The Substantial Evidence of Faith: Parashat Shemoth Reflections

1moshe

Hebrew Vision News Exclusive

by Miykael Qorbanyahu aka The End Time Scribe

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But, behold, they will not believe me nor hearken to me: for they will say, יהוה has not been revealed to you.

Exodus 4.1 (Targum Onkelos)

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1importance-principles-evidence-law-geekupd8-lawIn a court of law, one of the most important principles of jurisprudence in determining case outcomes is that of the law of evidence. Related to either party’s role of presenting the burden of proof, the entire verdict of the case in adjudication rests on the standard of truth the judge is bound by oath  to uphold in the courtroom. The law of evidence also is a factor in determining whether or not the evidence submitted before the court is factual and substantiates the decision to either convict or exonerate. Yet, even prior to the decision on whether or not to bring a suit before a judge and jury, however, is the principle of there being in existence sufficient evidence for a claim to proceed, on first appearance, which would then determine if the case presents a matter that requires arbitration. This is the basis for the issuance of bills of indictment and subpoenas. When the decision has been made to move forward with the proceedings, then, ideally, the highest standard of presenting proof in any trial, which should lead to a fair and equitable decision, is one that is made beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt. This standard of decision making should be based on the judges precept to the jury to only accept clear and convincing truths so as presented in evidence which is done so in order to summarily establish a verdict without prejudice. Though the decision made by the jury is typically a subjective one, the opinions and decisions of each juror should be informed by evidence that clearly demonstrates the innocence or guilt of the party in question.

As the providence and sovereignty of יהוה would have it, we who are of the Way of the Nazarene are well acquainted with the principles involving the laws of evidence. So much so that in fact, the first epistle of Yochanan opens with these words,

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life: And the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and announce to you that everlasting life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.

I John 1.1-2

1hebrews-11-bible-studyThis proclamation serves as the basis and foundation for the belief that Yahoshua ben Yoseph is, in Spirit and in Truth, Mashiyach.  Established upon the witness of his deeds and testimony, for we who are of the Messianic tradition are firmly entrenched in the understanding that the prophecies concerning his role as Mashiyach ben Yoseph have been fulfilled while he lived, died and was resurrected from the grave in the early first century. For this is the basis of our faith, and of that matter, we too bear witness in word and in deed.

In addition, another passage from the Messianic Writings tells us that faith is the substance of what is hoped for, and the evidence  of what is unseen. As relates to the interaction of our covenant relationship with יהוה, faith(-fulness) is the essential element which defines our role and interaction with our Elohim. For it is through our faithfulness to יהוה that allows for all of the promises and blessings afforded to us as identified in the covenant to be accessed. In fact, so important is the matter of faith in our lives and relationship with יהוה, that it is said that without faith it is impossible to please [יהוה]. Therefore, with all of this in mind, let us now set out to explain what the idiom of faith is in the Hebraic mind.

In the Hebrew language, the word for faith comes from the root word אָמַן/aman which has as its the meaning, according to Strong’s Lexicon

to prop up, to sustain, to stay, to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse; figuratively to render (or be) firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent or quiet; morally to be true or certain;—hence, assurance, believe, bring up, establish, fail, be faithful (of long continuance, steadfast, sure, surely, trusty, verified), nurse, (-ing father), (put), trust, turn to the right.

Furthermore, we find in the Dictionary of Torah Names and Words, that the word אָמַן also connotes the idea of the force of life as it flows in unity with the purpose and extension of righteous goals. Given these ideas, it is clear to see that the principle of faith is the key to unlock the mysteries and the treasures that are preserved for those who trust and believe in the power of the Spirit as revealed in the Scriptures.

1habiruhieroglyphYet, in this week’s parashat,  Shemot/Names, we are presented with an enslaved, oppressed and persecuted Yisrael in Mitzrayim. The former living conditions of our ancestors, both in Kana’an and Goshen, are now distant memories, and perhaps completely removed from the collective consciousness of most of the members of the young nation. As a type of a fire of refinement, the conditions in which they have now been forced to live, in extreme hostility, their national purpose, mission and vision have suffered a great set-back in light of their present hardships. Dejected, self-loathing and deflated of hope and expectation, the national reality of the descendants of Abraham, Yitzchak and Yisrael have now taken an unimaginable turn for the worse. What was once a smooth transition from famine to plenty has somehow become a living hell on earth for these peculiar people called Hebrews. The result of such bitter conditions yielded a type of post traumatic stress disorder which left them in a state of cognitive dissonance. Jaded from their enslavement and oppression, the promises that were made to their ancestors by their Eloah, יהוה El Elyon, have all but remained the guiding force in their collective lives. Drained of vigor, fortitude and hope, it is said of Yisrael while in their last two centuries in Mitzrayim that they

…groaned because of the slavery, and they cried out. And their cry came up to Elohim because of the slavery. And Elohim heard their groaning, and Elohim remembered His covenant with Aḇraham, with Yitzak, and with Ya‛aqoḇ. And Elohim looked on the children of Yisraĕl, and Elohim knew!

Exodus 2.23b-25

Given this scenario, the burden to present Yisrael with the proof of all that had been promised to the seed of Abraham in regards to their inheritance of the promised land in the midst of their enslavement has now fallen on the shoulders of Moshe, the son of Amram and Yochebed, two Levites living in the oppressive conditions of Mitzrayim. As a child whose birth was foretold in a dream to the Pharaoh,  the glimmer of hope in the eyes of Yisrael which was to be brought about by this son of Ya’aqob was sought out to be extinguished by the nefarious forces of Mitzrayim so as suggested by Balaam son of Beor, son of Laban. The oral tradition surrounding this story is found in the book of Jasher which records these words in relation to the forecasted birth of Moshe,

And in the hundred and thirtieth year of Israel’s going down to Egypt, Pharaoh dreamed that he was sitting upon his kingly throne, and lifted up his eyes and saw an old man standing before him, and there were scales in the hands of the old man, such scales as are used by merchants. And the old man took the scales and hung them before Pharaoh. And the old man took all the elders of Egypt and all its nobles and great men, and he  tied them together and put them in one scale. And he took a milk kid and put it into the other scale, and the kid preponderated over all. And Pharaoh was astonished at this dreadful vision, why the kid should preponderate over all, and Pharaoh awoke and behold it was a dream. And Pharaoh rose up early in the morning and called all his servants and related to them the dream, and the men were greatly afraid. And the king said to all his wise men, ‘Interpret I pray you the dream which I dreamed, that I may know it.’  And Balaam the son of Beor answered the king and said unto him, ‘This means nothing else but a great evil that will spring up against Egypt in the latter days. For a son will be born to Israel who will destroy all Egypt and its inhabitants, and bring forth the Israelites from Egypt with a mighty hand. Now therefore, O king, take counsel upon this matter, that you may destroy the hope of the children of Israel and their expectation, before this evil arise against Egypt.’

Jasher 67.11-20

With the appearance of Moshe, who miraculously managed to survive the infanticide spoken of in this portion of Scripture because of his parents extraordinary faith, a ray of light broke through the veil of darkness that had covered Yisrael in their suffering. Interestingly, after Moshe was found by the daughter of Pharaoh in the Nile, raised in the house of Pharaoh and was learned in all the wisdom of the Mitzrites, he chose to forego the pleasures of Egyptian life and rather identified and cast his lot with his people who were afflicted and oppressed. In this regard, the letter to the Nazarene Hebrew community records these words,

By faith, Mosheh, having been born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a comely child, and were not afraid of the sovereign’s command. By faith, Mosheh, having become great, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing rather to be afflicted with the people of Elohim than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time, deeming the reproach of Messiah greater riches than the treasures in Mitsrayim, for he was looking to the reward.

Hebrews 11.23-26

1ehyehWhat evidence, in truth, did Moshe possess that allowed him to substantiate such a drastic decision to reject everything familiar and comfortable to him in the House of Pharaoh, and choose, rather, to identify with and seek to labor to bring forth the deliverance of his estranged, afflicted people from bondage? The answer to the question is found in the third chapter of Exodus. It is here that the revelation of the existence of Existence itself is given to Moshe. The presence of ultimate Reality and the Source of life and power that Moshe’s forefathers had experienced has now been reintroduced to the descendants of Abraham, Yitzchak and Ya’aqob after years of silence through the vessel of Moshe.  With this revelation,  the readmission of celestial evidence was entered into the record of time-space as the level of prophecy had now reached its zenith. Up unto this point, no greater truth had ever been given to any person or nation than at this particular time in the history of humankind. It was now the responsibility of Moshe to trustworthily bear witness of this occurrence and convince the degraded Yisraelites that their time of redemption had now drawn nigh. In regards to this revelation, the book of Exodus records these powerful words,

And Moshe said to Elohim, “See, when I come to the children of Yisraĕl and say to them, ‘The Elohim of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His Name?’ what shall I say to them?” And Elohim said to Moshe, “EHEYEH ASHER EHEYEH. And he said, Thus shall you speak to the sons of Israel, EHEYEH has sent me unto you. ” And Elohim said further to Moshe, “Thus you are to say to the children of Yisraĕl, ‘יהוה Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Aḇraham, the Elohim of Yitzhak, and the Elohim of Ya‛aqoḇ, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations.’

Exodus 3.13-15

Now equipped with the Power of creation at his disposal, Moshe sets out on a mission to inspire his people to proactively engage in their liberation from bondage and challenge the world’s most powerful ruler and nation. Told to go to the elders of Yisrael and inform them of what he had been called to do, Moshe employed strategic measures in the effort to have those with the most experiential wisdom recollect the promises that were made to them by their forefathers Yisrael and Yoseph about being visited and brought out of Mitzrayim. The support that Moshe received from  יהוה, his brother and the elders, at this point, was the very substance of faith that was needed for him to undertake this most daunting and important mission. Requiring a selfless and courageous spirit, Moshe was given the assurance of faith and the evidence of the supreme Power of creation as support for what he was about to undertake in the relegation of himself to a secondary position in favor of the wellbeing of his people.

Despite this mounting case of evidence, however, we are told in next week’s parashat that Yisrael did not listen to Moshe, because of shortness of spirit, and from hard slavery. As of yet, the people had not been shown the magnitude or display of proof that would otherwise convince them to trust that what Moshe had been called to do was, in fact, possible for them to accomplish.  Resultantly, though Yisrael had hoped for their liberation, it was impossible for them, at this point, to see it come to pass due to their most bitter lot which led them to the defeatist belief and conclusion that in their present circumstance there was not enough evidence present to substantiate such a reality and paradigm shift for them to accept such a grandiose notion of liberation as a viable outcome. In other words, they lacked the faith necessary to achieve greatness.

1dura_europos_fresco_jews_cross_red_sea
Fresco from Dura Europas Synagoge of Moses & Aharon

In conclusion, what we shall see in the upcoming parshiot is that it was the faithful and trustworthy witness of Moshe that eventually inspired and convicted Yisrael to believe and choose to accept the cause which he had been sent to initiate.  What was in the hearts and minds of the Yisraelites in bondage was soon to become a reality, as the witness of Moshe and the signs that accompanied his testimony provided the substance and evidence that was required for the newly formed nation to be fully convinced of the reality that the deliverance from their enemies and salvation of יהוה had truly come in its time and season as promised.  Therefore, when considering the meaning of the passage from Hebrews chapter eleven verse in its full idiom, as relates to this week’s parashat, then we understand that what is truly being demonstrated is that there is a certain assurance to be experienced when the nourished and firm force of life as it flows in unity with the purpose and extension of righteous goals is substantiated by intellectual understanding, then what is hoped is given structure and the authority in the form of the expressions of knowledge, though they be unseen. As it was, the time had come for Yisrael to ascend from the depths of their depravity which resulted from their enslavement and once again assume their position as the holy people that they were called to be. First, their faith had to be restored and their resolve for liberation rekindled, it was then that their witness was received in the heavens that then,

…יהוה said to Mosheh, “Now see what I do to Pharaoh, for with a strong hand he is going to let them go, and with a strong hand he is going to drive them out of his land.”

Exodus 6.1

Selah…

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