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The Two Sticks Prophecy of Ezekiel 37 on All Four Levels - Drash

PaRDeS and the Two Sticks
An Examination of the Two Sticks Prophecy of Ezekiel 37 on All Four Levels
Part 3 The Drash
James Scott Trimm

As we stated in part 1, in Judaism it is understood that there are four levels of understanding of a passage, which correspond to the four Hebrew letters that spell the Hebrew word PaRDeS (Paradise) The word PRDS is also an acronym (called in Judaism "notarikon") for:

[P]ashat (Heb. "simple") The plain, simple, literal level of understanding.
[R]emez (Heb. "hint")   The implied level of understanding.
[D]rash (Heb. "search")  The allegorical, typological or homiletically level of understanding.
[S]od (Heb. "hidden")  The hidden, secret or mystical level of understanding.

In this four part study I will relate the understanding of the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 on each of the four levels.

Ezekiel 37 reads:

15 And the word of YHWH came unto me, saying:
16 And you, son of man, take you one stick, and write upon it: For Y’hudah, and for the
children of Yisra’el his companions. Then take another stick, and write upon it: For
Yosef, the stick of Efrayim, and of all the House of Yisra’el, his companions.
17 And join them for you, one to another into one stick, that they may become one, in
your hand.
18 And when the children of your people shall speak unto you, saying, Will you not tell
us what you mean by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus says the Adonai YHWH: Behold, I will take the stick of Yosef,
which is in the hand of Efrayim, and the tribes of Yisra’el his companions, and, I will put
them unto him, together with the stick of Y’hudah: and make them one stick … and they
shall be one, in My hand.
20 And the sticks whereon you write, shall be in your hand before their eyes.
21 And say unto them, Thus says the Adonai YHWH: Behold, I will take the children of
Yisra’el from among the nations where they are gone, and will gather them on every side,
and bring them into their own land.
22 And I will make them one nation, in the land; upon the mountains of Yisra’el, and
one king shall be king to them all. And they shall be no more two nations, neither shall
they be divided into two kingdoms, any more, at all.
(Ezekiel 37:15-22 HRV)


On a Drash level there is a parallel between the Messiah and Israel:

When YHWH says in Sh’mot (Ex.) 4:22-23 and Hoshea 11:1 that Israel is his first-born son he is speaking allegorically.  He is comparing Israel to Messiah.

And when Mattitiyahu quotes Hoshea 11:`1 and applies this sonship to Messiah he is referring to the reality behind the allegory of Hosea 11:1 and Sh’mot 4:22-23.  In effect Matthew is saying that Yeshua the Messiah is the figure that later Rabbinic Judaism came to call “The Son of Yah”.  Therefore the Torah in Sh’mot 4:22-23 is prompting us that there is an allegorical relationship between Israel and Messiah:

So how is the Messiah allegorically like Israel?

* Both made a major impact on the world.

* Both were born through a biological miracle on their mother’s womb.

* Both were taken into Egypt to save their lives.

* Both are called up out of Egypt.

* Both have been despised and rejected by man.

* Rome attempted to execute each of them.

* Both are resurrected never to die again.

This goes even further as there is an allegorical relationship between the two Houses of Israel and the two comings of Messiah.

We read in Genesis 49:10:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the staff from between his feet,
until Shiloh comes;
and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

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). 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)

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.

The Two Messiah Theory in Rabbinic Judaism delegated the lowly, suffering servant passages to Messiah the son of Joseph (sometimes called Ephraim); and the Kingly passages to Messiah the son of David. A good example of the Ephraim Messiah in Rabbinic literature is a Midrash in which the Messiah is being warned by Elohim of what awaits him:

Their sins will be upon you like a yoke of iron.
They will choke your spirit.  Because of their sins,
Your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth.
Do you accept this?  If not, I will remove the decree from you.

The Messiah replies:
"Master of the worlds, how long will this last?

God replies: "Ephraim, my true Messiah, ever since the six
days of creation you have taken this ordeal upon yourself.  At
this moment, your pain is my pain"

Messiah replies: "Master of the worlds, I accept this with
gladness in my soul, and joy in my heart, so that not a single
one of the House of Israel should perish.  Not only for those
alive, but also the dead.  It is enough that the servant be like the Master.
(Midresh Pesqita Rabbah 36)

Rabbi Dosa (who lived around 250 CE) was a chief advocate of the two Messiah theory.  The Talmud records that he taught regarding Zech. 12:10:

What is the cause of the mourning [of Zech. 12:12]--... It is
well according to him who explains that the cause is the
slaying    of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse:
And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,
And they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his
only son. (Zech. 12:10)
 (b.Sukkot 52a)

The redemptive role of Messiah is known as “Messiah ben Yoseph” (Messiah the son of Joseph) or “Ephraim” because Messiah would be like the patriarch Joseph.  In the Wisdom of Solomon we read the following Messianic Prophecy:

17: Let us see if his words are true: and let us test him by his departure.
(Wisdom 2:15-17 HRV)

(See my recent article “He Says Concerning Himself ‘I am the Son of Elohim’”

This actually recalls an account in the Torah concerning the life of Joseph.  When his brothers cast Joseph into the pit we read:

20 Come now therefore and let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits. And we
will say, An evil beast has devoured him. And we shall see what will become of his dreams.
(Gen. 37:20 HRV)

There is great Messianic significance to this account.  Joseph’s life was a type of the first coming of Messiah which parallels the Rabbinical Messiah ben Yoseph.  The Suffering Messiah is called Messiah ben Yoseph because his brothers were redeemed by his suffering.  

Like Joseph the Patriarch, Yeshua was betrayed by his own for a few pieces of silver (Gen. 37:28) he was cast into “the pit” (death) and raised back up so that he might redeem his brothers,  Like Joseph, Yeshua’s teaching and revelation angered his brothers, who sought to put his claims to the test by casting him into the pit (of death).

Would there be two Messiahs or one Messiah?  A tradition found in Midrash Rabbah may provide the answer:

Another exposition of the text, ' My beloved is like a gazelle ‘: Israel, explained R. Isaac, said to the Holy One, blessed be He: ' Sovereign of the Universe! Thou hast told us that Thou wilt come to us first.’ ' My beloved is like a gazelle ‘; as the gazelle appears and then disappears, so the first redeemer appeared and then disappeared. R. Berekiah in the name of R. Levi said: Like the first redeemer so will the final redeemer be. The first redeemer was Moses, who appeared to them and then disappeared. For how long did he disappear from their sight? R. Tanhuma said: Three months1; accordingly it is written, And they met Moses and Aaron, etc. (ib. V, 20).2 The final redeemer will also appear to them and then disappear.
(Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar 11:2)
Clearly here the two redeemers are Moses and the prophet like Moses, the Messiah (See my article “A Prophet Like Moses” )

The redemption under Moses can be seen in the Torah as follows:

13 And Moshe said unto the people, Fear you not. Stand still, and see the salvation of YHWH, which He will work for you today! For whereas you have seen the Egyptians today, you shall see them again, no more, forever.
14 YHWH will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.
(Ex. 14:13-14 HRV)

(For more on the two parallel redemptions see my article The Crossing of the Red Sea A Picture of the Process of Salvation )  

This Midrash preserves a tradition which tells us that the Messiah would, like Moses, be revealed, then disappeared and then revealed again.  The coming of Messiah would be like Moses, who was revealed to Israel.  Then he disappeared when he ascended to commune with Elohim on Mt. Sinai.  While he was gone there was a great apostasy, and many believed he would never return (Ex. 32:1).  When he returned he separated and judged the people and condemned those who had not repented (Ex. 32:26-28).  The Midrash is telling us that the coming of Messiah would parallel these events.

Thus on a Drash level the two sticks prophecy of Ezekiel 37 may also be seen as teaching us that the two roles of Messiah as Messiah ben Yosef and as Messiah ben David are actually one Messiah who comes twice.  

(To be continued in Part 4)

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