Did Israel Reject the Messiah? Part 1
The Sages understood that the coming of the Messiah was due two thousand years ago when He was expected to initiate the Messianic era. Tanna debe Eliyahu reads:
The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era, but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost [He should have come at the beginning of the last two thousand years; the delay is due to our sins].
Note here: the delay is due to our sins. The Sages also understood that His coming would depend on two conditions, namely, whether or not Israel would repent. Rabbi Alexandri said (the references in the text are of TORM):
R. Yehoshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Yehoshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven (Dan 7:13, Mat 24:30, Mat 26:64, Rev 1:7) whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee …] lowly, and riding upon an ass! (Zec 9:9, Mat 21:5, Joh 12:15)— if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass.
Furthermore, Midrash Genesis Rabba 98:9 identifies Zec 9:9 as a prophecy about King Messiah. The Apostolic writings undoubtedly supply further evidence in support of the expectations of the first coming of the Messiah in that time frame (see Mat_17:10-13, Luk_2:27-32, Luk_3:15, Luk_7:16, Luk_19:11, Luk_24:21, Joh_1:21, Joh_1:41, Joh_4:25-26, Joh_6:14-15, Joh_7:26, and Joh_10:24-26). Yochanan (John the Baptist) was even asked whether he was the awaited Messiah.
From these and other Rabbinical sources, we can conclude that the Jews in the first century Judea were expecting the Messiah to come in the time frame. They were eagerly expecting His coming, because that was what Mosheh said to the children of Israel that YHVH their Elohim shall raise up for them a prophet like him from their brothers and whatever He would say they should hear (Deu 18:15).
For instance, when Yeshua was asked by the Pharisees and disciples whether He was the one who was to be expected, referring to Mosheh’s testament in Deu 18:15, but He refused to answer directly.
So, did Israel reject the Messiah when He indeed came?
The four exiles of Israel
The messenger of the Face of YHVH (see Jubilees 1:27 and Act 7:53) narrated everything Mosheh needed to know from the creation of the world to his birth in Egypt. He completely understood that the Avrahamic Covenant, was the Covenant of the Land, (Gen_15:7-18) which had been confirmed for Avraham’s offspring (Gen_17:4-8). YHVH said,
I have given this land to your seed, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates, (Gen 15:18)
The narrative was sufficient for Mosheh to understand that that was a unconditional covenant, a promise. In the unconditional covenant with Avraham, YHVH took the oath to protect the rights of Avraham and his seed, the curses of the covenant were against those who might deprive Avraham’s rights and the blessings for those who would bless him. That was what Mosheh completely understood on the mountain.
At Mount Sinai Mosheh completely understood another thing: YHVH made a different type of covenant with Israel. In this covenant YHVH reiterated all promises given to the forefathers Avraham, Yitschak, and Ya’akov, but with this exception: it was conditional.
The promise made to Ya’akov/Israel that his children would be brought out of Egypt and brought in the land of the promise was unconditional; it was a promise (Exo 6:4). That promise included the unconditional promises to Israel: Deliverance from the bondage in Egypt (Exo_6:6), Redemption and adoption (Exo_6:6-7), and giving the Promised Land,
I shall bring you into the land sworn to Avraham, Yitschak, and Ya’akov. I shall give the land to you for a heritage. (Exo_6:8)
Therefore, we understand that at Mount Sinai, YHVH made it very clear that there would be a condition in the covenant between Him and the new nation (see Exo 19:4-6). That condition was postulated before the very covenant was even given (Exodus 20). The condition is the if-then clause in the covenant: if you diligently listen to My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples and you shall be to Me a kingdom.
That could only mean one thing: Israel would receive the blessing only if the nation walk in obedience to guard the Covenant of YHVH, the Covenant of the Land. Thus, the Covenant of Sinai was sealed.
At the end of Yehoshua’s life, the Israelites knew with all the heart and all the mind that of all the promises of YHVH not one had failed, but all had come to pass (Jos_21:45).
However, it was just as certain that YHVH would bring upon them every curse that He had spoken through Mosheh (see Lev 26:14-33; Deut 28:15-68, and Deu 29:14-28), if they transgressed His covenant.
when you transgress the covenant of Yehovah your Elohim, which He commanded you, and shall go and serve other gods, and bow down to them. And the displeasure of Yehovah shall burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you. (Jos 23:16)
And Israel transgressed it. So, how did Israel get to this point?
Everything started in Egypt.
The Egyptian exile
Little is known of the time Israel spent in Egypt. The Torah is virtually silent, and we know very little regarding this matter. The Torah is silent, but not the prophets.
Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM) has the reason to believe that in Egypt Israel was not faithful to YHVH, as their fathers were, and soon after the last of that generation died, the apostasy started creeping among the new generation born in the foreign land. This we can see in the accounts of Jos_24:14, Eze_20:5-9, and Eze_20:33-36.
The children of Israel were in Egypt for 215 years, but it is incorrect to say that they had been forgotten for all those years, because YHVH vowed to make Israel a great nation, that He would go down with them to Egypt and bring them back to the land (Gen_46:3-4; see also Gen_48:21). (Read more)
Sometime after the generation that went down to Egypt died, the Israelites that were born in the foreign land mingled themselves among the Egyptians and started to assimilate into the pagan culture, as they began to feel more Egyptians than Hebrews. A remnant remained in the land Goshen, where Yoseph settled them in order to keep them separated from the Egyptians. And a new ruler rose in Egypt who brought slavery upon them sometime after the twelve brothers and their children died in Egypt.
Time of Reckoning Ministry has also the reason to believe that the slavery did not just come upon the children of Israel, nor was it brought upon them by the new Pharaoh, but it was YHVH who caused it to come upon them. That slavery was probably only eighty-eight years or more as not all of the 215 years Israel spent in Egypt were of slavery.
The present author is in opinion that at some point of Israel’s stay in Egypt, but more specifically after the end of the generation that was brought down into Egypt, YHVH made the call for Israel to return, as He had promised Ya’akov that He would be with him and one day He would bring him back to the land of his fathers. However, as we will see this below, Israel rebelled and did not or did not want to hear the call.
That was the moment when the stay in Egypt turned into, what Time of Reckoning Ministry calls “the Egyptian exile”. When exactly did that rebellion happen that led to the Egyptian exile, we do not know? Or, at least it is hard to derive such a conclusion from the only account we have in the Scripture.
One thing is sure, though, assimilation of some proportion took place, because what other reason can we find for bringing the slavery upon them, but to stop it? The persecution by the Egyptians, which YHVH brought upon them, was the only way to prevent further assimilation of His children that led to the exodus out of Egypt.
We may ask the questions as to why YHVH brought His people in Egypt to make them a great nation and why would Israel not become a great nation in Canaan, but it had to go down to Egypt? Could YHVH not have made Israel a great nation in the Land of promise? Could YHVH not have given the Covenant on Mount Moriah instead of Mount Sinai?
He could have; but because, Israel (whose name means overcomer) would become a great nation only through trials, it was imperative to take Israel out of the Land of promise and bring them in a foreign land where they would go through trials. Had Israel stayed in the Land of promise, they would not have known whether they deserve it. The Israelites could have grown to become a nation in Canaan, indeed, but they could have become a self-complacent nation that would have taken a covenant for granted.
Not for His sake, but for the sake of His people, YHVH had to move them out of the Land to bring them to a foreign land where they would be tested whether they would deserve it or not. And this is critical to note here, because we will see that pattern repeated in three more occasions from that moment on, even until today.
The mingling of the Israelites in the paganism and the disobedience to the command to circumcise their children, as a sign of the Covenant, and evidently the refusal to return, had brought the wrath of YHVH and the slavery upon them. YHVH turned the heat on his children as the last means to make Israel leave Egypt. However, not all Israel left; some chose to stay.
Although, we are given no direct account in the Torah of the life of the Israelites in Egypt from the death of Yoseph until the beginning of the slavery, we find a direct account concerning it in Ezekiel, written nine hundred years from the day He chose them in Egypt. From this account, we understand that the Israelites defiled themselves with the abominations and the idols of Egypt even though YHVH had sworn before their father Ya’akov and to his seed, and made Himself known to them in Egypt, to bring them out of Egypt and to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey.
However, Israel rebelled against YHVH and disobeyed Him. So, YHVH resolved to pour out His wrath on them to complete His displeasure against them in the midst of the land of Egypt, as we read in Eze 20:5-8. We need to read this attentively, since this is the only place where YHVH Himself speaks of the exile in Egypt.
On the day when I chose Israel and lifted My hand in an oath to the seed of the house of Ya’akov, and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I lifted My hand in an oath to them, saying, ‘I am Yehovah your Elohim.’ On that day I lifted My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, flowing with milk and honey, the splendor of all lands. And I said to them, ‘Each one of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt! I am Yehovah your Elohim.’ But they rebelled against Me, and would not obey Me. All of them did not throw away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I resolved to pour out My wrath on them to complete My displeasure against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. (Eze 20:5-8)
And YHVH acted for His Name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the eyes of the gentiles among whom they were, before whose eyes He had made Himself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. (Eze 20:9)
The worship of other gods was for the first time explicitly prohibited in the second commandment of the Covenant (Exo_20:3), and the Egyptian idolatry is only alluded in Lev_17:7 and expressly mentioned in Jos_24:14. It is true that there is nothing expressly stated in the Torah as to the refusal of the Israelites to obey the command of YHVH to leave, but it may be inferred from the statements that the Israelites even wanted to return to Egypt.
We read in Exo 10:22-23 concerning the ninth plague of darkness when Mosheh stretched forth his hand toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, while all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
According to Rashi’s comments on Eze 20:8, those three days of darkness in the land of Egypt were days of wrath of Elohim to complete His displeasure against the rebellious Israelites. But, what abominations had they possibly done in Egypt? We again may raise the question as to why the children of Israel stayed so long in the land of Egypt, in the fist place.
Therefore, we see that Israel was rebellious and disobedient over those years in Egypt and wrath was poured over them happened as a result. This is the rebellion of Israel against Elohim that happened in Egypt sometime after the twelve brothers and children died in Egypt.
According to the Sages, the land of Egypt enslaved the Israelites and since a land could not have possibly enslaved anyone, this could only mean that they had chosen to stay comfortably in the foreign land.
And indeed, they did. The Sages further expound that the children of Israel had become so entrenched in the paganism and depravity of Egypt, that the Exodus came at the very last possible moment, as they approached the very brink of total indistinguishability from the Egyptians. Had they remained slaves in Egypt a moment longer, there would have been no “Children of Israel” to redeem. (Rebbe’s Haggadah)
All of this happened to the fathers, because they felt comfortable in the foreign land and Egypt began to assimilate them very quickly.
That was an abomination to YHVH Elohim and his displeasure burned against them. Therefore, the darkness in the land of Egypt was not for a punishment of the Egyptians, but its purpose was to blind them, so they could not see the punishment that came upon the Israelites.
Sadly, to say, it took only seven days for YHVH to take Israel out Egypt, but forty years to take Egypt out of Israel.
How long will it take for YHVH to take Israel out of today’s “Egypt”.
The Arabian exile
The tribes of Israel left Egypt led by YHVH and arrived at Mount Sinai where they entered into the Covenant. Equipped with the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and everything necessary to serve YHVH, the camp headed for the Promised Land. Upon arrival Mosheh sent twelve representatives of Israel to accept the land (the Kingdom of Elohim) for forty days and return with a good report which was to be presented before all Israel before entering the land.
Unfortunately, ten of the spies rejected the Kingdom by bringing a bad report and they even incited the nation to return to Egypt or die in the desert.
It happened as they wished. All numbered males twenty years and older died in the desert according to the forty days in which they spied the land, a day for a year they had to bear the crookedness for rejecting to enter the Kingdom of Elohim (Num_14:34). Israel was sent to the Arabian desert where the nation had to spent thirty-eight years in wandering until that generation counted in the first census died in the desert. Those thirty-eight years in Arabia, the present author calls “the Arabian exile” that Israel deserved for having been disobedient to YHVH.
In the first census after the exodus from Egypt, 603,550 men twenty years old and older were numbered and only 22,273 firstborn males (Num_3:40-43); that would make one firstborn per every twenty-seven. This apparent discrepancy can only be explained with the decimation of the firstborn of the Israelites who did not want to leave Egypt.
In the second census thirty-eight years later, however, there were 601,730 men, 1,820 less. The first census numbers those who have come out of Egypt. That generation (Num_14:29), which eventually died in the wilderness, was one of rebellion. The second census numbered the new generation, filled with hope and expectation of life in the land of Israel, but 1,820 men less.
We should notice that in the first census, the tribe of Simeon had 59,300 men (making it the third biggest tribe), but in the second census, it had lost 37,100 men, and with only 22,200 men of war this tribe became the smallest one in Israel. Other tribes, such as Reuben, Gad, Ephraim, and Naphtali, also lost population. It is very unlikely that these tribes lost so many people due to natural causes.
The rabbinical commentaries explain the large reduction in Shimon’s population was due to the fact that the Shimonites were the major perpetrator in the worship of Pe’or with the daughters of Midian. That was not the only time Israel lost people. We read of plagues and other catastrophes following the sins of the Golden Calf, the complainers and the lust for meat, the Ten Spies (Numbers 13-14:38), the attempt to enter the Land (Num_14:39-45), and the rebellion of Korach (Numbers 16:1-50).
The commentaries further noted that whole families were wiped out. In the second census there were five Shimonite clans instead of six, Gad had likewise lost a family, and Benjamin had lost five.
Undoubtedly, all these factors had contributed to the decrease of Israel’s population, nevertheless it still cannot explain the numbers completely.
It is true that the loss of more than 600,000 male from twenty years and older (those who refused to enter the land) had also contributed to the significant decrease of Israel’s population. However, they did not die at once but over the thirty-eight years in the desert. So, there must be another reason for Israel’s decrease and the present author believes that that was the case.
In the book titled The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Möller, the author makes the hypothesis that during the thirty-eight years in the desert some of the Israelites settled in the Arabia Peninsula. In his book he shows ancient maps in which one can recognize the names of these settlements: typical Hebrew names, and the name of one of them was even Ras Israel (p.384). Dr. Möller makes the hypothesis that Yemenite Jews may well have been the sons of Yamin (Gen_46:10, Exo_6:15, Num_26:12), one of the major family of the Simeon tribe, most of which most likely left Israel and gave their father’s name to the modern-day Yemen (Yaman in Arabic).
So, it is very possible, that Israel lost numbers in the second census, because some of them decided to leave the camp and establish their own settlements in Arabia. They like the fathers in Egypt abandoned Israel and then slowly but surely were assimilated or destroyed by the gentiles.
With all that being said, we may conclude that Israel contented with YHVH all those years which they lived in the Arabian exile. And like in Egypt, so in Arabia, many Israelites left Israel. They rebelled against Mosheh and YHVH and left the camp.
This is not accidental that Israel was forty years in the desert as Israel has lost forty jubilees (2,000 years) of the Messianic era due to their sin. Because according to the numbers of days the ten spies lost in the Land, they were punished in the Arabian exile; and according to the number of the years in which Israel rebelled in the desert, they lost the forty jubilees of the Messianic era – a day for a year, and a year for a jubilee.
With this we come to the time of the Babylonian exile and the life of the Jews in Persia.
The Babylonian exile
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple, the people of Elohim were exiled in Babylon for seventy years for not giving the Promised Land the due rest in the sabbatical and jubilee years; seventy years were accrued from the time Israel settled in the land until the Babylonian exile.
Although in exile, the Jews were not oppressed in Babylon. They built houses and settled in Babylon in peace, as YHVH commanded them (Jer_29:3-7). Some of them even arose to positions of distinction in the Babylonian empire, like Daniel for instance, who became a ruler over the provinces in Babylon, or like Nehemiah who was a cupbearer to the king (Dan_2:48, Neh_1:1-11).
When the time came for the seventy years of exile of Israel to end, King Koresh (Cyrus) of Persia issued his famous declaration (1Es_6:24-28, Ezr_1:1-4), which allowed those Jews who desired to return to Zion to do so. He even granted the rebuilding of the House of YHVH in Jerusalem (2Ch_36:19-23, Ezr_1:2-3, Ezr_6:3-5).
However, not all Jews returned to the Land with the end of the seventy years of exile; only a small number of 42,360 (Ezr_2:64) chose to leave Babylon with Zerubavel: those were the Jews who desired to return and rebuild the land. Most of the Jews, like Mordecai and Esther, preferred to stay in the land of exile where they had already been settled. And because the exile was not oppressive to them, those Jews allowed to be gradually assimilated in Babylon, as their fathers in Egypt did.
For more information on the chronology of the returns of the exile from Babylon, refer to Chapter The End of the Babylonian Exile and the First Return of the book Reckoning of Time, Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM).
There would be three more returns of the Jews to the Land over the years, in which only small numbers of Israel came back.
Now, we should ask ourselves the question, “What were Mordecai and Esther doing in Persia sixteen years after the decree of King Koresh?” Sixteenth years! What were the Jews doing in Persia that they did not leave together with their brethren when Koresh granted them their freedom?
Those Jews chose to stay in Persia where they had their homes, businesses, and possessions. The land of Babylon had become their land where they felt comfortable. They chose not to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the House of YHVH and left their brethren, who returned to Jerusalem, vulnerable to their enemies’ attacks, while they enjoyed the complacent life in Persia.
Even when Haman’s holocaust came imminent upon them and they had enough time to leave and save themselves, instead, they chose to save their possessions from plundering. If Elohim of the fathers was not for them in Persia, they would have all perished with no one to save them and there would be no Purim to celebrate.
And what is even worse, they did not give the due praise and thanksgiving to the One who actually saved them from the holocaust. They chose to praise Mordecai and Queen Esther instead. They established their own feasting, Purim, and did not dedicated it to whom they should have: that is YHVH, as we read in Est 9:30-31 and Est 10:2-3.
But not all Jews left Babylon even after the attempt of Haman to destroy them all, because we still see Jews living in Iran today, who despite the anti-Semitism in that country, have chosen not to return home. By now, we should have noticed that whenever Israel was pushed to the point to make crucial decisions in exile and return to the Promised Land, there have always been some who rebelled against YHVH.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.