We have already studied the role of Y’Shua in previous studies. We looked at Y’Shua as the kinsman redeemer and also had a look at the secret mission of Y’Shua. Both these studies have pointed us to what the objective of Y’shua’s ministry, death, resurrection and ascension was. In recent times we have also done some studies into the spiritual realm and how that impacts us and our world. Now that we have a good understanding of the basics of the unseen realm, it is interesting to relook at the ministry of Y’shua with a focus on the spiritual dimension of His time on earth.
If we put our new found “spiritual realm” glasses on, we start to see a number of passages, or parts of passages, that now either add a new understanding or raise a whole bunch of new questions. These previously “weird” or unexplainable passages now make us sit up and take notice. Let us focus now on the ministry of Y’Shua and identify some behind the scenes things that were going on in the spiritual realm.
The Mikvah in the Jordan
Most people would agree that the Bible marks the baptism of Y’Shua in the Jordan river as the start of His ministry on earth. Once you have studied the Jewish context of this action, you will identify this baptism with the Jewish practise of mikvah. We have previously done a two part series on mikvah:
In the first study we mentioned that the mikvah is regularly used as a sign of a spiritual transition. Thus, the baptism of Y’Shua in the Jordan river may have been an action to symbolize His transition into His fulltime ministry.
In the same way, we have noted before, that Mark specifically used the same words in the Greek text to describe the opening of the heavens as was used in the Septuagint to describe the parting of the waters as the people were freed from the Pharaoh and his army.
10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: â€œYou are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.â€
What is also significant is the fact that YHVH called Y’Shua His “beloved” Son. This is not a term of endearment, but a confirmation of the kingship of Y’Shua. The same term “beloved” is used to describe Solomon, the son of David and the legal heir to the throne of David. The reason we do not see this, is that in the English translations, the term is rendered as a proper name1. We see that the prophet Nathan told David what YHVH wanted David’s son to be called.
2 Samuel 12:24â€“25
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now YHVH loved him 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for YHVHâ€™s sake.
This name “Jedidiah” is the Hebrew word for “beloved one.” The word ×™Ö°×“Ö´×™×“×•Ö¼×ª (yÄ•dÃ®dÃ»t) is based on the verb ×™×“×“ (ydd) that is the verb “love.”2 Thus, just as YHVH had called the heir to David’s throne, He also called Y’Shua who was the promised root of Jesse.
Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious.
Thus, what we see with the baptism is:
- The transition of Y’Shua to fulltime ministry
- The start of the second Exodus, leading those who chose YHVH out of the kosmos. (Acts 3:22)
- Y’Shua is the heir to the throne of David, as Solomon was.
It is also significant that after this public display, the attention of satan is focused on Y’Shua.
After the baptism in the Jordan, that serves as the public announcement of Y’Shua as the Messiah who would lead the people in the second Exodus and the son of David, Y’Shua follows the pattern of the first Exodus and goes into the wilderness. Y’Shua was led by the Spirit to do this.
Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.
In the first exodus, the people were seduced by the gods in the wilderness, and failed. The wilderness is the opposite of the camp of Israel. The camp of Israel is the set apart space that is dedicated to YHVH. Outside this camp was the wilderness. The wilderness is the domain of the lesser elohim, or demons. But, unlike the people, the Messiah would not succumb to the temptations of satan. The 40 days in the wilderness is another clue that links the temptation of Y’Shua with the 40 years that the people spent in the wilderness.
We see that the pattern of the temptation of Y’Shua and the tests that the people went through also have correlation. What is even more fascinating is that all the Scriptures that Y’Shua responds with is from Deut 6-8. This is the part where Moses speaks to the nation before they enter the promised land. This is how Moses starts this section:
1 â€œNow this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which YHVH your Elohim has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear YHVH your Elohim, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 â€œO Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as YHVH, the Elohim of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Moses tells the people that if they listen and carefully do these words, it would be well with them. Y’Shua puts this into practice by reciting these words when a temptation comes His way.
The three temptations that satan used with Y’Shua mirrors the tests in the wilderness (place of the other gods/demons) with the nation1.
- Like the people, Y’Shua was tested with hunger. The people grumbled and YHVH provided manna to feed them. Y’Shua responded with a part of this verse:
â€œHe humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of YHVH.
- The second temptation is where Y’Shua was asked by satan to try YHVH by jumping from the top of the temple. This correlates with the time when the peoplequarrelled with YHVH at Massah and Meribah (Exo 17:7). Y’Shua responds with a part of this verse:
â€œYou shall not put YHVH your Elohim to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.
- In the third test, satan offered Y’Shua dominion over all the nations that had turned away from YHVH. Satan wanted Y’Shua to admit that Y’Shua needed his permission to reclaim these nations. But He did not need his permission. Y’Shua’s authority was much greater. The nations had fallen and had worshipped the other elohim. He was on earth not to battle with these lesser elohim, but to show the people the true nature of the real Elohim. This alone is enough to lead the people back. This is why Y’Shua quotes a part of these verses:
13 â€œYou shall fear only YHVH your Elohim; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. 14 â€œYou shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, 15 for YHVH your Elohim in the midst of you is a jealous Elohim; otherwise the anger of YHVH your Elohim will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.
Satan had tried to lead Y’Shua astray, the same way the other elohim had led the people astray in the wilderness. However, this time satan was not dealing with the servants, but with the King Himself. Satan’s lost the first battle in the spiritual war, but the war had just begun.
Taking the battle into enemy territory
It is interesting to note that after the temptation, Y’Shua does not return to Jerusalem or the area of the Southern tribes. Rather Y’Shua is led by the power of the Ruach to go to Galilee; Nazareth and the surrounding districts. Later Y’Shua withdrew from Nazareth and settled in Capernaum.
14 And Y’Shua returned to Galilee in the power of the Ruach And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
It was in this synagogue that Y’Shua used the words of the prophet Isaiah to announce what His purpose in the Galilee was.
17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 â€œThe Spirit of YHVH is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of YHVH.â€ 20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, â€œToday this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.â€
In this proclamation, Y’Shua tells the Jews of Nazareth that He had come to set them free from the oppression of the lesser elohim. They did not like this message and drove Y’Shua out of their town.
28 And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, He went His way.
This made Y’Shua leave Nazareth and while remaining in Galilee, He settled in Capernaum.
12 Now when Y’Shua heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
It is significant to note what was prophesied by Isaiah regarding this region. The connection is made with the phrase “the region of Zebulun and Naphtali” as referring to the Galilee.
1 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. 3 You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
We see that the prophet calls the area the “Galilee of the Gentiles.” He also refers to the people as “those who live in a dark land” and the Messiah as the one who will be the light that shines on them.The Messiah will break the yoke that the oppressor had placed upon them. If we now place this in context with what had just happened, we see that the spiritual war had started and Y’Shua had triumphed in the territory of satan, the wilderness.Then the Ruach put Y’Shua into attack mode by sending Y’Shua into the territory of satan to break the yoke satan had placed on the people. Jerusalem is the place that YHVH had placed His name.This is not the territory of the lesser elohim.This is why Y’Shua did not go there to continue the spiritual war. He entered into the land of the enemy.
Unlike what had happened in Nazareth, the people in Capernaum were receptive to what Y’Shua had to say.
31 And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.
This is where He would focus His acts against the darkness.
Deliverance and healing
The message Y’Shua gave the people who live in the dark land was clear.
From that time Y’Shua began to preach and say, â€œRepent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.â€
They had to turn away from the lesser elohim that ruled the area of Galilee and turn towards the true Elohim. Capernaum was willing to do this, while the town of Nazareth turned their back on Him who came to set them free. In Matthew 13:53-58 we see that Y’Shua did later return to Nazareth to teach, but they still did not believe Him to be the Messiah. The result was that Y’Shua did not do many miracles in their town.
57And they took offense at Him. But Y’Shua said to them, â€œA prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.â€ 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
As mentioned in our article on the secret mission of Y’Shua, He had to train up people to take this message out to the people. Thus, His first act was to chose His first disciples. He started with Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. Next He chose James and his brother John. These were all men from the area of Galilee. All His disciples were men of the Galilee.
10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, â€œMen of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Y’Shua, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.â€
The next step was to resume the spiritual battle by delivering a believer from a demon. We see this happening in the synagogue of Capernaum. The people who were willing to accept Y’Shua and His message, got delivered from the yoke upon them. It was not the rule of the Romans, but the impact that the spiritual beings had on them.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 â€œLet us alone! What business do we have with each other, Y’Shua of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You areâ€”the Holy One of Elohim!â€ 35 But Y’Shua rebuked him, saying, â€œBe quiet and come out of him!â€ And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, â€œWhat is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.â€
The next action that Y’Shua took was to heal the mother-in-law of one of His new disciples. Once again, it is clear that this healing was an attack on an oppression that had been placed upon her by the enemy. Y’Shua healed her by rebuking the fever. A clear act of spiritual warfare rather than a physical healing of a disease via medicine or remedy.
38 Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simonâ€™s home. Now Simonâ€™s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them.
In the gospels we see many instances where Y’Shua used “strange techniques” to heal people. This is a clear indication that He was battling the oppressor on a spiritual level. Healing a deaf person by sticking His fingers in his ears and helping his difficult speech by touching his tongue with saliva would not have been considered good medical practice in those days.
32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Y’Shua took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, â€œEphphatha!â€ that is, â€œBe opened!â€ 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.
These healing and deliverance abilities of Y’Shua were well known. In Scripture we see that in His days, Y’Shua was seen as a powerful deliverer and healer of people. Even while Y’Shua was still on earth, people were using His name to drive out demons.
38 John said to Him, â€œTeacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.â€ 39 But Y’Shua said, â€œDo not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 â€œFor he who is not against us is for us.
After the resurrection of Y’Shua, Peter testified to this fact and explained that it was because YHVH was with Him that Y’Shua was able to heal those who were oppressed.
â€œYou know of Y’Shua of Nazareth, how Elohim anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for Elohim was with Him.
We also see that the disciples continued to heal people in the name of Y’Shua with great success.
6 But Peter said, â€œI do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Y’Shua Messiah the Nazareneâ€”walk!â€ 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.
16 â€œAnd on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Y’Shua which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
But Y’Shua’s power as spiritual healer was not only recorded in the Biblical literature. We also see in many other documents that the name of Y’Shua was seen as a mighty power to deliver people from evil powers.
In the early 1800’s a bunch of papyrus documents were found in Egypt. These documents became known as the Magical Papyri.3 These documents include incantations, rituals, formulas, spells, hymns and a variety of magical symbols, characters and names. The majority of these texts were written in Greek, but some were composed in Demotic, Coptic and even Aramaic. At the time that these documents were created, Egypt was seen as the capitol of magic. In these documents, we have a specific document by a famous magician called Pibicus. He penned the following lines that were recorded in the Greek Magical Papyrus section 4, lines 3007 to 30864:
I adjure you by the god of the Hebrews, Jesus â€¦ I adjure you by the seal that Solomon placed on the tongue of Jeremiah.â€¦ I adjure you, the one who receives this conjuration, not to eat pork, and every spirit and demon, whatever sort it may be, will be subject to you.â€¦ Keep yourself pure, for this charm is Hebraic and is preserved among pure men.
This pagan magician is calling Y’Shua the god of the Hebrews and uses His powers to protect the wearer of the charm. This shows us that the testimony of the healing and deliverance powers of Y’Shua extended well beyond the people of Israel.
We also see that this power was also recognized by believers during the period of the Roman Empire. There exists a comprehensive collection of around 18,000 Latin inscriptions that are dated to the time of the Roman Empire. This collection is called the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL.) In it is a large number of public and private inscriptions that reveal to us a lot of the Roman life and history. This collection is still being updated on a continuous basis. In this collection we have one lead tablet that was found in Yugoslavia. It dates from around the sixth century5. It was made to be worn as an amulet and is what is called a “curse tablet.” This specific amulet was supposed to protect the wearer from a foul spirit of Tartarus. The amulet contains the following text in Latin:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I denounce you, most foul spirit of Tartarus, whom the angel Gabriel bound with burning fetters.
We also see a silver lamella (small, thin fragment) dated to the fourth century, now housed in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, referred to as “Froehner 1212.” It was found in Cyprus and bought by Froehner around 1874. It records the following text in Greek:
(I adjure you in the name of the) Nazorean, Jesus Christ, and his holy apostles and (his) angels, (to come out of â€¦)â€
We again see that the name of Y’Shua was considered a power to ward off evil spirits.
Ganging up to make the enemy fall
Once Y’Shua had started His attack on satan, He completed the selection of His 12 disciples. These twelve did not come from the twelve tribes, as we see two pairs of brothers amongst them. The number twelve does show us that they were meant to go to the twelve tribes of Israel. This is exactly what Y’Shua did. He first equipped the twelve by giving them the spiritual power and authority.
1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of YHVH and to perform healing. 3 And He said to them, â€œTake nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. 4 â€œWhatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. 5 â€œAnd as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.â€ 6 Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Y’Shua also ensured that the twelve went out with the correct message. They had to take out the gospel that He had bought, not what the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes were teaching at this time. Together with the “new” gospel travelled the spiritual power to heal and deliver people from the system that they had been caught up in.
12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.
If we have our spiritual glasses on and we understand the Spiritual impact of Babel, we realize the significance of what happens later. After the selection, sending out and return of the twelve, Y’Shua appoints seventy (some text have 72) messengers that He sent out in pairs.
Now after this the Master appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.
It is now clear to us that the number seventy is not a random number. This number ties back to the other nations that YHVH had separated and allocated to other elohim. These elohim had led these nations astray but letting the nations worship them, instead of the only true Elohim. After having sent His twelve to the nations of Israel, the “new” gospel now needs to be sent to the other nations as well. As the people Of YHVH were not picking up the task He had given them, to be a light to all nations, He Himself manifested as man and started the outreach to return the nations.
The return of these nations was a spiritual war with the the elohim that ruled over these nations. The seventy were also instructed to teach the “new“gospel to all the people they came across. People had to return to the one true Elohim. If they chose not to do this, they would have to face the consequences.
8 â€œWhatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, â€˜The kingdom of YHVH has come near to you.â€™ 10 â€œBut whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 â€˜Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of YHVH has come near.â€™
We also see that the act of healing the sick goes hand-in-hand with the message. Not only the healing, but also the deliverance of the people from the oppression of the enemy. The seventy return to Y’Shua to report their success.
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, â€œMaster, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.â€ 18 And He said to them, â€œI was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
It is clear from the response of Y’Shua that the power and authority that satan had tempted Him with, had been taken away from satan. Satan was no longer the ruler over all these people. The return to the One true Elohim had started. People now had now received the message regarding the true essence of YHVH and because of this, some will chose to return.
But, one more thing was keeping the people under the thumb of satan. The power satan held over life and death. Satan knew that if people died in sin, they were destined to the underworld. This last stronghold still had to be broken. Thus, Yâ€™Shua set out to topple this last bastion of the power of satan.
The next part of Scripture that we will re-examine will require us to explain some background as well. The Scripture we will study is the following:
13 Now when Y’Shua came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, â€œWho do people say that the Son of Man is?â€ 14 And they said, â€œSome say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.â€ 15 He said to them, â€œBut who do you say that I am?â€ 16 Simon Peter answered, â€œYou are the Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim.â€ 17 And Y’Shua said to him, â€œBlessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 â€œI also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My assembly; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 â€œI will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.â€ 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Messiah.
Most of us know this part of text for one of two reasons:
- Simon Peter identifies Y’Shua as the Messiah
- The argument regarding the rock that the assembly will be built upon
If we put on our spiritual glasses we will also note some other interesting facts in this piece of text. Why does the writer mention specifically that this took place in the district of Caesarea-Philippi? Is it significant to now where this conversation took place? We now that all words in Scripture are significant. Thus we need to find the correlation between the location and the conversation. Let us first see where Caesarea Philippi is on the map.
Caesarea-Philippi is to the northern border of the current Israel in the area known as the Golan Heights. It is at the foot of Mount Hermon. Today it is known by it’s Arabic name of “Banias.” The name Banias comes from the earlier Greek name of “Paneas” which in turn comes from the earlier name of the region – Panion. The name Panion comes from the name of the Greek god Pan. Today, you can still travel to this area to see the remains of an earlier temple to this god. Part of this temple is a cave. Today this is called the “cave of Pan.” This cave may be the same place as the Baal-gad that is mentioned in the book of Joshua.
from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death.
This cave may have been the shrine that was in this area and was dedicated to the rites of Ba’al-Gad.
The town was given it’s name Caesarea by the son of Herod the Great, in honour of Caesar Augustus, who gave his farther this territory around 20 B.C. Herod the Great built a great temple of white marble at the site. Later, Herod’s son Phillip, renamed it and added his own name to it, to distinguish it from the coastal town on Caesarea that was built by Herod.
What is more interesting for us, is the region that Caesarea-Philippi is in. As mentioned before, it is as the foot of Mount Hermon. It is in the region called “Bashan.” Both these facts are significant to understand the link between the place and the conversation. In the days when the nation of Israel conquered the land, the area of Bashan was one of the significant battles that they fought.
1 â€œThen we turned and went up the road to Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan, with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Edrei. 2 â€œBut YHVH said to me, â€˜Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; and you shall do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.â€™ 3 â€œSo YHVH our Elohim delivered Og also, king of Bashan, with all his people into our hand, and we smote them until no survivor was left. 4 â€œWe captured all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we did not take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 â€œAll these were cities fortified with high walls, gates and bars, besides a great many unwalled towns. 6 â€œWe utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of every city. 7 â€œBut all the animals and the spoil of the cities we took as our booty. 8 â€œThus we took the land at that time from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to Mount Hermon 9 (Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir): 10 all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 11 (For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.)
We see from this text that the Israelites fought King Og for this area. Og was king of Bashan and he was also one of the remnant of the Rephaim. The Rephaim are the giants that were in the land as a result of what happened in Genesis 6.
1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of Elohim saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then YHVH said, â€œMy Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.â€ 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of Elohim came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
To get from the Nephilim to the Rephaim, we need to make a bit of a detour via the Anakim.
â€œThere also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.â€
Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim.
We see that the sons of Anak, the Anakim, are part of the Nephilim. In turn the Anakim are regarded a Rephaim. If we look at the descriptions of the Anakim and the description of King Og, we see the connection to giants. The area that Og ruled over was called Bashan, but it was also called the land of the Rephaim.
â€œThe rest of Gilead and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh, all the region of Argob (concerning all Bashan, it is called the land of Rephaim.
The Hebrew word “bashan” means “serpent.” Thus, the region of Bashan is also known as the “place of the serpent.” However, the Hebrew word “rephaim – ×¨×¤××™×” is not only used to refer to the giants of the land of Bashan. It is also used to refer to the spirits of the dead.
5 â€œThe departed spirits (rephaim) tremble Under the waters and their inhabitants. 6 â€œNaked is Sheol before Him, And Abaddon has no covering.
â€œSheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; It arouses for you the spirits (rephaim) of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.
The dead will not live, the departed spirits (rephaim) will not rise; Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And You have wiped out all remembrance of them.
From this we have two links. The first one links this area to the serpent. From Genesis 3:14-15 we know that the serpent(nachash) is the enemy of mankind that had been thrown down. We see that the area is also linked to the Rephaim, who were not only seen as giants but also as spirits of the dead by the people in the time of Y’Shua. This provides us with links to the phrase “gates of Hades” in the statement by Y’Shua. We also see this view in the clay tablets that have been found from the Ugarit. Here is a short conclusion from the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible7:
For the â€˜Canaanitesâ€™ of Ugarit, the Bashan region, or a part of it, clearly represented â€˜Hellâ€™, the celestial and infernal abode of their deified dead kings, â†’Olympus and â†’Hades at the same time.
Thus we see that this area had a spiritual connection with the underworld, the domain of satan, and this is why Y’Shua makes the reference to the gates of hell.
The other link to the spiritual dimension is via Mount Hermon. A mentioned before, Caesarea-Philippi is at the foot of Mount Hermon. It is interesting to note what the view of Mount Hermon was in the time of Y’Shua. We see in the book of Enoch (a second temple period writing), that Mount Hermon was described as the place where the sons of Elohim came down from their heavenly abode to dwell with mankind. We had also seen in an earlier text that Og, king of Bashan also ruled over Hermon. The name “Hermon” is pronounced “khermon” in Hebrew and is a noun with the same root a the verb “kharam- ×—Öµ×¨Ö¶×,.” Kharam is defined a “to devote to destruction” and is used to describe what the nation did to Sihon, King of Hesbon.
6 â€œWe utterly destroyed (kharam) them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of every city. 7 â€œBut all the animals and the spoil of the cities we took as our booty.
The Israelites were also given the instruction to utterly destroy ( put under the ban) certain of their enemy nations.
17 â€œBut you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as YHVH your Elohim has commanded you, 18 so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against YHVH your Elohim.
Thus, for the people living in the time of Y’Shua, Mount Hermon was linked to the idea of total destruction. This indicated to them the link to the nations that they were not to mix with. We also know that in Ancient Near Eastern thought, including the Bible, mountains were seen as the dwelling place of gods. The same holds true for Mount Hermon. Hittite literature mentions this mountain as the dwelling place of gods7. It is confirmed if we look at the other names it has in Scripture. We find verses that also refer to “Baal-Hermon.”
These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath.
1 Chronicles 5:23
Now the sons of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land; from Bashan to Baal-hermon and Senir and Mount Hermon they were numerous.
All of this allows us to look differently at the spiritual dimension behind the statement that Y’Shua made. Y’Shua went to the area that was known, at this time, as the gates to the underworld, and made a clear statement that He would defeat this last bastion. Y’Shua include the section regarding building upon the rock. There exists many views as to what “this rock” means. Now we have one more view: was Y’Shua perhaps referring to Mount Hermon? Could it be that Y’Shua was informing His disciples that He would built His assembly on the fact that the power of everlasting death would be destroyed? If we look at it with hindsight, this is exactly what happened. After this incident Y’Shua starts His final trip to Jerusalem. He new that it was time for Him to face death at the hands of His enemy. He came to this place to trigger this event by challenging dominion of darkness.
The next major event that is recorded in the gospels is the transfiguration of Y’Shua. Tradition tells us that the transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor. Today, you can find the church of transfiguration on top of the mount. However, the mountain of transfiguration is never named as Tabor in the Scripture. None of the Gospels tell us the name of the mountain where the transfiguration took place.What is recorded for us is the fact that Y’Shua went up to the high mountain, six days after the confession of Peter at Caesarea-Philippi.
Six days later, Y’Shua took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them;
Mount Tabor is about 70km (as the crow flies) from Ceasarea-Phillipi, thus it would be possible to cover the distance in five or six days. Tabor sits at a height of around 500m above sea level. The peak of Mount Hermon is around 23 km from Ceasarea-Phillipi and sits at a height of 2,800m above sea level. Thus, it would also be possible for Y’Shua to climb up Mount Hermon with Peter, James and John in the six days. This means that both of these are likely candidates as the Mount of Transfiguration.
The tradition of Mount Tabor as the Mount of Transfiguration can be traced back to around 350-380CE to Cyril of Jerusalem8. He mentioned “They (Moses and Elijah) were with Him when He was transfigurated on Mt. Thabor and told the disciples about the end which He was to fulfil in Jerusalemâ€ (The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril – Lecture12, 16). His contemporary Jerome, also mentions Tabor as the mount of the transfiguration in Epistle 108.13 – “She climbed Mt. Thabor on which the Lord was transfigurated.” This view was also supported by Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (On the Twelve Gems), Ephrem Syrus (Hymn 21.5), Cyril of Jerusalem (Catecheses 12.16), and Jerome (Letter 46.12)9. Thus, we can conclude that this was an accepted view around the 4th century.
But, the proximity, the height of the mountain and the religious association of Tabor, is making a number of academics reconsider this view in favour of Mount Hermon. The religious association is based on what is recorded for us in Psalm 68.
15 A mountain of God (Elohim) is the mountain of Bashan; A mountain of many peaks is the mountain of Bashan. 16 Why do you look with envy, O mountains with many peaks, At the mountain which Elohim has desired for His abode? Surely YHVH will dwell there forever.
This is fascinating! First note that in most Bibles, the first instance of “elohim” is translated as “God.” As we know, the Hebrew word can also be translated “gods“, as in “other deities.” Translating the first sentence as “A mountain of the gods(har elohim) is the mountain of Bashan” would fit better into the context here, and would also not contradict the rest of Scripture. In the rest of Scripture it is clear that Mount Zion is the place that YHVH has chosen to put His name. I then read these two verses as stating that the mountain of many peaks (maybe pointing to the many gods associated with Hermon) will in future envy Mount Zion, because YHVH, the ultimate Elohim, has chosen Zion as His dwelling place (Ps 68:24, 29). In the spiritual realm, this indicates that YHVH will again reclaim all the nations and they will worship Him at Mount Zion. This is the point that is made in verse 22.
YHVH said, â€œI will bring them back from Bashan. I will bring them back from the depths of the sea;
This is the exact process that Y’Shua had started at Mount Hermon. His disciples acknowledged Him as the Messiah, He showed them what the Messiah must do, and then He went to the “gates of Hades” to start the process of returning the nations to the true Elohim, whose Name (nature) He had revealed to those entrusted to Him. The process of bringing them back from Bashan was started.
This may be exactly the point that Paul was trying to emphasize. He wrote this in the letter to the Ephesians:
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Messiahâ€™s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
â€œWhen He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.â€
9 (Now this expression, â€œHe ascended,â€ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Here Paul is actually quoting from Psalm 68.
You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, Even among the rebellious also, that YHVH Elohim may dwell there.
So, Paul is stating that Messiah has given us a gift, then Paul quotes Psalm 68 and makes Y’Shua the one who ascended and led captive a host of captives. Thus, it makes most sense that Y’Shua would ascend the mount that was the opposite of the place YHVH had chosen to put His Name. Y’Shua went up the mount to signal that the attack on the mount of the other gods, and the gates to the underworld had started.
When we look at this statement from Paul in a bit more detail we find some very interesting things going on. First, let us see how the some of the English translations differ when translating the Greek text. Here are two of the more direct English translations:
8 Therefore it says, â€œWhen He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.â€ 9 (Now this expression, â€œHe ascended,â€ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Ephesians 4:8â€“10 (ESV)
8 Therefore it says, â€œWhen he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.â€ 9 (In saying, â€œHe ascended,â€ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
The first, the New American Standard, has the Messiah going down to the lower parts of the earth. This is commonly read to men that Y’Shua died and went down to hell, before ascending. The second translation, the English Standard version, has Y’shua coming down from heaven to earth, to set the people free. This then causes an interesting twist on what the gifts to men are and when it was given. Here is one take on it.
Note that instead of â€œlower parts of the earthâ€ the ESV inserts a comma: â€œthe lower regions, the earth.â€ The effect of the comma is that Jesus descended to â€œthe lower regions, [in other words] the earth.â€ This option fits the context better (the gifts are given to people who are of course on earth) and has some other literary advantages. If this option is correct, then the descent of verses 9â€“10 does not refer to Jesusâ€™ time in the grave, but rather to the Holy Spiritâ€™s coming to earth after Jesusâ€™ conquering ascension on the day of Pentecost.1
But what is the main point that this verse is supposed to give us? In both Psalm 68 and Ephesians 4, we have the concept of leading captives. In the case of the Psalm, it is YHVH that leads the captives and for Paul it is Y’Shua, the earthly manifestation of YHVH, that does it. Most people were painted a picture of Y’Shua setting believers free and they then follow Him. But this is not the correct cultural concept of Psalm 68. In the days of the Tanakh, leading captives was a sign of victory. It was usually the king, princes and generals of the conquered nation that was being led away. Paul is telling us that when Y’Shua ascended on high, He had already conquered the gates of Hades. He had given the gift of everlasting life with Him to mankind.
Now that Y’Shua had set this battle into motion, He knew what the result was going to be. Thus, He started His journey to Jerusalem, where He knew He was going to die and in the process cause the fall of Bashan. Once the underworld had been defeated, the reversal of the spiritual impact of Babel could begin.
As Y’Shua had predicted, after He went up to Jerusalem, He was rejected by the leaders and handed over to the Gentiles to be crucified. However, He was vindicated by YHVH and resurrected and ascended to sit on the right had of YHVH. Before His ascension, Y’Shua instructed His disciples to stay in Jerusalem. There was a specific reason for this. It was the next big step in the overall plan to return all people to the One and only Elohim. It was the last piece that would make the circle round again. This would start to undo the result of the tower of Babel.
The event was the pouring out of the Ruach to the disciples during Shavu’ot. Today this event s better known by it’s ancient Greek name of Pentecost (meaning “the fiftieth“.) Most people know this event for the fact that this is the day that the disciples gather together in Jerusalem were filled with the Ruach and began to speak in the languages of all the people present. You can read more about the speaking in tongues in our article – Spiritual utterance, words from above. But there is actually more to this event.
The significance of the Pentecost event
In order to grasp the significance of what happened on that day in Jerusalem, it is important to see what Luke is trying to tell us with his choice of words. Remember that Luke was a gentile, that was compiling a document to show to the gentiles how they have now become a part of the people of YHVH. In Luke’s choice of Greek words there are two words that help us close the circle. These two words are words that take us back to the tower of Babel event where the people were split and assigned to different elohim to serve. (If you have not yet read the article The spiritual impact of Babel, please read this before continuing.)
When we look at the words that Luke used, we will find two words that provide us the link back. The first word is used to describe the tongues of fire.
Acts 2:3 (NASB)
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
Acts 2:3 (ESV)
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
In the two very different translations, we find the common Greek word to be “Î´Î¹Î±Î¼ÎµÏÎ¹Î¶ÏŒÎ¼ÎµÎ½Î±Î¹“. The exact definition of this word is still unclear for us, as can be seen by this dictionary entry. This is what is causing the difference in translations.
15.140 Î´Î¹Î±Î¼ÎµÏÎ¯Î¶Î¿Î¼Î±Î¹: to disperse, on the basis of having been divided upâ€”â€˜to spread out, to disperse.â€™ ÎºÎ±á½¶ á½¤Ï†Î¸Î·ÏƒÎ±Î½ Î±á½Ï„Î¿á¿–Ï‚ Î´Î¹Î±Î¼ÎµÏÎ¹Î¶ÏŒÎ¼ÎµÎ½Î±Î¹ Î³Î»á¿¶ÏƒÏƒÎ±Î¹ á½¡ÏƒÎµá½¶ Ï€Ï…ÏÏŒÏ‚ â€˜and there appeared to them dispersing tongues as of fireâ€™ or â€˜â€¦ tongues as of fire spreading outâ€™ Ac 2:3. There are, however, serious questions as to the precise meaning of Î´Î¹Î±Î¼ÎµÏÎ¯Î¶Î¿Î¼Î±Î¹ in Ac 2:3; the meaning could be â€˜tongues as of fire dispersing one to each person,â€™ but it is also possible that the individual tongues of fire were divided
This is also the world that was used by the translators of the Septuagint in Deut 32:8 when they originally translated from Hebrew into Greek. As Luke was most likely very familiar with the Greek version of the Tanakh, this is most likely the connection he was trying to make.
Deuteronomy 32:8 (Lexham English Septuagint)
When the Most High distributed (Î´Î¹Î±Î¼ÎµÏÎ¯Î¶Ï‰) nations as he scattered the descendants of Adam, he set up boundaries for the nations according to the number of the angels of God.
The next word that helps us to close the circle is the Greek word ÏƒÏ…Î³Ï‡ÎÏ‰ – sygcheÅ.
And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered (sygcheÅ) because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
This is the same Greek word we see in Genesis at the story of Babel.
Genesis 11:7 (Lexham English Septuagint)
Come, and let us go down there to confound (sygcheÅ) their language, that each of them will not hear the voice of their neighbor.â€
With these two little hints, Luke is trying to point us to the connection between the two stories.
At Babel, the people of all the nations were gathered together to see if they could join the physical and spiritual words. YHVH cam down and confused their languages. Now at Shavu’ot, we again have the people of all the nations again gathered together. This time they are gather together in Jerusalem to worship YHVH on one of His appointed times. This time YHVH comes down in the form of the Ruach, to start the reversal of what happened at Babel. YHVH takes away the language barrier that He had imposed, by allowing the believers gathered together, to deliver the message of His real nature to all the nations gathered together. The process of returning all the nations back to Him, had now begun in all earnest.
The other link we have between these two events is the list of the nations. In Genesis 10 we have what is referred to a “The Table of Nations.” This defines for us the world as it was know by the authors of the Pentateuch. This list describes the Ancient Near Eastern geography. It does not include other continents like North America, South America or Australia. The original list covers the area from Mesopotamia in the east to Tarshish in the west. What lay beyond Tarshish was an unknown world in the days of the Tanach1.
When we look at the list that Luke mentions, we see that it was not simply a random list. It is also not an exact copy of the names that were mentioned in Genesis 10, as some of the names had changed in the mean time. But the list does include, again, the borders of the known world, at this time. In the days of Acts, the known world was basically the boundaries of the Roman empire. Thus, Luke is trying to confirm what was prophesied by Y’Shua before His ascension.
7 He said to them, â€œIt is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.â€
Luke provides us in his list with an east to west view of all the nations where the Jewish nation had placed itself.
9 â€œParthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabsâ€”we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of YHVH.â€
Let us see where all the nations were:
- The Parthians were an important people who lived in the country south of the Caspian Sea. Their kingdom extended from India to the Tigris.
- Tedes. Their country lay to the south-west of the Caspian Sea, between Parthia and Armenia.
- Elamites. They dwelt in the district known as Susiana, to the north of the Persian Gulf, between the Tigris and Persia.
Mesopotamia. The district between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris.
- Cappadocia was situated on the eastern border of what we now call Asia Minor.
- Pontus. A district in the north-east of Asia Minor.
- Asia. In the New Testament the term Asia is used in a sense quite different from its present meaning. It never refers to the continent of Asia, but to the Roman province which was situated on the western coast-line of Asia Minor.
- Phrygia. A district to the west of Cappadocia.
- Pamphylia. A country on the south coast of Asia Minor.
- Libya. The ancient name for Africa.
- Cyrene. The capital of Cyrenaica, a district in the north of Africa, opposite to Greece.11
The dwellers of Mesopotamia were the descendants of Shem. Capadocia, Asia, Phryphia and Pamphylia lie towards the west and North of Jerusalem. These are the descendants of Japheth. Egypt, Libya and Cyrene are towards the South on the African continent and represent the descendants of Ham.12
However, on this list we do not find a name that takes us as far west as Tashish. Tarshish is mentioned more than 30 times in the Tanakh, but the exact location is still a debate amongst the scholars.13 One if the theories is that it was an Phoenician colony on the Guadalquiver River, in what was later Spain. This port city was also known as Tartessus. This area is known for it’s metals and this could then also tie it back to the Tarshish that king Solomon traded with.
1 Kings 10:22â€“23
22 For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. 23 So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.
If we accept this locale of Tarshish, it could also provide us with an explanation for Paul’s passion with getting to Spain.
whenever I go to Spainâ€”for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a whileâ€”
There is still much debate going on about this goal of Paul. Some scholars believe that Paul did manage to get to Spain after his first trial in Rome. What is important here is that Paul saw this as the western most part of the Jewish world, and he needed to get the gospel of Messiah to these people. This would then fulfil the prophecy of Y’Shua mentioned earlier.
In this study we have seen that the actions of Y’Shua also had a significant spiritual impact. The authors on the Apostolic Scriptures were aware of all of this, and have left little hints for us all over their texts.
The baptism of Y’Shua was basically a signal to the spiritual world that the Messiah, and rightful heir to the throne of David had arrived and was about to stake His claim. The immediate response from the evil forces was to try and tempt Y’Shua in the same way that they tempted the nations during their Exodus. But this time they were not dealing with another mere mortal, and the plan did not succeed. The result was that Y’Shua started to break the hold that satan had on the world by healing the sick and delivering those oppressed by demons.
Y’Shua chose to take the battle into enemy territory. First Y’Shua went into the Galilee. This area was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” Next, Y’Shua took His disciples to the area of Bashan. The area that was known as the gates to the underworld. At this place Simon Peter made the statement that he believed that Y’Shua was the Messiah. Y’Shua responded with a statement that included the reference to the rock that He would build upon and that He would overcome the gates of Hades. The fact that they were in the geographical area known as the gates of the underworld gives this statement so much more of an impact. The transfiguration on Mount Hermon would definitely have been a clear sign in the spiritual realm that the Messiah had arrived with His instructions from YHVH.
After the death, resurrection and ascension of Y’Shua, we see the real mission of Y’Shua come to fulfilment. Y’Shua had come to:
- Defeat the last stronghold of satan by conquering death
- Set the believers free from the system (kosmos)
- Reveal the true nature (Name) of YHVH to all the nations and allow all these nations to chose the one true Elohim
Thus we see that all that is written for us in the Apostolic Scriptures, show us what our redeemer has done for us. There is actually a lot more in the gospels if we make the time to really study and understand their words.
- Heiser, M.S., 2015. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible First Edition., Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Alexander, R.H., 1999. 846 ×™×“×“ R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
- Arnold, C.E., 2000. Magical Papyri C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter, eds. Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship.
- Evans, C. A. (2014). NT313 Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Gacer, John G. Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World. P 224. ISBN-13: 978-0195134827
- Lete, del O. G. (1999). Bashan. In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed., p. 162). Leiden; Boston; KÃ¶ln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans.
- Arav, R., 1992. Hermon, Mount (Place) D. N. Freedman, ed. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary.
- Mussies, G., 1999. Tabor K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst, eds. Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible.
- Cameron, D. J. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Mount Tabor. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, â€¦ W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 199). New York: United Bible Societies.
- Andrews, H. T. (1908). The Acts of the Apostles (p. 48). London: Andrew Melrose.
- Everett, G. H. (2011). The Book of Acts (pp. 84â€“85). Gary Everett.
- Baker, D.W., 1992. Tarshish (Place) D. N. Freedman, ed. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary.