Hebrew Vision News Exclusive
by Miykael Qorbanyahu aka The End Time Scribe
Torah: Numbers 25.10-29.40 Haftarah: I Kings 18.46-19.41 Witness: Mark 11.27-12.37
One of the main parts of Moshe’s imparting to Yehoshua was the transmission of the spiritual aspect and mission of Mashiach ben Yosef, which Moshe had contained within himself and achieved during yetziat Mitzrayim. Yehoshua, who served in many ways as an extension and continuation of Moshe, received the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef and acted in that role. Beginning from the time he lead the battle against Amalek, throughout the conquest of Eretz Yisrael (see Kol HaTor chapter 2:44,141).
יהוה said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Ruach, and lay your hand on him. You will have him stand before Eleazar the kohen and the entire assembly and commission him before their eyes. Give to him some of your authority so that the whole community of Bnei–Yisrael will obey him. He will stand before Eleazar the kohen, who will pray and obtain judgments for him by Urim and before יהוה. At his mouth, they will go out and at his mouth they will come in, he and all the community of Bnei–Yisrael with him.”
Recently scientists have stated that there are indicators which suggests that leaders are born, not made. According to an article from Science Daily, a study conducted by University College London, led by Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, arrived at the conclusion to their hypothesis which asked the question if there is a “specific leadership gene” that
This study allows us to answer yes–to an extent. Although leadership should still be thought of predominantly as a skill to be developed, genetics–in particular the rs4950 genotype–can also play a significant role in predicting who is more likely to occupy leadership roles. He added that more research was needed to understand the ways in which rs4950 interacted with other factors, such as a child’s learning environment, in the emergence of leadership.
Defined as the activity of leading [or to guide on a way; to direct on a course; to serve as a channel for] a group of people or organization or the ability to do this, leadership is said to involve a few steps in the process of meeting a particular group’s defined goals given the vision to accomplish the goal. Those steps, according to the Business Dictionary, include
establishing a clear vision,
sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly,
providing the information, knowledge and methods to realize that vision, and
coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members.
While all of these characteristics and definitions are pertinent to leadership, there are other essential elements, so as culturally identified by the Israelite milieu, which emphasizes other vital traits required to be an effective leader; those traits are compassion, humility and selfless service. As members of the body politic of Israel, leaders are intrinsic to and reflections of the people that they have been given the responsibility of guiding towards their goal based in the vision. Additionally, the people are also reflections of their leadership, and this principle is clearly articulated in the Yerushalami Talmud, as the Sanhedrin (Beit Din/ בית דין) is recorded saying
As the generation, so the leader; as the leader, so the generation.
As we have witnessed up to this point in the parshiot, there have been numerous rejections and several attempts to usurp the leadership of Moshe that have taken place from the time that Moshe was called and sent to Israel while in bondage. From attempting to mediate a conflict between two Israelites while in Mitzrayim, to the Golden Calf incident, the continuous grumbling by the mixed multitude over food and water, to the episode of Nadab and Abihu to the rebellion which took place in parashat Korach, a spirit of cynicism, motivated by the reptilian brain, dominated the pysche of those who sought to deny or usurp Moshe’s esteemed office. For Moshe, however, his essential character trait was unequivocally his humility as the Torah informs us that the man Moshe was very humble, more so than anyone on the face of the earth. Humility is defined as freedom from pride and arrogance. In Hebrew the word is anah (עָנָה), which implies the notion of tilling the earth in order to bring into cultivation. It was this characteristic of Moshe that served as the definitive trait which יהוה took into account when he was selected and sent to lead Israel out of bondage and in to national redemption. Consequently, the example of leadership that Moshe established for the nation ultimately served as the prototype for all future leaders of the nation, as ultimately Israel was told that there will come a time when the Most High
will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst—from your brothers. To him you must listen.
And so it is with this week’s parashat, Pinchas (mouth of brass/mouth of the serpent), that we read of the preliminary preparations for the transition of leadership from Moshe ben Amram to Yehoshua ben Nun set in motion. Here the Torah records that after Moshe is shown the entirety of the Promised Land from atop Mt. Abarim and informed of how his rebellion in parashat Chukat prevented him from entering the Holy Land with the people who he led out of Mitzrayim, that he supplicated unto יהוה for a man to replace him to lead the children of Israel into their inheritance. When given his response, Moshe is told to choose Yehoshua ben Nun and perform the right of semicha, or the laying on of hands, before the people in order to transfer the energy and mantle of leadership. For Yehoshua, his assuming of the mantle of leadership also set a mold for the future leaders of Israel who were appointed, anointed and sent to carry out the mission that they were given. The fact that Yehoshua was primed for entering this office and assuming leadership is qualified by the reality of his being invested with the Spirit of יהוה, as the passage informs of us about his selection. Taking all of this into consideration in terms of Yehoshua’s innate abilities and cultivated skills, it appears that he was, indeed, born to lead.
Suffice it to say, however, that while the physical rite of s’michat yadayim is an important procedure that was instituted in the area of ordination for office, as well for the rite of offering a qorban at the Temple when laying his hands on the animal victim at the altar, it is not the final determination for one to remain steadfast in their lot or heaven’s acceptance of the ordination. What definitively determines the legitimacy of an individual occupying an office of leadership in Israel, like Yehoshua ben Nun exemplified, is the Spirit of the Most High within the leader. For it is the Spirit of El Elyon that causes one to not only be more altruistic and humble, but also it is what aligns their perception with the Vision of the Kingdom. We see this principle take place with the Notzrim gathered at Jerusalem during the feast of Shavuot when the Spirit commissioned the worshipers to carry forth the vision of the risen Mashiyach. Ultimately, for a leader, what is required for them at attain that level of spiritual guidance in their duties is the selfless serving of the people in order to bring about the manifestation of the vision. For it is this measurement that should serve as the determining factor for their effectiveness and genuineness as a servant of, for and to the people.
Nevertheless, the spiritual implications of the rite of semicha, both conceptually and in principle, served as the ceremonial act that invested, distinguished, established, blessed, commissioned and ordained Yehoshua as the legitimate successor of Moshe. This formal ceremony, which took place before all the congregation of Israel (וְלִפְנֵי כָּל־הָעֵדָה), was, therefore, a formal rite which was understood to actually delegate Moshe’s authority to Yehoshua so that he might be recognized by the all as the one who will
go out and come in before them…[in order to]…lead them out and bring them out so that the people of יהוה will not be like sheep without a shepherd.
For both יהוה and Moshe, the selection of Yehoshua was the logical mode of succession given that he was being groomed and preparing himself for such a huge undertaking. His continual presence in the Tabernacle afforded him with a unique insight and level of intimacy with the Most High, as he was constantly learning the ways of יהוה. His courage and success in battle combined with his humility and crystal clear vision of the Will of יהוה also contributed to his being selected to replace Moshe as the people’s shepherd. So given this new office of leadership that he was ordained to perform, the reality of the role of Mashiyach ben Yoseph again comes in to light, but for the first time ever as a national reality for Israel. Prior to this ordination, the office of Mashiyach ben Yoseph was seen as a tribal, and even familial capacity. But with the Israelite nation now established, we see a much larger function of this all important designation begin to unfold.
According to rabbinic tradition, there are two modes of thought related to the prophetic understanding of the Messiah. One line of thought portrays the Messiah as a humble and suffering savior, while the other mode of thought views him as Israel’s priestly-king redeemer. Both of these streams of consciousness are clearly expressed in Talmudic as well as other traditional and mystical writings. As we have written in an earlier article about Mashiyach ben Yospeh, Raphael Patai’s seminal work The Messiah Texts presents a powerful perspective of who and what the office of Mashiyach ben Yoseph is about, telling us that
“Scholars have repeatedly speculated about the origin of the Messiah ben Joseph legend and the curious fact that the Messiah figure has thus been split in two. It would seem that in the early legend [Mashiach ben Yosef], the death of the Messiah was envisaged, perhaps as a development of the Suffering Servant motif. A prophecy of Daniel, written about 164 BCE, is the earliest source speaking of the death of a Mashiach (“Anointed”) sixty-two (prophetic) weeks after his coming and after the return and the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Daniel 9.24-26). While it appears that Daniel had a temporal ruler in mind, whom he calls Mashiach Nagid (“Anointed Prince”), some two centuries later, the author of 4 Ezra unmistakably refers to the Messiah, belief in whom had developed in the meantime, when he puts words in the mouth of [Elohim] to the effect that after four hundred years (counted from when?), My son the Messiah shall die. When the death of the Messiah became an established tenet in Talmudic times, this was felt to be irreconcilable with the belief in the Messiah as the Redeemer who would usher in the blissful millennium of the Messianic Age. The dilemma was solved by splitting the person of the Messiah in two: one of them called Messiah ben Joseph, was to raise the armies of Israel against their enemies, and, after many victories and miracles, would fall victim to Gog and Magog. The other, Messiah ben David, will come after him (in some legends will bring him back to life, which psychologically hints at the identity of the two), will lead Israel to ultimate victory, the triumph, and the Messianic era of bliss” (chapter 17, page 166).
To further inform us of the Israelite conception of this all important leadership office, an article entitled The Suffering Messiah ben Yoseph gives us a prophetic insight into the humility that is associated with this individual who is tasked with delivering Israel into the promises of the covenant and how he is to appear before them. His humility was equated with his plight to suffer for the redemption of the nation, much akin to that of the patriarch Yoseph ben Israel who endured a humiliating descent into misery and woe all to be elevated at the end of his harrowing ordeal. The article says that
…[t]he suffering Messiah was referred to as Messiah Ben Yoseph. Zechariah was said to have prophesied concerning “Messiah Ben Yoseph“: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee; He is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon a colt…Perhaps no other prophet has summarized in such a succinct manner the humility of the coming Messiah. He is King of Zion yet He is lowly and riding on a humble donkey. There is little doubt that the Talmud interprets the verse to refer to the Messiah. It is quoted three times in the Babylonian Talmud, and always with a messianic connotation. The first occurrence in the Talmud is a passage dealing with dreams: He that sees a donkey in his dream should expect salvation because it says, ‘Behold thy King cometh unto thee; He is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass.’ (Berachot 56b.44). Another Talmudic reference was referred to in Chapter Ten. In response to Rabbi Hillel’s statement that “Israel can expect no Messiah because they consumed him in the days of Hezekiah,” a retort is given by citing the Zechariah scripture, and noting that it prophesied a coming Messiah after the days of Hezekiah; hence, the Messiah had not yet come (Sanhedrin 99a). Finally, Rabbi Yehoshua Bar Levi, referring to the Zechariah scripture, said that if Israel is not worthy, then the Messiah will come in humility riding upon an ass (Sanhedrin 98b). This is Messiah Ben Yoseph – the Suffering Messiah. A rabbinic commentary interprets the verse to mean that Messiah is not only humble but is oppressed as well.
Most powerfully, we find the fulfillment of this prophetic utterance by Zekaryah historically recorded in the witness of Matthew, who bears testifies of the “Triumphal Entry” of Mashiyach Yahoshua ben Yoseph into Jerusalem that
…as they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth-pagei, to the Mount of Olives, then Yahoshua sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village before you. Right away, you’ll find a donkey tied up and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Master needs them.’ And right away he will send them.” This happened to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet…
Demonstrative of the humility that would be exemplified by the Suffering Servant, this leader would ultimately come to the aid of Israel in delivering them from the bondage of sin and death, loosening the bonds of spiritual oppression from the souls of man given their allegiance to the cause and vision that Mashiyach ben Yoseph was sent to fulfill. The cause of this oppression is due to not receiving the revelation of the Torah so that the entire nation of Israel would become the Word made flesh by following the instructions of Mashiyach ben Yoseph.
It is significant to note that similar to the successive role that Yehoshua ben Nun carried out to Moshe ben Amram is a redemptive motif that is related to Yahoshua ben Yoseph (son of man/ben Adam) who came after Adam ha Rishon, or the first Adam. As it was that Yehoshua ben Nun took led Israel to bring them into the Promised Land from the wilderness, so Yahoshua ben Yoseph assumed the head of humanity and has spiritually led Israel, first, into the resurrection of the renewed humanity as defined by the renewed covenant which is identified in Jeremiah 31.
The mission that Yahoshua ben Yoseph was dispatched to fulfill, consequently, was to rectify the souls of Israel which had been and continues to be steeped in a world of illusion, error and rebellion ever since our ancestors exile from Eden. Our error and rebellion, in turn, has been the repetitive reason for the Kingdom of יהוה to become illusive and suffer its breach by our adversaries, preventing us from establishing upon the Earth as a light unto the gentiles. As a result of this, it was to be the mission of Mashiyach ben Yoseph to prepare Israel to become one with Mashiyach ben Dawid in order to go about bringing a renewed heaven and earth into manifestation. All of this, however, hinges on the realization, internalization and actualization of the Messianic reality of Israel upon their initial acceptance of the new humanity in Mashiyach Yahoshua, which in turn recreates and reforms the souls of Israel into the image and likeness of the Son who is the exact representation of our Father and King. Of this matter Ari Goldwag cites both ancient and contemporary Hebraic concepts of Messianic consciousness in his six-part series, Mashiyach ben Yosef and Yehoshua [ben Nun], stating that
The mission of Mashiach ben Yosef, spiritually and physically, is Tik[k]un Olam (World Rectification); in preparation and in initiation of the coming of the final Mashiach, ben David, who completes the final stage of man’s perfection and life’s purpose. This mission of Tik[k]un Olam is multi-faceted, encompassing many aspects, and spanning many levels, both physical and spiritual...Another important aspect of Mashiach ben Yosef is “Sod,” the possession and development of the hidden inner dimension of the Torah, and at times, its revelation to the world. Sod can also be defined as the deeper, underlying, spiritual perspective behind everything that exists in the physical world and all the events that occur in history. Mashiach ben Yosef, as the active mover and developer of the world through physical, human effort, must have this inner spiritual perspective, in order that his efforts align with the guiding force of [Elohim]’s will, in bringing creation to its intended purpose. Also, through teaching this perspective to the world at large and making people conscious of [Elohim]’s inner guiding will, Mashiach ben Yosef shows each person how to contribute to this effort according to his or her own level of capability in this world...The Vilna Gaon (Kol HaTor chapter 2,98) mentions this aspect of Sod as being connected with the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef, but also places it specifically in the context of Yehoshua, where it states“…Sim B’Oznei Yehoshua…” “…Place (or recite) in the ears of Yehoshua…” (Shemot 17:10). The Vilna Gaon points out that this is hinting at Yehoshua’s mission as the Mashiach ben Yosef in possession of the aspect of “Sod” because “B’Oznei” has the same gematria as “Sod” and “Sod” spelled out in miluy form is the same gematria as “Mashiach ben Yosef.”
It is this critical role of leading the souls of the children of Israel into the resurrection that defined the life of Mashiyach Yahoshua ben Yoseph. He also epitomized the characteristic of humility in that he demonstrated obedience and self mastery even unto the death of being hung on a tree. With this mindset, Yahoshua truly understood the selfless, humble nature of a leader and before he was executed by the Romans, he informed his disciples of what a true leader is to be;
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came with her sons to Yahoshua, and she was kneeling down and asking something from Him. “What do you want?” He said to her. She said to Him, “Declare that these two sons of mine might sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your kingdom.” But Yahoshua replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” “We are able,” they say to Him. He said to them, “You shall indeed drink My cup. But to sit on My right and left, this isn’t Mine to grant. Rather, it’s for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” Now when the ten heard, they became indignant with the two brothers. But Yahoshua called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones play the tyrant over them. It shall not be this way among you. But whoever wants to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you shall be your servant—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Appointed by El Elyon as the head of all creation and particularly the body of Mashiyach, Yahoshua has shown us what it is to be a selfless and visionary leader. While his birth was said to be of priestly and royal lineage, it was nonetheless his intimacy with our heavenly Father that solidified his ability to lead given his divine perception of the vision and will of Heaven. As all great leaders make more leaders, so Yahoshua prepared his disciples for their transition into power for the continued fulfillment of the vision of the Kingdom made manifest, not by the laying on hands, but by the giving of the Spirit. While the rite of smichat yadayim has its place in our tradition, so too does the reality of the spiritual transferal of as the investment, distinguish-ment, establishment, blessing, commission and ordination of those who follow his example. For it is now the time for us to assume our role as the entire body of Mashiyach and assume our respective leadership functions and capacities in order to rectify humanity and the age. Given this function, let us look back to the example of our ancestors and see what marvelous legacy and wisdom that they have left, as we press ever forward towards our date with destiny in ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. And as our leader, we too must be engaged in the process of redemption; both of ourselves and of the age. For in our unique capacities as members of the body of Mashiyach, we each have a designated role to play, in alignment with the vision and will of our King, as our unique rebirth and renewal of our nature will assist in the process of tikkun olam, or repairing the age. As it is written,
He Himself gave some to be emissaries, some as prophets, some as proclaimers of the Good News, and some as shepherds and teachers—to equip the kedoshim for the work of service, for building up the body of Messiah. This will continue until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Ben-Elohim—to mature adulthood, to the measure of the stature of Messiah’s fullness. As a result, we are no longer to be like children, tossed around by the waves and blown all over by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men with cunning in deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all ways into Messiah, who is the Head. From Him the whole body is fitted and held together by every supporting ligament. The proper working of each individual part produces the body’s growth, for building itself up in love.
For this is our exemplar and redeemer who demonstrated to us the remarkable qualities that a leader must have. We too, as members of the body of Mashiyach are required to embody those self-same traits in order to bring about the ultimate revelation of the Kingdom. This is a selfless and thankless task on earth that will receive reward unimaginable in the age to come. The standard is clear; the vision has been given; the goal is set and all that remains is our allegiance to the mission. Therefore, let us heed the words of our great leader who told us of his plight in life and what we must do to be his taught ones,
Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and ruling kohanim and Torah scholars, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He was speaking openly about this. And Kepha took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Kepha. He said, “Get behind Me, satan! You are not setting your mind on the things of Elohim, but the things of men.” Then He called the crowd, along with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and keep following Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the sake of the Good News will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? For what could a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the esteem of His Father with the holy angels!”