Shalom, shalom; peace peace in the name of Yeshua. This is Crystal Sharpe and welcome to the Ancient Scrolls program. (December 29, 2019)
The Christmas season is over and the new year 2020 is just three days away. So we are year closer to the return of Yeshua. Come quickly, Lord Yeshua!
Let’s get started:
Shema: Shema O Israel, the Lord God, the Lord is One.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and those who dwell therein.
We bless You. You are the King of the Universe. You are King over heaven and earth. I ask You to cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that our prayers will be effective against the kingdom of darkness. We pray Your righteousness and justice will prevail over the demonic realm. We pray to hear Your voice in our spirits. In Yeshua’s name. Amen.
Last program I began speaking on when Yeshua may have been born. No one seems to know with certainty. Mostly what we have is circumstantial evidence that point to His birth at any of the Lord’s feast in Leviticus 23.
What I teach will be circumstantial as well. I do know the Lord’s feasts were put into place to be fulfilled by Yeshua. The Father required the males of Israel to attend three of His feasts yearly: Passover, Shavuot, and Tabernacles. Passover, the death of Yeshua, Shavuot, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and Tabernacles—unfulfilled; but will be fulfilled at the return of Yeshua and He sets up His kingdom.
Yeshua was sacrificed at Passover and so it would reason that His birth would also fulfill a feast of the LORD. It is not just unlikely, but highly unlikely that Yeshua would fulfill a pagan feast of the winter solstice December 25th.
The other thing, some make the case that Yeshua was born at Migdal Eder, which means Tower of the Flock. This is located in the area outside of Bethlehem somewhere in the vicinity of Rachel’s grave. Jacob, his wives, concubines, his eleven sons and servants were going south from Beth-El when Rachel came into hard labor. She delivered a son and named him Ben-Oni: Son of Sorrow. Jacob changed his name to Benjamin which means Son of My Right Hand. Both of these are descriptive of Yeshua that He was a Man of Sorrow. He was greatly afflicted by His creation. He also possesses the royal title of Son of My Right Hand, indicating the strength, and authority of His Father.
I Samuel 10:2 gives us a record of Rachel’s grave. The prophet Samuel has anointed Saul to be king. He speaks to Saul that his father’s donkeys are at Rachel’s tomb. When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you: The donkeys which you went to look for have been found.
zel’-za (tseltsach; hallomenous megala): A place where Samuel told Saul he would meet two men with news that the asses were found. Its position is defined as “by Rachel’s sepulchre, in the border of Benjamin” (1 Samuel 10:2). It has been thought that the place of meeting was sufficiently indicated without the word betseltsach, which is translated “at Zelzah,” and that this cannot therefore be a place-name. The Septuagint has “leaping mightily” or “in great haste” (Ewald) points to a different text. Whether the Greek can be so translated is also a question, as megala does not elsewhere occur as an adverb. Some corruption of the text is probable. The border of Benjamin may be roughly determined, but the tomb of Rachel is now unknown. No name like Zelzah has been recovered in the district. Smith (“Samuel,” ICC, at the place) suggests that we should read “Zela” for “Zelzah” (tsela`, for tseltsach).
ZEL’ZAH, this place has been supposed to be identified with the village of Beit Jala, 3 ms. s.w. of Jerusalem. 1 Sam. 10:2.
The time of the birth of Benjamin was the 11th of Cheshven which is around our October-November time frame, so it is the fall of the year. After Jacob buried Rachel he pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. This is the first place, Genesis 35, that Migdal-Eder is mentioned.
Back to the point of how some folks conclude Yeshua was birthed at Migdal-Edar. The articles that circulate this point get their research, they say, from the Mishnah and Alfred Edersheim’s book Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, (book 2, page 131).
The Mishnah is a written collection of the rabbinic oral traditions that accompany the Torah. It is used for interpretation, for application, for observances, judgments of rabbis on certain laws of purity, the performance of sacrificial rituals, and serves as a commentary on the Torah. It is a record of differing opinions set by various rabbis. It is arranged into 6 divisions, under each division are topics that relate to that specific division.
Anyway, as we go along I will read from the Mishnah the passage that is used by those who say Migdal-Eder was a birthing station for sheep. But first I am going to read an example of how their story goes.
Here is how their story goes or something similar to it: Angels appeared to shepherds in the field and told them to go to Bethlehem and they’d find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger. How did the shepherds know which manger to look in? Because these shepherds were Levitical shepherds who tended the flocks that would be used for sacrifices in the temple. And in Bethlehem there was a special place for those sheep, the Tower of the Flock or Migdal-Eder in Hebrew. During lambing season, the bottom level of this tower was used for birthing the sacrificial sheep and when a perfect lamb was born, it was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger so it couldn’t be harmed.
It seems everyone uses as their source Alfred Edersheim’s book Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, (book 2, page 131), is quoted:
That the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, was a settled conviction. Equally so was the belief, that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, ‘the tower of the flock.’ This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah (Shek.7:4) leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple-sacrifices, and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds.
Shekalim, is under the division for the appointed feasts of the Lord. It sets rules, or gives instruction on treating things found during festivals. For example, Shekalim 7.1 stipulates that money found between two offering chests belongs in the chest nearest to it. Shekalim 7.4 says that an animal found within a certain radius of Jerusalem may used for a burnt offering or a peace offering depending on its sex. Migdal-Eder is used to establish that boundary but the Mishnah says nothing about shepherding flocks there. It seems to be reporting the opposite of shepherding flocks, it is talking about lost animals, or livestock, and how they may be used for specific sacrifices.
I am going to read from The Mishnah Elucidated, a Phrase by Phrase Interpretive Translation with Concise Commentary purchased from the Artscroll Library; page 101 and 102.
This Mishnah discusses what is to be done with animals that are found near Jerusalem, within a 6.8 mile radius of it and not just at Migdal-Eder. It does not appear to be a place for the birthing of lambs. It appears to be sort of a lost and found place for livestock. By livestock that would be sheep, goats, and cattle because these were all used for sacrifices at the Temple. According to Torah, according to Mishnah as well, the finders of livestock there within this 6.8 mile radius are to return the livestock to its owner. That doesn’t always happen. In those days, people paid for their sacrifices; so, instead of perhaps finding the owner of the livestock found there, the finder would take the free found animal to the Temple for sacrifice. The Mishnah goes on to explain that sometimes this would happen: once a person had the free sacrifice, he would then abandon it because he would have to pay out of pocket expenses for the libation and meal offering that must accompany a sacrifice.
Mishnah Shekalim 7:4
If a live (The Danby Mishnah has cattle, not sheep) animal is found between Jerusalem and Migdal-Eder (about 6.8 miles according to the text), a place not far from Jerusalem, or at that distance from Jerusalem in any direction, we assume that it comes from Jerusalem. Since most animals in Jerusalem are consecrated as offerings, we must assume that this animal is an offering. Therefore, any male animals found there are assumed to be olah (Whole-burnt) offerings. Since olah offerings must be male animals, most male animals in Jerusalem were used as olos (Whole burnt offerings) rather than as shelamim (Peace-offering). They are therefore offered on the Altar as olos (Whole-burnt offerings).
Any female animals found there are assumed to be shelamim offerings, and they are offered on the Altar as shelamim offerings. Since females cannot be offered as orlos, female animals found in Jerusalem are assumed to be shelamim. R’ Yehuda says: If (the animals) that are found are fit to be pesach offerings, i.e., they are male sheep or goats in their first year, [they are] assumed to be pesach offerings, if they are found within thirty days before Pesach. Since the laws of Pesach are taught beginning thirty days before the holiday, people began consecrating animals for their pesach offering at that time. Therefore, lambs and kids found during this period are assumed to be pesach offerings.
So this is not a station for birthing sheep. It is a station for lost livestock. I am not saying (this was 2000 years ago) that sheep herders didn’t drive their sheep there to make money off of sacrifices at the time of the Lord’s feasts. With the driving of animals there to the Temple would be an arduous task. For example, I would not take my youngest lambs because they need their mother’s milk, and the frequent stops for them would be exhausting, and dangerous according to the terrain.
However, I would take all the lambs that were no longer on their mother’s milk. By the time of the Passover, they would be anywhere from 9 to 11 months old. They would be pretty mature. But, my research is limited, and archeologists, researchers and historians are still piecing together information that existed 2000 years ago.
I am going to use as an example of an excerpt from Jimmy DeYoung’s Prophecy Today site that posits this:
It was in the lower portion of this watchtower that the birthing of the lambs would take place. The shepherds would wrap the newborn lambs in swaddling clothes to protect the body of the lambs which would be offered as sacrifice at the Temple just four miles away in Jerusalem. Wrapped in swaddling clothes to keep the new lambs without spot or blemish, they would be laid in a manger until they had calmed down.
The prophetic significance of Migdal Edar: the priestly shepherds in their fields near Bethlehem on that Christmas Eve knew where to go to find the newborn Messiah, Jesus Christ.
I researched swaddling clothes in my Zondervan Illustrated Bible and they were strips of cloths intended to keep the limbs straight on their newborns. Women of the middle east performed this task believing it made the baby grow stronger. Now, there are those who say these strips of cloth were from the garments of priests. It is doubtful because usually their garments were used for the wicks of the menorah.
Whenever any of the priestly garments become soiled, they are not bleached or laundered. Instead, they are left to be used for wicks and he should wear new ones. When the garments of the High Priest become worn out, they should be entombed. The white garments which the High Priest wears on the day of the fast should not be worn a second time at all. Instead, they are entombed in the place where he removes them, as [Leviticus 16:23] states: “And he shall leave them there.” It is forbidden to benefit from them.
They would make wicks from the leggings and the sashes of the ordinary priests that wore out. They were used to kindle lamps in the Temple for the rejoicing that accompanied the water libation. The tunics of the ordinary priests that wore out were used to make wicks for the Menorah lit continually.
These other things, the priestly garments used for the swaddling of Yeshua cannot be verified by the Mishnah. The shepherds were not of the priestly order. Priests were not shepherds they were priests. The priestly tribes, whether Aaronic or Levitical, functioned in the Temple; even those disqualified because of some physical defect or some issue with proving their genealogy, that is, their tribal affiliation with these two tribes; even they were assigned menial tasks, such as in the wood chamber where they examined wood for the altar, and they were entitled to Temple support. The disqualified priests were to wear black garments to depict their status.
The only time a priest looked at a sheep was in the Temple before sacrifice. They would wet the animals down and examine them for blemishes. Some blemishes were acceptable like moles and freckles, but deformity of limbs, tail, eyes, ears, mouth were not acceptable. The Mishnah explains what is acceptable for sacrifice.
Mishnah, Division Kodashim: Bekhoroth 7 and Middoth 5:4.
One more thing. I did find a passage in Mishnah that spoke of them finding it undesirable to have livestock in the Land of Israel.
MISHNA VII.: No tender cattle must be raised in Palestine, but they may be raised in Syria and in the deserts of Palestine (Judea). No cocks or hens must be raised in Jerusalem (even by laymen), because of the voluntary offerings (the meat of which may be eaten in any part of the city, and as the habit of the named fowls is to peck with their beaks in the rubbish, they may peck into a dead reptile and then peck in the meat of the offerings). In all other parts of Palestine priests only must not raise them, as they use leave-offerings for their meals, and they must be very careful about cleanliness. Swine must not be raised by Jews at any place. One shall keep no dog unless on a chain, and no noose is to be laid out for trapping pigeons unless fifty riss distant from inhabited places.
With the Mishnah comes more opinions and instructions by rabbis called the Gemara.
I am at the end of the program.
If it is God’s will, I will be here next week. Remember to walk by faith, not by sight. Ask God to cleanse you from all unrighteousness every day. Keep your spiritual garments clean from spot, wrinkle and blemish. Do two things this week: love and forgive. Love God, love your neighbor.
Special shepherds are not special priests.