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Yeshua’s Struggle at Gey Sh'manim and the Midrash



Yeshua’s Struggle at Gey Sh'manim and the Midrash
By
James Scott Trimm




In the Gospel of Matthew we read of the agonizing of the Messiah at Gey Sh'manim:

36 Then comes Yeshua with them to a village whose name was Gey Sh'manim, and said to His talmidim: Sit you here, while I go yonder and pray.
37 And He took with Him Kefa, and the two sons of Zavdai, and began to be grieved and downcast.
38 And then said He to them: My nefesh is grieved to death. Await you Me here, and watch with Me.
39 And He passed on a little, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying: O Father, if it is possible that this cup pass away from Me, let it be done. But let it not be done as I will, but as You will.
40 And He came to His talmidim, and found them sleeping, and said to Kefa: Could you not watch with Me a single hour?
41 Awake and pray, that you enter not [into temptation.] The spirit indeed is watchful, but the flesh is frail.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying: O Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me, but I must drink it: be it as You will.
43 And He came again, and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.
44 And He went away again, and prayed the third time, and said the same prayer as He had said already.
(Matthew 26:36-44 HRV)

This event in which Messiah is agonizing with his burden in prayer with the Father is very similar to a conversation which takes place between Elohim and the Messiah in the Midrash:

Elohim says: 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?

Elohim 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)

What does the Midrash mean when it says “ever since the six days of creation you have taken this ordeal upon yourself”?  This is a reference to a Baraita which appears twice in the Talmud:

What is the meaning of “Eye has not seen” (Is. 64:3)
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said:
This is the wine that has been kept
in its grapes from the six days in the beginning.
(b.Berakot 34b; b.Sanhedrin 99a)

And also in Midrash Rabbah to Num. 13:2 (500) which says:

Because he bared his soul unto death (Is. 53:12)
and bruised themselves with the Torah which is sweeter than honey,
the Holy One, blessed be He, will hereafter give them to drink
of the wine kept in its grapes since the six days in the beginning….
(Midrash Rabbah to Numbers 13:2 (500))

This brings us back to Matthew where Yeshua has said “if it is possible that this cup pass away from Me” referring to the wine kept in its grapes since the six days of creation which is tied by the Midrash to the death of the Messiah as prophesied in Isaiah 53.  Thus the midrash sheds a beautiful struggle of Messiah before his death.

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