Inspirations

by Beth PiepenburgEcliptic

I have enjoyed watching in anticipation every year when the Aviv barley is ready in the land of Israel. On that day or soon after, the New Moon would be sighted and the New Year would begin. Two weeks later, Passover could be observed. As I studied and watched how the ancient Hebrew calendar functioned, it led to further research. I discovered how the Feasts also tied with the nighttime sky in conjunction with the appointed times of the work of Christ. What I found was an astronomical-agricultural based calendar. However, some of my original understanding of how the New Year was determined began to change. The sighting of the Aviv barley as an agricultural marker was now dovetailed by the Vernal Equinox as an astronomical marker.

A small sect of Jews, called the Karaites, have maintained for centuries that the Aviv barley had to be sighted on or before the New Moon, in order to start the New Year and for Passover to be observed fourteen days later. In Exodus, the barley was in the Aviv prior to Moses’ establishing the New Year. However, the Karaites have maintained that Rabbinical Judaism had changed the sighting of the Aviv barley for the Babylonian system of using the Vernal Equinox and also had changed the calendar in other ways. As a result of these differences, Passover could be celebrated a month apart by each group. Now if the Jews can’t seem to agree in determining the Passover date, the Western and Eastern Christians fair no better having two separate systems in determining Easter.

From the time of Moses, the Israelites have used the Aviv barley, the Vernal Equinox, and the New Moon to determine the New Year. As the Egyptian Sphinx was aligned to the Vernal Equinox, Moses, having been educated in the courts of Pharaoh, would have known about the Vernal Equinox. However, the ancient Egyptian calendar was based on the heliacal rising of Sirius, and the New Year began in July. When Moses commanded the Israelites to begin the New Year on the evening of Aviv 1, the moon was a New Moon and the Vernal Equinox was just beginning. This particular day in history, the calendar was naturally aligned to both the moon and the sun. Thus, the Israelite calendar is a lunisolar calendar, and begins in the spring. Passover and the other Feasts would be aligned to the proper constellations, which were pointing to the Savior.

Along with finding new insights of the importance of the nighttime sky, I also began to see problems with the Aviv method pointing to the New Moon to usher in the New Year. Sightings of the Aviv barley differed in respect to the grain, location, time, etc. Did ancient barley grown naturally ripen sooner or later than the modern methods of growing new strains of barley? Because of the micro climates in Israel, which micro-climate was more suited for maturation? If the Aviv barley was not quite ready when the New Moon appeared, then how could one preserve the Aviv barley during an intercalary month? The integrity of checking the Aviv barley was maintained by the Levitical priests, but how can one know now when one group claims they have found the Aviv a little too early for comfort? Does the Scripture say, one must see the Aviv first? In Egypt, the Aviv barley would have naturally occurred much earlier than in the land of Israel. As far as the nighttime sky, the importance of the sun and moon being in the right constellations during Passover was important for the Feasts to correlate with the sky.

Since I follow the ancient Israelite lunisolar calendar in my personal life, I look forward to starting the New Year in the Spring rather than in the dead of Winter. While I can follow the lunisolar calendar with ease, this ancient calendar should coincide fairly well with the Jewish Passover and the Western Church observance of Easter. Most important, I will view the nighttime sky with the Feasts in mind along with the significance of Christ. While the New Moon and the Vernal Equinox will determine the New Year, yet the sighting of the Aviv barley will add purpose to the meaning calendar. As I follow the lunar months throughout the year, I hope to understand further how astronomy worked in connection with the agricultural seasons in ancient Israel.

 

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2017. All rights reserved.

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by Beth Piepenburg

shiloh-google

SHILOH, ISRAEL

Living in Star Valley in Western Wyoming, I was invited to tour the new Mormon Temple before it is dedicated. Naturally, my LDS friends are excited about their Temple opening up, and much discussion was on Facebook. When my friend and State representative, Marti Halverson, shared she had enjoyed the tour, discussion developed about the difference of their Tabernacles and Temples. My background being in Classical Studies and Biblical History, I was highly interested in the discussion and shared some about the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple, too.

First, I explained the difference of the use of the words, house and home, in our own English language.” We use the term house and home to mean a different thing and the same thing. We buy a house to live in, but our home is dear to our heart. If we move, our home moves with us. Although it’s not wrong to use house and home interchangeably, house more often refers to the structure, while home has dear memories and the sense of family.”

Second, I shared the difference between the Tabernacle and Temple during the Old Testament days. “In the early Old Testament, the original Tabernacle was a glorified tent for the worship of the LORD. Tabernacle means dwelling, like a home. Temple is a building, somewhat a palace but for worship of a deity. When Solomon built the Temple to God, it was a tabernacle where God was to dwell among them. At times, the Temple was called the Tabernacle, because the Temple was thought of in terms of being the Tabernacle of God. The heart of the Temple was the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies where the requirements of worship took place for the High Priest. Outside this area was where the ritual sacrifices took place and the Molten Sea for the priest to cleanse themselves. Mostly south of the Temple were the Mikva’ot, which were used for spiritual cleansing by immersion by the people.”

In looking up Scriptures, and checking the difference of Hebrew words used for tent, tabernacle, and temple, I was surprised to find that the word temple was first used in the days of Eli, the usurping High Priest. Previously, I have noticed that a few times Bible translators have been inconsistent in translating the Hebrew words for tent, tabernacle, and temple correctly. So, I decided to see if this were the case. No, the words were translated correctly in 1 Samuel 1:9 and 3:3.

Could it be that a mini-Temple had been built in Shiloh to replace the older Tabernacle that had been erected centuries earlier? In reference to Jeremiah 7:8-14, Dr. Bryant Wood had explained to me that he believed the Tabernacle had been destroyed by the Philistines when they captured the Ark of the Lord. Yes, that would make sense. Years later, when King David had brought the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, he saw the need for a permanent house for the Ark of the Lord. Christians and Jews understand that the first Temple was built by David’s son, King Solomon, and indeed it was the first one built in Jerusalem. However, could a smaller Temple have been in existence at Shiloh?

Josephus writes in the Antiquities of the Jews, “So Joshua removed his camp to the mountainous country, and placed the tabernacle in the city of Shiloh, for that seemed a fit place for it, because of the beauty of its situation, until such thee (time) as their affairs would permit them to build a temple…” (Book 5, Chapter 1:19) However, we aren’t given any clues if a Temple was ever built or not.

This coming May of 2017, my friend, Dr. Scott Stripling, will be excavating this sight for evidence of a Tabernacle, and associated buildings, with hopes of finding the homes of the priest Eli and the prophet Samuel. Could it be possible that they will find evidence of Temple stones there or evidence of a Tabernacle? Through archaeological excavations, we might be able to learn the truth.

For anyone interesting in joining or supporting an archaeological dig at Shiloh, please click here: Volunteer at the Shiloh Excavations.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2016. All rights reserved.

by Beth Piepenburg

INTRODUCTION

Chiasmus 1This passage is written in a chiasmus structure, much like a sandwich with the bread on the outside, the condiments and salad material inside, and the meat as the main course or central theme.

While the story is about Elisabeth’s conception, and the magnificent appearance of the angel Gabriel, the central theme is about the words of Zacharias. Scratching my head and pondering why the words of Zacharias were the theme, I began to understand that he represented Israel at a time when believing in God’s promises was difficult.

ELISABETH WAS BARREN

chiasmus2

Zacharias and his wife were well advanced in years. In their younger days they had lived under the independent Jewish kingdom with the reigning Hasmonean dynasty. In 63 BC, Pompey conquered Jerusalem, making the Jewish kingdom a Roman client state. In 40 BC the Parthians (Persians) invaded and drove out the Romans in many of the eastern Roman provinces. The Hasmonean dynasty was reestablished under Antigonus II Mattathias, a pro-Parthian monarch. Fleeing to Rome, Herod was proclaimed King of the Jews by the Roman Senate in 39 BC. Fighting for control of Judea, Herod was entrusted to govern the province by Antony in 35 BC, and remained in power shortly after the eclipse in 1 BC. So, Zacharias and his wife had seen much conflict in their land over the years. Where was God in all this turmoil?Herod Rule

Both Zacharias and his wife were descendants of Aaron, the first high priest of the tribe of Levi. Zacharias’ name meant Yah has remembered, but did Zacharias wonder if God had remembered him as he had prayed for his country and for a child? Elisabeth was named after Aaron’s wife, Elisheba, meaning God has sworn. Zacharias served in the eighth division of Abijah, which these priestly divisions had been originally instituted by King David. The number eight signifies the Resurrection. Zacharias would serve in the Temple at Jerusalem when the time came for his division to be present.

When life has its hardships, Job’s comforters will contribute their unwarranted explanation. Barrenness obviously has to do with God’s lack of blessing because of sin, right? I’m sure many wondered about Zacharias and Elisabeth and why they had failed to be blessed by God. However, Scripture clearly indicates that they were both righteous before God and that they were blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. What a high recommendation!

Elisabeth’s barrenness served as a reflection of the barrenness of Israel. Throughout the ages, God had promised the Messiah to the nation of Israel. Any hope of being liberated from Rome and from the Edomite King Herod seemed futile. The life of Elisabeth and Zacharias appeared fruitless without any children. Was there any hope left?

THE PEOPLE WERE PRAYING

chiasmus3Only the descendants of Aaron could enter the Holy Place to offer incense, but after four hundred years the number of descendants had grown. When David was king, he appointed 24 divisions with each division serving twice a year besides the Feasts. With thousands of Aaronic descendant, the chance that a priest would offer incense might be once in a lifetime. Had Zacharias ever served before?ZachariasIncense

When did the eighth division serve? Besides the major feasts, the eighth division would have served either in the third or eighth Jewish month. Since the Annunciation of Mary has been reckoned to be first day of the ancient seventh month of 3 B.C., Elisabeth would have conceived sometime after the preceding Passover. Thus, the angelic visitation to Zacharias might have fallen in the third month (May-June) of 4 B.C., the eighth month (October-November) of 4 B.C., or during the Passover (March) of 3 B.C.

Twice a day incense was burnt, which were made of four precious spices: stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. Chosen to serve on this particular morning, Zacharias must have been somewhat unnerved to follow protocol as prescribed. He would enter into the Holy Place alone and have the privilege to burn incense to the Lord!

While the priest would offer incense to the Lord, the people would be praying outside. Besides personal prayers, many offered prayers for the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel and for the coming Messiah.

WORDS OF THE ANGEL

chiasmus4What an astonishment for Zacharias to see a heavenly being suddenly appear next to the altar! No wonder fear gripped him.

The angel addresses Zacharias’ present state of fear, his past years of prayers that seemed to have gone unheard, and the future about a son.  However, this son was to be named John, meaning Yehovah-favored. The importance of naming the child John pertained to God’s destiny rather than family tradition.GabrielZacharias

Of course, this child would bring joy and gladness to this elderly couple because they would enjoy their remaining lives with their son and never live to see his imprisonment or death.  Yet, many would rejoice at his miraculous birth because they would know that God had not forgotten his people.

John’s destiny was to be great in God’s presence, but he was expected to live a life of a Nazarite, not partaking in liquor and possibly never having his hair cut. Even Elisabeth would abstain from liquor until she had weaned John. To fulfill his godly purpose, John would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the womb. Could that have happened when he was conceived or on the Shavuot (Pentecost)?

How would John return the people to their God? He never performed the miracles that Elijah had done, but called Israel to repentance like Elijah. He would speak to their hearts in three ways: by turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children, by turning the heart to seek righteous wisdom, and by preparing the hearts of the people for the Messiah.

WORDS OF ZACHARIAS

Chiasmus5What a question to ask an angel? Zacharias would have been well versed in Jewish scripture. Besides the story of Abraham and Sarah having Isaac in their old age, he would have known the prophecy of Malachi that an Elijah would return for the purpose of turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.  Could it be that his heart was hardened with the sadness of life that he lacked any faith? Even an appearance of an angel failed to generate faith.

Why is this verse the theme for this passage about the birth of John the Baptist? Perhaps, Zacharias exemplified Israel, an older nation compared to Rome. For centuries, they had awaited the Promise of a Savior and the return of the Kingdom of David. Had God forgotten his people and his promises?

WORDS OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL

chiasmus6Zacharias must have been shocked when the angel identifies himself and his purpose. Gabriel, meaning Man of God, was the archangel mentioned in Daniel.

For God to work in Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s lives, he would need cooperation from Zacharias. By silencing Zacharias, the angel put a damper on Zacharias’ unbelief, which would have affected the future of Israel.

THE PEOPLE ARE WAITING

chiasmus7Can you imagine after the hour of incense that the people wondered what had happened to Zacharias? Although he was older, Zacharias was in good health. What should be done? In order to enter the Holy Place, another priest would have to cleanse himself. At last, Zacharias exited, and the crowd wondered what happened. He responded only with signs because he was struck mute. What people had waited for through the centuries was to be accomplished.

ELISABETH CONCEIVED

chiasmus8While his service at the temple was fulfilled, Zacharias with his wife Elisabeth awaited for the fulfillment of the angel’s words.  After she conceived, why did she hide herself five months? By the Jewish lunar-solar calendar, the end of five months would be twenty weeks, exactly half of her pregnancy. At twenty weeks, she would began to show and would experience a “quickening” when the first movements of her child could be felt. She had waited for the Lord to fulfill what the angel Gabriel had spoken to her husband. Although she had been righteous before God, she would no longer bear the criticism of people

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Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

by Beth PiepenburgAbraham Journey

Abram was living in Ur of the Chaldees, in present day Southeastern Turkey, with his father Terah.  Although from the righteous lineage of Shem, a son of Noah, his father Terah was a pagan worshiper. When Abram had irritated his fellow Chaldeans with his talk about the true God, he and his father were forced to leave Ur. Although the Lord was directing Abram to move to the land of Canaan, his father preferred to relocate at Haran, about forty miles south of Ur, and set up a center for the worship of Sin, the moon goddess.

After the death of his father five years later, seventy-five year old Abram was free to follow the Lord’s directive to dwell in Canaan. Here the Lord promised him that his seed would be numerous, but from his seed would come One in which all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Not only was Abram to be blessed with a son, but Abram was carrying through his own seed the spiritual promise of a physical Savior.

However, God was not yet ready to give Abram a son until he and his wife Sarai were mature in their faith. They settled in various places, learning to grow in faith. When famine hit they abandoned Canaan and dwelt in Egypt. Relying in his own cleverness rather than trusting God, Abram told the Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister rather than his wife. Well, she was a paternal cousin, a little stretch from sister. When Pharaoh discovered their half-truth, they were told to leave. Returning to Canaan, their faith in God developed deeper roots.

Faith is like a mustard seed that begins small and grows to be a large plant. Likewise, Abraham’s faith had started with a small seed of belief and for centuries continued to grow with his descendants. The ultimate return of his faith would come to fruition with the Promised Seed.

Being ten years from when Abram and Sarai had left Haran, God had not provided them a physical heir. While ten means completion, they found themselves uncompleted or lacking a son. So, Sarai hatched a plan of using her handmaid, Hagar, as a surrogate mother. Ishmael was conceived, and Abram and Sarai were satisfied with the outcome. (Ishmael became the father of the Saracens, not the Arabians.)

When Abram was ninety-nine, the Lord appeared to announce His blessings over Abraham’s lineage, to instruct him about the covenant rite of circumcision, to give Abram and Sarai a name change, and to shake their world with the promise of a son through Sarah. Well, wouldn’t you laugh, if your wife was well past the age of bearing children? As promised, the next year Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.

Several years later, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Perhaps, Abraham thought that Isaac was the Promised Seed and God would provide a miracle. With heavy heart, Abraham took Isaac, a lad, up to the mountains of Moriah, possibly the very same spot where Christ was crucified. Willingly, Isaac laid himself on the altar, putting his trust in his father. Relief swept over father and son when the angel of the Lord called out to stop Abraham, because the purpose of the test was to see if Abraham feared the Lord. Whew! A ram was caught in the thicket for the sacrifice! The imagery speaks so well of the Father giving his Son as a sacrifice on Calvary, and a Son willing to lay his life down. Surely, the promise of a Seed was being passed down from Abraham unto generations later, to Mary the mother of Jesus.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

by Beth PiepenburgSeed2

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall lie in wait for your head,
And you shall lie in wait for His heel.”
(Gen 3:15)

Clearly, Eve and Adam had disobeyed the command of the LORD to not eat of the Tree of Life, knowing that the consequences would be death. The LORD told the Serpent, which had tempted Eve to disobey the LORD, that his seed would face an enemy, her Seed. Therefore, the LORD had a specific plan to set mankind free from the grip of the enemy.

While Scripture refers to women possessing seed, the scientific fact was not discovered until 1928 by Edgar Allen. Mankind had thought that the seed only came via the male, and most societies set up the family and tribal units with the patriarchal ties, which has its importance. In traditional Judaism, land and family ties are connected to the male, but Jewishness is passed down through the mother.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother through her seed, since any mitochondrial DNA from the father is destroyed during the fertilization process. Eve’s mitochondrial DNA would pass through the female line all the way from Eve to Mary, the mother of Jesus!

mtDNAY-DNA

While the X-chromosome of the mother is inherited by her sons and daughters, the X-chromosome of the father is inherited only by his daughters. Only the sons inherit the Y-chromosome of their father. Although Mary would not receive a Y-chromosome from her father, she would receive an X-chromosome from him that had originated with Adam. She also would receive an X-chromosome from her mother that had originated from both Adam and Eve.

Therefore, the importance of Eve’s seed was the ability to transfer human mitochondrial DNA and the X-chromosome to successive generations, which would guarantee redemption for the entire human race through Jesus Christ. Although Adam’s X-chromosome would be handed down to Mary, his Y-chromosome would not. Mary’s would be dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit to produce a Y-chromosome for her Godly Seed, and for the healing of her human DNA.

The battle of the two seeds pertain to the head, which represents source of nurturing, and the feet, which represents authority. The serpent’s seed would lie in wait to attack the authority of Christ, but Christ, the Seed of the woman, would attack the source of the Antichrist, that is, Satan. God has put all things under Christ’s feet (authority), and gave Him to be the head (nurturing source) of all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22-23)

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

Christ on the Cross, by Carl Heinrich Blochby Beth Piepenburg

Does the Bible really imply that the Father could not look at Jesus on the cross because he was carrying all of our sins? After all Jesus cried out the Hebrew words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” Translated from the Hebrew[1] these words mean, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet, God has been looking at humanity’s sins from the time of Adam and Eve. If God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient then how could he not have seen his Son carrying our sins on the cross? If we understand the context of these words, we will see that the Father never lifted his eyes off his Son.

Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Yet while dying, Jesus, in his humanness, felt very forsaken by the Father. Was it true? No, Jesus’ statement was an emotional response of what he felt at the moment. Then why did Matthew and Mark record this emotion? Besides being prophesied in Psalms 22:1, the answer lies in the Epistle of Hebrews 4:15, which tells us that we have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who was touched with the same feelings of our infirmities. Have we never felt like God has forsaken us? We know that our Savior has already experienced that feeling of being forsaken because of being made to be sin for us.

A second reason that God did not forsake Jesus while on the cross is understood in the sacrifices. A priest took special care in handling the sacrificial animal, because of its worth in terms of its life being given for the sin of a person or people. A Messianic Jewish friend, Adrian Ze’ev Bernal, PhD, shared with me that a priest would not have turned his back on the sacrificial animal during the ceremony. Therefore, would the Father turn his back on the Messiah, the ultimate sacrifice?

These words spoken by Jesus are taken from Psalms 22:1, which is a prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah. The Psalm gives us the imagery of the crucifixion scene. Yet in verse 24, the answer to the question is stated. “For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard.” (NKJV) Now we know from Scripture how the Father would have responded.

As mentioned in the Old Testament scriptures, covenants were important. One such covenant was the Royal Grant[2] which was a gift from the Suzerain. Ratification of a Royal Grant Covenant happened when the sovereign party would walk alone between the pieces of the sacrifice. We see God performing this act in the Covenant between Him and Abraham (Genesis 15:12-18) when He passed between the sacrifices as a smoking furnace and a burning lamp after the sun had gone down. How silly would it be to presume that God was absent from his role as Suzerain with the most important Covenant that Heaven and Earth would witness! In fact, the Father passed through at this point because of the darkness that miraculously came over the land evidenced by the earthquake and the Temple veil being rent in two.  In Luke 23:46, Jesus confirms this with his final cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (NKJV)

Some may argue that according to Jn. 9:31 God does not hear sinners, and according to Isaiah 59:1-2 our iniquities separate us from God and our sins have caused God to hide his face from us and not to hear us. True, for the one who commits sin. However, Jesus who was sinless, took on our sin, which is not the same as committing sin or taking on the nature of Satan as some would propose. Since God made Christ to be sin for us, so we might be made the righteousness of God, then how could the Father not look on his own work and call it good?

By looking at the context of Scripture, the emotional response of Christ would be a reflection of our own inner turmoil we face because of our sins, and that Jesus took on sin for us for a redemptive purpose. Understanding Hebrew culture of the Old Testament era, the foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice was carried out with skill and care by the priest who represented the Father, and the foreshadow of the Royal Grant Covenant was carried out by YHWH who personally was an active part of the Covenant with Abraham. However, the most important point is that David had prophesied the words of Christ and the Father’s response centuries before.

[1] http://www.douglashamp.com/eloi-eloi-lama-sabachthani/

[2] http://neopuritan.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/suzerain-treaties-and-royal-grants/

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2014. All rights reserved.

by Beth Piepenburg

While the moedim, or appointed times, originally pointed back to the events of the Exodus, they served as foreshadows of events pertaining to the Messiah.

AUTUMN MOEDIM

The Autumn Moedim played the chord of the major events of Christ: the Annunciation, Redemption, and the Grand Finale. Yom Teruah or Day of Trumpets played the first note of the Autumn Moedim, sung out by the announcement of Gabriel concerning the Son of God. Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement played the second note of the Autumn Moedim, pointing to the Supreme High Priest sacrificing himself for the people who would become the Temple of God. However, the details would happen during the time of the Spring Moedim. Chag Sukkah or Feast of Tabernacles played the final note of the Autumn Moedim, depicted by the Church living in temporary shelters until the Lord’s return, possibly the Eighth Day of Assembly.

moedim S

SPRING MOEDIM

The Spring Moedim played the melody of the short time frame leading up to the events of Cavalry and Pentecost. Rosh HaShannah or New Year, originally held in the spring after the first sighting of the green ear of barley, was the opening note. Two weeks later was the Pesach or Passover note, with the crucifixion of the Lamb of God. Consecutively came the Chag HaMatzah note, with the breaking of the unleavened bread representing Christ, the Bread of Life. Three days later the Reishit Katzir or Firstfruits played the Resurrection note. Fifty days later was Chag Shabua or the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the first believers.

CONCLUSION

With a better understanding of historical documents and astronomy, we can understand the Scriptures much better than before. By dovetailing the Autumn Moedim with the Spring Moedim, the drama of Redemption comes to life.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2014. All rights reserved.