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News Letter 5845-034
28th day of the Sixth month 5845 years after creation
The Sixth Month in the Sabbatical Year
The Second Sabbatical Year of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
September 19, 2009

Shabbat Shalom Brethren,
On Wednesday of this past week I went out in the early morning hours to see the last phases of the crescent moon as it was above and near Venus. Then on Thursday I saw it from the last time this month as it was very low on the horizon and 12 degrees away from where is was the day before.
I hope you all have done the same and gone out to look. After seeing the last phase of the moon just before the conjunction which takes place on Friday, I then knew as did David that the first sighted moon would be in three days time. This is why Jonathan said to David in 1Samuel 20:19 18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty.
They knew when the New Moon would come not because of calculating as is done in a connunctured moon but because of observation just we did this week.
Brethren we are currently learning about the birth of Yahshua at this time of year in the fall season. I have taught that this took place on the 1st of the Seventh month. Others say it was on the first of Sukkot.
We are not going to argue this point this year as it distracts from many other teachings associated with the birth of Yahshua. Two weeks ago and again last week you learned about the meaning of the name. In fact you should have learned just how important the naming of any child is. It is not just left to chance. And now you know that Jesus does not mean anything in Hebrew where as Yah Shua certainly does and Ye Shua has another meaning many may not have been aware of.
You also should have learned about the pedigree of Yahshua and how it had many a skeleton in the closet and was in actual fact a blessing to see how others were brought into the umbrella of Israel no matter how coloured their past was.
We continue this week with the circumcision and redemption ceremonies. But as you read this week’s article again by Professor Liebenberg of Hebraic Roots Teaching Institute http://www.hrti.co.za/default.aspx please keep in mind just how often these things relate to both the Exodus and to the Day of Atonement; Circumcision to the Day of Atonement and the redemption of the first born to the Exodus.
And just as Passover was one part of the life of Messiah, it is not complete until the Day of Atonement when we see the fullness of many prophetic events. This is portrayed in the laying on of the hands upon the goat that was led into the wilderness; this was the goat that was responsible for the sins of the whole world, representing Satan, and the other goat which was for Yahweh and represented Yahshua which was sacrificed.

We are not going to get into the argument about whether or not you need to be circumcised. But rather we are just going to read about how it was done and what the symbolism of this ceremony means and why we do it as we are told to do so. We continue to follow the days immediately after the birth of Yahshua.

From the book by Professor Liebenberg titled The Hebraic Biography of Y’shua
History of circumcision

“And God spoke to Abraham saying: …This is my covenant which you shall keep between Me and you and thy seed after you -every male child among you shall be circumcised”. (Gen 17:12)

Brit Milah, the “covenant of circumcision”, was commanded by God to Abraham over 3 700 years ago. It has been carried out faithfully, from generation to generation, even during times of religious and ethnic persecution when Jews were forced to practice their rituals in secret. In fact, the only time the Jewish people willingly desisted from this practice was during the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness. Before entering Canaan, every male was circumcised by Joshua.

Since the time of Abraham, Jews have observed the ritual of circumcision as the fundamental sign of the covenant between God and Israel. “The Covenant of Circumcision” is known as Brit (or Bris meaning “pact”) Milah in Hebrew. For Jews, this is more than merely a medical procedure. The circumcision is a sign of the child’s entry into Judaism.

In every country where Jews resided, they have practised this ritual, sometimes at great personal risk and sacrifice.

The Procedure:
The procedure involved in Brit Milah differs from medical circumcision in that heavy clamping or other interventional instruments are forbidden. It is performed by a Mohel (Ritual Circumcisor) who uses a protective shield to ensure the utmost safety for the child. Afterwards, the incision is cleaned thoroughly through a uniquely Jewish practice called m’tzitzah. If even a thread or speck is left, it is considered to be incomplete.

The procedure is extremely quick, and relatively painless. According to most Rabbinic authorities, Jewish law does allow the use of a topical anaesthetic cream. Many Mohalim (ritual Circumcisors) use it routinely, with the approval of the family’s doctor.

Who Performs the Procedure:
A Mohel (ritual Circumcisor) performs the procedure. This person must be trained and certified. A Mohel must be trained in both circumcision and Jewish laws and traditions. While traditionally a job held by men, there are now female Mohalim in some communities.

A Mohel must be an expert in both medical and surgical procedures and sterilisation. This person must also be an observant Jew. In this way, the child is entered into spiritual life at the time of the procedure.

When:
A Brit Milah (Circumcision) is performed on the eighth day after birth if the baby is healthy. Even if this day would be Shabbat (the Sabbath), or any festival, even on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), nothing is to stop this service.

Orthodox tradition says that the Brit of a baby delivered by caesarean section, should not be performed on the Sabbath or on a Jewish holiday. If the eighth day falls on one of these, then the Brit should be delayed until the next weekday.

A Brit Milah is never performed if it poses any danger to the infant. The doctor and/or mohel’s advice to delay a Brit for health reasons should always be heeded. In case of jaundice (yellow pigmentation of the skin), the brit cannot be performed; it is delayed until the bilirubin in the blood drops to a safe level. The brit may then be performed without endangering the child. In some cases of illness, a delay of seven days following full recovery is required.

It is forbidden to postpone the brit for any reason other than health of the child, or in order to obtain a proper Mohel. It is the responsibility of the Mohel, in consultation with the doctor and the family, to determine if a delay is required.

The Ceremony:
For it is written, “And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised”, and it was taught: The whole day is valid for circumcision, but the zealous are early (to perform) their religious duties, for it is said, “And Abraham rose early in the morning”! (Gen 22:3). The best time, therefore, for circumcision is early in the morning (Pesachim 4a.)

The baby is brought in to the room, carried by the kvatter and kvatterin (the godparents).

There are two chairs prepared. The first is the one for the sandek who holds the baby on their knees during the actual circumcision. The lap of the sandek is considered similar to the altar of the Temple. It is considered a great honour to be the sandek. Tradition says that this honour links the soul of sandek and the child. This person will be the spiritual mentor of the child. Often one of the grandfathers assumes this role.

The second chair is set aside for the spirit of Elijah the Prophet of blessed memory. According to Jewish tradition, Elijah comes to every circumcision to testify before the Almighty to the commitment of the Jewish people to this great mitzvah (commandment) through the generations. Just before the Brit, the baby is placed on the chair of Elijah, and the Mohel recites a special prayer asking for the spirit of Elijah to stand over him as he performs the Brit.

The mohel uses a probe to lift the priah, underlying membrane, into the orlah, foreskin. He determines the amount to be removed and fixes a shield in the correct place. The priah and orlah are cut with one sweep along the shield. A special knife called an izmail is used. Traditionally, the knife is sharp on both edges to eliminate the possibility of causing the child pain. Lastly, blood is drawn, metzitzah, a therapeutic prescription from the Talmudic period. A sterile dressing with topical anesthetic is applied. When performed by a competent mohel the entire procedure, which flows as one continuous motion, takes less than a minute. The excised foreskin is buried in the earth.

The parents recite the berakhah (blessing) “…who has sanctified us by Thy commandments and commanded us to enter our sons into the covenant of Abraham, our father”. The mohel responds “…even as this child has entered into the covenant, so may he enter into a life of Torah, the marriage canopy and good deeds”.

The child is then held by the mohel, sandak or another honoured guest. With kiddush cup in hand, the mohel recites the blessing for “wine”, giving a drop to the child. A second blessing praising God, “who established a covenant with His people, Israel”, is said.

Finally, the mohel offers a prayer for the welfare of the child during which his Hebrew name is formally announced. The child is given another taste of “wine”.

The brit milah is a cause for celebration and should be treated that way. You may want to decorate the house or synagogue with flowers or candles. “Every Mitzvah that they accepted upon themselves with joy… they still perform with joy”. (Talmud, Shabbat 130a.) Rashi interpreted this to mean that a festive meal should be prepared. Included in this meal should be challah (bread) and kosher “wine”. The meal was/is a foreshadowing of the “Holy Communion”. While you will probably want to provide a festive table of food for your “selected” guests (the meal considered a seudat mitzvah, a meal with sacred status), at a minimum you will need the loaf of challah or other bread (or two if it is Shabbat or a holiday), kosher wine, and a kiddush cup.

It is customary not to issue a direct invitation to the circumcision meal, for one may not refuse to attend. To do so would be equal to turning down the opportunity do perform a Mitzvah (commandment). At the conclusion of the meal, Birkat Hamazon is recited with special blessings for the child, parents, sandak and mohel.

In an ideal world, a minyan (ten Jewish men above age 13 - or in some conservative or reform traditions, 10 adult Jews) will be present for the brit, but it is not required.

Baby Naming:
I mentioned the Hebrew name. This is an important part of synagogue life. In the Torah it says that God changed Abraham’s name from Avram to Avraham at the time of his circumcision. In keeping with that tradition, a Jewish boy is given his Hebrew name at the time of his Brit Milah. Judaism places a great deal of significance on a child’s Hebrew name. It is customary to name the child after someone who led a righteous life so that the child will try to emulate that individual.

The Hebrew naming of a baby girl should take place at the first occasion after the baby is born when the father can be called to the Torah scroll. At that time there is a special prayer recited on behalf of the mother and the baby, and a Hebrew name is given to the child. In conservative and reform traditions, the mother and father may both be called to the Torah scroll. Who a baby girl is named after is the same as for boys.

It is interesting to note that the ritual of “Pidyon HaBin” (redemption of the firstborn) is not being performed for Yochanan. The reason is that both Elizabeth and Zacharias were descendants of the tribe of Levi, and this ritual does not apply to them. See the Pidyon HaBin section under “The Visitations” as it was applicable to Y’shua.

From http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/928156/jewish/What-Why.htm we can learn about the Pidyon HaBin.
The History of the Pidyon Haben Ceremony

A pidyon haben, or “redemption of the firstborn son,” is a ceremony wherein the father of a firstborn male redeems his son by giving a kohen (a priestly descendent of Aaron) five silver coins, thirty days after the baby’s birth.
What is the reason for this procedure?
Originally, the Jewish firstborn were the sanctified priestly class. They were inducted into G d’s service when they were spared from the Plague of the Firstborn that struck Egypt. However, when the Jews – firstborn included – served the Golden Calf, the firstborn forfeited their status. The priesthood was transferred to the tribe that did not participate in the Golden Calf hoopla—the Levites, and particularly the children of Aaron.
Since G d is the first being, it is fitting that firstborns are consecrated to Him Ever since, all male Israelite firstborn must redeem themselves in a pidyon haben ceremony from a kohen.
The Chinuch1 adds that this reminds us that everything in the world belongs to G d. When we consecrate our very first and very best, we are reminded that everything really belongs to our Creator, and that we must “purchase” it from Him before using it.
The Maharal (Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, 1525-1609) explains that since G d is the first being, it is fitting that firstborns are consecrated to Him.2
Biblical Sources:
Just before the Exodus from Egypt, Moses relayed the following commandment from G d:
…Every firstborn of man among your sons, you shall redeem. And it will come to pass if your son asks you in the future, saying, “What is this?” you shall say to him, “With a mighty hand did G d take us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass when Pharaoh was too stubborn to let us out, G d slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt…—Exodus 13:13-16.
Nachmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, 1195-1270) explains that at that point, the exact procedure for the redemption of the firstborns, as well as the fact that they would be replaced as priests by the seed of Aaron, had yet to be laid out.
Only later, when most of the Jews – including firstborns – sinned with the Golden Calf, did the firstborns forfeit their status. The priesthood was then transferred to those that did not participate in the service of the Golden Calf. At that time, G d commanded:
Take the Levites instead of all the firstborns among the children of Israel…You shall take five shekels per head, according to the holy shekel, by which the shekel is twenty gerahs—Numbers 3:45-47.
And the commandment to redeem the firstborn was born.
Why are only firstborn males redeemed?
Our firstborns achieved special status when, although our nation was spiritually fallen in Egypt and quite similar to our Egyptian neighbors, G d spared us during the Plague of the Firstborn. But while both male and female firstborns died among the native Egyptians, only firstborn males died among the foreigners. As non-native Egyptians, it is only our firstborn males who otherwise would have died and were spared.
In addition, the Jewish women were never similar to their Egyptian counterparts. Our Sages teach us that we were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of the righteous women. The fact that the firstborn females were spared was not as striking and is therefore not commemorated.
Another reason why females do not need to be redeemed is that the coins are given to the kohen in exchange for the service in the Temple which the kohen performs in place of the firstborn (who would have served if not for the fact that the firstborns participated in the Golden Calf debacle). Since women do not serve in the Temple anyway, they do not need to be redeemed.

Luke chapter 2)

“(21) And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS (Y’SHUA), which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb”. Here we can see that the Hebraic custom of bris was followed very carefully by Y’shua’s parents. We will see that Y’shua complied fully with the traditions and customs of Judaism.
1) Bris was carried out on the eight day, and
2) Secondly, only after the bris was His name officially given to Him.

Circumcision shows the faith of the parents, not the child. If the child were given the option, he would probably vote against it, since it is not always a pleasant experience. That is why circumcision was not fulfilled in baptism. An infant circumcision was no grounds for infant baptism, because baptism always shows the faith of the one being baptised. Circumcision is when a newborn Jewish male is joined to the Jewish People by bris on the eighth day of his life. From here we will see that Y’shua the Jew complied fully with Judaism and was also joint to His people on the eighth day through bris.

Circumcision strictly to Judaism is always on the eighth day (Positive Law 215 - Gen 17:10 - On circumcising one’s son - Lev 12:3), and also the time in the Jewish world for the official naming of the baby. Circumcision was inaugurated in two covenants, the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant. Each had a different purpose. Circumcision under the Abrahamic Covenant was a sign of Jewishness. Circumcision under the Mosiac Covenant was a sign of submission to the Law. It is still necessary for the Jew under the Abrahamic Covenant because this was as eternal covenant.

“Bris” means “pact”. Abraham’s faith was tested ten times by God, after which God was assured that his convictions were unshakable. The ninth ordeal was to remove the excess foreskin of the male organ, denoting spiritual domination over base compulsion. After all ten, Abraham entered into a pact of mutual faith with God that lives forever. It is said that Abraham accomplished this on the tenth day of the month of Tishrei, later designated as Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), when the sins of the Jewish people were forgiven. It is important to note that the dominant symbol of bris is it’s blood, and understanding the seven main festivals of Lev 23 (especially Yom Kippur) you will know that that blood was needed for the remission of sin. This is exactly what Y’shua did for us on Calvary. Bris is then also a reminder of another Covenant, the New Covenant, every time when a family sees the blood. Also when the Israelites came out of Egypt, and celebrated the first Passover (symbolic of Y’shua being sacrificed for us), they were all commanded to be circumcised, including all the strangers who joined them (Exod 12:43-51).

Why did God choose the sexual organ to place thereon His eternal covenant with His Jewish nation?

There are two primary reasons why God commanded the Jew to place the symbol of their covenant in the male sexual organ:
1) God wanted this sign to be in the very part of the body which symbolises pleasure. This is supposed to be a constant reminder to them that they should be focused on their special relationship with God and not get lost in life’s pleasures and vices. Basically, they should always keep in mind that which is important and that which is quite trivial.
2) They place their sign on their reproductive member for they pass on their covenant with God to their children. (The Rambam writes that cutting off the foreskin actually lessens a person’s sexual pleasures.)

Customs:
• The three main participants, the father, mohel and sandak, wear talitot (prayershawl).
• Shalom Zakhor (also Ben Zakhor): On the first Friday night after a boy is born, it is customary to celebrate by gathering in the home of the newborn to welcome him. “As soon as a male comes into the world, peace comes into the world”. (Talmud, Nidarim 31b). God finished the creation of the world with the Sabbath and introduced peace and rest. Thus the Sabbath surrounds the newborn with an aura of holiness and enhances his entry into the Covenant of Abraham, the Jewish father.
• It is customary to light lamps in the room where the brit is to take place.
For today:
• Circumcision is an obligation that was placed upon Abraham and his household, and the strangers who lived among them, because of the covenant that God had made to give the Land of Israel to Abraham’s descendants through the line of Isaac and Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (the Jews today).
• The covenant that God made with Abraham, to give him the Land, pre-dates the command to be circumcised and is irrevocable. Circumcision is the outward sign of participation in the Covenant, just as Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are the outward signs of a Believer in Y’shua.
• The Covenant of Circumcision has not vanished, as some would like to infer from Heb 8:13. The Torah itself is not diminished in any way, and we can observe as much as we are able, without condemnation for our failures. The Torah is there for moral standards and guidelines, and cannot give eternal life through “works”. Eternal life can only be obtained through the shed blood of Y’shua HaMashiach.
• The Jews are under an obligation to be circumcised, because of the irrevocable covenant that God made with Abraham, to give them the Land of Israel. The Gentiles are under no such obligation. For assimilated Jews and people of mixed origin, it depends on the extent of their association with the Land of Israel and its people.
• Circumcision has nothing to do with salvation.

As said eight days later, according to Luke 2:21, Y’shua was circumcised. Not in the Temple as some suppose, but in Bethlehem, in the Succah where He was born. Mary would still be ceremonially unclean for the remaining of the 33 days according to Lev 12. Besides, she would be unlikely to travel to Jerusalem so soon after the birth even though it was not very far.
Y’shua presented in the Temple - Pidyon HaBen – the second of the Jewish Lifecycle customs (We continue to read from Luke chapter 2)

(22) “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
(23) (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
(24) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
(25) And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
(26) And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
(27) And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
(28) Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
(29) Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
(30) For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
(31) Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
(32) A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
(33) And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
(34) And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
(35) (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
(36) And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
(37) And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
(38) And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”.
Background on Pidyon HaBen:
The special excitement and wonder accompanying the birth of the firstborn male is cap¬tured in Judaism in the special ceremony for the redemption of the first son, Pidyon HaBen. One explanation given for this commandment is that it commemorates the great miracle that took place in Egypt when the Almighty killed all the firstborn Egyptian males and spared the Jewish sons.

Furthermore, the firstborn male child has special rights con¬cerning inheritance and a certain religious obligation to fast on the eve of Pesach (Passover). The sunrise to sunset ta’anit (fast) bekhorim (of the firstborn) is the only fast that applies to just a segment of the community: all males who are the firstborn children in their families (if the firstborn child is female, the first son born after her is not required). The father of a child too young to fast fasts for him and if he himself is bekor, the mother fasts for the child on the day of Erev Pesach (the day in which Pesach begins at nightfall). Since it is forbidden to withdraw from eating on Shabbat (except for Yom Kippur), when Erev Pesach falls on Saturday night, the fast takes place on Thursday. This stems from the historic fact that the Almighty sanctified the firstborn males of the Jewish people while they were still in bondage in Egypt, so that they would devote their lives as priests in the Tabernacle and the Temple.

This is interpreted as a reward for the faith and trust in God displayed by the Jewish people, who fulfilled the commandment of and the Pesach (Passover) sacrifice while in Egypt and under the difficult conditions imposed upon them, as well as the circumcision which followed later. As the entire nation proved their loyalty to God by joining the covenant, the Almighty did not isolate the entire nation for the priesthood but only their firstborn, as it is written: “Sanctify each firstborn male child to Me, among the children of Israel”. (Exod 13:13).

However, since the firstborn males joined the nation in their act of worshipping the golden calf in the desert, the Almighty replaced them with the Levites, ordaining: “And each firstborn male child shall be redeemed” and “And you shall take the Levites for Me, the Almighty, instead of each firstborn male child in Israel”.

The sanctity of the firstborn is retained in his birthright and in the religious regulations specific to him, such as the Pidyon HaBen ceremony and the obligation to fast on the eve of (that is, the night before) Pass¬over.

The ceremony for the redemption of the firstborn is a mitz¬vah (commandment) bound in religious law (Positive Law 82 - Exod 13:13 - Sanctify each firstborn male child to Me…) The root of this mitzvah is that by performing the determined symbolic act of redeeming his first¬born male child from the Almighty, man acknowledges that all belongs to the Creator and that man has only that which God wishes to bestow upon him.

This happened when God commanded the Israelites that once they arrive in the land of Canaan, they must “redeem every first-born male among your children” (Exod 13:13).

The Pidyon HaBen ceremony is when neither the mother nor the father of the child is a Kohain or Levi (from a priestly descend). This firstborn child must be redeemed from the Kohain (priest) for the sum of five silver Shekels. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I (Moses) sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem”. (Exod 13:15.)

To qualify for kohanic tutelage, the boy must be the first natural child, and first natural birth, from his parent’s: if he was preceded by a miscarriage / stillborn, or has an older sibling, or was born Caesarian, he wasn’t “born first”. Both parents must also be Israelites, obviously.

This “redemption” ceremony is done normally on the thirty-third day after the seven unclean days of the mother following the birth of the child, which is forty days after birth. This redemption ceremony is accompanied by a Seudas Mitzvah (a Mitzvah (commandment) Meal). “And those that are to be redeemed from a (Jewish) month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs”. (Num 18:16). If this day falls on Shabbat or a Yom Tov (Holy Day), the ceremony is postponed until the first following weekday.

The ceremony is actually a simple one. The father presents the firstborn to one of the Kohens (descendants in the priestly line) who asks the father whether he would rather give the son away or redeem him. The father chooses to redeem the boy and, with the equivalent of five silver shekels in his hand, says:

“Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the redemption of the first-born son”.

The money is handed over to the Kohen who passes it over the boy’s head saying, “This is in place of this…” and then says the priestly blessing over the child. The ceremony ends with a blessing over a cup of wine.
In conclusion, the first male child has special significance for both parents, and this was as true in biblical times as today. A mother’s first-born boy was consecrated to divine service, and a father gave his first-born son a double portion of his possessions as his birthright inheritance.

With that as background let’s see how Y’shua was “pidyoned”.

“(22) And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord”. There are two activities mentioned in this verse:
1) Miriam’s purification ceremony. The mother was reckoned “unclean” after giving birth and needed to be “purified”.
2) The other is the ceremony Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn).

Miriam had to complied with the commandment of “separation” (Positive Law 100 - Lev 12:2 - On Tumah of a woman after childbirth), as well as to the time of her “purification”. For that we need to study Lev 12 first.
(1) “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
(2) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man-child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
(3) And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
(4) And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days (33 days); she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
(6) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
(7) Who (the priest) shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
(8) And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean”.
To summarise: Immediately after birth, a woman is considered niddah and must remain sexually separated from her husband for a period of seven days after the birth of a male child and fourteen days after the birth of a female child (Lev 12:2.) This separation is the same as the regular monthly niddah separation. In the days of the Temple, when considerations of ritual purity were more important, a woman was considered partially impure for an additional period of thirty three days after the birth of a male child and sixty six days after the birth of a female child. No reason is stated why the period is longer for a female child than for a male child; however, one resource emphasises that a female child is not more defiling than a male child, because the method of purification at the end of this period is the same for both genders.

The firstborn son can be redeemed from thirty-one days from the day of his Brit Milah (circumcision). That is any time after a normal Jewish month period (some Jewish months are 29 days and others are 30 days).

Ordinarily, the ritual is performed on the thirty first day from Brith Milah; this then means when the child reaches the age of forty days. However, the ritual cannot be performed on Shabbat because it involves the exchange of money. This procedure is commanded at Num 18:15-16.

As the separation period for a boy is “seven days”, and verse 22 of Luke chapter 2 says that “after her days of purification”, which is thirty-three days, altogether totals to forty days. This then means the Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn) ceremony only took place after Miriam’s purification period. This was when Miriam and Yoseph brought Y’shua to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord in the Temple – seen from verse 25 on.
Many read into the Scriptures that the Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn) of Y’shua was after Miriam’s seven days “separation” period, immediately after Y’shua’s Brit Milah (circumcision on eighth day). Many scholars assume that this took place on the ninth day or soon thereafter. It is not so, it could only take place after a full forty days from the date of birth, which is displayed in the table above and further explained in the verses to follow.

But more importantly, Miriam and Yoseph had to go to the Temple for both events; the “purification” as well as for the “redemption” ceremonies. Once again, strong evidence is given that both Yoseph and Miriam were righteous people, as shown by their obedience to the Torah (commandments) of the Mosaic Law. Y’shua was indeed being brought up by two people who were spiritual, righteous and obedient to the Law of Moses. Y’shua has been rooted deep into the Mosaic Law from birth.

“(23) (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)” Notice that the “law of the Lord” is mentioned here, but it is called the “law of Moses” in verse 22. This demonstrates that the Jewish believe rightfully so that God spoke through Moses and gave him His Law. The two terms are interchangeable. The Jews say the Mishnah or Oral Law (commentary on the Written Law) carries this same authority.

This verse says every male child born from the mother is called holy to the Lord. For that reason this special dedication ceremony, Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn) is held at the Temple as seen in verses 22 and 25 onwards.

“(24) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons”. Yoseph and Miriam had no choice, they had to comply with Positive Law 76 - Lev 12:6 - On offering brought by a woman after childbirth: “And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled (± a month), for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle (Temple in Miriam’s days) of the congregation, unto the priest:” Not allowing Miriam into the Temple, only to the door of the Temple. There the turtledoves of pigeons were handed over to the priest for her purification offer. Furthermore they had to bring the offers to the Temple. They could not take it to the priest’s house. This is instructed in Positive Law 84 - Deut 12:14 - All offerings must be brought only to the Sanctuary. “But in the place which the LORD shall choose (Temple) in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee”.

During the offering to God in the Temple according to Miriam’s period of uncleanness only a pair of doves or two young pigeons was given by Y’shua’s family. This indicated that His family were not wealthy “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean”. (Lev 12:8. Once again Y’shua was raised according to the law.

“(25) And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. (26) And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Messiah)”. In this passage, we have mention of a man called Simeon. It may very well have been the famous Simeon of Talmudic literature, Rabban Simeon, who was the son of Hillel (see Glossary section) and the father of Gamaliel who Paul studied under. Whether or not it was this person, the timing would have been about right.

It says that he was looking for the “consolation of Israel”. The “Consolation (comfort / relief) of Israel” was one of the titles of the Messianic Hope among the rabbis. One of the names of the Messiah in Rabbinic literature was “Menachem”, meaning “Comforter”. This is because Messiah would be the Comforter or Consoler of Israel.

In the course of their stay that day, they have two encounters. Simeon, we are told, was a member of those who were looking for the Messiah. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the “Consolation of Israel”. Although he was fairly old, nevertheless, it was revealed to him that he would not die until his eyes beheld Messiah. When his eyes beheld the Boy, he realises the fulfillment of that promise in what he sees.

“(27) And he (Simeon) came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law”. After Miriam’s purification ceremony (verse 24), Yoseph and Miriam had come to the Temple to perform the special ceremony called Pidyon HaBen. The ceremony of redeeming the firstborn only after a month has it origin in the Torah (Positive Law 80 - Exod 22:29 - On Redeeming the First-born of man, Pidyon ha-ben - Num 18:15.) “Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me”. (Exod 22:29). “Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem”. (Num 18:15). What an incredible thought it is that the Redeemer of mankind had to also be redeemed!

Some scholars say this precept possible was originally designed to counteract the heathen practice of sacrificing their firstborn sons or beasts to their pagan gods. (Lev 18:21, 20:2-5; Jer 7:31; Amos 1:3 and 5:26.)

“(28) Then took he (Simeon) him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, (29) Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:” Now Simeon says that he is ready to die because he has finally seen the Messiah.

“(30) For mine eyes have seen thy salvation (Y’shua), (31) Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people”. It should be remembered that he is not speaking English or Greek, but Hebrew. When he said, “My eyes have seen Your salvation”, he would have actually said, “my eyes have seen your Y’shua”.
The hope of the Jewish people was that someday God would send a Redeemer to them as promised in His word: “the Redeemer shall come to Zion” (Isaiah 59:20). The Redeemer is described as a King who shall reign and govern wisely. The principal features of this expectation are the recovery of independence, an era of peace and prosperity of faith in God and His Torah, of justice and brotherly love among men, and the Ingathering of the Exiles. The Jews were looking for an earthly Deliverer, and that is why they had difficulty in accepting the ministry of Y’shua.

“(32) A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”. The two-fold element of the ministry of Y’shua is again brought out in this verse. The Gentiles are the ones, according to the previous segments, who “sit in darkness”. Upon them the Light is also to shine.

In Judaism, the word “revelation” means an act whereby the hidden, unknown God shows Himself to man. The meaning of this verse is that God intended, through Israel, to show Himself to the entire world. It is worthwhile to note that both here, and in Zacharias’ prophecy, Israel believed that the Messiah was for the entire world, not just them.

“(33) And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him (Simeon). (34) And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against, (35) (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”. The sign spoken of here is Y’shua Himself and He spoke of that division that Simeon prophesied about in verse 32 and here in 33. Many in Israel would fall because they rejected Him as Messiah. But, many would rise again in the glory of God that Israel had once because they accepted Him.

Simeon recognises something else: that Y’shua would become a point of division in the Jewish world. He will be for some “a fall” and for others “a rising”. He will be that sign that will be spoken against because He will cause a division in the Jewish world. The piercing of the soul of Miriam will come when she beholds her son hanging on the cross. But, through that death and subsequent resurrection, the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

“(36) And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; (37) And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. (38) And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. The second encounter is with a prophetess named Anna. She, we are told, is of the tribe of Asher. Now, there is a popular concept about the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel”. When Sargon came against the ten northern tribes and took them captive, it is a very real possibility that a small number of refugees from possible all ten tribes, or at least some, fled to Judah to escape capture. When the tribes of Benjamin and Judah were taken captive to Babylon, more than likely a small number of representatives from all twelve tribes were there. Here we find that Anna is a member of the tribe of Asher, one of the so-called “ten lost tribes”, and she is hardly lost. When the Jews returned from the Babylonian Captivity, it is very probable that they returned with members of all or at least some of the twelve tribes. If a member of one of the ten is present, it is a very real possibility that the other nine had representation there also.

The text further states that by this time she was of great age, having lived with a husband for only seven years before becoming widowed. After her husband’s death, she lived another eighty -four years, for a total of ninety-one years. She would have normally married at somewhere between the ages of twelve to fifteen. This means that she is approximately 103-105 years old. She is indeed a matriarch of Israel, a lady greatly respected in her community. Here we see the principle of “two witnesses” at work, and what two witnesses they are, Simeon and Anna once again according to the Tanach pattern: “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established”. (Deut 19:15)

“(38) And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. Like Simeon, Anna also recognised this month old boy as being the Person of the Messiah and rejoiced greatly. She was finally free to leave the Temple compound and went out to tell everyone that the Messiah had been born and that she had seen Him.

For today:
Having a relationship with God means giving too, not just receiving. And the Torah tells just what to give. Got children? Be a proud father and sacrifice your first-born son. Don’t jump – no horror involved. “Sacrificing” Junior just means giving him an awesome lifelong education. Positive Law 79 - Exod 13:2 – “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine”. requires him to grow up / work / live to serve God – to live a deep spiritual life. Redemption of the first-born son is an act of gratitude and humility.

The child is redeemed by paying the modern equivalent of five shekels, via coins or, in some traditions, objects of value, to a kohen, a descendant of Aaron the priest. Dad rents five fine silver coins of a minimum carat / weight with which to “ransom” his son from the kohen. He invites friends and family to his home, shul (school) or favourite social hall and brings Baby along. Kohen stands by. Dad approaches kohen bearing Baby and coins, formally informs him that the wife bore him “this child”, and kohen queries: “Which do you prefer: your first-born son, or the five silver coins?” Dad’s response is obvious, hopefully. He must verbalise it. As he hands over the silver, he recites the Pidyon Haben blessing. (Today, the Bank of Israel has minted special coins for use in this ritual.) Son is redeemed, everyone happily sits down to celebrate and eat, and the kohen traditionally drinks a cup of wine. And the “Law” lives on.

The ceremony is only performed for the first child of a mother who has “broken the womb”. A child delivered by caesarean section or the child of a woman who has miscarried would not be redeemed.

Many Jews will say: “Today, no Temple, no apprenticeship”, but no expiration date on the Torah either. Junior is still Kohen property. Positive Law 80 - Exod 22:29 - On Redeeming the First-born of man, Pidyon ha-ben Num 18:15 is his ticket home. Pidyon Haben still happens. (Details regarding this ritual were laid down in the Mishnah, in a tractate entitled Bekhorot, “first-borns”.)
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. Bottom Line. May Yahweh bless you and show you His truths as you begin to keep His commandments.
Shabbat Shalom
Joseph F Dumond
www.sightedmoon.com

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