The mystery of the Vav (Pentecost, part 1)

This post is makes extensive use of the Sod level of Interpretation as an illustration. This method is not accepted in all of Judaism (e.g. Karaite Judaism rejects it), but it can reveal some interesting mysteries. It can also be misused for completely wrong interpretations and should therefore be treated with care.

In Hebrew, each letter of the Alphabet has a numerical value. These values were used before numbers were invented, much later. They are still being used for symbolic interpretations of some passages of the bible. Furthermore, some words in the Old Testament Hebrew text are misspelled on purpose. This spelling is not reflected in any translation, as it seemingly does not make sense in other languages.

The letter Vav (ו, sound “O” or “U”) is the object of a number of misspellings in the Bible. It has the numerical value of 6, representing mankind, since humanity was created on the 6th day. In ancient Hebrew, the letters were symbols with meanings. The Vav was a hook or tent peg, like a nail, it symbolises connecting and securing things.2

The missing Vav

The word toledot (תולדות) is usually translated as generations. But the word is only used correctly once in the Torah (תּוֹרָה, the 5 books of Moses).

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
אלה תולדות השמים והארץ בהבראם ביום עשות יהוה אלהים ארץ ושמים
Gen. 2:4
This is the book of the generations of Adam.
זה ספר תולדת אדם ביום
Gen. 5:1a

Here, the first (correct) spelling of the word generations reads toledot (תולדות), while the second spelling reads toledt (תולדת). But why is the letter Vav missing in every occurrence in the Torah (5 books of Moses) after Gen. 2:4, and even some later books like Joshua and Judges? To answer this question, we need to go back to the beginning.

The fall of mankind

When God created the first human (אדם, adam), he took the woman (אישה, biblical: אשה, aisha) out of man (איש, aish). God had tasked Man to name everything. So Man and Woman were their names in the beginning, describing their attributes: The word fire (אש, esh) comes from the same root. Where else do we see the fire? When God appeared to Moses on mount Horeb (Sinai), he was a fire on a shrub. This burning bush had one peculiarity: The fire did not consume it. Likewise, when God’s fire was still on humanity, it did not consume us.

However, when Man and Woman tasted of the fruit and fell into sin, the fire of God, his spirit, left them. As a result, they needed new names: Man became Adam (אָדָם, meaning: human), and Woman became Eve (חַוָּה, meaning: source of life). Therefore, their generations (toledot) were not perfect any more: True humanity as it was intended by God, (symbolised by the 6th letter, ו Vav) was lost, and so was their descendance.

At the same time, humans lost their true connection to God (represented by the connecting nail). The word for human in Hebrew is ben-Adam (בן אדם), which literally means son of man. And humanity now needed a true human – an unbroken son of man – to restore the connection to God.

Restoration of the generations

God promised a saviour, a Messiah, as a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13, 1 Chronicles 17:11-14, 2 Chronicles 6:16). But before God promised that, he showed it in David’s descendance. After Gen. 2:4, the next correctly spelled occurrence of the word generations (toledot) is in the book of Ruth, David’s family tree.

Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
Ruth 4:18-22

The name of David’s descendant, Perez (פרץ), means “to breach, to burst forth”. God breached through Adam’s broken descendance and let a man burst forth who would connect Adam’s broken humanity with the restoring Messiah, the faultless, perfect human, a real son of man. The restoration of the connection to God was promised to David, who is the link to Messiah. And therefore, the lost Vav was restored.

Matthew (מַתִּתְיָהוּ, Matityahu ; Greek: Ματταθίας, Matthatias) recognised this important link, when he called Yeshua the son of David before calling him the son of Abraham: He is the one who fixes the entire humanity and its generations, before being the one who brings the promises given to Abraham and the people of Israel:

[This is] the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David,
the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1

Similarly to Ruth, people from foreign nations who follow the God of Israel and count themselves to God’s people will play an important part in God’s plan. But we should never forget that Yeshua is a descendant of Jacob (also called Israel). Even his grandfather’s name was Jacob (Mat 1:16), and he was the “son of Joseph”, the suffering servant.

Return of God’s fire

It is through Messiah, the true human whose descendance is perfect and whose generations restore humanity, that the fire of God was restored to his followers: The Spirit of God (רוח הקודש, Ruach haQodesh) came down onto the believers on Shavuot (שבועות, Pentecost) as God’s fire. And that fire consumes what is sinful, but preserves what was made pure by Messiah.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2.1-4

The broken Vav

The broken VavThe broken Vava

There is an other pecularity in Torah scrolls: In Numbers 25:12, the Vav in the word Shalom (שָׁלוֹם, peace) is broken in two parts.1 In this story, the people of Israel were seduced by the Midianites to worship and sacrifice to Baal. From the account, it becomes obvious that temple prostitution was involved. This angered God. Now one man provoked God even further: While Moses and the judges of Israel were weeping over the the plague God had sent to punish the sinners, he took a Midianite woman and had sex with her in front of the tent of meeting (tabernacle).

When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. [… So God said to Phinehas:] ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’
Numbers 25:7-8 & 12-13

As previously mentioned, the Vav in the word peace (שָׁלוֹם, shalom). This means that while nothing was missing to the peace God brought Israel, it is broken to imply that the word can be interpreted as if there was no Vav, resulting in the word shalem (שלם) meaning perfect.3

Bloodshed was necessary at that moment to redeem Israel. But because of the blood, this first peace was a broken peace. One of God’s names is Shalom, peace. But to truly redeem Israel, an intricate part of one of God’s names would need to be broken: The Vav – symbolising the true human (or son of man) connecting God to humanity like a nail – had to be split. But this breaking of God would bring perfection (שלם, shalem) and restoration. Just like the story of Phinehas, bloodshed was necessary for the atonement of the sins of the humanity. However, the broken Vav also announces another great message: First, that Messiah, the true son of man, would be an intricate part of God like the Vav is an intricate part of the name Shalom. And second, that Messiah would be broken, but the nails securing him would likewise be broken and he would come back to life bringing a restored peace.

References

1 Prof. Dr. A. E. Brouwer, Language and Typesetting, Special symbols in the Hebrew Bible. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Netherlands

2 Jeff A. Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center; Ancient Hebrew Alphabet Chart

3 Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nashim, Kiddushin 66b, note 25 (PDF)

Images
a The Broken Vav, Hebrew4Christians

Additional Resources
Video of a sermon by Past. Mark Biltz: Generations Toldot (on Youtube)

Hebrew for Christians, The letter Vav

The real birth season of Yeshua (Pesach, part1)

Every child knows that Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ, Jesus or Greek: Ἰησοῦς/Iesous) was not born on Christmas. In fact, the 24th and 25th of december was originally was the wide-spread cult of the birth of the sun-god on the winter solstice. However, the date of Yeshua’s birth was well-known before the Romans claimed that Mithras, the sun-god, was actually Jesus (Yeshua).

So when was Yeshua really born?

Note: This post will include a first look at some preparations for the feast of Pesach (פֶּסַח, the Passover) and the sacrificial lamb. It will also explain a first part of why I think Yeshua really is the sacrificial Pesach lamb, i.e. the lamb of God.

The birth of lambs

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:8-12

There is only one reason for these shepherds to be out in the field with their flock by night: Lambing season. Lambs are usually born in spring, in a time period of about one month (mid march – april), and during that season, the sheep can not be kept in a pen at night because it would be too crowded for birth:

Unlike most other farm animals, sheep are seasonal breeders and lamb in the spring months when the weather is warming and ample supplies of grass are available. Sheep can be housed for lambing or are more commonly brought to a field close to the farmyard where the shepherd can keep an eye on them.1

The celebration of Pesach (פֶּסַח, the Passover) was during the lambing season since the sacrificial lambs for this feast had to be exactly one year old (Exodus 12:5). It is not surprising that the lamb of God (John 1:29) would be born during the lambing season, right before Pesach (based on Luke 2:8), in Bethlehem (Mat. 2:1).Furthermore, the lambs for the Pesach sacrifice were kept in Bethlehem (Bet Lekhem, בֵּית לֶחֶם), near the Tower of the flock (Migdal Eder, מגדל עדר, mentioned as Rachel’s burial place in Bethlehem, Gen 35:19-21):2

Cattle found all the way from Jerusalem to Migdal Eder, and in the same vicinity in all directions, are considered, if male, as whole-offerings, and if female as peace-offerings. Rabbi Jehudah says: “If they are fit for Passover-offerings they may be used for such purpose, providing Passover is not more than thirty days off.”
Mishnah, Tract Shekalim, VII.4

Since these lambs were special and could not be hurt or damaged in order to be pure for the sacrifice, the shepherds who kept them were specifically trained for this task. They had to make sure nothing happened to the sacrificial lambs.3 These were the men who came to witness the birth of the lamb of God.

This tower in Bethlehem is also part of a prophecy by Micah (מִיכָה):

And you, O tower of the flock (Hebrew: Migdal Eder), hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.
Micah 4:8

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Micah 5:2

Furthermore, an article about the messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s search for the real birth date of Yeshua:4

Cahn moves to the writings of the early Christian church father Hippolytus of Rome, who lived and taught in the third century, having been martyred in 235 A.D.
His writings are among the first that refer to Dec. 25 as the birth of Christ. But because one page of Hippolytus’ writings still mentions springtime as the proper birth date, some historians have speculated that his writings were later doctored to reflect the new Dec. 25 date with the caveat that the one reference to spring somehow got past the censors.
“There is one manuscript left that actually gives us two different dates,” Cahn said. “One says Messiah was born in the springtime. They forgot to put the Whiteout.”
In fact, the statue of Hippolytus in Rome today still mentions April 2 as the month of Christ’s birth.

So while he was born in spring, Yeshua was not born during Pesach or any of the three feasts, on which all Jewish men had to be in Jerusalem (Deut. 16:1-17): Pesach (פֶּסַח, the Passover), Shavuot (שבועות‎, Pentecost) and Sukkot (סֻכּוֹת, feast of tabernacles).6 However, Joseph was with his family in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).

Augustus (Latin title: Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus, i.e. emperor Caesar the exalted son of a god) lived from the 23rd of September 63 B.C. to the 19th of August 14 A.D. He was the ruling Roman emperor at the time of Yeshua’s birth. He was also Pontifex Maximus (i.e. High Priest) of the Roman religion. The real son of God (e.g. John 3:17; 5:25) and High Priest (e.g. Hebrews 4:14-16) was born during the life of the fake son and priest of some god.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Yeshua was born as the lamb of God in spring, during lambing season, ready for Pesach.

Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
Exodus 12:3,5-7

This 10th day of the first month, Nisan, is when the all Israelite families would take a lamb into their house. And so on that day, God brought the lamb of God into his house, Jerusalem. That is the day Christianity calls Palm Sunday.
As a quick summary: Yeshua then stayed in Jerusalem until he died on Pesach, and resurrected on the feast of first fruits (ביכורים, Bikkurim). So the first of the fruits of the ground celebrate the rising of the Messiah from the ground:

And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me. And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
Deut. 26:10-11

Additional resources

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Was Jesus born on the 25th of december? (Youtube)

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Article about The Mishkan Clue (checked on 3.1.2015)

References

1 UK Agriculture:http://www.ukagriculture.com/livestock/sheep_lambing.cfm (checked on 25.12.2014)

2 Mishna, Tract Shekalim, VII.4

3 Rabbi M. Short, Migdal Eder (checked on 2.1.2015)

4 Jonathan Cahn, Messianic Rabbi reveals the date of Christ’s birth

6 NSW Board of Jewish education, the 3 pilgrim festivals (checked on 2.1.2015)