rigged the trial to assure a verdict not of glory but of blasphemy, raising the bar for belief in him still higher. But they forgot their own Scriptures Ex 14:28. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will always prevail.
Rabbi Yeshua is the Halakha, the Torah in person Mt 19:26. Many Jews in the streets saw Rabbi Yeshua, “full of grace and truth” Jn 1:14 and knew. The Hebrew mission in salvation history from the beginning had been God’s witness to Rabbi Yeshua. In Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek, in Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice of Isaac on Mt. Moriah Gen 22:10, in Moses, across the centuries of salvation history, the Hebrew mission was to witness that even with the Torah, even with the Shkhina, we cannot keep the commandments without Rabbi Yeshua, the Shkhina made flesh. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” Jn 15:5. The multitudes in the street remembered: “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’” Jer 31:33–34.
Rabbi Yeshua incarnate was an awesome presence. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40. “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” Mk 1:22. His absolute love and authority reminded his followers of God himself.
The Sanhedrin knew that the Jews in the street followed Rabbi Yeshua. “When [the chief priests and the Pharisees] tried to arrest him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him to be a prophet” Mt 21:46. They tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude!
The Catholic Church in Rome
Rabbi Kefa established his see in Rome. That made him the first Bishop of Rome. Because he was also Rabbi Yeshua’s chosen vicar Jn 21:15–17 he was also head of the whole Catholic Church. From that beginning the tradition remained that whoever was the Bishop of Rome was also head of the whole Church.
The case for Rabbi Kefa as the first Bishop of Rome starts with the Book of Daniel, continues with the many early Christian writers who referred to Rabbi Kefa as head of the Church in Rome, and ends with the discovery of his bones under the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Why would Rabbi Kefa go to pagan Rome? We recall that Yehuda HaMaccabi had set up an alliance with Rome 1 Mac 8:19–20, and that many Jews had journeyed from Israel to Rome. The Jewish community of Rome has remained in continuous existence since that time. We know that, after Acts 10:34–35, Rabbi Kefa wanted both Jews and pagans. Also, the Roman Emperors ruled from there, so the city of Rome was associated with worldwide authority.
Of course, by the First Century AD things were different. The Romans had conquered Judea. Rabbi Kefa‘s first letter is addressed “To the exiles of the Dispersion” 1 Pet 1:1. Jews had traditionally spoken of the Diaspora as being outside Judea, the center of their faith. Rabbi Kefa here is evidently referring to Rome, as his later reference to the Church in Babylon, the code-word for Rome, suggests. Eusebius, in The Chronicle, AD 303, wrote, “It is said that Peter’s first epistle, in which he makes mention of Mark, was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon.” The Roman emperors knew that Rabbi Kefa was head of the Church. Their persecutions made it advisable for the Christians to use both code-words and catacombs. The early Christians marked their worship sites by drawing a fish, and in it writing Ichthus, the Greek word for “fish.” In Greek, Ichthus was an acronym that stood for “Yeshua Mashiakh [Jesus Christ], Son of God, Savior,” and also reminded Christians of Rabbi Kefa the fisherman.
The Catholic Church reminds us that Rabbi Yeshua changed Shimeon ’s name to Rabbi Kefa Mt 16:18 in Caesarea Philippi, in the presence of the massive wall of rock that undergirds Mt. Hermon. The city was called Caesarea Philippi because on top of that massive rock was a pagan temple dedicated to the “divine” emperor Caesar Augustus.
Recall Daniel’s prophecy of the fourth kingdom on earth. Dan 7:23, the Roman Empire, and the stone Mt 16:18 cut from a mountain by no human hand Mt 16:17, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold Dan 2:44–45. Rabbi Yeshua brought his shlikhim to the place in Israel closest to the Roman authority. There he made a man “the rock” Mt 16:18 and gave him the keys to the kingdom Mt 16:19, thereby connecting Rabbi Kefa‘s mission with Rome. During one of the later missionary journeys, “The Lord stood by [Rabbi Paul] and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome” Acts 23:11.
The Book of Acts has Rabbi Kefa absent from Jerusalem between AD 42 and AD 49. If Rabbi Kefa‘s escape to “another place” Acts 12:17 means Rome, then he would have arrived in Rome in AD 42. There had been “visitors from Rome, both Jews and [Gentile Christians]” Acts 2:10, who had heard Rabbi Kefa preach in Jerusalem as part of the Pentecost miracle Acts 2:6. A number of the Jews would also have been receptive to Rabbi Kefa‘s Christian message. He must have evangelized this early community with great energy, because in AD 49 the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled every last Jew from Rome Acts 18:2. The Roman historian Suetonius explained that Roman Jews continually rioted, provoked by “Chrestus their ringleader” (Claudius, 25). There is no record anywhere else of a Roman Jew named Chrestus, so that had to be a mispronunciation of Christus. Rabbi Kefa would have been expelled with the other Jews, and we see him back in Jerusalem that same year Acts 15:7.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear no more of Rabbi Kefa after the Council of Jerusalem, which is usually dated around AD 49. We hear much more of Rabbi Paul‘s journeys and we know that Rabbis Kefa and Shaul were both executed in AD 67, so we know that Rabbi Kefa was somewhere else during all those years. The historical record points to Rome. In AD 55 Emperor Claudius died, and his edict expelling the Jews from Rome was repealed in AD 56. Roman Jews returned en masse to Rome, which is almost certainly when Rabbi Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans. Without the Jewish interference, the Gentile community in Rome had become an active and dynamic community whose “faith is proclaimed in all the world” Rom 1:8. Aquila and Prisca returned to Rome and opened their own home as a church Rom 16:5.
The early Christians accepted the Bishop of Rome as head of the Church. Differences arose within the Church at Corinth about AD 80. Rabbi Yokhanan the Apostle, then living in Ephesus, much closer to Corinth than Rome, had immense authority, but it was settled by the fourth Bishop of Rome, Pope St. Clement I, the third successor of Rabbi Kefa as Bishop of Rome in his time. History records that a three-man delegation traveled from Rome to Corinth bearing Pope St. Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians, written in a tone that expects to be obeyed. New Advent states, “Clement evidently writes officially, with all that authority of the Roman Church.”
The New Adam, Eve, and Moses
The Center And Purpose of All History
The force of Rabbi Yeshua‘s arrival on earth was so great that he split all history in two. He gave us a vivid sign. At the very moment of his Final Sacrifice, “Behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split” Mt 27:51. And behold, every event on earth is measured so many years before or after his arrival. St. John Paul II, in the very first words of his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, declares, “The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history.” The history of Israel, the people of God, leads up to the coming of Rabbi Yeshua, while the history of the people of God, the Catholic Church, proceeds from that coming. His Holy Land, the Land of Israel, is the very center of God’s creation, the crossroads of the world, the light of the world.
We recall that rosh hashanah, the head of the year, occurs on the first day of the seventh month, mathematically the exact center of the year. By this holiday, God teaches us his perspective on the nature of time. Headship, first in the order of time, is that which occurs at the center of all history.
The Son of Man
In Hebrew Scripture, ben adam is often translated “son of man.” During the early years of the Old Covenant, it was used in that ordinary sense. But God gave Ezekiel this title ben Adam in the sense of “son of Adam” Ezek 2:1, one who embodies in his own person the entire destiny of the human race.
Our Father gave this extraordinary title to Ezekiel as the singular witness to two supernatural events that would occur in the day of the Messiah. First, as we recall, he saw the resurrection of all flesh: “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the spirit came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel’” Ezek 37:10–11.” Second, he saw the miracle of the living water, also in the day of the Messiah. “Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the right side of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar … so everything will live where the river goes” Ezek 47:1,9.
God next gave the title ben adam to Daniel for his night vision of God’s Mashiakh, “And behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man” Dan 7:13, because the Mashiakh would fulfill these two visions given to Ezekiel.
Rabbi Yeshua spoke of himself as bar adam, Aramaic for “son of Adam.” A Jew in Rabbi Yeshua‘s time would instantly have understood many of its implications. No ordinary man ever called him that, but he often spoke of himself as the Son of man, the new Adam.
Rabbi Yeshua Created the World Anew
Spiritually, Rabbi Yeshua created the world new. Rabbi Paul called Rabbi Yeshua “the first-born of all creation” Col 1:15. Rabbi Yokhanan’s opening words, in language reminiscent of Hebraic triple repetition and background refer back to the original creation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” Prov 8:22–31; Jn 1:1–3. Rabbi Yokhanan then moves to the re-creation. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father” Jn 1:14.”
According to the Book of Genesis, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was to express and constantly remind man of the limit impassable for a created being. God’s prohibition is to be understood in this sense: the Creator forbids man and woman to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
God‘s command was a sign and presence, in effect a sacrament, a promise of his loving care and support, comparable to the gift of supernatural beatitude that He offered to the angels. Satan’s temptation was for our first parents to drive past God’s stop sign.
The Fall of Adam is so called because he was responsible. When Adam named his wife Woman, he established headship over her. Our Father had commanded Adam, not Woman, and explained, “He shall rule over you” Gen 3:16. Rabbi Paul tells us, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” Rom 5:12.
Rabbi Yeshua was the new Adam. He too was tempted by Satan. Mt 4:3–11. But Rabbi Yeshua showed firm resolve. We follow his example, except that Rabbi Yeshua could engage the devil in conversation. Exorcists speak to the demons and give them commands, but ordinary lay Catholics without special training never speak to a demon. If it speaks to us first we simply do not reply, but instead pray the St. Michael Prayer.
Rabbi Barnabas had called the Lord’s Day, the day the new Adam rose from the tomb, the beginning of another world. Epistle of Barnabas, § 15: “Finally [God] says to them: ‘I cannot bear your new moons and Sabbaths.’ You see what he means: It is not the present Sabbaths that are acceptable to me, but the one that I have made; on that Sabbath day, which is the beginning of another world. This is why we spend the eighth day in celebration, the day on which Jesus both rose from the dead and, after appearing again, ascended into heaven.”
Water And Spirit
We begin earthly life as water and spirit. Biologists tell us that the human body is about eighty percent water. The Church teaches that we have an immortal soul. But to conquer our pride we need God’s presence touching ours. Baptism indelibly marks our soul, sealing it forever into Rabbi Yeshua‘s redemptive sacrifice. Baptism also gives us the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which we retain in the state of grace.
Through water and the Spirit we come into God‘s family. Rabbi Yeshua told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God” Jn 3:3. Baptism separates us from the world. Rabbi Yeshua prayed, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” Jn 17:14. Baptism unites us with him. Rabbi Yokhanan HaMatbil’s baptism was a tevilah (Hebrew: immersion), a baptism of repentance for interior spiritual cleansing and renewal.
St. Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Ephesians § 18 tells us that Rabbi Yeshua received Rabbi Yokhanan’s tevilah, “That he might purify the water.” Baptism unites us as well with his family. “And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and behold, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” Mt 3:16–17.
Enlightenment And Strength
“The earth was without form and void” Gen 1:2. “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” Mk 1:4. We need self-emptying and repentance to be born anew, to reach the true light that overcomes our darkened intellects and weakened wills.
“The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” Gen 1:2. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” Lk 1:35.
Our Father had said, “Let there be light” Gen 1:3. Rabbi Yeshua is “The true light that enlightens every man” Jn 1:9. Recall that God’s light shines on us all, and that we his image and likeness Gen 1:26–27 reflect it back to him and to one another. Sin damages our ability to reflect God’s light, darkening our intellects. The original sin had darkened our first parents’ intellects and weakened their wills, separating them from God. The Old Covenant had begun God’s reconciliation with man, enlightening the intellect of the people Israel and giving mental exercise as they struggled to understand him.
The completion, the New and Eternal Covenant, would strengthen the will of the new Israel by giving its people spiritual exercise as they struggled to obey him, as well as the grace to transcend our pride, that we might live at the highest level of the Torah, revealed by the Torah Made Flesh, and prepare to enter our eternal home. With that completion, Rabbi Yeshua would open the gates of heaven. All who freely chose to live at the highest level of the Torah would not have to wait, but would be able to pass instantly from earthly life to eternal life.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Baptism
Pope Benedict XVI, in Jesus of Nazareth, V1, p. 22, describes “the great theme of Jesus’ universal mission. Israel does not exist for itself; its election is rather the path by which God intends to come to all men.”
“And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and behold, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” Mt 3:16–17.
At this point I would merely like to underscore briefly three aspects of the scene. The first one is the image of heaven torn open: Heaven stands open above Jesus. His communion of will with the Father, his fulfillment of ‘all righteousness,’ opens heaven, which is essentially the place where God’s will is perfectly fulfilled. The next aspect is the proclamation of Jesus’ mission by God, by the Father. This proclamation interprets not what Jesus does, but who he is: He is the beloved Son on whom God’s good pleasure rests. Finally, I would like to point out that in this scene, together with the Son, we encounter the Father and the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Trinitarian God is beginning to emerge, even though its depth can be fully revealed only when Jesus’ journey is complete.
The Holy Father adds, p. 25:
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus, which concludes the baptismal scene, is to be understood as a kind of formal investiture with the messianic office. The Fathers of the Church therefore rightly saw this event as analogous to the anointing by which kings and priests in Israel were installed in office.
The Hebrew word mashiakh, Messiah, means anointed. The Greek word Christos, Christ, also means anointed. The devout Pharisees and Sadducees who had gathered at the Jordan River would have recognized the Holy Spirit’s descent as the sign of anointing foretold by Isaiah. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” Is 11:2. Rabbi Yeshua confirmed it. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” Lk 4:18.
Whom Do You Seek
In the Garden of Gethsemane Rabbi Yeshua asked the crowd, “Whom do you seek?” Jn 18:4. This is the great question Rabbi Yeshua asks every man who lives. The crowd in the garden answered, “Jesus of Nazareth” Jn 18:5, but they were looking for him because they wanted to have him killed.
As Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb, Rabbi Yeshua asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Jn 20:15. She did not recognize the Risen Mashiakh, but took him for a gardener Jn 20:15.
A gardener? Yes! Our Father had given the first Adam a garden and commanded him to till the garden and keep it Gen 2:15. But when the nakhash, the serpent, came, the first Adam feared it and did not defend the garden. The second Adam was also in his garden when evil came looking for him. But he defended the garden with the sacrifice of his own life. “I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go” Jn 18:8.
Reveille And Reply
Rabbi Yeshua came to sound reveille in the spiritual war, the Dies Irae 7:41. Dies irae, dies illa solvet saeclum in favilla. “Day of wrath, day that will dissolve the world into burning coals.” “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” Mt 25:31–32.
He knew who would say, Oh, how I Hate to get up in the Morning 1:33 and crucify the bugler.
Oh! how I hate to get up in the morning,
Oh! how I’d love to remain in bed;
For the hardest blow of all, is to hear the bugler call;
You’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up this morning!
Some day I’m going to murder the bugler,
Some day they’re going to find him dead;
I’ll amputate his reveille, and step upon it heavily,
And spend the rest of my life in bed.
Some men spend the rest of the spiritual war in bed, and eternity amid burning coals. We who arise at the reveille spend the rest of our lives in church, and eternity amid angel choirs. Rabbi Yokhanan reminds us, “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” Jn 1:11–12.
The New Eve
When our Father created the first woman, Adam declared, “She shall be called Woman.” Our Father created Woman as a virgin in the state of original justice, a blessed virgin.
But Woman participated in the original sin by giving Adam the fruit, losing her state of original justice. The stain of that original sin deprived our first parents and all their progeny of sanctifying grace, condemning them to spiritual death. The tree of life, the gate of paradise, was closed.
Our Father had foretold the new Blessed Virgin, Mary of Nazareth, with the words, “I will put enmity between you and the woman” Gen 3:15. The woman. The only woman in salvation history who would be so far above every other that the phrase, “The woman,” would suffice to describe her. Rabbi Yeshua called her Woman at the beginning of his public revelation, “O woman, what have you to do with me” Jn 2:4, and at the end, “Woman, behold, your son” Jn 19:26.
Rabbi Yeshua, referring to his mother as Woman, identified her with Woman in the state of original justice. The first woman was not called Eve until after she had been kicked out of paradise. “The man called his wife’s name Eve [khava], because she was the mother of all living [em kol khai]” Gen 3:20. Eve’s Hebrew name, khava, mother, established her identity as woman, the mother of all khai, all life.
With these words from the Cross, “Woman, behold, your son” Jn 19:26, Rabbi Yeshua made “the woman” the new Eve, the spiritual “mother of all living” Gen 3:20. Jeremiah had prophesied, “Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities. How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman protects a man.” Women had been protecting men’s souls for thousands of years, but the Blessed Virgin Mary, the New Eve, would protect all Israel, leading the harlot nation back to spiritual virginity for the wedding feast in heaven through her Son.
This was God‘s plan for Woman from the beginning. Adam established headship over his wife. She was to be more humble, following Rabbi Yeshua who taught His shlikhim, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” Mk 9:35.
Father Hardon declared in his homily on Mary Magdalene on April 2, 1991:
The role of women over the centuries in the Church of God is to help men give themselves, as only a woman can, with their whole heart to the God who became man out of love for us. That, that is the real role of women: to inspire us men with selfless, extravagant—we men think it’s excessive—love for Jesus Christ so that we—more cold, more calculating—might be inspired to love our Lord not just with our whole head but with our whole heart.
A Virgin Shall Conceive
Our Father validated Isaiah as the prophet of Rabbi Yeshua, “Salvation.” In Hebrew, Isaiah is yesha-aya-hu, “Salvation is from God.”
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin [almah] shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanu-el” Is 7:14. The Septuagint translated almah into Greek as parthenos, which meant a real virgin.
For “virgin,” Isaiah had used the Hebrew word almah, from the root alm. Almah meant a very young girl, often before puberty. An almah would not likely have been of sexual interest to an elem, a boy at that age, and so she was always regarded as a virgin. The same root alm also gives us the Hebrew word alum, hidden, secret, unknown. In fact, pre-pubescents were called in Hebrew alumim, hidden ones. Its opposite, ladaat, also ties together knowledge and sexual relations.
Moral traditions were strictly enforced in those days. The Torah required that a young woman of marriageable age be a virgin. “But if … the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then … the men of her city shall stone her to death” Deut 22:20–21. An almah was apt to be a virgin at the time of her marriage!
Isaiah could have written betulah, which specifically means a virgin. He did not use betulah because a betulah can be any age. Isaiah’s almah pointed to a young woman, not an older one such as Elizabeth Lk 1:7, to highlight the contrast between John the Baptizer, the last Hebrew prophet, who would be born of an aging mother, and the Mashiakh himself, who would be born of a young virgin at the beginning of another world.
Isaiah specifically identified Mary by using the definite article. By writing ha’almah, “The young woman,” rather than “A young woman,” Isaiah pointed specifically to the Blessed Virgin, Mary of Nazareth, identified at Eden, Cana, Calvary, and in heaven, the woman who would be at war against Satan in every moment of her existence.
The Son would be God’s Mashiakh. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore” Is 9:6–7.
Our Father gave Isaiah the name Immanu-el, “God with us.” Isaiah’s sign was that God would be with us. Judaism then had no systematic theology of olam haba, the life to come. The rabbis understood that God would be spiritually with us in this life. The Mishna, Pirke Avot 3:2E, says: “If two sit together and the words between them are of Torah, then the Shkhina is in their midst.”
As St. Gabriel had led them, Mary Lk 1:31 and Joseph Mt 1:21 named their Son Yeshua, “Salvation.” He taught as his Father taught: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Mt 18:20. In this, he continued the ancient Torah tradition that when we come together to abide with God, God abides with us here in this life. But he revealed how we can abide with God much more closely, with the beatific vision, in the life to come. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:56.
The Blessed Virgin
The Israelites in preparation for Sinai had to abstain from sexual relations for only three days Ex 19:15. Moses, though married, chose to remain in the sanctity of separation all his life to be at every moment available for God’s commands.3
Most Israelite men were bound to the tradition, “What man is there that has betrothed a wife and has not taken her?” Deut 20:7. But, following Moses’ example, there arose an Israelite tradition that a rabbi for the sake of intense study of the Torah would abstain from relations with his wife, because he was said to be cohabiting with the Shkhina.4 Mary’s abstention from relations with Joseph because she had a special relationship with the Shkhina, the Holy Spirit, was in the same tradition.
Mary asked the archangel Gabriel how she could become the mother of the Son of God. Rabbi Lucas‘ original Greek was epei andra ou ginosko. Literally, word-by-word, “since man not I-know” Lk 1:34. St. Jerome ’s Latin Vulgate translates this passage, virum non cognosco, literally, a-man not I-know” Lk 1:34. We recall that this word “know” is a Hebrew expression for sexual relations. “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” Gen 4:1. The question makes sense only if Mary had vowed to remain virginal even while married.
It was crucial that the Blessed Virgin remain a virgin during all of her earthly life. In Jewish law, priestly honors confer through genealogy. If she had given birth to other children the Jewish Christians might have regarded them as some new priestly class. But Rabbi Yeshua declared that, “In every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” Acts 10:35.
“And [the archangel Gabriel] came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Lk 1:28. That title, “Full of grace,” in St. Luke’s original Greek was kecharitoméne, from the Hebrew meleat khesed.5 The core of kecharitoméne is charis, grace. In this usage, kecharitoméne represents the person’s proper name and identity. It means “full of grace,” not the “highly favored daughter” in some Bible translations. If Mary were merely “highly favored,” she would have been indistinguishable from Sarah the wife of Abraham, Anna the mother of Samuel, or Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, all of whom were long childless and “highly favored” because God acceded to their pleas to bear children. But neither Sarah nor Anna is described as kecharitoméne in the Septuagint. Nor does Rabbi Lucas use it to describe Elizabeth. Kecharitoméne in this context is reserved for Mary of Nazareth.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever” Lk 1:46–55.
The Virgin as Wife
St. Louis de Montfort, three centuries ago, taught that the Blessed Virgin distributes God’s grace to the world through her divine motherhood.
St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941), also consistent with Tradition, spent much of his life developing a Marian theology of grace that emphasizes the Blessed Virgin’s distribution of grace as spouse of the Holy Spirit. He said that grace comes to us from the Father, through the merits of Rabbi Yeshua, and is distributed by the Holy Spirit. He added that the Holy Spirit, by virtue of his intimate and hidden relationship with the Blessed Virgin, wills to work through her in distributing grace. Rabbi Yeshua, the source of all grace, came through the Blessed Virgin by the work of the Holy Spirit, so we may conclude that all grace flows by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Blessed Virgin. He added that we reflect grace back to God via the same path. Our loving response to God’s grace comes through the Blessed Virgin to the Holy Spirit, through the Son and back to the Father.
The Visit to Elizabeth
Holy Mother Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation each year on March 25, exactly nine months before she celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.
The Blessed Virgin Mary pre-figured the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God’ … And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” Lk 1:35, 38.
At the end of Holy Mass, after we receive the living Rabbi Yeshua into our body, the deacon, or priest if there is no deacon, says, ite, missa est, go, you are sent. After Mary heard the archangel Gabriel say, “And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren” Lk 1:36, she “arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” Lk 1:39–40.
Mary knew that an older woman such as Elizabeth Lk 1:7, in the last three months of her pregnancy, would find it difficult to take care of her household. So, humbly and quietly, she went to help with the chores during the last three months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” Jn 20:21. Just as the Blessed Virgin, immediately upon receiving little Rabbi Yeshua into her body, hurried to be with Elizabeth and her unborn child John, bringing them Rabbi Yeshua and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, so after receiving him we are sent forth to bring all we encounter closer to his glory.
Catholic tradition holds that Elizabeth and Zechariah lived in the town of Ein Kerem in Judea, and there gave birth to John the Baptizer. At that time Ein Kerem was located in the Judean hills halfway between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Today it is a far southwestern suburb of Jerusalem. There, on a hilltop, stands the Church of the Visitation.
Probably Mary left for Ein Kerem early in April. The distance from Nazareth to Ein Kerem is nearly 100 miles across the Judean hills. Camels were used on the busy national and international caravan routes, but for this rugged terrain a donkey, with its stamina and sure-footedness, would have been the likely choice. Mary would have followed the custom of ladies to sit sideways as she rode.
Mary would have been accompanied by other travelers, probably some who were familiar with the path through the hills. The strong winter rainstorms would have ended by early April, leaving the hills fresh and green with abundant wildflowers, herbs, and vegetables to eat along the way. The journey would have taken perhaps a week to ten days. She must have been tired by the time she arrived.
We can imagine Mary knocking on the door, Elizabeth opening it, and the two women looking at one another. The child in Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptizer, leaped for joy, as Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit! Lk 1:41. Mary was already filled with Rabbi Yeshua. We can only imagine these two joyful women telling one another about their miraculous pregnancies. We can only imagine Mary’s joy as she prayed the last words of her Magnificat: “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever” Lk 1:54–55.
Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God” Lk 1:6, so we can be certain that, eight days after Elizabeth gave birth to Yokhanan HaMatbil, they named him and circumcised him. This is a very important time in Jewish life, so we can also speculate that Mary stayed until then to participate in the festivities.
By then it would have been early July. The burning sunrays would have made the return trip across the Judean hills very hot for a young woman three months pregnant. Joseph was always a strong and protective family man. We can imagine him coming to Ein Kerem to be with Mary’s family for John’s birth, the naming, and the circumcision, and then accompanying her on the long journey home.
The Virgin as Mother
The Blessed Virgin’s kecharitoméne, fullness of grace, came from her Immaculate Conception, a singular grace by which she was preserved free from all stain of original sin. After the original sin, God told Woman, “In pain you shall bring forth children” Gen 3:16. No sin, no pain. The birth of little Rabbi Yeshua was a joyful event without the slightest pain or inconvenience to the Blessed Virgin. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us: “Christ came forth from the closed womb of His Mother, and, consequently, without opening the passage. Consequently there was no pain in that birth, as neither was there any corruption; on the contrary, there was much joy therein for that God-man ‘was born into the world.”6 St. Thomas also quoted St. Augustine: “Because she conceived Christ without the defilement of sin, and without the stain of sexual mingling, therefore did she bring him forth without pain.”7
Raising him was surely extraordinary. Every true Catholic knows about the time Mary and Joseph were returning from Jerusalem to Nazareth when they realized that he was nowhere in the caravan. Joseph and Mary went back to the Temple to find him. They were concerned, imagine knowing that you were raising the Son of God and you lost him! But they had faith that God would allow no harm to his Son.
They had traveled only one day Lk 2:44, but it took them three days to get back Lk 2:46. Each year, during the pilgrimage feasts, Jerusalem became very crowded as all the world’s Jews gathered there. We may speculate that the authorities made all the major roads “one way” inbound before the feasts and outbound after.
The Virgin as Hebrew Prophet
Cana the Earthly Wedding Feast
King Solomon, the son of King David, established his mother Bathsheba as the gevira, queen mother, foreshadowing the Blessed Virgin. Solomon was called “son of David” 2 Chron 1:1; Rabbi Yeshua was also called “Son of David Mt 1:1.” When Adonijah asked Bathsheba to ask Solomon for the beautiful Abishag the Shunammite, Adonijah told her, “He will not refuse you” 1 Kings 2:17. Bathsheba began her request with, “Do not refuse me,” and Solomon replied: “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” 1 Kings 2:20.
Solomon knew that Adonijah had tried to take the kingdom before David could give it to Solomon and saw Adonijah’s request as at least a symbolic takeover of the kingdom. He replied, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also; for he is my elder brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah” 1 Kings 2:22. Solomon declared “Adonijah shall be put to death this day” 1 Kings 2:24.
From this arose the Jewish tradition that a king can have many wives or concubines, who can plot against one another and against him, but he has only one mother. A king could always trust his mother. He had Adonijah put to death for treachery, not for asking through the gevira.
And so, Rabbi Yokhanan begins his account of the wedding feast at Cana with, “On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” Jn 2:1. The Blessed Virgin is mentioned first. Yeshua, the Son of God, is almost an afterthought. “Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples” Jn 2:2. When they arrived at the wedding feast Yeshua was still obedient to his Blessed Mother. “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” Lk 2:51.
Mary was the first to react when the wine ran out. “They have no wine” Jn 2:3. In this she first revealed herself as the mother of Yeshua but also of the whole world. At a Jewish wedding there is much rejoicing and merriment, but it would have turned to ashes when the wine failed. Family and friends would have returned to their homes heaping ridicule on a wedding feast where there was not enough wine for the guests. Yeshua at first was reluctant. “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” Jn 2:4.
All the Hebrew prophets had told their people: “Do what God tells you.” Now Mary became the successor of the Hebrew prophets of torn Israel by speaking for the living God: “Do whatever he tells you” Jn 2:5. After she spoke those words his public ministry was on and she became obedient to him.
Just as Solomon could not refuse his gevira, Bathsheba, Rabbi Yeshua could not refuse his mother Mary at Cana. He had created her immaculate, the woman of shining glory whom all generations would call blessed. Perhaps the Father’s Fourth Commandment flashed across his memory: “Honor your father and your mother.” He gave the bride’s father what he wanted, and so much more. “Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons” Jn 2:6 The servants at the wedding filled them to the brim, reflecting that nothing more could be poured into the Old Covenant. Rabbi Yeshua would within three years bring into being the greatest Jewish rite of purification the world has ever known, re-presented forever under the appearance of bread and wine.
The Eternal Wedding Feast
That wedding feast at Cana, where Rabbi Yeshua provided the wine, itself was a foretaste of a wedding feast like no other.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” Rev 19:6–7.
Mary uniquely participated in Rabbi Yeshua‘s redemption of the human family. At the Annunciation she freely cooperated in giving Rabbi Yeshua his human body, the very instrument of redemption. “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Heb 10:10. Mary always intercedes on behalf of the Lamb’s betrothed, to give us the new wine of her Son, inviting us all to the wedding feast in heaven.
Even today she has been especially a mother to Jewish souls. Auguste and Joseph Lemann, the Jewish twins who became Catholic priests, Alphonse and Theodore Ratisbonne, the Jewish brothers who each became a priest and monk, Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Polish Jew who became Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome during the Holocaust who entered the Church in 1945, Father Elias Friedman, the South African Jewish medical doctor who became a Carmelite priest and founded the Association of Hebrew Catholics, and me, and many, many more.
The Most Important Woman of All
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” Lk 1:38.
Mary offered the sacrifice of her life in obedience to God’s will. She knew that being the handmaid of the Lord meant she could be suspected of adultery and trial by the bitter waters.
Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness, while you were under your husband’s authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, then’ (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) ‘the LORD make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh fall away and your body swell; may this water that brings the curse pass into your bowels and make your body swell and your thigh fall away.’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen, Amen.’ Then the priest shall write these curses in a book, and wash them off into the water of bitterness; and he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain Num 5:19–24.
She trusted God, and he was there for her. “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” Mt 1:20. But there was much more to the sacrifice of Mary‘s life. § 506 “Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith unadulterated by any doubt, and of her undivided gift of herself to God’s will. It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Savior: Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ.”
By her Son’s words from the Cross, “Woman, behold, your son” Jn 19:26, the Blessed Virgin became the new khava, the spiritual mother of all living. As spiritual mother of all the living, the Blessed Virgin, full of grace, warrior queen of Israel, is the mirror image of Rabbi Yeshua, reflecting his glory back to him. Whatever she asks, he will do.
The New Eve Enters Heaven
Her Glorious Assumption
Since Mary gave Rabbi Yeshua the body and blood he gave for us, he ordained that she would share with him the glorification of the body. Scripture tells us that, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” Gen 5:24 and, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him” Heb 11:5. Moreover, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” 2 Kings 2:11. These were not the same as Mary’s Glorious Assumption, but are Old Testament evidence that such events occur.
The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.
§ 5 As a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body. …
§ 44 The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Evidence: Absence of Relics
The evidence for Mary’s assumption rests on the Church’s constant efforts from the very beginning to pay homage to the saints. Relics of saints were highly prized. The bones of those martyred in the Coliseum, for instance, were quickly gathered up and preserved. Cities vied to be known as the last resting place of the most famous saints. Rome had always claimed the tombs of Rabbi Kefa and Rabbi Paul—Rabbi Kefa‘s tomb is under the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.
We know that after the Crucifixion Rabbi Yokhanan cared for Mary; early Christian writings say Rabbi Yokhanan went to live at Ephesus and Mary was with him. Her earthly life may have ended there or at Jerusalem where the Church of the Dormition now stands. Neither city claimed her remains, nor did any other. That could only have been because there were no bones to claim, and everyone knew it.
Relics in Israel
This emphasis on relics evidently began early in Israel’s history. The books of Samuel and Jeremiah place Rachel’s tomb north of Jerusalem in direct conflict with Genesis Gen 35:19; 1 Sam 10:2; Jer 31:15. But the Tanakh, the inspired word of God, is correct in both places. We may speculate that Benjamin’s tribe took part of his mother Rachel’s remains to Zelzah in their own territory to establish a site of veneration for her there. The prophet Elisha provides the most vivid documentation: “So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet” 2 Kings 13:20–21. Probably for similar reasons, St. Stephen placed the tombs of the patriarchs in Shechem Acts 7:16 when we know they were in Hebron Gen 23:19; 49:30; 50:13. Even today, many people visit the graves of departed family.
Rabbi Yeshua ascended into heaven whole and entire, but his burial shroud, the Shroud of Turin, and the cloth wrapped around his head, the Sudarion, were immediately taken from the tomb, probably by Rabbi Kefa, and are preserved to this day. The other major relic of Rabbi Yeshua was the True Cross. At the age of 80, St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, led a group to the Holy Land to search for the True Cross. Around AD 327 she and her group unearthed three crosses, which they believed where the crosses of Rabbi Yeshua, Dismas and Gesmas. At the suggestion of St. Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, she took them to a woman with an incurable disease and asked her to touch each one. When she touched one of the crosses she was instantly cured, showing that it was the True Cross.
Items that touched Rabbi Paul‘s body while he was still alive gave miraculous healings. “And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” Acts 19:11–12.
Roman soldiers executed St. Polycarp early in the second century. The author of The Martyrdom of Polycarp recounts, “Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place.”
The New Moses
Moses had promised: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed” Deut 18:15. Moses’ Hebrew word that RSV2CE translates as “heed” is tishmaun, you shall hear, from the root shma. It sets up a connection between the shma, the summary of all the Torah, and the prophet to come who would fulfill the shma. And the promise was fulfilled. Philip told Nathanael: “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” Jn 1:45. Rabbi Yeshua confirmed it. “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me” Jn 5:46.
Moses was different from all the other Old Testament prophets. God told us: “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the Lord” Num 12:6–8. Until the time of Rabbi Yeshua, “There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” Deut 34:10. Pope Benedict XVI, comments: “It had become evident that taking possession of the land in Palestine did not constitute the chosen people’s entry into salvation; that Israel was still awaiting its real liberation; that an even more radical kind of exodus was necessary, one that called for a new Moses”8 The Holy Father writes: “And the characteristic of this ‘prophet’ will be that he converses with God face-to-face, as a friend does with a friend. His distinguishing note will be his immediate relation with God, which enables him to communicate God’s will and word firsthand and unadulterated.”9
The Holy Father recalls the time when Moses asked God, “I beg you, show me your glory” Ex 33:18 and God replied, “My face shall not be seen” Ex 33:23.10 He concludes, “The promise of a ‘prophet like me’ thus implicitly contains an even greater expectation: that the last prophet, the new Moses, will be granted what was refused to the first one—a real, immediate vision of the face of God … This naturally entails the further expectation that the new Moses will be the mediator of a greater covenant than the one that Moses was able to bring down from Sinai (cf. Heb 9:11–24)”11
The Holy Father continues. “Jesus sits on the cathedra of Moses. But he does so not after the manner of teachers who are trained for the job in a school; he sits there as the greater Moses, who broadens the Covenant to include all nations”12
The Holy Father then makes a striking observation. He reads the Book of Numbers, “Now the man Moses was very meek [Hebrew: anav], more than all men that were on the face of the earth” Num 12:3, together with Rabbi Yeshua‘s plea: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek [Greek: praus] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Mt 11:29, and concludes: “Christ is the new, the true Moses (this idea runs through the whole Sermon on the Mount)”13
The RSV2CE translates Rabbi Matityahu word praus as “gentle,” but the Holy Father renders it “meek” to highlight the comparison with the Torah’s Hebrew word anav, which the RSV2CE translates as “meek.” This Hebrew word anav is more accurately “humble.” Both are capital virtues, but meekness, the form of temperance that controls inordinate resentment at another’s character or behavior, has no particular application to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Humility, which recognizes our total dependence on God, is exactly what Moses needed to stand before him.