Category Archives: Biblical History

Eliashib, Artaxerxes, & Sir Robert Anderson

I don’t know about you, but I hate when I get things wrong, especially subjects related to the Bible. It recently came to my attention that I’ve been making a statement that is not accurate. This week I want to set the record straight.

As many of you know, I’ve often claimed that the sum total of Sir Robert Anderson’s evidence for his Artaxerxes Assumption is a quote by Rawlinson regarding Artaxerxes’, Ezra’s, & Nehemiah’s place in the 2nd temple era. Well, it turns out, due to sloppy research on my part, this is not an accurate statement. To give you the context of my erroneous statement here is a quote taken from my book Daniel’s Seventy Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy:

“By far, the decree by this unnamed Persian Artaxerxes— once again presumed to be Longimanus, known to history as Artaxerxes I— is the most popular choice when scholars look for the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem prophesied by Daniel. Sir Robert Anderson, the great Christian writer, popularized this theory in his influential book The Coming Prince. Anderson does indeed make an impressive case, but surprisingly, he fails to address the scriptural basis for his belief that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of Longimanus. Instead, Anderson, in one of the most far-reaching eschatological errors of the past two centuries, simply defers to the judgment of the great historian Rawlinson. I quote Rawlinson as found on p. 71 of Anderson’s The Coming Prince:

“Artaxerxes I reigned forty years, from 465 to 425. He is mentioned by Herodotus once (6. 98), by Thucydides frequently. Both writers were his contemporaries. There is every reason to believe that he was the king who sent Ezra and Nehemiah to Jerusalem, and sanctioned the restoration of the fortifications.”— RAWLINSON, Herodotus, vol. 4, p. 217.

Did you catch that? “There is every reason to believe” is the sum of Rawlinson’s and Anderson’s evidence for Ezra and Nehemiah’s place in the Second Temple era! Not a single reference to Ezra’s age or the natural chronological flow of Ezra 6 and 7 is mentioned. Anderson, out of a well-intentioned necessity to prove his interpretation of Daniel 9, simply ignored the biblical evidence, instead relying on unsubstantiated claims by another respected historian.” (Struse, William. Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy (Prophecies & Patterns Book 2) (Kindle Locations 1539-1554). PalmoniQuest LLC. Kindle Edition. )

The above statement is not entirely correct. Anderson does in fact provide some evidence to support his Artaxerxes Assumption. That evidence is found in Appendix 2 of his book, The Coming Prince. I’ve reproduced the passage in question:

“So thorough is the unanimity with which the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah is now admitted to be Longimanus, that it is no longer necessary to offer proof of it. Josephus indeed attributes these events to Xerxes, but his history of the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes is so hopelessly in error as to be utterly worthless. In fact he transposes the events of these respective reigns (see, Ant. 11, caps 5: and 7.) Nehemiah’s master reigned not less than thirty-two years (Nehemiah 13: 6); and his reign was subsequent to that of Darius Hystaspes (comp. Ezra 6: 1 and 7: 1), and prior to that of Darius Nothus (Nehemiah 12: 22). He must, therefore, be either Longimanus or Memnon, for no other king after Darius Hystaspes reigned thirty-two years, and it is certain Nehemiah’s mission was not so late as the twentieth of Artaxerxes Mnemon, viz, B.C. 385.

This appears, first, from the general tenor of the history; second, because this date is later than that of Malachi, whose prophecy must have been considerably later than the time of Nehemiah; and third, because Eliashib, who was high priest when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, was grandson of Jeshua, who was high priest in the first year of Cyrus (Nehemiah 3: 1; 12: 10; Ezra 2: 2; 3: 2); and from the first year of Cyrus (B.C. 536), to the twentieth of Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 445), was ninety-one years, leaving room for precisely three generations. [1] [1] Encyc. Brit, 9th ed, title “Artaxerxes.” (Anderson, Sir Robert. The Coming Prince (p. 188). Great Plains Press. Kindle Edition. )”

So as you can see, Sir Robert Anderson does offer some Biblical proof for his Artaxerxes Assumption. It’s only fair to note Anderson’s rather forward opening statement:

“So thorough is the unanimity with which the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah is now admitted to be Longimanus, that it is no longer necessary to offer proof of it.”

I know, it may sound like a bit of sour grapes on my part, but this statement is disappointing to me. Since when is unanimity of consensus valid proof of the accuracy of any truth claim? If you’ve searched the historical record yourself, then you know that in fact nearly every one of those who share this unanimity of consensus about Artaxerxes Longimanus, Ezra, and Nehemiah, instead of reasonable Biblical evidence related to the subject, they only offer the opinions of their peers.

Regarding Anderson’s statement of Josephus’s chronology I must agree. Josephus’s rendering of the Persian chronology is all over the board. His statements are often confusing and sometimes contradictory. He does provide a wealth of historical information, but it takes a great deal of effort to separate the fact from the well-meaning fiction.

So let’s look at the one piece of evidence for Sir Robert Anderson’s Artaxerxes Assumption that can be verified and see how it stands up under the light of the Biblical evidence. For context sake keep in mind here that Anderson’s three points are in rebuttal to Josephus’s claims that Nehemiah (and Ezra) were contemporaries of Xerxes, Josephus being one of the few who do not hold the “unanimity of consensus” Anderson describes above. Anderson’s three points against Josephus’s claims are as follows:

1. “…first, from the general tenor of the history;

2. “…second, because this date is later than that of Malachi, whose prophecy must have been considerably later than the time of Nehemiah;

3. “…and third, because Eliashib, who was high priest when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, was grandson of Jeshua, who was high priest in the first year of Cyrus (Nehemiah 3: 1; 12: 10; Ezra 2: 2; 3: 2); and from the first year of Cyrus (B.C. 536), to the twentieth of Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 445), was ninety-one years, leaving room for precisely three generations. [1] [1] Encyc. Brit, 9th ed, title “Artaxerxes.”

Of the three points above only the third provides solid Biblical and historical chronology for us to verify. So let’s look at priestly service of Eliashib during the governorship of Nehemiah to see which Persian Artaxerxes most likely qualifies as “Artaxerxes” of Ezra and Nehemiah. But first the Biblical context of Eliashib the high priest:

And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada, And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua. (Nehemiah 12:10-11)

The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian. (Nehemiah 12:22)

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. (Nehemiah 3:1)

Numbers Provided

To see if Sir Robert Anderson’s claim about Eliashib stand up to reasonable scrutiny, we will look at the evidence in a similar manner as one would solve a Sudoku puzzle. For those not familiar with these number games, a Sudoku puzzle is a cube composed of nine 3×3 sub-grids. The object of the puzzle is to fill all the boxes with single digits where no line or column of numbers repeats itself. Each 3×3 box must contain a digit from 1-9 without any repeated numbers and each line of numbers must be a single digit of 1-9 without any repeated numbers.

Red Numbers are Unknown

The challenge of a Sudoku puzzle is that each number added to the matrix further influences the arrangement of the other numbers and constrains subsequent additions to the puzzle. Sometimes you can get down to the final answer to the puzzle and find that some of your assumptions have been incorrect even though your placement of the numbers appeared to work initially. Each puzzle starts with a certain number of boxes with a few numbers already provided. Building upon the numbers already provided you then fill in the rest of the boxes with numbers.

Our Biblical Sudoku puzzle is an organization of historical and Biblical facts. These are arranged on a chronological grid and our job is to arrange those facts so that they do not contradict or falsify each other. The events or facts that are either reasonably established or chronologically fixed are in black. All facts that are not chronologically fixed are in red. All of the facts below must be taken into account when organizing the chronology of Eliashib, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Artaxerxes. Here are some of the chronological facts related to Eliashib’s place in the 2nd temple era:

      1. The Tabernacle service was performed by men ages 30-50. (Num. 4:1-4) The Levitical service was performed by men ages 25-50. (Num. 8:24) Later the age limit was lowered to 20-50. (I Chron. 23:24)
        1. The high priest excepted (it appears they served until death – not entirely clear) (Num. 35:25-28; Jos. 20:6)
      2. The average length of priestly service during Solomon’s temple
        1. 12 or 13 priest from Zadok to Seraiah
        2. Average length of 1st Temple service was 29-31 yrs. (Average number of years for each priest from completion of 1st Temple (960-970 BC) to its destruction in 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar 585 BC)
      3. Seraiah (last high priest of Solomon’s temple) was killed in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar (584 BC) (2nd Chron. 25:8-21)
        1. Priestly lineage from Seraiah (see chart below)
      4. Jehozadak (son of Seraiah) was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar “when YHWH carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar” (I Chron. 6:15)
        1. 1st captivity of Judah: Daniel taken captive (604 BC) (Dan 1:1)
        2. 2nd captivity of Judah 8th yr. Nebuchadnezzar carried away “all Jerusalem” (595 BC) ( 2nd Kings 24, 2 Chr. 36)
        3. 3rd captivity of Judah – 19th yr. of Nebuchadnezzar – Jerusalem destroyed, all except the poor taken captive (584 BC) (Jer. 52:28-31, 2nd Kings 24-25, 2 Chr. 36)
        4. 4th captivity of Judah – 23rd yr. Nebuchadnezzar (580 BC) (Jer. 52:28-31)
      5.  Nehemiah’s “Artaxerxes” reigned at least 32 years (Neh. 13:6)
        1. Darius ‘the great’ Artaxerxes reigned 36 years (521-486 BC)
        2. Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) reigned 41 years (464-424 BC)
      6. Ezra (the priest and scribe) went up to Jerusalem in the 7th year of “Artaxerxes” (Ezra 7)
      7. Ezra & Nehemiah taught the people the Torah in the 20th year of “Artaxerxes” (Neh. 8:8-9)
      8. Nehemiah served as governor of Jerusalem from the 20th – 32nd yr. of an “Artaxerxes” (Neh. 5:14)
      9. Nehemiah and the people rebuilt the wall in Jerusalem in the 20th yr. of “Artaxerxes” (Ezra 7-8
      10. 1st year of Cyrus (536 BC)
          1. Yeshua (Joshua – high priest) went up to Jerusalem (Ezra 1-3)
          2. Zerubbabel the governor went up to Jerusalem (Ezra 1-3)
          3. Priest, Levites, and temple porters went up to Jerusalem (Neh. 12)
      11. Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries (Neh. 8:9; 12:26)
      12. Many of the Priests, Levites, and temple porters of Neh. 12 (536 BC) were still alive in the 20th year of a Persian “Artaxerxes” (Neh. 10-11)
      13. 2nd year of Darius ‘the great’ Artaxerxes (520 BC)
          1. Construction on the temple was restarted (Ezra 4:24; Hag. 1; Zech 1)
      14. 6th year of Darius ‘the great’ Artaxerxes (516 BC)
        1. Construction on the temple was completed (Ezra 6:13-15)
      15. Joiakim (son of Joshua the high priest) was a contemporary of Nehemiah & Ezra (Neh. 12:26)
      16. Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, & Jaddua were priest up to or during the reign of “Darius the Persian”. (Neh. 12:22)
      17. Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren and built the wall of Jerusalem in the 20th year of an “Artaxerxes”.1
      18. By the 32nd year of “Artaxerxes” Nehemiah had learned of the evil done by Eliashib for Tobiah (Neh. 13:7)
      19. By the 32nd year of “Artaxerxes” one of Joiada’s sons (Eliashib the high priest’s grandson) was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite. (Neh. 13:28)

Think of the reasonable established chronological facts above (in black) as the numbers already provided for our Biblical Sudoku puzzle. Of these the following are especially important to determining Eliashib’s place in these events:

Seraiah the last high priest of Solomon’s temple was killed in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar (roughly 584 BC). He had at least two sons: Jehozadak and Ezra (priest and scribe). Jeohzadak was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar when “YHWH carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar”. This was likely the 2nd captivity period of Judah in 595 BC or at the latest the destruction of Jerusalem in 584-585 BC. Ezra was still alive by the 20th year of a Persian “Artaxerxes”. Only two Persian kings reasonable qualify as potential “Artaxerxes” with reigns of 32 years or more as required by Nehemiah 5:14:

    1. Darius (son of Hystaspes) also known as ‘the great’ Artaxerxes. This “Artaxerxes” reigned from 521-486 BC.
    2. “Artaxerxes” Longimanus (known historically as Artaxerxes I). This “Artaxerxes” reigned from 464-424 BC.

It was in the 20th year of one of these two Persian “Artaxerxes” that Eliashib the high priest rose up and built the wall of Jerusalem. In other words Eliashib was an active participant in the events during the 20th year of a Persian “Artaxerxes”.

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. (Nehemiah 3:1)

In the chart below I’ve added nearly all of the chronological information above. For the priestly service I’ve provided three generational  date spans for each descendant of Seraiah, the high priest. These dates are based upon a 20, 25, & 30 year generation and they allow us to see a reasonable approximation of the age of high priests during the reigns of Darius & Longimanus.

Keep in mind that all of the chronological facts listed above must reasonably fit within the chronological timeline of events described in the Bible. As each piece of the Biblical Sudoku puzzle is added to the matrix, it further constrains the other events of the remaining chronology. In other words, move one chronological event and it influences the others. The result is that the chronological window for each event gets smaller and smaller and a reasonable picture of the events begins to emerge.

(Click on JPEG Image (below) to Enlarge or download the high resolution PDF here: Artaxerxes & Eliashib)

Summary Concerning Eliashib and “Artaxerxes” Longimanus (circa 464-424 BC)
As you can see from the provided chart, by the 20th year of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus, Eliashib the high priest was between 83-123 years of age. It is unlikely that he was an active participant in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Ezra (the priest and scribe) who read the law to those assembled at the feast of Tabernacles during the 20th year of “Artaxerxes” was (at his youngest) 140 years old and it is also unlikely that he was still alive or active at this time. Nehemiah 12:22 tells us that Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua were priests until/in the reign of “Darius the Persian”. Only Darius ‘the great’ (Darius I a.k.a “Artaxerxes) or Darius II (Nothus) could qualify as this “Darius the Persian” mentioned in this passage. As can be seen in the chart, it is unlikely that Darius II (Nothus) qualifies as the “Darius the Persian” of Nehemiah 12:22.

  1. The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian. (Nehemiah 12:22)

Summary Concerning Eliashib and Darius – ‘the Great’ “Artaxerxes”
As you can see from my chart by the 20th year of Darius ‘the great’ “Artaxerxes”, Eliashib the high priest was between 26-66 years of age. He would have been in the prime of life and capable of building the wall of Jerusalem. Ezra (the priest and scribe) who read the law to those assembled at the feast of Tabernacles was (at his youngest) 83 years old and also capable of performing the activities attributed to him (reading the law to the people), although he was very ancient by this time. Nehemiah 12:22 tells us that Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua were priests until/in the reign of “Darius the Persian”. The chart above shows that these priests were likely alive during the reign Darius ‘the great’ “Artaxerxes”. Note also that like the priestly service from Zadok to Seraiah (a 30 year generation) most reasonably fits the chronological evidence related to the priestly service from Seraiah to Jaddua.

General Summary:
All the chronological evidence provided above fits reasonably within the reign of Darius ‘the Great’ “Artaxerxes”. There is no reasonable way to account for all of these events during the reign of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus. Contrary to Sir Robert Anderson’s claims, Eliashib’s service does not support his Artaxerxes Assumption regarding Artaxerxes I – Longimanus and his contemporaneous relationship with Ezra and Nehemiah. In fact, a careful reckoning of the facts provides reasonable evidence to show that Eliashib, Ezra, and Nehemiah had a contemporaneous relationship with Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes, but by the reign of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus it is extremely unlikely, even impossible that these characters were still alive, let alone active in the affairs described in the Bible.

In closing, I think it important to remember that no matter how certain someone tells you they are of the Biblical facts, stewardship demands that each and every one of us open our Bibles and “see if these things be so”. In light of our exploration of the facts above I leave you with Sir Robert Anderson’s words as a sobering reminder of our duty as Bereans:

 

So thorough is the unanimity with which the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah is now admitted to be Longimanus, that it is no longer necessary to offer proof of it.” (Sir Robert Anderson – The Coiming Prince, Appendix 2)

 

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Sacrifice, Symbolism, & the Passover

Imagine how it would affect your world view if you found yourself bound to an altar looking up at your father with a knife raised to kill you. Imagine yourself as a father being asked to do such a task. Of the two who do you think was the more profoundly affected by the events?

You know, we often point to the faith of Abraham in obedience to God, in this probably the most difficult test of his life, but what about the faith of Isaac? Have you ever thought that maybe Isaac’s faith in his father was also great? We often assume, at least I have, that Isaac was a helpless child bound against his will, but I wonder if that is really the whole story.

I wonder just how much Isaac trusted his own father’s word. You see, before Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, Abraham made it clear to his servants that he and Isaac would go and worship and return again. Abraham when asked by Isaac where the sacrifice would come from was assured by his father that YHWH would “provide himself a sacrifice”.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. – (Genesis 22:7-8)

What do think Abraham said to Isaac as he raised that knife to the terrified look in his beloved son’s eyes? Through his own tears I wonder if Abraham didn’t remind Isaac of what a miracle his birth had been and that when he came into this world it was as a result of God’s promise to give Sarah and himself a son in their old age. Maybe he reassured him that he was their miracle child YHWH had promised and while he didn’t understand why he was being asked to sacrifice that precious gift or exactly how the next few minutes would play out, he trusted YHWH, the living God of the Bible, and he knew that at the end of the day both of them would be coming back down that mountain because they had a destiny to fulfill.

As Passover comes once again this year I can’t help but hear the echoes of that poignant story as I reflect on Yeshua’s death and resurrection on our behalf. While YHWH spared Abraham’s precious son he could not afford that luxury when His own son was bound to that ancient Roman wooden altar. Had he spared His own son, He would have damned all mankind for eternity and not one of us would have lived to fulfill our own destinies.

In retrospect we can look back down through the centuries and see that that test of Abraham’s faith was just a glimpse of YHWH’s redemptive plan for mankind. It was a milestone which marked a new phase in that plan which promised that through Abraham’s “seed” all nations of the world would be blessed.

And the angel of YHWH called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn [shaba], saith YHWH, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)

Did you know it was 40 Jubilees from the oath YHWH swore with Abraham until that oath was fulfilled in Yeshua, the Bible’s promised Messiah? I think we often forget that YHWH’s redemptive plan was given through Abraham’s seed and to really see the beauty and richness of that plan we need to always keep that context in mind.

Take the events of the Passover week during which Yeshua offered Himself as an atonement for mankind’s sins. Without understanding the history between YHWH’s oath with Abraham on that mountain so long ago and the terrible/wonderful events of Yeshua’s death and resurrection we have no context to truly understand and appreciate them.

Without Egypt there was no Passover and Exodus. Without the Exodus there was no law. Without the law there was no understanding of the hopelessness of sin. Without an understanding of sin, there could be no appreciation for the necessity of atonement for that sin.

 

The amazing facts of the matter are that YHWH used Abraham’s seed known collectively as Israel to provide the world with a living witness to help illustrate His redemptive plan for mankind. That incredibly important role came with great blessings as well as responsibilities.

One of the responsibilities and blessings given to the children of Israel was the requirement to keep the Passover which they, as a people, have dutifully celebrated for over 3000 years.
Next week the Biblical calendar once again marks the celebration of Passover. So with this incredibly important Biblical holyday in mind, I’d like to share with you a bit of wonderful symbolism which is often overlooked in the celebration of this wonderful holyday. This symbolism helps illustrate the wonderful redemptive nature of this great Biblical celebration.

As many of you know Passover is part of the “law” YHWH gave to Israel through Moses. The author of the book of Hebrews described the law as but a “shadow of good things to come…” Hebrews goes on to show why Yeshua was a literal fulfilment of those shadow pictures found in the Torah.

We have to look no further for confirmation of this than Matthew 5:17, where Yeshua proclaimed,

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

So let’s look into the law and see if we can see another way in which the Bible represents Yeshua as the “lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.”

The 14th Sacrifice

“Yet it pleased YHWH to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of YHWH shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
—Isaiah 53:10–12

Thought most didn’t understand it, the Bible predicted that the coming Messiah would offer himself as an sacrifice for sin. Even Yeshua disciples didn’t really understand until after his death and resurrection. Today many still don’t understand that the very essence of the Bible’s message is the story of Yeshua (Yeshua means Yahweh’s Salvation).

One of the places still overlook for that message is the sacrificial symbolism of the Bible. I’m continually thrilled by how congruently YHWH has woven this message into the Biblical record. To me, it’s the ultimate treasure hunt, with each new find bringing additional depth and beauty to our Creator’s plan of reconciliation for all mankind through Yeshua.

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7–8)

It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these . . . So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:23–28)

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect . . . we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:1–10)

A Wonderful Puzzle
Right up front, I’ll admit my bias: I believe the Bible to be the inspired words of YHWH. When there are passages that don’t make any sense or seem downright funky—passages like Matthew 1 and Yeshua lineage — I like to look at these parts as a wonderful puzzle to solve.

Another good example of what I’m talking about is the order and number of sacrifices prescribed during the biblical feast days. I mean, have you ever looked at the numbers of the sacrifices YHWH commanded Israel to offer? For instance, why were 2 bullocks, 1 ram, and 7 lambs required to be offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Doesn’t that seem just a little unusual to you? Their number and order are obviously specific—but why?
For those who have looked, you would have to say it is almost like a code. If there is a symbolic or coded message in the number of sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament, could they somehow be related to the Messianic shadows or types the apostle Paul describes to the Colossians?

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

The Book of Numbers
What better place to start than the book of the Bible the Jewish people call Bemidbar, “in the desert”—probably better known to you and me as the book of Numbers. The fourth book of the Bible, Numbers gives more details about the biblical sacrifices prescribed during the feast days than any other place in the Scriptures.

The first biblical feast day begins in the spring, with Passover, on the 14th day of the first month at “even.” In biblical timekeeping, evening, or sundown, begins the day. In this case, the evening of the 14th is the start of the 15th day of Nisan. Fourteen days earlier, the Torah honors the start of the biblical calendar with the following instructions:

And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto YHWH; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot . . . and one kid of the goats for a sin offering unto YHWH shall be offered, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering. (Numbers 28:11–15)

You know, I still ask myself how I missed it all these years:

2 bullocks (burnt offering)
1 ram (burnt offering)
7 lambs (burnt offering)
1 kid of the goats (sin offering)
2 lambs (continual burnt offering)
13 total sacrifices

Right there in the book of Numbers, the biblical calendar begins with 13 sacrifices. How awesome is that!

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. (Ephesians 5:2)

But the symbolism doesn’t stop there. Numbers 28 and 29 go on to prescribe 13 sacrifices each day for the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread, as well as during Shavuot, Yom Kippur, and the 8th day of Tabernacles. As we will see in the next chapter, the sacrificial instructions for the first seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) are nothing short of amazing!

But before we get to that, there is a hidden treasure yet to be discovered in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Unleavened Bread is a feast of seven days which began with the Passover supper. In order to see the wonderful symbolism here, a little history of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is required.

(Authors Note: The Feast of Trumpets, according to Numbers 29, also requires 13 sacrifices, but if the new-moon sacrifices of the first month are included, they make for 24. Leviticus 23 includes two peace offerings for the feast of Shavuot that are not included in the sacrifices of Numbers 28. This would make for 15 if both instructions were combined. It is also important to note that any day that fell on a Sabbath required two additional sacrifices.)

The Passover and the Exodus
Few Old Testament stories capture our imaginations like the exodus of Israel from Egypt. From Moses’s confrontation with Pharaoh to the plagues, the angel of death, and finally the crossing of the Red Sea, the imagery is captivating, sobering, and finally triumphant. The events described in the book of Exodus set a pattern or shadow, if you will, which the New Testament sees fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Yeshua.

Most of us know the story of the Passover. Every Israelite household was instructed to kill a lamb and mark the doorposts with its blood. This sacrifice is described in the Bible as “YHWH’s Passover.” The angel of death would “pass over” any house upon which this blood was found, thus sparing the inhabitants the death of their firstborn in Egypt’s most terrible plague.
The order and timing of these events are fascinating, not least because they mark the Passover with the symbolism of the Messiah factors which I’ve described in my book The 13th Enumeration: Key to the Bible Messianic Symbolism. Let’s take a look:

And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which YHWH had smitten among them: upon their gods also YHWH executed judgments. (Numbers 33:3 4)

The above passage gives us an excellent fixing point in the chronology of the exodus. Verse 3 makes it clear that the exodus from Egypt began on the 15th day of the first month. Further, it informs us that this same day, the Egyptians were busy burying their firstborn dead. Exodus 12 fixes the chronology even further with the instructions concerning the Passover lamb. They were to keep this lamb until the 14th day, kill it in the evening (sundown) of the 14th day, and then eat it that night, which began the 15th of Nisan—the same night the angel of death passed over Egypt.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year . . . And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof . . . And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is YHWH’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am YHWH. (Exodus 12:5–12)

And it came to pass, that at midnight YHWH smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people . . . And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. (Exodus 12:29–33)

Based upon the above chronology, the Passover lambs were killed on the 14th of Nisan just before or right at sundown, which began the 15th day of the month. This passage makes it clear that the sacrifice was not eaten until that “night,” the very same night the angel of death “passed over” the land of Egypt. Remember, a new biblical day begins at sundown.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:5)

Now consider once again the instructions of Numbers 28 in light of this chronology. Numbers 28 requires 13 sacrifices to be made on the 15th of Nisan, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But there is a 14th sacrifice as well. The Passover lamb, killed on the 14th, was to be eaten “in that night,” which began the 15th of Nisan. So in fitting symbolism, just as Matthew 1 shows Yeshua as both the 13th and 14th Enumerations, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the very biblical holyday which represents Yeshua’s atonement on our behalf, requires 13 sacrifices to be made, but in fact 14 are consumed! This brings new meaning to the words of Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians:

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

Messianic symbolism indeed!

Chronology and Context
As I’ve explored at this blog and in my books Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy and The Jubilee Code: Prophetic Milestones in Yahweh’s Redemptive Plan, it was because of the faith Abraham displayed there on mount Jehovahjireh that YHWH swore (Shaba) with Him the first oath sworn with any man in the Bible. That oath promised, in part, that through Isaac and his “seed” all nations of the earth would be blessed.

40 Juiblee’s after that promise was given to Abraham it was fulfilled in Yeshua. Did you know that today you are living in the anniversary of the fulfillment of that great promise? It has now been 40 Jubilee since Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Another 40 jubilee cycles have run their course and many signs are pointing to the closing of that period the Bible describes as the times of the Gentiles. Are you ready for Yeshua to return again?

As you celebrate this Passover season I hope that you’ll think about the Bible’s sacrificial symbolism which Yeshua fulfilled 40 Juiblee’s ago. We are living in an equally prophetic period of time and I believe now is the time to look up for your salvation, your Yeshua draws near.

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28 28)

“And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto YHWH; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering.”
—Numbers 28:3–4

“And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of YHWH. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten . . . But ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto YHWH; two young bullocks, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year . . . and one goat for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you. Ye shall offer these beside the burnt offering in the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering. After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto YHWH: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.”
—Numbers 28:16–24

“Also in the day of the firstfruits . . . But ye shall offer the burnt offering for a sweet savour unto YHWH; two young bullocks, one ram, seven lambs of the first year . . . and one kid of the goats, to make an atonement for you. Ye shall offer them beside the continual burnt offering, and his meat offering, (they shall be unto you without blemish) and their drink offerings.”
—Numbers 28:26–31

 

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Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus

Can you name the Biblical holyday when the following words were spoken?

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. – Luke 22:19-20

If you said the Passover then you are correct. Yeshua spoke these words to his disciples at the Passover supper he celebrated with them the night before his crucifixion. Over the centuries as the early church distanced itself from its Biblical roots, the wine and unleavened bread of Passover became a tradition unto itself known as the Lord’s supper, holy communion, or the Eucharist. Yeshua death and resurrection during the Feast of Passover has also evolved into Continue reading

Of Superstitions and Unknown Gods

Temple-Minerva-AthensAre you superstitious?  Whenever I think about superstitions I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul and his speech to the men of Athens. By all accounts, Paul was quite a character. I can just picture him standing on the ancient Areopagus (Mars Hill) of Athens nearly two thousand years ago calling out to those gathered at the famous altar to the Unknown God:

“Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.”

I admit, I would like to have been there for that speech. To see Paul in his billowing robes challenging the highly educated Atheneans about their unfounded superstitions would have been quite a sight. Anyway, Paul goes on to explain to the men of Athens that the God they ignorantly worship was the living God of the Bible. If the Apostle Paul was here today, I can just see him chiding our generation with similar advice.

Let’s take the number 13 for example. Even among Christians this number has a certain evil connotation about it. Have you ever wondered why the number 13 has such a superstitious aura? What if I told you, that like the ignorance of those men of Athens concerning the altar to their Unknown God, the superstitions surrounding the number 13 are but the vestiges of a similar story that involves that same “Unknown God”? Continue reading

$500 Reward to Help Solve the Artaxerxes Assumption

I need some help. For nearly two decades now I’ve been searching the works of some of the most respected Biblical scholars, looking for answers for what I’ve termed, the Artaxerxes Assumption.  As I’ll explain in a moment, the Artaxerxes Assumption is a pivotal piece of Biblical history and to date I’ve only found a few scholars who have attempted to addressed the subject. I’ve come to realize, as much as I hate to admit it, that I can’t read every book or publication that might have been written on the subject so I’m asking for your help.

Here’s the offer. I’m offering $500 to the first person who can Continue reading

7 Weeks until the Messiah

If you’re a Christian, during this past month of December you’ve probably thought about the twelve days of Christmas or the Advent, two countdowns which lead to the commemoration of the birth of Christ. If you are of Jewish or Messianic faith, the eight days of Hanukkah and the festival of lights were in your thoughts during this wonderful time of year. Today, I’d like to tell you about a prophecy in the Bible which connects these two traditions in a wonderful way. What I’m talking about is the prophecy which tells us that there would someday be 7 Continue reading

The Flood, the Exodus of Israel, and the Coming Messiah

Noah-offering-sacrifices

Noah Offering Sacrifices

In my last blog post, The Story of Halloween, we looked at the fascinating history of Halloween and the flood of Noah. Today I want to share with you how those events are related to Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the Biblical calendar, and the promise of the coming Messiah.

The Descendants of Seth
First let’s travel back to the time of Christ and a Jewish historian named Josephus. Nearly two thousand years ago Josephus had this to say about the flood: Continue reading