THE WORD OF YHWH REVEALED
THE TRUE HIGH PRIEST
By James Trimm
THE TRUE HIGH PREIST
Philo makes a very interesting comment concerning the Torah command of the cities of refuge (Num. 35:6-28; Josh. 20:1-9). The Torah says:
And the assembly shall deliver the manslayer, out of the hand of the avenger of
blood, and the assembly shall restore him to his city of refuge, where he was fled. And he
shall dwell therein until the death of the High Priest, who was anointed with the Set-
Philo makes an interesting observation on this passage, he writes:
The fourth and last of the points which we proposed to discuss, is the appointing as a period for the return of the fugitives the death of the high priest, which, if taken in the literal sense, causes me great perplexity; for a very unequal punishment is imposed by this enactment on those who have done the very same things, since some will be in banishment for a longer time, and others for a shorter time; for some of the high priests live to a very old age, and others die very early, and some are appointed while young men, and others not until they are old. And again of those who are convicted of unintentional homicide, some have been banished at the beginning of the high priest's entrance into office, and some when the high priest has been at the very point of death. So that some are deprived of their country for a very long time, and others suffer the same infliction only for a day, if it chance to be so; after which they lift up their heads, and exult, and so return among those whose nearest relations have been slain by them. This difficult and scarcely explicable perplexity we may escape if we adopt the inner and allegorical explanation in accordance with natural philosophy. For we say that the high priest is not a man, but is the Word (Logos) of God, who has not only no participation in intentional errors, but none even in those which are involuntary.
(On Flight 106-108)
Philo thus concludes that the true High Priest is the Word (Logos). If we follow Philo’s logic through, then through the death of the Word, these exiles are set free.
Philo’s true “High Priest” (The Word) ties in well with a document found among the Dead Sea Scrolls known as The Melchizadek Document (11Q13). 11Q13 speaks of this Messiah as a figure called "Melchizedek." In this document Is. 61:2 is quoted with "Melchizedek" substituted for YHWH. Furthermore the terms EL and ELOHIM are in 11Q13 applied to the Melchizedek/Messiah figure.
11Q13 Col. 4-9 quotes Is. 61:1-2 but substitutes "the year of Melchizedek's favor" for "the year of YHWH's favor" thus identifying the Melchizedek figure with YHWH in this passage. 11Q13 goes on to say:
…as it is written about him [Melchizedek] in the Songs of David,
"ELOHIM has taken his place in the council of EL;
in the midst of the ELOHIM he holds judgment"
(Ps. 82:1) Scripture also says about him [Melchizedek],
"Over it take your seat in the highest heaven;
EL will judge the peoples" (Ps. 7:7-8)
(11Q13 Col. 10-11)
The text of 11Q13 goes on to apply the passage "Your ELOHIM reigns" (Is. 52:7) to Melchizedek finally concluding:
"Your ELOHIM" (Is. 52:7) is Melchizedek, who will deliver them from the power of Belial.
(11Q13 Col. 24-25)
The Melchizadek figure of 11Q13 would free the captives (Is. 61:1-2) and through the Day of Atonement will “atone for all the Sons of Light”.
In Hebrews 4:14-7:28 Paul argues that Messiah Yeshua (The Word of Jn. 1:1-3, 14) is the true High Priest and true Melchizadek making atonement for us in the heavenly Temple by his blood.
Philo also describes the Word (Logos) not only as the “Son” of the “Father” but as a PARACLETE who is “perfect in all virtue” and procures “forgiveness of sins” as well as a “supply of unlimited blessings”:
…the twelve stones arranged on the breast in four rows of three stones each, namely the logeum, being also an emblem of that reason (Logos, Word) which holds together and regulates the universe. For it was indispensable that the man who was consecrated to the Father of the world, should have as a paraclete, his son, the being most perfect in all virtue, to procure forgiveness of sins, and a supply of unlimited blessings;
(Life of Moses II, 133-134)
This Greek word (paraclete) is also a Hebrew and Aramaic word also appears in the Mishna:
He who does even a single religious duty
gets himself a good advocate (or comforter Hebrew: paraklita)
he who does even a single transgression
gets himself a prosecutor.
And in the Talmud it is used to refer to the sin offering::
R. Simeon said: For what purpose does a sin-offering come? —
[You ask,] ‘for what purpose does a sin-offering come?’
Surely in order to make atonement! —
Rather, [the question is:]
Why does it come before the burnt-offering?
[Because it is] like an intercessor (paraklita) who enters
[to appease the King]: When the intercessor (paraklita)
has appeased [him], the gift follows.
The Jewish Dictionary states:
…The sin offering is like the parclete (paraklita) before God,
it interceded for man and is followed by another…
a thank offering for the pardon obtained…
the two daily burnt offerings are called ‘the two parcletes’…
Jewish Dictionary pp. 514-515
Now Yochanan, who identifies the Messiah as the Word (logos) in Jn. 1:1-3, 14 and Rev. 19:13 also says of Messiah:
1 My sons, I write these [things] to you, that you do not sin: and if someone should sin, we have an advocate (paraklita) with the Father, Yeshua the Messiah, the just [One].
2 For He is the propitiation for our sins, and not on behalf of ours only, but also on behalf of [the sins of] the whole world.
(1st Yochanan (John) 2:1)
With all of this in mind, it is no surprise that the Targums tell us that the Word (Aramaic: Memra) is the source of our salvation. Jacob called upon the Word for his salvation:
Our father Jacob said: "My soul does not wait for salvation such as that wrought by Gideon, the son of Joash, for that was but temporal; neither for a salvation like that of Samson, which was only transitory; but for that salvation which You have promised to come, through Your Word unto Your people, the children of Israel; for your salvation my soul hopes."
(Targum Jonathan Gen. 49:18)
That the Word of YHWH is the savior is expressed elsewhere in the Targums:
But Israel shall be saved by the Word of YHWH with an everlasting
salvation… By the Word of YHWH shall all the seed of Israel be justified…
(Targum Jonathan Is. 45:17, 25)
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Word of YHWH, their Elohim.
(Targum Jonathan Hosea 1:7)
It was, according to Targum Onkelos, this Word of YHWH that Abraham trusted in, by which he was justified:
And Abraham trusted in the Word [Memra] of YHWH, and He counted it to him for righteousness.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 15:6)
Likewise Paul quotes Gen. 15:6 in Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6 to prove his point that we are justified by faith in the Messiah.
Now here is perhaps the most amazing thing, Philo believed “Word” (Logos) and the Messiah to be one and the same:
"The head of all things is the eternal Word (Logos) of the eternal God, under which, as if it were his feet or other limbs, is placed the whole world, over which He passes and firmly stands. Now it is not because Messiah is Lord that He passes and sits over the whole world, for His seat with His Father and God but because for its perfect fullness the world is in need of the care and superintendence of the best ordered dispensation, and for its own complete piety, of the Divine Word (Logos), just as living creatures (need) a head, without which it is impossible to live."
(Q&A on Exodus, II, 117)
And with all of this in mind, we should not be surprised to read in the Zohar concerning Messiah:
"In the Garden of Eden there is a hall that is called the "hall of the afflicted." Now it is into this hall that the Messiah goes and summons all the afflictions and pains and sufferings of Israel to come upon him. And so they all come upon him. And had he not eased the children of Israel of their sorrows, and taken their burden upon himself, there would be none who could endure the suffering of Israel in the penalty of neglecting the Torah. Thus it is written: "Surely our diseases he did bear and our pains he carried." (Is. 53:5) As long as the children of Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, they averted all afflictions and sufferings from the world by the service of the sanctuary and by sacrifice. But now it is the Messiah who is averting them from the habitants of the world,"
So there you have it. I have a few times failed to resist the temptation to crack open the “New Testament” simply for the purpose of showing a clear parallel, but using the works of Philo, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Rabbinic literature I have laid out the concept of the Word as I believe it existed in the first century.
The Word is:
* The Image of Elohim from which we were created
* The Middle Pillar of the Three Pillars of the Godhead, reconciling to opposing “powers” or “pillars” and thus encompassing all three.
* The Firstborn Son of Yah
* The true High Priest, Melchizadek, redeeming us through his death.
* The Paraklete procuring forgiveness for our sins.
* Our Savior
* The Messiah
All of these concepts about the “Word” existed in the Second Temple Era and were all packed into this concept of the “Word” (Logos/Memra). Maybe you thought you knew what Yochanan meant when he said:
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him,
And without him was not any thing made that was made…
And the Word was made flesh,
and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-3, 14 KJV)
And he was clothed with a vesture,
dipped in blood: and his name is called
The Word of God.
(Rev. 19:13 KJV)
But now you really know what that meant in terms of Second Temple Era Judaism.
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