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By Beth Piepenburg

Lazarus by BonnatWhen Jesus had walked in the Temple in Solomon’s Porch during Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication), He revealed to the questioning crowd that “I and my Father are one.” Angered, the Jews took up stones and sought to take Jesus by force, but He escaped across the Jordan. After the Temple incident which had occurred on December 22-23 of 32 A.D.[1], Jesus continued ministering across the Jordan River for two months. Soon Purim would be celebrated during the month of Adar, which happened during March 3rd – 5th in the year 33 A.D[2]. Before Purim had arrived, his sisters sent a message informing Jesus that his dear friend is sick. Meanwhile, Lazarus had died! When Jesus arrived in time for Purim, He raised Lazarus from the dead! Both the story of Purim in the Megillah (Book of Esther) and the raising of Lazarus demonstrate that God is at work in the background, show his timing is impeccable, and foreshadow a final victorious celebration.


In the Book of Esther, God is never mentioned, but was working behind the scenes. Esther has been chosen in a national beauty selection to be queen for the Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). At the advice of her Uncle Mordecai, she has not revealed her Jewish identity. A few years later, Haman, the king’s top advisor, convinces the king that the Jews ought to be destroyed because of disloyalty to their king. Mordecai approaches Esther to petition the king, even at the possible cost of her life. She fasts for three days and asks for the king and Haman to attend her banquet. In a series of banquets that she has prepared for both of them, God’s hand exposes Haman’s plot. Not only was Haman sentenced to death on his own gallows that he had prepared for the Jews, but the royal decree was reversed for the Jews to destroy their enemies for three days. Because God had saved the Jewish nation from their enemies, they celebrate this event as Purim in the month Adar.

In the story of Lazarus (Jn. 11), his sisters, Mary and Martha, send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick. Jesus replies, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby.” Jesus remains at the Jordan for another two days before making the journey to Bethany. After hearing that Jesus is approaching, Martha meets Jesus and expresses that if He had been there her brother would not have died. When Mary sees Jesus, she expresses the same regret as her sister. The mourners also wonder why Jesus couldn’t have prevented Lazarus’ death. In other words, where was God in this situation? However, Jesus asks for the stone to be taken away. Despite Martha’s objections, Jesus reminds Martha that if she would believe, she should see the glory of God. Giving thanks to the Father, Jesus then calls out to Lazarus to come forth. Lazarus is raised from the dead in order for those in attendance to know that God had sent Jesus. While the Lord had seemed unconcerned about the situation when He was at the Jordan River, He was preparing for a victorious outcome!


In the Jewish calendar year, Purim is the last of the ten Moedim or appointed times before the religious New Year commences in the spring. After God had saved the Jews from a three day annihilation devised by the evil schemes of Haman to a three day annihilation of their enemies, the Jews thereafter have observed Purim. Held between the thirteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, the Jews celebrate heartily.

So you may be asking, where does it talk about Purim in John 11? While the Apostle John did focus on the feasts in his gospel, here he is subtly quiet. The text does not reveal that it is the time of Purim because the story is about the Lord operating in the background until the appropriate time. In order to recognize the Resurrection power of God, the reader must not be distracted by other religious elements.

Knowing that this miraculous event took place between the time of Hanukkah and the Passion Week, Scripture does indicate that Jesus spent some time at the Jordan beforehand and at Ephraim (Ai)[3] afterward. Another clue is that Jesus states that there are twelve hours in a day. At Hanukkah there are only ten hours in a day. Nearing the first day of spring when there are twelve hours in a day, the days of Purim in the year 33 A.D. would have been almost twelve hours.

Lazarus skyThe Heavens revealing the glory of God, show several astronomical clues. Nogah (Morning Star – Esther) was in the constellation of Taleh (Lamb) at Purim in 33 A.D. Tzedek (righteousness) is located in the constellation of Teomim (Twins), which represents the divine and human nature of Christ. The full moon is located beside the constellation of Betumah (Virgin). Perhaps, his mother Mary witnesses this event, because she will need the confirmation of God’s power in days to come.  I find it spectacular how the starry sky validates this event of Lazarus and Purim. (see below)


The Book of Esther served as a foreshadow of Christ and the Crucifixion. Unless God saved his people, the Jewish nation would have been decimated. Yet, humankind was condemned without a Savior. Just as Esther fasted for three days and nights, Jesus suffered for three days and nights. As God redeemed her people, God would redeem the world through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Not only had Lazarus’ death given Jesus the opportunity to demonstrate that death is conquered by Him, but that Lazarus being brought back from the dead would serve as a  foreshadow of Christ’s future death and resurrection. The events at this particular Purim would be a month from the death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus the image of the resurrection of Lazarus needed to be emblazed in their hearts and minds.


Although the stories of Esther and Lazarus are quite different, the underlying themes are parallel. God quietly moved through a queen to save Israel, and Jesus does not fail to save Lazarus from the grave. We may wonder where God is in our situations, but we can be assured He is working for our behalf. While Purim had been established centuries before, the timing was certainly perfect for Jesus to move not only on Lazarus’ behalf, but for those who would witness this event. We may wonder about God’s timing, but if we trust in Him his timing is perfect. Both redemption of a nation and the resurrection of Lazarus point to a Messiah who would die for our redemption and be resurrected by the power of God for our eternal life.


[2] According to my astronomical calculations.

[3] Ephraim = Ai according to Dr. Scott Stripling with Associates for Biblical Research.

Purim 33

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2018. All rights reserved.


JOSEPH’S & MARY’S LINEAGE by Beth Piepenburg

Because the Gospel of Matthew was written to the Jewish people, Matthew traces the lineage of Jesus through his mother Mary by her kinsman Joseph. In fact, Matthew’s Gospel story of the nativity of Christ was the one in circulation for at least a decade before Luke wrote his Gospel. In 1 Sam. 7:12-13 the Lord had promised David that after his death the Lord would set up David’s seed after him and establish his kingdom, which was fulfilled as Peter explained in Acts 2:30. The seed had also been promised through Abraham. Because the seed would come through a woman, Gen. 3:15, Matthew traces the lineage through Mary as prophesied and recorded in history.

The ancestry given by Matthew is divided into three periods of Jewish history from Abraham unto David, from David unto the exile, and from the exile to Christ. The importance of the ancestry given is not to prove that the kingly line is through David’s son, Solomon, but that Mary’s ancestry can be traced back to King David. Whereas Solomon’s kingdom lasted a few centuries, Christ’s kingdom is eternal. While Solomon and Jeconiah had their moral failures with consequences, we see God’s forgiveness and restoration of this lineage by his promise to Zorobabel[1].

Since the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, I consulted an interlinear Peshitta version[2].  Words and concepts can be lost in translating from one language to another, which proved to be true when Matthew 1:16 was translated from Aramaic to Greek. In the Aramaic translation: “Jacob fathers Joseph, the kinsman of Mary, from whom was born Yeshua who is called the Messiah.”  Although the Greek uses the word husband, aner (ανηρ), in both Mt. 1:16 and Mt. 1:19, the Aramaic distinguishes the difference of kinsman, gawra (kinsman) in Mt. 1:16, from husband, ba’la (her husband) in Mt. 1:19. Matthew is making the point that Jesus’ genealogy is through Mary, by whom Joseph is her kinsman.

To shed further light on the subject, I began researching what the writings of the earlier centuries had to say concerning the genealogy of Mary and Joseph. How I wish I could just walk down to the Temple in Jerusalem, and check out the records. However, they either were destroyed or lost to history since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Recognizing that I may be dealing with lost facts, “historical fiction”, or opinions in some of the early writings, could I find a mutual bit of truth concerning the family of Jesus? Yet, I did find much agreement with the lineage and purpose given of the promised seed of King David.  Since our lack of information concerns the third period, let’s begin with Jeconiah.

Solomon to Eliud

1)      Jeconiah, after being released from prison fathered Salathiel, who fathered Zerubbabel.

2)      Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, who fathered Eliakim.

3)      Eliakim fathered Azor, who fathered Sadok.

4)      Sadok fathered Achim, who fathered Eliud.

Mattan to Jesus

5)      Eliud fathered Eleazar, who fathered Matthan.

6)      Matthan married Estha and fathered twins, Jacob and Joachim[3], and then died. Estha then married Melchi, a descendant of David’s son Nathan, who then fathers Heli. Possibly, Jacob and Joachim are half-brothers to Heli, though there could be two generations between Melchi and Heli.[4]

7)      Heli married, but died childless. Both Jacob and Joachim are near kin. Jacob, married Heli’s wife to produce seed for him. In Luke’s gospel, Joseph is the legal son of Heli; in Matthew’s gospel, Jacob fathered Joseph.

8)      Joachim, Jacob’s twin, had married Anna, a descendant of Aaron. They had a daughter in their old age, whom they name Mariam or Mary. So, Mary is both descended from kings and priests.

9)      Mary is a much younger cousin to Joseph.

Concerning tribal inheritance, Mary will inherit any land owned by her father Joachim, as long as she marries within the tribe of Judah. More than likely, her marriage has been pre-arranged to Joseph, a much older man, by her father Joachim. Because she is able to inherit directly as a female, Matthew lists her along with Joseph, her kinsman rather than husband. This inheritance right also will necessitate her being enrolled personally in the census, which is why she had to make the arduous journey to Bethlehem during her pregnancy.

While Joseph’s genealogy is also traced by Luke, Matthew is giving both the biological lineage of Joseph and Mary, and their kinsman relationship. Can you see why the lineage of Jesus is traced directly from Mary through her kinsman Joseph and her grandfather Jacob to King David? She is the one who is the seed carrier.  Remember, Matthew is presenting the lineage from a Jewish perspective.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.


[1] Haggai 2:23

[3] Also known as Yonachir or Zadok. Actually, Zadok might be a religious title.  Cave of Treasures (





As the events have progressed from the triumphal entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem to dinner with friends in Bethany, so has the drama or signs in the heavenly skies. No longer is the moon in the constellation of Arieh (Leo), the Lion of Judah, but it has shifted to Bethulah (Virgo), the Virgin. The moon is now waxing gibbous before it phases to its fullness. Likewise, at the dinner in Bethany, the memorial story of Mary of Bethany will point to the final phase of Jesus’ life – his death and burial.

Jesus was staying in Bethany, a small village below the Mount of Olives at the house of Simon the Leper. Could it be that Simon the Leper was the father or relative of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, or that he was Lazarus himself?  Earlier, Lazarus’ death had given Jesus the opportunity not only to demonstrate that death is conquered by Him, but that Lazarus being brought back from the dead would be symbolic of Christ’s future death and resurrection. However, Lazarus’ sister would symbolically anoint Jesus for his soon approaching death and burial.  

Because Matthew’s Gospel tells us that after two days is the feast of the Passover, then we know that this story of the dinner meal takes place on Wednesday evening (April 1, 33 AD). As Lazarus dines with the others, Martha is serving. Dinner would have typically included bread and wine, a metaphoric foretaste of Jesus’ death. Where is Mary? In the Gospels written by Matthew and Mark, the woman who anoints the Savior is unnamed, but in the Gospel of John, she is identified as Mary. Jesus formerly had told Martha, when she was anxious and disturbed about her sister, that Mary had chosen the good portion. Now we see Mary choosing the spiritual portion, but in a prophetic sense.

Mary has an alabastron of very precious ointment, a pound of unadulterated spikenard to be precise. Spikenard, grown in the Himalayas, has an earthy aroma, and is used for special occasions. Breaking the seal, she pours the spikenard on her Savior’s head while he is reclining. John adds in his Gospel story that she wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair. Since the head represents nurturing and the feet represent authority, Mary is anointing the Lord in spiritually strategic places. The odor of the spikenard, signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit, permeates the house.

While Matthew discloses that ALL the disciples were indignant at the wastefulness, Mark shares that SOME were rather indignant. However, John states that JUDAS Iscariot is the one that asks why this ointment wasn’t sold for three hundred denarii and the proceeds given to the poor. If a man’s daily wage were one silver danarii, then three hundred denarii was about a year’s wages. Not that Judas cares for the poor, because he was a thief pilfering from the moneybag. His attack against Mary provokes the others to murmur against her.

Jesus comes to her defense acknowledging that she had done a good work while his disciples surely have the poor always with them, but they would not always have Him. He reminds them the purpose of the anointing is for his burial. Jesus desires this particular story to be told where ever the Gospel is to be preached as a memorial to Mary. Then Judas, true to his nature, went and covenanted with the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver, about a month’s wages.

We know that Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. Martha had a servant’s heart, Lazarus had experienced being brought back from the dead, and Mary was fond of sitting at the feet of Jesus hearing the Logos, the living Word of God. Her action of anointing Jesus was inspired because of a heart brimming with love for her Lord. While the breaking of the alabaster seal was symbolic of the body of Jesus being broken for all and the ointment symbolic of Christ’s burial, the ointment also represents the Holy Spirit being poured out upon our lives. Halleluiah!