Question 79. I am having trouble understanding the “seven spirits” or the “sevenfold spirit” of Revelation. Could you enlighten me?

Being end of October (sometimes referred to as “Halloween”) in an unprecedented year, Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s answer is a good reminder of the goodness and holiness of the Spirit of God who points us to Yeshua.

The references to the “seven spirits” of God in the book of Revelation have an Old Testament background, namely, Isaiah 11:1-2. The emphasis in verse 1 is on Messiah’s lowly origin. In verse 2, we are told that this Messiah will have the sevenfold fullness of the Holy Spirit. The description used here is representative of a Jewish menorah or seven-branched lampstand. The “Spirit of the Lord” is mentioned once, followed by three more references to “the Spirit of,” each one followed by two attributes. menorah
When looking for the fulfillment of this prophecy in the life of Yeshua, we find that in John 3:34, John the Baptist describes Yeshua as having the fullness of the Spirit: For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The New Testament teaches that all who believe in Yeshua as Messiah are given a measure of the Holy Spirit. Because each believer only has a measure of the Spirit, each one has different gifts and ministries (I Cor. 12:13-14). No one ever has all of the gifts because God has ordained that the members of the Church be mutually dependent. Yeshua, however, was given the Spirit “without measure.” In Scripture, the number seven signifies perfection, completeness, or fullness. The sevenfold nature of the Spirit in Isaiah 11:2 is therefore synonymous with the measureless fullness in John 3:34. It also corresponds to the “seven spirits” of Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, and 5:6.

Arnold Answers is a series of questions from readers with answers from founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Have more questions? Send them to

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Question 71. I am struggling with the correct interpretation of Psalm 126. Almost all English translations show verses 2-3 as past tense and many commentaries attribute these verses to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Captivity. However, in the Hebrew, these verses seem to be in the future tense, and they seem to be speaking of Israel’s final restoration. Any reason we should take these verses as past tense?

In his answer, Dr. Fruchtenbaum deals with a commonly held misconception about Psalm 126 and the Babylonian captivity. Won’t you take a moment to catch the reader’s full question before going on to Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s answer? –Ariel Ministries

Question. I am a Sunday School teacher in Japan and am struggling with the correct interpretation of Psalm 126. It would be highly appreciated if you could kindly help when you can.

Verses 2-3:
Almost all English translations show as past tense and many commentaries attribute these verses to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Captivity. However, in the Hebrew, these verses seem to be in the future tense, and they seem to be speaking of Israel’s final restoration. Any reason we should take these verses as past tense?

Verse 4
The verse says, As the streams in the South. Some commentators interpret this as referring to the millennial river flowing from Jerusalem to the South (Ez. 47:1-12). Others explain the phrase as a torrent erupting over wadi. Which interpretation is correct?

Verse 5
This verse speaks of tears. Some commentators interpret this word as Israel’s mourning in the last days (Zech. 12:10). Is this a correct interpretation, or should we simply take the word “tears” as a reference to Israel’s general suffering?

Answer. Classical Hebrew, the Hebrew of the Bible, does not have tenses such as past, present, or future tense. It has only two tenses, called “perfect tense” and “imperfect tense.”

The perfect tense visualizes action as complete, and so in English, verbs in this tense are normally rendered into the past tense. However, there is another form called “the prophetic perfect” where the perfect is used, but the action has not happened yet. Because it is still future, the translators of the English Bibles usually render such verbs in the future tense.

The imperfect tense sees action as incomplete. Hence, verbs in this tense are normally rendered in the future.

Psalm 126 does not pertain to the return from Babylonian captivity, because in verse 4, the psalmist is praying for God to turn again our captivity. This shows that the psalm should be interpreted as dealing with the Messianic kingdom. Verses 1-3 are dealing with thanksgiving that will erupt when the Jews are praising God for bringing them back into the land. The Hebrew term for “streams” in verse 4 is not used of a river, but rather of a wadi. There are many such wadies in Israel where water runs only during the rainy season, from October to May. The word “South” refers to the Negev, which has many such wadies. So, the streams in the South would not be a reference of the millennial river of Ezekiel 47:1-12, but simply a promise that the wadies will continue to provide enough water to irrigate the dry land of the Negev.

Verses 5-6 simply provide a general principle: Those willing to sow the seed will be the ones receiving the benefits of the seed in a literal sense. The land will always be productive in a spiritual sense, and those who sow the message that people must believe for salvation will see people receiving that message and coming to faith.

Have more questions? Send them to

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 52: Does Psalm 82 verses 1 and 6 teach (as some claim) that because we are the children of God, we are “little gods”?

The verses state:

1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.
I said, ”You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High. (Psalm 82:1,6 NKJV)

The Hebrew word elohim used in verses 1 and 6 is a general term for “god,” and it is used for the true God and also used for idols. It is not a name for God, since God’s name comprises four Hebrew letters that would correspond to the English letters of YHVH.

Elohim is also used of God’s representatives, such as angels; and in the case of John 10:34, quoting Psalm 82:6, it is a reference to the judges of Israel: Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? The judges were the representatives of God, having his delegated authority, and so by personal, direct mission, they did the very works of God. The problem with thinking of ourselves as “little gods” is that it gives the impression of being some kind of deity, which is certainly not the case for human beings.

The Pharisees themselves recognized this non-deity meaning of the word elohim. Jesus made the point in John 10:34 that if they were called “gods,” the very representatives of God, how could it be blasphemy if He claimed to be the Son of God, since He received not a transmitted authority, but the direct, personal command to do the Father’s work?

Jesus’ answer was a typical rabbinic argument, arguing from the lesser to the greater: If the judges could be called elohim, how much more can He be called the Son of God, since He is the Messianic Person.

Another example of this principle is that Moses was considered a god (elohim) to Aaron (Exodus 4:16) and to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1) because he brought God’s message to these men. So, if Moses as a mere man could be a god to Aaron and Pharaoh, why could not Jesus be God’s Son? He, like Moses, was God’s messenger, having God’s message. The children of Israel listened to Moses, so why should they not listen to the Messiah, who is greater than Moses? They not only had His claims, but His works that proved His claims. Here, again, it is the standard Jewish argument from the lesser to the greater: If Moses or the judges can be called ‘god’, how much more could the Messiah be called the Son of God.

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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

True Wisdom – James 3:17-18

’17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.’

True wisdom is the result of a tamed tongue. In verse 17, the evidences of true heavenly wisdom are given: But the wisdom that is from above. But makes a contrast. It is followed by the list of seven characteristics of true wisdom.

He begins by stating: is first pure. By ranking it first, pure becomes primary and fundamental. As an inner quality of wisdom, pure is the most important. All the other descriptive terms are external to a man’s heart. To be pure signifies it is undefiled and clean. As a word used of Jesus in I John 3:3, it is free from all of the characteristics of false wisdom. Then, a list of external characteristics follows. Note how then ensues logically, reasonably from the internal purity.

The second characteristic is: peaceable, which promotes peace and tries to heal divisions but not at the expense of purity.

The third characteristic is: gentle. The Greek denotes “gentle;” “considerate;” “forbearing;” “courteous;” “reasonable;” “kindly.” It is a disposition that does not insist upon its own rights; it pertains to that which regards the feelings of others, carrying the concept of equity and fairness.

The fourth characteristic is: easy to be entreated or approached. This is a Greek word placed only in this verse and nowhere else. Outside the New Testament, it was used of someone who submitted to military discipline. In this situation, it conveys openness to reason; willingness to yield; to be easily persuaded. Conversely, it opposes being stubborn and unyielding.

The fifth characteristic is: full of mercy, yielding compassion, pity, kind actions, and helpful deeds. As a result, good fruits are produced on behalf of the needy. This reference is to kind actions and helpful deeds. Good modifies fruits meaning beneficial. The word fruits is plural because it results in a variety of good works.

The sixth characteristic is: without variance, without partiality and prejudice. This Greek word appears only here in verse 17 and nowhere else in the New Testament. It denotes “to be undivided,” without division or discord, and it reinforces consistency in contrast to the uncontrolled tongue, which was described in earlier verses as inconsistent.

The seventh characteristic is: without hypocrisy; sincere, genuine, and free from all pretense.

Because of these seven characteristics of true wisdom, in verse 18 Jacob/James declares the results of true wisdom: And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace. The phrase fruit of righteousness allows for two possible interpretations. It might be appositional, meaning fruit that consists of righteousness. Or, it might be subjective, meaning fruit that righteousness produces. It is sown in peace; producing peace. It is for them that make peace, or the peacemakers. The fruit of righteousness is sown by peacemakers who enjoy the results of their work. Righteousness cannot be produced when conditions are full of strife, jealousy, and selfishness, which are the products of false wisdom. However, verses 17-18 contain the consequences of wisdom from above that are the counterpart to the results of bad wisdom of verse 16.

Excerpt From: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum. “The Messianic Jewish Epistles.”

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Ezekiel 37:15‑28

Chapter 37 of Ezekiel is a highly symbolic chapter.[1] In verses 1‑14, Ezekiel deals with the symbol of the dry bones, which pictures Israel as a regathered nation in a state of unbelief. Verses 15-28 deals with the sign of the two sticks, which pictures the reunification of the divided kingdom. The historical background to this passage is found in I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10.

Ezekiel 37:15‑17

In verse 15, the word of Jehovah comes to Ezekiel and a new prophecy is announced in verse 16. Ezekiel’s instructions are twofold: first, he is to take one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions. The phrase the children of Israel included the tribes that were allied with Judah: Benjamin and Simeon. Here, the words his companions refer to Judah’s companions. The first stick represents the Kingdom of Judah. Next, Ezekiel is instructed to take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions. The phrase the stick of Ephraim refers to the most prominent son of Joseph, who fathered the Tribe of Ephraim, the most prominent tribe of the northern kingdom. The phrase all the house of Israel refers to the other nine tribes that were allies with Ephraim; these are his companions. The second stick represents the Kingdom of Israel. The actual joining of the sticks is in verse 17. When Ezekiel joins the two sticks together, they appear to be one in his hand.

Ezekiel 37:18‑20

Ezekiel’s actions caused the people to ask for an explanation of this symbolic act in verse 18. The question raised in the minds of Ezekiel’s people, the Jewish people, was “Will you not show us what you mean by these things?” This shows that there has been a change of attitude toward Ezekiel on the part of the people. Instead of poking fun at him or simply ignoring him, he is now taken quite seriously when he performs this symbolic act with the two sticks. Ezekiel answers that God declares: Behold, I, meaning that God Himself will bring Judah and Israel together so that they will once again be one nation. God then explains how they shall be one in my hand. Note that the expression in my hand means God’s hand; it is God who is going to bring this about, not Ezekiel.

     Ezekiel 37:21‑23

The application of the sign is specifically to the people of Israel and Ezekiel emphasizes three things. (1) God will re-gather the Jewish people, (2) the people will be re-unified (cp. 1 Chron 17:21), and (3) God promises a future cleansing from idols, detestable things, and transgressions.

Ezekiel 37:24

Two of David’s offices are revealed in this verse: king and shepherd. The first office is that of a king. In the governmental system of the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule as King over the whole world. Under Him, there will be two branches of government: the Gentile branch and the Jewish branch. The Gentile branch of government will be comprised of the Church saints and Tribulation saints, who are destined to co‑reign with the Messiah over the Gentile nations. The resurrected David is destined to co‑reign with Jesus over the Jewish branch. From the viewpoint of the Messiah, David is His servant; but from the viewpoint of Israel, David will be their king. The second office of David is that of a shepherd. As a shepherd, he will guide Israel and he will feed Israel. Never again will Israel have a leader who will lead them astray. Under David’s leadership and shepherding as king, the Jewish nation will walk in the ordinances of God and they will observe God’s statutes in the Millennial Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:25

Ezekiel brings out two thoughts in this verse, God will give them the Land of Israel; and secondly, they will occupy the Land for generations. The word they refers to the first generation that enters the Kingdom. The phrase their children, and their children’s children refers to the succeeding generations who are born in the Kingdom. The Hebrew word used here for for ever is ad olam, which means “until an age,” not “an eternity.” There is no classical Hebrew word that actually means “eternity.” The closest that Hebrew can come to that concept would be an expression like “without end.” That is, in fact, how God is described. Although the word for ever is very often found in English translations, the Hebrew word is either le olam, which means “unto an age,” or ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, once they are brought into the Land, they will continually possess the Land throughout the Kingdom Age. At no point during the thousand years of the Kingdom will they be dispossessed of the Land or scattered out of the Land again. Whereas earlier he was called king and shepherd, now he is called prince. From the viewpoint of Israel, he will be their king; but from the viewpoint of the Messiah, he will be a prince, because He will be under authority of King Messiah. He will be their prince for ever, but again, the Hebrew word used here is ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, this will be David’s office throughout the Messianic Kingdom; he will not be deposed from this position whatsoever.

Ezekiel 37:26‑28

The Millennial Temple will be built in the Millennial Kingdom and will be the Fourth Temple spoken of in Scripture. Ezekiel later details this Millennial Temple that God will erect in the Messianic Kingdom in chapters 40‑48. The basis of the Millennial Temple will be the New Covenant, a covenant of peace and it is an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 31:31‑34).

Ezekiel makes three points. (1) God Himself will place them in the Land; not only will they have the right of possession, they will actually be dwelling in the Land, (2) Once they have settled, God will multiply them; there will be an increase of the Jewish population, (3) God will set His sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

In this relationship, God states: My tabernacle also shall be with them. The Hebrew word used here for tabernacle means “My Presence‑dwelling” or “My Shechinah Glory.” In verse 26, the emphasis on the word sanctuary was on the holiness of the Fourth Temple, but in this verse, the emphasis on the word tabernacle is that the new Temple will be the dwelling place of the Shechinah Glory. When will the nations, meaning “the Gentiles,” know that Jehovah is the One who sanctifies Israel? God’s answer is: when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. The Gentile nations will recognize that this restoration and reunification of Israel, with God’s Temple in the midst of them, means that Israel’s God is indeed the only true God. Ezekiel’s vision of the two sticks concludes with the promise that God will set up His dwelling‑place in the midst of the children of Israel.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.


The Millennium will not begin on the day immediately following the last day of the Great Tribulation because there will be a Seventy‑five Day Interval. During this time between the Great Tribulation and the beginning of the Messianic Age, a number of events will occur.[1]

THE INTERVAL:  Daniel 12:11‑12

The figure of 1,260 days has appeared in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6. This figure—which is the same as the 42 months of Revelation 13:5 and a time and times and half a time of Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:14—is equivalent to 3½ years. Sometimes, it is used in reference to the first half of the Tribulation, from the signing of the Seven‑year Covenant to the takeover of the Jewish Temple and the commitment of the Abomination of Desolation by the Antichrist. Other times, it refers to the second half of the Tribulation, from the Abomination of Desolation to the Second Coming of the Messiah, during which time the Antichrist will rule the world. The demise of the Antichrist and the end of the Tribulation will come 1,260 days after the midpoint of the Tribulation.

In this Daniel passage, two other figures are given. The first figure is 1,290 days in verse 11; this is an additional thirty days, during which the Abomination of Desolation remains in the Temple before its removal. The second figure is 1,335 days in verse 12, which is forty‑five days beyond the 1,290‑day period, and seventy‑five days beyond the 1,260‑day period. A special blessing is pronounced on those who will make it to the 1,335th day. The blessing is that those who survive until the seventy‑fifth day of the interval will enter the Messianic Kingdom. That this is indeed a blessing will be seen in this study. There will be many who will fail and die before the 1,335th day comes, although they did survive past the 1,260th day.

A number of events will transpire during the Seventy‑five Day Interval, but it is impossible to determine the chronological sequence of these events. Therefore, they will be studied thematically rather than chronologically.


The event that will signal the beginning of the second half of the Great Tribulation will be the Antichrist’s takeover of the Jewish Temple, from which he will declare himself to be the Almighty God. He will then have the False Prophet set up his image in the Temple, and thus commit the Abomination of Desolation. The word abomination in Scripture always implies some kind of idol, so it is this image of the Antichrist in particular that is indeed the Abomination of Desolation.

The Antichrist will retain control of the world for 1,260 days, after which he will be killed. But the image that had been made alive (Rev. 13:15) will be allowed to continue another thirty days, as Daniel 12:11 states. The Bible does not tell us why the Abomination of Desolation is allowed to continue thirty days beyond the end of the Tribulation.

Keep in mind that there is no real urgency to cleanse this particular Templeto begin with. This is the ThirdTempleor the TribulationTemple, and it is never sanctioned by God like the other temples were. The FirstTemple was built by Solomon and sanctioned by God. The SecondTemple was built by Zerubbabel and also sanctioned by God. Later, when it was renovated by Herod, it was sanctioned by God because Yeshua (Jesus) had no problem seeing it as the center of Jewish worship in His own time. The Fourth Temple, the Millennial or Messianic Temple, will be sanctioned by God, because Yeshua Himself will be responsible for building it. But theTribulationTemple never will be sanctioned by God, as is made clear from a study of the first several verses of Isaiah 66. Because God will not sanction theThirdTemple, He will be in no hurry to cleanse this particularTemple. In fact, this Temple will ultimately be destroyed, because it will not be the Temple of the Kingdom.

After thirty days, the Abomination of Desolation will be destroyed, bringing the Abomination of Desolation to an end.

2.  THE ANTICHRIST:  Revelation 19:20

It is declared that the beast, which is the Antichrist, will be cast alive into the lake of fire. This seems to contradict passages of Scripture such as II Thessalonians 2:8‑9, where we are told that the Antichrist will be killed as one of the first casualties of the Second Coming of the Messiah. Therefore, this verse requires that the Antichrist must be resurrected at this time and then be cast alive into the Lake of Fire. It is for this reason that Isaiah 14:20 declared that the body of the Antichrist will never see burial.

There is some irony to be found in this fact. The term first resurrection applies to the resurrection of all the righteous, although it comes in stages. The term second resurrection applies to the resurrection of all the damned, and this, too, will come in stages. The Messiah was the firstfruits of the first resurrection. The irony here is that the one who would be the counterfeit son will be allowed to act out the counterfeit role to completion by becoming the firstfruits of the second resurrection. But the result of his resurrection will be the Lake of Fire.

3.  The False Prophet:  Revelation 19:20

Also according to Revelation 19:20, the false prophet—the counterfeit holy spirit, who will have a counterfeit gift of miracles by which he will do his work of deception, calling men to worship the Antichrist, to take upon themselves the mark of the beast, and to worship his image—he, too, will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire.

For the first thousand years that theLakeofFirewill be inhabited, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be there all by themselves.

4.  Satan’s Fifth Abode:  Revelation 20:1‑3

As for Satan, the counterfeit father, he will be cast into his fifth abode, as described in Revelation 20:1‑3. His abode during the Messianic Kingdom will be the abyss¾the section of Sheol or Hades that is a temporary place of confinement for fallen angels.

5.  The Judgment of the Gentiles

Although a great many Gentiles will be killed through the course of the Tribulation, and Gentile armies will suffer slaughter in the Campaign of Armageddon, a number will still be living. All these will now be gathered together for a judgment (Joel 3:1-3; Matthew 25:31‑46, 26:46.

6.  The Resurrection of the Old Testament Saints

The Rapture will include only the Church saints, and it will occur before the Great Tribulation. Later, during the Seventy‑five Day Interval, the Old Testament saints will be resurrected. This is stated by two Old Testament passages, Isaiah 26:19 and Dan 12:2.

7.  The Resurrection of the Tribulation Saints: Revelation 20:4

Not only will there be a resurrection of Old Testament saints, there will also be a resurrection of those saints who will be killed in the course of the Great Tribulation. John sees two groups of saints co‑reigning with Messiah. First, there are those to whom judgment was given. The judgment spoken of here is the Judgment Seat of the Messiah. These saints, then, will be the church saints who will be resurrected at the Rapture of the Church and will receive their rewards in the course of the judgment.

But the second group of saints that John sees are identified as those who have been beheaded because they did not worship the Antichrist nor his image nor were they willing to receive the mark of the beast. Obviously, then, these cannot be anyone else but the Tribulation saints, and they, too, will be resurrected at this time.

8.  The First Resurrection

      A.  The Participants:  Revelation 20:5‑6

The first resurrection involves the resurrection of believers only. According to verse 5, the resurrection of the Tribulation saints completes this first resurrection. It is separated from the completion of the second resurrection by a thousand years.

The point of verse 6 is that the first resurrection involves believers only. This is why it is blessed and holy to be a participant in the first resurrection.

     B.  The Progression:  I Corinthians 15:20‑23

After declaring that a resurrection of the righteous will occur in verses 20‑22, Paul states in verse 23 that the righteous will be resurrected each in his own order. The word translated order is a military term used for a sequence of troops of soldiers marching in a procession or into battle. There is one troop division, followed by another troop division, and so on.

The first resurrection is not a general, one‑time resurrection of righteous ones, it comes in an orderly progression of five stages. First, the Resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah in verse 23—He is the firstfruits of the first resurrection. Secondly, the resurrection of the church saints at the Rapture of the Church, prior to the Great Tribulation (I Thes. 4:16). Thirdly, the resurrection of the Two Witnesses in the middle of the Tribulation (Rev. 11:11‑13). Fourthly, the resurrection of the Old Testament saints (Is. 26:19; Dan. 12:2) during the Seventy‑five Day Interval after the Tribulation. And fifth, the resurrection of the Tribulation saints (Rev. 20:4). The resurrection of the Tribulation saints completes the first resurrection. There will be no such thing as a resurrection of Millennial saints.

The next resurrection that occurs will be that of the unbelievers one thousand years later for the Great White Throne Judgment and before theLakeofFire.

These are the events of the Seventy‑five Day Interval leading up toward that long, special period of history that the faithful look forward to: the Millennium or the Messianic Age.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Sukkot & Simchat Torah

The Feast of Sukkot or ‘Tabernacles’ is the seventh and final feast spoken of in Leviticus 23 and is known by several names[1], including: Hag Hasuccot (“Feast of Tabernacles” or “Booths”; Lev 23:34), Hag Adonai (“Feast of the Lord” Lev 23:39), Hag Haasiph (“Feast of the Ingathering” Ex 23:16), Hag (“Feast” I Kg. 8:2), Zman Simchateinu (“the season of our rejoicing” a rabbinic name), Yom Hashvii Shel Aravah (“the seventh day of the willow”),  Hoshana Rabba (“save us in the highest”) Shmini Atzeret (“the eighth day of the assembly” Lev 23:36)[2], Simchat Torah (“the rejoicing of the Law”). In biblical practice Sukkot was a seven day feast that was celebrated by the building of booths (Heb. succah) or tabernacles to commemorate the forty years of Wilderness Wanderings.

Simchat Torah is a rabbinic term for the eighth day based on Numbers 29:35-38. It is called Simchat Torah because the cycle of the reading of the Law both ends and begins again in the synagogue on this occasion. In the synagogue service, there is a recitation from the Mosaic Law on a regular basis: every Sabbath and also on special holy days. The Mosaic Law has been divided into fifty-two parts so that the entire Mosaic Law is read within one year’s time. On this occasion, the eighth day of the Feast of Succoth or Tabernacles, they finish reading Deuteronomy and immediately begin to read the first several verses of Genesis.

Simchat Torah 2012 begins Monday evening (Oct 8) and ends Tuesday evening (Oct 9).

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

[2] Technically, it is considered an independent holiday from the Feast of Tabernacles, but it comes immediately afterward and is thus always connected with the Feast. It is this eighth day that marks the end of all the festivities and observances of the Feast of Tabernacles, although the laws of the Feast of Tabernacles do not apply to it.

The Old Testament Requirements for Kingship

Following on our last post, we might still ask, “Why is there a need for Matthew’s genealogy of Joseph at all?” Everyone agrees that Joseph was not the real father of Jesus. Let’s look at the Old Testament for further detail.[1]

After the division of the kingdom at the death of Solomon, there were two basic requirements for kingship, one pertinent to the Throne of Judah in Jerusalem and the to he Throne of Israel in Samaria.


No one was allowed to sit on David’s Throne unless he was a member of the House of David.


No one was able to sit on Samaria’s throne unless he had divine appointment through prophetic sanction. Anyone who attempted to rule without prophetic sanction was assassinated (I Kg. 11:26‑39; 15:28‑30; 16:1‑4, 11‑15; 21:21‑29; II Kg. 9:6‑10; 10:29‑31; 15:8‑12).

The Question Resolved

With this background, the question of the Messiah’s right to the Throne of David can be resolved vis-à-vis the two genealogies.

Matthew 1:1‑17: Davidic Descent & The Line of Joseph in Matthew’s Genealogy

Matthew’s genealogy traces the line of Joseph, the stepfather of the Messiah. In verses 2‑6, the line is traced from Abraham and continues down to David and Solomon. In verses 7‑11 the line is traced to Jechoniah, who was one of the last kings before the Babylonian Captivity. It is the person of Jechoniah that is significant in dealing with the genealogy of Matthew because of the special curse pronounced on him in Jeremiah 22:24‑30. In verse 30, the content of this curse was that no descendant of Jechoniah would have any right to the Throne of David. In the genealogy of Matthew, it should be noted that Joseph was a direct descendant of Jechoniah (Mat. 1:16). So, if Yeshua had been the son of Joseph, this would have disqualified Him from sitting upon David’s Throne.

The point of Matthew’s genealogy, then, is to show why Jesus could not be king if He had been Joseph’s son. For this reason, Matthew starts out with the genealogy, and then proceeds with the account of the Virgin Birth, which is the way out of the Jechoniah problem from Matthew’s viewpoint.

Luke 3:23‑38: The Line of Mary in Luke’s Genealogy:

Luke’s genealogy traces the line of Mary and portrays how Jesus could claim the Throne of David. Luke begins his genealogy in the reverse order of Matthew’s, going from the present back into the past. The line is traced until it returns to the family of David in verses 31‑32. However, the son of David involved in this genealogy is not Solomon but Nathan. The important point here is that Mary was a member of the House of David totally apart from Jechoniah. Since Jesus was truly Mary’s son He, too, was a member of the House of David, totally apart from the curse of Jechoniah. In the days of Jeremiah, there was the added requirement for kingship that one had to be a member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah (Jer. 22:24‑30). Zedekiah, who reigned after Jechoniah, was not the son of Jechoniah. In the case of Yeshua, He was a member of the House of David through Mary, totally apart from Jechoniah. In this manner, He fulfilled the first Old Testament requirement for kingship.

Divine Appointment

Furthermore, although there were a number of other descendants of David who could claim equality with Yeshua to the Throne of David, only Jesus was divinely appointed as such (Luke 1:30‑33).

Thus, unlike the purpose of Matthew’s genealogy, Luke’s genealogy shows why Jesus could be king.

There are three further lines of reasoning to suggest that Luke’s account records Mary’s genealogy.

1)     The Talmud refers to Mary as the daughter of Heli. Mary was recognized to be the daughter of Heli as mentioned in Luke 3:23.

2)     The absence of Mary’s name is quite in keeping with Jewish practices on genealogies, and it was not unusual for a son‑in‑law to be listed in his wife’s genealogy.

3)     Matthew is clearly writing from the viewpoint of Joseph – with Mary in a passive role – and in Luke’s Gospel, Joseph is the one who plays the passive role.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.


One question that is often raised is, “Because Jesus was only the son of Mary and not the real son of Joseph, does He have the right to sit on David’s Throne?”[1] Related to this is the issue of the genealogies found in Matthew 1:1‑17 and Luke 3:23‑38:

a)     If Jesus had been the son of only Mary, why was it necessary to give Joseph’s genealogy?

b)     How would someone know that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary if she is not named in it, but Joseph is?

These are questions that need to be answered satisfactorily in order to provide a basis for understanding why Yeshua could claim the Throne of David.


Of the four Gospels, only two record the events of the birth and early life of Yeshua: Matthew and Luke. For this reason, it is only natural that these two would bother recording a genealogy. While both Matthew and Luke give the story of the birth of Jesus, they tell the story from two different perspectives: Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s perspective and Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective. Moreover, the purpose of Joseph’s genealogy in the Book of Matthew is set forth to show that if Jesus truly had been the son of Joseph, He could not be king. In the Book of Luke, the purpose of the genealogy of Mary is to show why He could claim the Throne of David.


The question still arises, “Why is there a need for these two genealogies, especially when Yeshua was not the real son of Joseph?” Whereas one popular explanation suggests that Matthew’s Gospel gives the “royal” line and Luke’s Gospel the “real” line, this post will show that the opposite is true.

In his genealogy, Matthew breaks with Jewish tradition in two ways: he skips names, and he mentions the names of four different women: Tamar, the wife of Judah, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Why does he mention these four when there are so many other prominent Jewish women he could have mentioned in the genealogy of Yeshua? One thing that the four women had in common was that they were all Gentiles. By naming these four women and no others, Matthew was pointing out that one of the purposes of the coming of Yeshua was not only to save the lost sheep of the House of Israel, but also that Gentiles would benefit from His coming. Three of these women were guilty of specific sexual sins: one was guilty of adultery, another of prostitution, and another of incest. With this, Matthew begins pointing toward the purpose of the coming of the Messiah – to save sinners.

While Matthew breaks with Jewish tradition in these two ways, Luke, however, follows strict Jewish law, procedure, and custom: he does not skip names, and he does not mention the names of any women.

Next time we will explore the Old Testament requirements for kingship.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Truths About the Incarnation: Part 6

Part of the humanity of Jesus involved His humiliation.[1] There is a biblical doctrine that theologians call “The Humiliation of the Messiah.” His humiliation is seen in twelve different ways.

First, His humiliation included the Incarnation itself. The fact that God had to become a man was a “stepping‑down,” a humiliation (Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6‑7; Heb. 2:14).

Secondly, His humiliation is seen in that He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. He looked like a sinful human being. This, too, is part of His humiliation (Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:7).

Thirdly, His humiliation is seen in that He was born in a lowly condition. To make matters worse, He was not born into a wealthy family, but into a family that was poverty-stricken. Matthew 2:23states that of all the places to be raised, He was raised in one of the most denigrated towns: Nazareth. Because He was raised in Nazareth, He was called a Nazarene, and that was not considered a favorable title. It was not a title of respect. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? was a popular saying. It was a city of disrepute. Furthermore, Matthew 8:20 states that He had no wealth of His own. Luke 2:7 says He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Luke 2:22‑24 teaches that He was born into a family that was so poverty-stricken, that the only offering the parents could afford to give was two turtledoves, a sign of their economic destitution. II Corinthians 8:9 states that, by means of the Incarnation, he became poor.

Fourthly, His humiliation is seen in that He was born under the law (Gal. 4:4). He had to subject Himself to a Law that He Himself had originated. That, too, was part of the humiliation of Jesus.

Fifth, His humiliation is seen in that He had to be in submission to the limitations of humanity. This is the doctrine of The Kenosis, meaning “The Emptying.” This is the point of Philippians 2:5‑11. It means that, while He did not lose any of His divine attributes, He did have limited use of them. This limited use of His divine attributes was also part of His humiliation.

Sixth, His humiliation is seen in that He had to undergo all the miseries of life discussed earlier under the heading “The Humanity of the Messiah,” and this, too, was a mark of His humiliation (Jn. 7:5; Heb. 4:15; 12:3).

Seventh, His humiliation is seen in that He became a servant and ministered as a servant. This is illustrated in John 13:1‑11 when He washed the disciples’ feet. It is also stated as a doctrine in Philippians 2:7.

Eighth, His humiliation is seen in that He bore man’s sins; He had to carry man’s sins. And that was humiliating for One who was absolutely holy and sinless (II Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 2:24).

Ninth, His humiliation is seen in that He endured the curse of the death on the cross. Of all the ways He could have been executed, the most ignoble execution, the most humiliating way to die was by hanging on a tree. This was considered by Jewish culture and custom to be the most degrading death of all. So, this, too, was a part of His humiliation (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 12:2).

Tenth, His humiliation is seen in His death. The very fact that the God‑Man, the Holy and Sinless One, had to undergo death was a part of His humiliation (Phil. 2:8).

Eleventh, His humiliation is seen in His burial. The fact that He had to be buried like every other man was a sign of His humiliation (Mat. 27:59‑60; Acts 13:34‑35; I Cor. 15:4). The humiliation of His burial is seen further in that none of those who were close to Yeshua throughout His life and ministry were involved in the burial. They kept their distance. Jesus was buried by two men who, up until then, were secret, distant believers: Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.

And twelfth, His humiliation is seen in His descent into Sheol or Hades. He, too, had to descend to that temporary place of confinement for the saints (Acts 2:27, 31; Eph. 4:9; I Pet. 3:18‑19).

These are the twelve points that clearly teach the concept of the humiliation of the Messiah, very much a part of His humanity, which, in turn, is part of the concept of the Incarnation.

As believers look at all these things to which Yeshua submitted Himself, as they look at all these points of His humiliation, they should not miss the opportunity to remind themselves exactly why He did all this. The reason was so that He could become their Substitute. He lived as a man and died as a man, but He died a substitutionary death for man’s sins. As believers undergo the sufferings of human life, as they undergo deprivation or humiliation, they should always have this picture in their minds: that they have not suffered anything nor will ever suffer anything that is anywhere near comparable to the sufferings of Yeshua the Messiah. If this is kept in mind, they will see what a great thing He did, and will understand that He did it for them. Believers should always be grateful that He was willing to be humiliated in order to provide salvation and power for living in this life. When they suffer, let them not react against God. Let them remember that when they suffer, they are co‑suffering with Him. The Bible promises that if they suffer with Him, they shall also be glorified with Him.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.