Thursday, September 2, 2010

Elul; Preparing for a Virgin Birth

The heat finally broke here in the Seattle area and I am already looking for the fall. The month of Elul will soon lead us to not only cooler weather but our holiday season as well. The word אלול “elul” is Aramaic and means “search.” Betulah (virgo), the constellation associated with this month, moves along her heavenly course in search of her beloved. The words אני לדודי ודודי לי “Ani ledodi v’dodi li” (I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine) express the essence of this month. For this reason, “Elul” is often taken as an acrostic form of these words—א"ל"ו"ל.

As stated above the mazal (astrological sign) of Elul is Betulah, a virgin. When the prophet asked, “Can a nation be born at once?,” it was a reference to the immediate establishment of the eternal monarchy of Yisrael through the future advent of Mashiach. The breaking forth of this sudden kingdom is compared to birth from a virgin womb. The usual toil involved in the conception of a nation just isn’t present; Yisrael is born by Hashem’s will alone. With perfect emunah we await the coming of this messianic kingdom, an event which is rehearsed in early autumn. Betulah wails, we hear the cry of the shofar’s blast. Tishrei’s “Yamim Norim,” (days of awe) are birth pangs whose memory fades with the coming simcha of Sukkot, a chag expressing the realization of our nearing messianic kingdom. In the sukkah we dine with the patriarchs and are sheltered in a cloud—we receive a taste of the world to come.

Our Sukkot liturgy speaks of the re-established kingdom in more of this peculiar language; זרע עמוסי רחמו, נולדו כילד ממעיץ...חלה וילד מי זאת, מי שמע כזאת “The seed borne by Him [Hashem] from the womb, born like a child from its mother…She delivered and gave birth: ‘Who is this? Who has heard of the likes of this?’” The words chosen to describe the establishment of this sudden nation clearly reflect the mystical circumstance surrounding the birth of our King and help to further build the connection between the life of Mashiach and his nation.

The mother of Mashiach, who is herself traditionally referred to as The Virgin (Ha-betulah), traveled from the Galilee to Bethlehem. She followed her love. Yosef was a tzadik; he married his young bride before they journeyed to the suburb of Jerusalem. It may have been late in Elul, in some traditions this is the only time in which custom does not discourage a marriage late in the month. Certainly, by the time the holy couple entered the hill-country surrounding Jerusalem, the moon of Tishrei was nearly term—full.

The move from Elul to Tishrei, like other transitions during the year, is marked by a changing of the celestial guards. The month of Tishrei is associated with the constellation of Moznaim (scales). The new moon of this month, Rosh Hashanah, is called Yom Hadin—judgment day. Hashem holds the world in the scales of decision. On this day it is decided whom will be born and who will die during the coming year; the success or failure of every human being is measured out. When the parents of Mashiach entered the city of David, it had already been decreed that the child being carried by the young woman would live; he would be born and prosper. Yeshua entered this world, born from a virgin, under the branches of a sukkah—under the cover of stars. For this righteous couple, the shelter of the sukkah became a marriage tent. The relationship of Yosef and his bride was consummated not in the conception of a child, but in the birth of our King Mashiach. This virgin birth rehearses the creation of a nation and a salvation that will spring up from the ground, seemingly out of nowhere, at the returning of our King.

This messianic kingdom and the birth pangs signifying its arrival are written of in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation of Yochanan. His words continue in the tradition of our prophets and sages. Alone, far from home, in exile on the island of Patmos, Yochanan looked in to an autumn night’s sky. He watched as the stars came alive and recorded the vision in a book.

ואות גדול נראה אז בשמים אשה עטה מעטה שמש ולבנה תחת רגליה ועל-ראשה אשה יציץ נזר שנים עשר כוכבים: והיא הרע ללת התסעק בחבליה כי נהפכו עליה צריה.

“There was a great wonder in the sky; a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Being with child, she cried, travailing in birth, and pained to deliver.”

Here Yochanan’s vision is placed firmly within its High Holiday context. This heavenly drama is rehearsed by the stars each year at Rosh Hashanna. Certainly, the woman crowned with twelve stars is none other than the constellation Betulah, the virgin. The crown she wears is a star cluster called Coma Bernice. In Yochanan’s vision the virgin giving birth is the nation of Yisrael; she brings forth a child (the Mashiach) who is taken into heaven to be hidden from a dragon (a grouping of stars called Draco) who seeks his destruction. Yisrael finds refuge in the wilderness where she narrowly escapes a flood sent by the dragon. Again, the account is told in such a way as to blur the narrative line between the life of Yeshua and the history of his people.

Without thought, we often wish one another a Mazal Tov—a “good constellation.” Hashem created the stars for times and for seasons; our wish is that joyful events might inaugurate seasons of blessing for Yisrael. We hope that one simcha is a sign of more to come. Ultimately, our desire is to see the days of Mashiach. With each rotation of the moon, with every movement of the constellations, we await a holiday without end. From the first contractions felt by his mother during the awesome days between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur and his miraculous birth at Sukkot, the life of Yeshua creates a pathway and foreshadows the sudden sprouting of a re-established nation, a messianic kingdom that will bring peace and joy to the entire world.

26 comments:

Tim Layne said...

I'd just like to make the comment that the people Yisrael are are in no way led by the zodiac, this is twice as true for the King of Yisrael. The stars do not dictate the path of Mashiach, but he has chosen their course; it is in this way that the stars reflect the journey of both the nation and her King.

Randy Mitchell said...

Good word. I didn't know you studied the Mazzeroth. I first heard about the "books in the stars" in Bullinger's work, and the original author Frances Rolleston which can be found online. She was a linguist and astronomer who found that all "zodiacs" had common elements that reflected Biblical truth.

As far as Yeshua's conception goes, 40 weeks prior would land on the 5th or 6th day of Chanukah (using this last year's calendar, which may be different that that year) which would fit as Yeshua being the Light of the World, I am guessing that year it fell onthe first night on Chanukah!

a Yid said...

Sholom in Moshiakh,
God told me that the virgin birth happened in that manner as a pattern for us to also have Yeshua "born IN" us just as Miriam had it happen to her. We know about the symbol of the cross, how we are "buried with Him in His death in baptism and risen with Him (in His Rising) to newness of life". Just as that was a pattern and type which WE EXPERIENCE, so too, the birth was also that we should have Him born in us. As the angel told Miriam "with The Power, nothing is impossible". That exactly is the mindset of this happening. (I can tell you how He told me this also, if you ask.) Hearing "about" a birth is one thing---but I have received from Above, that we must "experience" it ourselves. This is Toras Khayim, otherwise it is dead and powerless. Sholom.

Tim Layne said...

B"H, Thanks Yid, I would agree with you. In fact I have often reflected upon the connection between the word "betulah" and "bitul." As you know, to make ones self "bitul" is to nullify the self. In emptying ones self of self one is filled with the divine this is the goal of the true Chasid and any real follower of Mashiach.

Jordan said...

Tim, this is a really great article!

Tim Layne said...

Hey, thanks Jordan. Who are you and where are you from? Your info isn't accessible, I would love to stay connected online with anybody interested in the ideas posted on this blog.

Kristine said...

Well written! Thank you for your insight. I will be sending links to some of my friends.
Shalom, and L'shana Tovah!

Steven said...

Tim, Good insight on Revelation 12.

Peace,

Steven

Debs said...

"the account is told in such a way as to blur the narrative line between the life of Yeshua and the history of his people." - great choice of words!

I'm really enjoying your blog! Man, keep writing! By all means keep writing...

yb4jesus said...

Wow, Tim, you know a lot of Hebrew words!

There is no claim staked out by the Jewish Bible that the king messiah will be born to a virgin mother. In fact, just the opposite is true. The messiah will be descended from King David (see, for example, Is. 11:1), of the tribe of Judah (ex., Gen. 49:10), on his father's side (ex., Num. 1:2).

Incidentally, the verses I cited are mere examples; the Jewish Bible is rich with additional verses establishing the king messiah's prophesied human paternal parentage and I would be pleased to reference many more examples for you upon request.

The bottom line is that it's un-Jewish to believe "new testament" claims that Jesus was the messiah because Jesus did not fulfill the Jewish Bible's explicit messianic prophecies. Christianity's pagan "virgin birth" narrative, central though it is to Christians' belief that Jesus was divine, is among the strongest proof to Biblically literate Jews that Jesus could not possibly have been the messiah of their Scriptural prophecy.

Interestingly, the gospels of Matthew and Luke draw Jesus two mutually exclusive (ie, if one of them were right that would mean the other must be wrong) genealogies linking Mary and/or Joseph to David, but alas the effort was in vain since Christianity holds Jesus was sired by G-d--Who was obviously not a son of David!

Tim Layne said...

yb4J: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

It's my pleasure to discuss these matters with you here, and I appreciate your gracious welcome.

I noted that your blog features photos of Jewish books, heavily indulges in transliterated Hebrew terminology and discusses Jewish practices as a focus. So I was surprised when I read your "About Me" section and found that you hadn't bothered to identify whether or not you're a Jew. Was that an oversight, or is there a particular reason you keep that part of your background under wraps on this Christianity-for-Jews religion blog?

Tim Layne said...

I actually say very little about my personal life on this blog. That is intentional. Also, let there be no mistake, this blog is for chasidei Yeshua. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Chag Sameach.

Tim Layne said...

Let it also be said, if you are not intending to learn the teaching of Yeshua this blog will be of little use to you and learning from these posts is discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Your eagerness to be counted among the "chasidei Yeshua" without stating whether or not you're a Jew, your blog decorated with pictures of Jewish items in which you preach Christianity, it's all very mysterious, cryptic and intriguing.

Will you at least admit to being a missionary, or is that also too personal, and do you prefer or even insist on merely being known as a blogger of "teachings"?

Tim Layne said...

A missionary? Nothing so interesting. If you're a good Jew, than B"H, keep doing mitzvot.

Anonymous said...

So you're only interested in bringing bad Jews to the cross.

How do you reconcile that with Christian--sorry, "chasidei Yeshua"--total depravity doctrine?

Tim Layne said...

That specific doctrine is not Orthodox, but Christian reform. However in general I think I know what you mean. Torah Judaism also does not permit a person to put their trust in deeds, its in the tachanun (not to mention all the davvening we just did on Yom Kippur)..."We know that there are no good deeds in us; act unto us with charity for your name...We beg you please have mercy...Our hope is in You, G-d of forgiveness...do not treat us according to the evil of our deeds...save us...we beg You.... There is no question that all salvations come from HaShem alone. Even if a Rebbe, washed clean from any sin was to davven he would davven these words with truth. Why do they say that this is? Because a Rebbe binds himself to his people and their sins become his that his repentance should become theirs. Everyone knows this.

Anonymous said...

Oh. So then what did you mean by "If you're a good Jew, than B"H, keep doing mitzvot"?

What is your goal for the Jewish people? It sounds like you want them to attain salvation through grace. Is that what you want them to do? To become Christian, but by couching it in Jewish-sounding terminology?

Tim Layne said...

A Jew is born bound to the messianic soul. I am insisting that Yeshua is Mashiach Tzidkenu, that is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

I'm just going to repeat my last four questions, because your mysterious response didn't answer any of them.

"Oh. So then what did you mean by "If you're a good Jew, than B"H, keep doing mitzvot"?

What is your goal for the Jewish people? It sounds like you want them to attain salvation through grace. Is that what you want them to do? To become Christian, but by couching it in Jewish-sounding terminology?"

Can you please answer, so that we can know where you're coming from with your blog? Thanks.

Tim Layne said...

I'll let you have the last word in this conversation, I think this will be my last response. I may write a post regarding some of these things at a later date and you can respond again at that time if you like. As to my comment that a good Jew should continue to do mitzvot, I don't think there is any question about what I'm saying. I'm speaking clearly here. Yes I believe that Jews who are far from Torah should come closer to it. As to grace, I was also very clear, and yes, I wish that all Yisrael should be saved by G-d's grace; any one who says otherwise is completely outside the bounds of traditional Judaism. Judaism and Christianity are in firm agreement on the issue of grace. Don't skip the tachanun next time. After all is said and done, this blog is for followers of YESHUA. If you don't want to learn his teachings then do not read it.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

You wrote "this blog is for followers of [Jesus]", leading us to marvel at your decision to couch your teachings in the accouterments of Christianity's religious opposite, Judaism.

I look forward to investigating this aspect of your Christian preaching with you in future articles which I presume you will also use to bait Jewish proselytes.

Steven said...

Good Jews have been followers of Yeshua for over 2000 years.

Peace,

Steven

talmidim said...

Tim,
I so appreciated your writing and this article was so right on. I could go on about how much this spoke to me- deeply. Blessings to you. Are you still writing on your blog ? Are you reachable somewhere else by chance? Thank you again.
Brete

Rey said...

Shalom Tim,

Great article, really deep thoughts! May HaShem continue to bless you.

Rey