To Foresee Yeshua the Messiah
In His own words, Yeshua said that Avraham and Mosheh did foresee Him. Moreover, Yeshua said that Avraham rejoiced to see Him, and Mosheh wrote about Him. But when and how did they foresee Yeshua?
Yeshua the Messiah said,
Your father Avraham was glad that he should see my day, and he saw it and did rejoice. (Joh 8:56)
For if you believed Mosheh, you would have believed Me, since he wrote about Me. (Joh 5:46)
These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Mosheh, and the prophets, and the psalms, about me. (Luk 24:44)
When did Avraham foresee Yeshua’s day and when did Mosheh see him in the wilderness to write about Him? This is quite perplexing because nowhere in the Hebrew Scripture we find such statements. Mosheh indeed told Israel to look forward to a prophet like him and do everything the prophet would tell them to do, but is this the only thing Yeshua meant? And father Avraham saw Yeshua in His day and rejoiced. What special day did Yeshua mean when He made that statement?
It appears in Joh 8:56 and Luk 24:44 that Yeshua was referring to events back in the past, but is there anything more to it than that? Is it possible that Yeshua said more than what we know today about the Messiah in the Apostolic Writings? Or we have been lost in translations and have missed the point Yeshua made about Himself.
It is the object of this work to seek the answers to these questions. This work has also a second object to explain certain obscure passages which occur in the Torah and are not distinctly explained by the commentators. We will explore Joh 8:56 and Luk 24:44 in the context of the stories of Avraham and Mosheh, stories that pose significant challenges for the careful reader.
How Avraham foresaw the Lamb
In order to find the answer to these questions, we need to go back in the past, in the Book of Genesis.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. (Gen 22:13 KJV)
How could Avraham have seen anything “behind him” without having turned back? In KJV the word him is in italics meaning it is not in the Hebrew text but assumed and inserted for clarity, as they saw it fit. It is not uncommon for the translators to add words in their translations in order “to fix” the text for the reader.
Sometimes some words need to be added in the translations, for Hebrew wards have deep meanings. But as it is the case in our verse, such an addition changed the entire meaning of the text. We need to know that when we read a translation, we read the personal opinion of the translator, and very often fortified by denominational bias. That is why the present author feels the responsibility to make as literal as possible translations supported by textual criticism of two or three witnesses in the Scripture.
There are no vain words in the Torah. If something is said in a certain way, it must be for a reason.
Let us see it a little deeper, as we will do a textual criticism of Gen 22:13. Firstly, we should notice that the verse does not say that Avraham turned back and then he saw the ram caught in a picket. The Hebrew text simply does not say that. If that were the intent of the author, it could have been said plainly, as it was the case when Mosheh had to turn aside to see the burning bush, as we read in Exodus,
And the Messenger of Yehovah appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. And he looked and saw the bush burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Mosheh said, “Let me turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn”. (Exo 3:2-3)
But in Gen 22:13 we do not find this simple detail in the Hebrew text. To further understand what is conveyed to us in one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible, we need to examine the text of this passage from Hebraic perspectives.
In the Greco-Roman culture the future is seen “before”, and the past is seen “behind” the point of speaking. However, in a Hebraic mind, it is just the opposite: the past something that is before the Hebrew speaker, because he knows it and therefore, he can see it, while the future is behind him, because he does not know it and therefore cannot see it, namely, the future is hidden from him.
With that being said, below is the word-for-word translation of verse 13:
וישׂא And lifted up אברהם Avraham את עיניו his eye וירא and looked והנה and saw איל a ram
אחר afterwards נאחז caught בסבך in a thicket בקרניו by his horns וילך went אברהם Abraham
ויקח and took את האיל the ram ויעלהו and offered him up לעלה for an ascension תחת in the stead of
בנו his son.
The Hebrew word in question traditionally translated “behind” is the word אַחַר achar. Achar can mean “behind”, as clearly seen in Gen 18:10 when Sarah was behind the tent door and she laughed, but it can also mean “after”, “afterwards”, for instance, as an event to come after another event, time, person or thing that follows. And this is the full definition of the Hebrew word achar per Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary: after the following part, behind (of place), hinder, afterwards (of time), from following after.
Therefore, the word achar, can be a space but also time related word. So, what did Avraham see afterwards? And afterwards what?
Yes, there was a physical ram that Avraham saw, but the context will show how to understand the Hebrew word achar in Gen 22:13.
When Avraham took the knife to sacrifice his son Yitschak, something happened after that moment. He did not turn to a specific direction, because the text simply does not say he did, but he could have turn to time in the future, hence, achar.
A derivative of the Hebrew word achar is the word אחרית acharit, which always refers in the end-time prophecies to the latter time as coming after everything else. Brown-Driver-Briggs gives the following definition for acharit: after part, end issue, event, latter time (prophetic for future time), posterity as one generation comes after another one. After this explanation, the saying “Back in the future” does make sense in the Hebraic mind.
So, Avraham saw something afterwards. But what did he see afterwards on that hill?
YHVH is giving us the clue to find the answer by telling us that there was a substitutional ram that Avraham offered on the altar instead of his son Yitschak. A ram that replaced his son on the altar.
To see something in the future is to foresee it. And when Avraham turned, he saw something. And what he saw afterwards changed the story of the sacrifice of Yitschak, as we know it, in a dramatic way. For more insight on this story of Avraham and his son, please, refer to the article “Did YHVH tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?“
Let us move forwards to the Exodus story and see another picture.
How Mosheh did foresee Yeshua the Messiah
I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. … And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. (Exo 33:18-23 KJV)
We will read again from King James’ version of the Bible. In Exo 33:18-23 Mosheh beseeched Elohim to show him His glory. YHVH told Mosheh to go to the cleft of the rock where he would see His “back parts” as found in the KJV translation. in this passage, we find again the same Hebrew word אחר achor, and in this case it is a noun which can mean “what comes afterwards” or “time to come”, as Strong Dictionary renders this word.
We should notice that Mosheh did not ask to see “the back parts” of the invisible Creator, but His glory. To his earnest request YHVH replied, “You are unable to see my face.” But Mosheh did not ask to see the face of the invisible Elohim, either. In this case the proper translation would be “my presence” not “my face.” The Hebrew word panim (plural form) literally mean faces but used in plural form more properly means “presence” or “countenance.” Therefore, we see that the Glory of Elohim is paralleled with His presence, and indeed, and it is so: YHVH is glorious in His presence.
What Mosheh saw was something that would come afterwards, in the time to come. Notice that the dialogue between YHVH and Mosheh took place after the golden calf sin, as we read in Exodus 32.
And he (Aharon) took this from their hand, and he formed it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. And they said, “This is your mighty one, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” And Aharon saw and built an altar before it. And Aharon called out and said, Tomorrow is a festival to Yehovah. (Exo 32:4-5)
For more insight on the golden calf sin of Israel, refer to the article “Why did Moses Have to Break the Tablet of the Covenant?“
Mosheh was perplexed as to what would happen to Israel afterwards and the answer to his trouble did not delay. The merciful YHVH showed Mosheh His glory, His countenance at Mount Sinai, in the time to come.
As Israel made a false countenance of YHVH at Mount Sinai, the merciful YHVH showed Mosheh His true countenance in the future: a prophet like Mosheh, who would take the place of the sinful Israel. Mosheh did foresee the glory, the presence of Elohim in the future, as his father Avraham did foresee Him: Yeshua the Messiah.
Avraham saw the substitutional lamb of YHVH, His anointed One, the Messiah in the day to come; the Lamb that would take the place of the sinful world just as the ram took the place of his only son Yitschak on the altar. This act of obedience was reckoned to Avraham for righteousness. Here is the place to say that according to the Rabbinical teachings, Avraham believed in his heart that Elohim would raise his son Yitschak from the dead and he would live again.
With all translations considered, we can render correctly and see a shadow picture of good things to come when Avraham and Mosheh did foresee Yeshua the Messiah,
And Avraham lifted his eyes and looked and saw afterwards in a time to come a Lamb caught in its crown of thorns, offered up for Ascension instead of his son. (Gen 22:13)
And it shall be, while My Glory passes by, that I shall put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I shall take away My hand and you shall see My time to come, but (Ed. now) My face shall not be seen.” (Exo 33:22-23)
Without this understanding we indeed do not know what Yeshua meant, when He said to His disciples that Avraham and Mosheh did foresee Him,
Your father Avraham was glad that he should see My day, and he saw it and did rejoice.
For if you believed Mosheh, you would have believed Me, since he wrote about Me.
And now everything is coming into place, as we read,
Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Mosheh and all the Prophets, He was explaining to them in all the Scriptures the matters about Himself. (Luk 24:26-27)
Philip found Nethane‘l and said to him, “We have found Him whom Mosheh wrote of in the Torah, and the prophets: Yeshua of Natsareth – the son of Yoseph”. (Joh 1:45)
Unlike us who read translations with preconceived ideas, the disciples read the Scripture in Hebrew and understood whom Avraham and Mosheh did foresee in the future: Yeshua the Messiah. And the disciples did not need anything more to understand the Messiah; they saw him too.
If we do not see the matters about Yeshua the Messiah in the Torah and in the prophets, as He has said it, we have seen too little.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.