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The Secret of the Closed MEM and the Virgin Birth

The Secret of the Closed MEM and the Virgin Birth
by
James Scott Trimm

We read in Isaiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall
be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with
justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD
of hosts will perform this.
(Is. 9:6-7 KJV)

In his Let's Get Biblical tape set Anti-Missionary Tovia Singer insists this passage must refer to Hezikiah.


Singer argues that the passage is in the perfect verb form and must refer to events which had already occurred. In my recent article "Unto Us a Child is Born- Isaiah 9:6-7 and the Prophetic Perfect" (http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/unto-us-a-child-is-born-isa...) I demonstrated that the passage is a Messianic prophecy, that Singer's argument is false, and that the passage refers to the future.

Singer's argument that the figure described in Isaiah 9:6-7 is Hezikiah actually contradicts the Rabbinic posistion as stated in the Talmud.

Before going further there are two things the reader needs to know.

First off the Hebrew letter MEM is always written as a closed mem when it is written at the end of a word, but as an open mem when it is written at the beginning of the word.



Secondly there is a traditional anomaly which is preserved in the Massoretic Text.

The letter MEM in the word L'MAR'BEH ("of the increase") is written as a closed final MEM when it should be written with an open MEM.

The Talmud discusses the use of the abnormal closed final MEM in this passage as follows:

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end (Is. 9:6). R. Tanhum said: Bar Kappara expounded in Sepphoris, Why is every mem in the middle of a word open, whilst this is closed? — The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to appoint Hezekiah as the Messiah, and Sennacherib as Gog and Magog; whereupon the Attribute of
Justice said before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! If Thou didst not make David the Messiah, who uttered so many hymns and psalms before Thee, wilt Thou appoint Hezekiah as such, who did not hymn Thee in spite of all these miracles which Thou wroughtest for him?’ Therefore it [sc. the mem] was closed. Straightway the earth exclaimed: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Let me utter song before Thee instead of this righteous man [Hezekiah], and make him the Messiah.’ So it broke into song before Him, as it is written, From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. Then the Prince of the Universe said to Him: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! It [the earth] hath fulfilled Thy desire [for songs of praise] on behalf of this righteous man.’ But a heavenly Voice cried out, ‘It is my secret, it is my secret.’ To which the prophet rejoined, ‘Woe is me, woe is me: how long [must we wait]?’ The heavenly Voice [again] cried out, ‘The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously: which Raba — others say, R. Isaac — interpreted: until there come
spoilers, and spoilers of the spoilers.
(b.San. 94a)

Here the Talmud specifically tells us that Hezikiah was not the Messianic figure mentioned in Isaiah 9:6-7 because of the closed final mem and because of a secret of Elohim which is revealed by the use of a final MEM in this word.

Now it is important to understand that in Rabbinic thought, the MEM is associated with the womb. As we read in the Sefer Yetzirah:

"Three Mothers Alef, Mem, Shin are in the body of male and female: Fire and Water and Air. Head was created from Fire, and Womb was created from Water, and Chest was created from Air, balancing the scales between them."
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:6)

Furthermore the Zohar teaches that the final MEM in ADAM represents the female side which was taken from Adam to make woman:

Further, the words “let us make man” may be taken to signify that Elohim imparted to the lower beings who came from the side of the upper world the secret of forming the divine name “Adam”, which embraces the upper and the lower in virtue of its three letters, aleph, daleth, and final MEM. When these three letters descended below, together in their complete form, the name Adam was found to comprise male and female. The female was attached to the side of the male until Elohim cast him into a deep slumber, during which he lay on the site of the Temple. God then sawed her off from him and adorned her like a bride and brought her to him, as it is written, “And he took one of his sides and closed up the place with flesh.” (Gen. 2:21).
(Zohar 1:34b)

The Bahir elaborates that not only does a MEM represent a womb, but an open MEM represents an open womb amd a closed MEM represents a closed womb:

"The open Mem. What is the open Mem ? It includes both male and female. What is the closed Mem ? It is made like a womb from above. But Rabbi Rahumai said that the womb is like the letter Teth . He said it is like a Teth on the inside, while I say that it is like a Mem on the outside.

What is a Mem? Do not read Mem, but Mayim (water). Just like water is wet, so is the womb always wet. Why does the open Mem include both male and female, while the closed Mem is male? This teaches us that the Mem is primarily male. The opening was then added to it for the sake of the female. Just like the male cannot give birth, so the closed MEM cannot give birth. And just like the female has an opening with which to give birth, so can the open MEM give birth. The MEM is therefore open and closed."
(Bahir 84-85)

While Singer claims that Hezikiah was the figure described in Isaiah 9:6-7 the Talmud states that Hezikiah was not this figure because of the "secret" of the closed final MEM. What is the secret of the closed final MEM? the MEM represents the WOMB and the the closed MEM points the birth of Messiah to a woman with a closed rather than an open womb! This points us to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son..." (see my recent article by that name at http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/behold-a-virgin-shall-conce... )

Messiah would be born to the closed womb of a virgin. The closed MEM (closed womb) birth described in Isaiah 9:6-7 points us back to the virgin birth described in Isaiah 7:14. Hezikiah could not have been the figure born in Isaiah 9:6-7 because he was not born of a virgin.

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Views: 487

Comment by James Trimm on June 25, 2013 at 5:53pm

Not true.  Miriam's genealogy is the one given in Luke 3.  Yosef, the son of Heli – The Aramaic “bar” like the Hebrew word "ben" normally means “son of” but is very ambiguous and can also refer to a “son in law a step son a servant a student or a follower." as is the case here (Yosef was the son of Ya’akov see Mt. 1:16) (The Greek has only "of" which is why the KJV has "son of" in itallics, thus the Greek can also refer to a son-in-law).  The Jerusalem Talmud mentions a certain Miriam who, in context, appears to be the mother of Yeshua, who is said to be the daughter of “Eli” (j.Hag. 77d & j.San. 25c) pointing to the fact that Luke 3 presents the genealogy of Miriam while Mt. 1 presents the genealogy of Yosef

Comment by James Trimm on June 25, 2013 at 5:55pm

Anti-missionaries like Tovia Singer love to attack the genealogy of Yeshua.  The reason is that the genealogy of the Messiah is critical, and Yeshua fit these criteria perfectly.

The Tanak gives the following criteria for the genealogy of Messiah.

First off Messiah must be “seed” of Abraham:

19 And Elohim said: Nay, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call
his name Yitz’chak. And I will establish My covenant with him, for an everlasting
covenant for his seed after him.
(Gen. 17:19)

And he must descend from Isaac:

17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. There shall step forth a star out of Ya’akov, and a scepter shall rise out of Yisra’el, and shall smite through the corners of Mo’av, and break down all the sons of Shet.
(Num. 24:17)

And he must be of the Tribe of Judah:

10 The scepter shall not depart from Y’hudah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.  And unto him, shall the obedience of the peoples be.
(Gen. 49:10)

Who is this “Shiloh”?

This Gemara also asks “What is Messiah’s name?” Rabbi Shila offers the answer: “His name is Shiloh, for it is written, ‘until Shiloh comes.” (b.San. 98b)

The Targums (Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan and Yerushalmi) all have “until Messiah comes” in place of “until Shiloh comes”.

The word “Shiloh” has a gematria (numerical value) of 345 which is the same as the value of “HaShem” (“the name”) and El Shaddai. The phrase “Shiloh comes” has a gematria of 358 which is the same as the gematria for “Messiah and “Moses” (because the Messiah is “the prophet like Moses” (Deut. 18:18) (see my recent article A Prophet Like Moses http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/a-prophet-like-moses ). This is because “the name” of Messiah is imbedded in the phrase “until Shiloh comes.”

The Zohar says of Gen. 49:10:

…”the scepter” referring to the Messiah of the House of Judah,
and “the staff” to the Messiah of the House of Joseph.
“Until Shiloh comes”, this is Moses, the gematria of Shiloh
and Moses being the same [358].
(Zohar 1:25)
 
The word Shiloh, here, is spelt with both a yod and a he,
to allude to the holy supernal name, Yah,
by which the Shekinah shall rise…
(Zohar 1:237)

Thus the Zohar teaches us that in Genesis 49:10 we have the two Messiahs (or the two comings of Messiah) represented as a “scepter” and a “staff” which are one “Shiloh” and that the one “Shiloh” has Yah within him.

In my recent article “Lowly and Riding Upon an Ass” (http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/lowly-and-riding-upon-an-ass)  I show how all of this also connects to Messianic Prophecies in Gen. 49:11 and Zech. 9:9.  

Messiah must also be heir to David’s throne:

5 (9:6) For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us, and the government is upon His shoulder: and His Name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty El, The
Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
6 (9:7) That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the
throne of David and upon his kingdom: to establish it and to uphold it, through justice and through righteousness, from henceforth even forever. The zeal of YHWH Tzva’ot does perform this.
(Is. 9:5-6 (6-7))

In my recent article “Unto Us a Child is Born- Isaiah 9:6-7 and the Prophetic Perfect” (http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/unto-us-a-child-is-born-isa...) I demonstrated that this is also a Messianic prophecy.

Anti-missionaries have argued that Yeshua was not heir to David’s throne if he was not actually Joseph’s son (of course the claim of the Gospels is that Yeshua was born to Miriam without any earthly father).  This is actually a false claim, the throne can very clearly be passed by inheritance regardless of physical blood line.  In fact David himself inherited the throne from Saul without being of Saul’s bloodline.  David was the legitimate heir to Saul's throne, by way of his covenant with Jonathan (1Sam. chapters 18-20) which was how David legitimately obtained the throne.

Many anti-missionaries try to attack Yeshua’s genealogy by claiming that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke contradict one another.  In fact Matthew 1:1-18 gives Yeshua’s genealogy through his step-father/adopted father Joseph, while Luke 3:23-38 gives his genealogy through his mother Miriam.  We know this because the genealogy in Luke begins with “Yosef, the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23) – The Jerusalem Talmud mentions a certain Miriam who, in context, appears to be the mother of Yeshua, who is said to be the daughter of “Eli” (j.Hag. 77d & j.San. 25c)  The Aramaic “bar” like the Hebrew word "ben" normally means “son of” but is very ambiguous and can also refer to a “son in law a step son a servant a student or a follower." as is the case here (Yosef was the son of Ya’akov see Mt. 1:16) (The Greek has only "of" which is why the KJV has "son of" in italics, thus the Greek can also refer to a son-in-law).  

Matthew gives the genealogy of Yeshua through his “supposed” father (step father and adoptive father) Yosef, to establish Yeshua’s legal right to the throne of David, through Solomon.  Luke, on the other hand, gives Yeshua’s genealogy through his mother Miram, showing Messiah to also be the “seed of David” through David’s son Nathan (Lk. 3:23-38).   

This resolves the problem of the “curse of Jeconiah” (Jeremiah 22:24 - 29) though it may also be argued based on Hag. 2:23 that this curse had been reversed.

Tovia Singer and other anti-missionaries have claimed that the presence of Jeconiah in Yeshua’s genealogy disqualifies him from being Messiah due to the supposed “curse of Jeconiah” as we read in Jeremiah:

24  As I live, says YHWH, though Coniah the son of Yahuyakim king of Y’hudah were the signet upon My right hand, yet would I pluck you thence;
25  and I will give you into the hand of them that seek your     life, and into the hand of them of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of N’vukhadretzar king of Bavel, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
26  And I will cast you out, and your mother that bore you, into another country, where you were not born; and there shall you die.
27  But to the land whereunto they long to return, there shall they not return.
28  Is this man Coniah a despised, broken image? Is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know not?
29  O land, land, land, hear the word of YHWH.
(Jer. 22:24-29)

However if we look in the Book of Haggai we find that Elohim appears to have reversed this curse:

23  In that day, says YHWH Tzva’ot, will I take you, O Z’rubavel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, says YHWH, and will make you as a signet; for I have chosen you, says YHWH Tzva’ot.'
(Haggai 2:23)

Note the use of the term “signet ring” in each passage.

The Talmud seems to agree with this concept that the curse was reversed.  It says:

Rab Judah said: Exile makes remission for three things, for it is written, Thus saith the Lord etc. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out and falleth away to the Chaldeans who beseige you he shall live and his life shall be unto him for a prey. R. Johanan said: Exile atones for everything, for it is written, Thus saith the Lord, write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days, for no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah. Whereas after he [the king] was exiled, it is written, And the sons of Jechoniah, — the same is Assir — Shealtiel his son etc.33 [He was called] Assir,34 because his mother conceived him in prison. Shealtiel, because God did not plant him36 in the way that others are planted. We know by tradition that a woman cannot conceive in a standing position. [yet she did conceive standing. Another interpretation: Shealtiel, because God obtained [of the Heavenly court] absolution from His oath. Zerubbabel [was so called] because he was sown in Babylon. But [his real name was] Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

Footnotes:
33. I Ch. III, 17. Notwithstanding the curse that he should be childless and not prosper, after being exiled he was forgiven.
34. Which He had made, to punish Jechoniah with childlessness."
(Sanhedrin 37b - 38a, Soncino Talmud Edition)

Also the Midrash Rabba says:

. . . they made the Calf and deserved to be exterminated, and I would have thought that He would curse and destroy them, yet, no sooner had they repented, than the danger was  averted, And the Lord repented of the evil (ib. XXXII, 14).And  so in many places. For example, He said about Jekoniah:  For no man of his seed shall prosper (Jer. XXII, 30) and it says,  I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations... In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet (Hag. II, 22 f.). Thus was annulled that which He had said to his forefather, viz. As I live, saith the Lord, though     Coniah the son of Jehoiakim King of Judah were the signet upon My right hand, yet I would pluck thee thence (Jer. XXII, 24).
(Numbers Rabbah XX:20)

And Midrash Pesikta Rabbati says:

R. Joshua ben Levi, however, argued as follows: Repentance sets aside the entire decree, and prayer half the decree. You find that it was so with Jeconiah, king of Judah. For the Holy One, blessed be He, swore in His anger, As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakhim king of Judah were the signet on a hand, yet by My right - note, as R. Meir said, that is was by His right hand that God swore - I would pluck thee hence (Jer. 22:24). And what was decreed against Jeconiah? That he die childless. As is said Write ye this man childless (Jer. 22:40). But as soon as he avowed penitence, the Holy One, blessed be He, set aside the decree, as is shown by Scripture's reference to The sons of Jeconiah - the same is Assir - Shealtiel his son, etc. (1 Chron 3:17). And Scripture says further: In that day . . .  will I take thee, O Zerubbabel . . .  the son of Shealtiel . . . and will make thee as a signet (Haggai 2:23). Behold, then, how penitence can set aside the entire decree!
(Pesikta Rabbati, Piska)

Anti-missionary Tovia Singer also attacks Yeshua’s genealogy in Matthew because three names are omitted in Matthew 1:8.  In Matt. 1:8 we read “Y’horam begat Uziyahu”  Here the names of three kings are omitted.  These are added back in Old Syriac (c), however they are clearly not part of the original text of Matthew, since verse 17 in Old Syriac (c) still counts only fourteen names.  

Once again Singer fails to use equal weights and measures, judging the Gospels by a stricter criteria than that which he applies to the Tanak.  The truth is that it was not unusual for ancient Hebrew genealogies to be abbreviated and omit names.  For example if we compare the genealogy of Ezra as given in Ezra 7:1-5 1 with that given in 1Chron. 6:4-15 we find that the later genealogy given in Ezra also has omitted names.

While anti-missionaries like Tovia Singer seek to attack Yeshua's genealogy, the truth is that Yeshua was the heir to the throne of David through Solomon by way of his step father Joseph as we see in Matthew 1 and was also the physical descendant of David through Nathan by way of his mother Miriam.  These genealogies demonstrate that Yeshua was in fact uniquely qualified as fulfilling the genealogical prophecies regarding the Messiah.

Comment by James Trimm on June 27, 2013 at 12:06am

I have done the research.  Miriam was of the House of David through Nathan.

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