holysnake-nachash8ince the dawn of mankind, the archetypal symbol of the serpent has coiled itself around thholysnake-nachash1e globe. Germinating in the fertile soil of the Ancient Near East, the serpent’s widespread popularity and presence in nearly all world mythology owes itself to the events surrounding the origin of mankind. A comparative study in world folklore reveals striking parallels, and common tangents to the Biblical account throughout variegated legends that all trace back to a singularity, the origin of the concept. These trails lead us to the most turbulent location on earth: the Land of Shinar, Ancient Babylon . . . Modern Day Iraq.

Mankind knew the history of the First Man, the cataclysmic deluge and the salvation of Noah on the Ark[1]. According to the Midrash, united in rebellion under the blasphemous world dictator[2] Nimrod, humanity attempted to challenge God by building a massive ziggurat[3], whose pinnacle reached to the sky, and perhaps could escape another flood. In response to mankind’s united revolt, the Creator confused their languages and divided world into seventy nations, scattering them throughout the four corners of the earth. The Hebrew word, “Bavel” itself means confusion, and is the origin of the English word, “babbling.” Each of the seventy[4] nations took with them kernels of truth regarding their shared history, which in the evolution of their oral traditions and thought became mythologized in their stories and myths.

The Torah, however, gives us the actual[5] account of the events that occurred in the Garden of Eden. Genesis, records that the “serpent was more cunning that all the beasts of the field,” [6] and entered into a conversation with Eve. It is important to note that he did not approach Adam directly, preferring rather to strike at the weakest point, like Amalek [7] who attacked Israel from behind[8], assailing women, children and the infirm. The serpent questions the validity of God’s word, and subsequently tricks Eve into eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam, the ruler of the earth[9], seeing what his wife has done, follows suit in eating of the forbidden fruit, sinning against the Word of God. In doing so, he obeyed his wife who listened to the tempter, subjecting himself to the authority of the serpent. By this action, he essentially gave his crown of glory to the snake.

נחש  = 358 = Nachash, Snake

We must ask ourselves why was the form of a snake chosen? Why not a cow or a donkey, a lion or a bear? In Hebrew the word for snake is nachash. This is etymologically related to the word for copper which nechoshet, which is a shiny metal. The skin of the serpent is mesmerizing, the shiny scales are dazzling. The old adage is ‘All that glitters is not gold’ fits nicely into this situation. This allure proved successful. Like a boa constrictor, Satan solidified his grip upon the earth in dethroning Adam[10]. This was the desire of the evil one, to exalt himself as king. As the Wisdom of Solomon says,

“Nevertheless through the jealousy of the devil death came into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.”
Wisdom of Solomon 2:27

ORIGINAL SIN

The idea of “original sin” is a cardinal doctrine of Christianity, and as a result seems foreign to Jewish thought. In fact, the misconception that this doctrine is alien to Judaism is so often repeated that it is accepted as fact. In order to break down the barriers of misunderstanding, we must return to the sources. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul [11] lays the theological foundation for the doctrine,

“Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.”
Romans 5:12

This statement was later added to and explained by non-Jewish church fathers such as Augustine of Hippo. When Augustine enunciated his understanding of ‘original sin’, he experienced opposition with the church fathers struggling with the idea, who eventually confirmed his views of massa damnata, (condemnation of the masses) to be referring to spiritual death. As a result, it became necessary to baptize infants to save them from hell. All of this comes from a goyishe [12] misunderstanding of the Bible.

To properly understand the Biblical concept of “original sin” we must strip away the later Christian accretions, and return to the core of the doctrine that Paul taught. Where did Paul learn this? Did he invent this dogma, or did he learn this from his teachers? To find the answer, we must not look to the Church Fathers. We must look to the Rabbis. We must return to the Jewish soil from which Paul grew.

The term ‘original sin’ never occurs in the Bible. It should not be surprising then that one cannot find the doctrine of original sin developed in Jewish theology under that title. Rather, the parallel concept in Judaism is called, ‘The Counsel of the Serpent.’ As the Targum to Ruth illustrates,

“Now Oved begot Jesse, who was called Nahash, because no corruption and perversion, for which he might be delivered into the hands of the angel of death, who would take his life from him, were found in him. He lived a long time, until the serpent’s counsel to Eve, Adam’s wife, to partake of the fruit of the tree, the eating of which resulted in wisdom to distinguish between good and evil, was recalled before God. Because of that counsel, all inhabitants of the earth are mortal, and as a result of that blunder, the righteous Jesse died. He is Jesse, who was the father of David, the king of Israel.”
Targum Ruth 4:22, Translated by Samson H. Levy

An illuminating account is recorded in the Midrash Rabbah, where Moshe is at the close of his life, and is speaking with HaShem,

“Moses pleaded: ‘ Master of the Universe, there are thirty-six transgressions punishable by extinction enumerated in the Torah, for the commission of any one of which a man is liable to be put to death. Have I then transgressed any one of them? Why do You decree death upon me? God replied: You are to die because of the sin of the first man who brought death into the world.
Deuteronomy Rabbah 9:9, Soncino Press Edition

This text is not only linguistically but theologically similar, illustrating the exact point of Paul in 1st Corinthians,

“For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive.”
1 Corinthians 15:21-22

The Talmud brilliantly looks into the problem of suffering and death without sin, and eventually ascribes suffering and death in the world to the serpent,

“Our Rabbis taught: Four died through the counsel of the serpent, namely, Benjamin son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, Jesse the father of David, and Kilab the son of David.”
Baba Batra 17a, Soncino Press Edition, Cf. Shabbat 55b

The Soncino footnote explains the meaning of the phrase “the counsel of the serpent,”

“The counsel given by the serpent to Eve, which brought death on all mankind, and not for any sin they themselves committed. [The reference is to physical death only and is thus not to be confused with the doctrine of “original sin” involving the condemnation of the whole human race to a death that is eternal.]”
Soncino Footnote to Baba Batra 17a

Note that the concept is so similar that the Soncino translators have to caution the reader not to confuse this passage with the doctrine of ‘original sin’. Then they go on to explain what the doctrine of ‘original sin’ is, which involves the ‘condemnation of the whole human race to a death that is eternal.” This view belongs to Augustine, not to Paul.

The Zohar comments on this passage in the Talmud,

“For, indeed, “there is not a righteous man upon earth that does good and sins not” (Eccl. 7:20). And even the sinless ones who only died because of the “counsel of the Serpent” will arise and be counselors to the Messiah.”
Zohar II:54a, Soncino Press Edition

The Soncino commentators then make an interesting statement,

“Benjamin, Amram, Yishai, and Kaleb, David’s son, were sinless and died not for their own sins, but because of the “serpent’s counsel”, i.e. of “original sin]”
Soncino Footnote to Zohar II:54a

Now the Soncino translators describe the phrase “counsel of the serpent” as “original sin”. There is actually no contradiction between the Soncino commentary on the Talmud and the Soncino commentary on the Zohar. It is “original sin” but not the Augustinian version of it. The Talmud and the Zohar’s interpretations of “original sin” are in absolute harmony with the Pauline concept described in the New Testament. Man has brought death into the world by allowing himself to be bitten by sin, and it is the poison of the serpent that has spread itself throughout the Soul of Adam, as Paul states,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

The Zohar uses almost word for word language,

“R. Yesa said: Adam appears to every man at the moment of his departure from life to testify that the man is dying on account of his own sins and not the sin of Adam, according to the dictum, ‘there is no death without sin’. There are only three exceptions, namely, Amram, Levi, and Benjamin, who were deprived of life through the prompting of the primeval serpent; some add also, Jesse. These did not sin, and no ground could be assigned for their death save the prompting of the serpent, as we have said.”
Zohar I:57b, Soncino Press Edition

The Jewish Encyclopedia summarizes the various texts related to Adam’s downfall,

“The sin of Adam, according to the Rabbis, had certain grievous results for him and for the earth. The Shekinah left earth after his fall (Gen. R. xix.; Tan., Peḳude, 6). He himself lost his personal splendor, deathlessness, and gigantic stature (see Adam). All men were doomed thenceforth to die; none not even the most just, might escape the common fate: the old temptation of the serpent suffices to bring on death (B. B. 17a; Shab 55b).”
Jewish Encyclopedia, Fall of Man

The brilliant scholar of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem, concludes that this not only affected all of humanity, but also the entire world,

Since Adam was truly, and not merely metaphorically, all-embracing, his fall was bound likewise to drag down and affect everything. . . ”
Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, pg. 279

The Biala Rebbe states,

“Bnei Yisrael were susceptible to the arrogance of Egypt, only because the seeds of arrogance that had already been planted within them by Adam’s sin. Since the souls of all mankind were included in Adam’s soul, we were all party to his sin, and we are all still marked by its effect. Through our Torah and mitzvos, we strive to correct Adam’s sin, which sullied the entire human race with arrogance. . . The ultimate perfection of human character will occur with the coming of Moshiach, when Adam’s sin of arrogance will be entirely corrected. In this merit, we will finally be able to understand the deepest secrets of the Torah, of which the Midrash states: “The Torah that man learns in this world is like mist compared to the Torah that will be taught by Moshiach.”
Mevaser Tov, The Biala Rebbe, Sefirat HaOmer, pg. 251

SEED OF THE WOMAN

In his introduction to Sefer Tomer Devorah, R’ Dov HaKohen Fink, recounts the life of the Ramak (R’ Moshe Cordevero),

“The Ramak was born around 1522…In the last year of his life, the Arizal came to Sefad, studied under him and considered the Ramak as his teacher. He passed away at the age of forty-eight on the 23rd of Tamuz, 1570. In his eulogy, the Arizal applied the verse (Devorim 21:22) “וכי יהיה באיש חטא משפט מות והומת ותלית אותו על עץ” [Lit. If there will be a man deserving the death penalty, he shall be killed and hung on a wooden pole.] He interpreted it to mean, that if there is a man who is free of all sin, and therefore, does not deserve to die, and he dies, then attribute his demise solely to the sin of the ‘Tree’ [from which Adam ate].”
Forward to Tomer Devorah, Rabbi Dov HaKohen Fink, Tomer Publications, pg 5 

Of R’ Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov (Besht), it is said he did not partake of this sin,

“They say that once, when all souls were gathered in Adam’s soul, at the hour he stood beside the Tree of Knowledge, the soul of the Baal Shem Tov went away, and did not eat of the fruit of the tree.”
Tales of the Hasidim, Early Masters, retold by Martin Buber pg. 35

The fall of Adam was the most cataclysmic event of human history. This one act of rebellion is the source of all death, wars, disease and famine that has ravaged the earth. So it is without little wonder that the serpent is one of the most reviled creatures on earth. The reptilian, fork-tongued, slithery creature is the iconic symbol of evil, deceit and Satan. As we see in Genesis,

“And I will put hatred between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:15

This famous passage is a well-known Messianic prophecy. The Targum (an ancient Aramaic interpretive translation) on this passage also identifies this as a messianic prophecy,

“And it shall be when the sons of the woman consider the Torah, and perform (its) instructions, they will be prepared to smite you on your head to kill you. But when the sons of the woman forsake the commandment of the Torah, and perform not (its) instructions, you will be ready to wound them in their heel, and hurt them. Nevertheless there shall be a medicine for the sons of the woman, but for you, serpent, there shall be no medicine. However, for these there shall be a remedy for the heel in the days of the king Meshiha.”
Targum Jonathan on Genesis 3:15

THE COPPER SERPENT

In Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19:1–22:1), we read of an another incident of snake poison, holysnake-nachash5that that occurred in the Wilderness of Zin,

“And the people spoke against God and against Moshe, “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, neither is there any water! And our soul loathes this worthless bread. And HaShem sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died.”
Numbers 21:5-6

God judged the people with the fiery serpents, and many died. This caused Israel to repent, and like the Targum says God will provide the cure in “the days of King Meshiha,” so too here, HaShem provides the cure,

holysnake-nachash6“Therefore the people came to Moshe and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against HaShem, and against you. Pray to HaShem, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moshe prayed for the people. And HaShem said to Moshe, “Make yourself a fiery serpent [13], and set it upon a pole, and it shall come to pass, that whoever has been bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live. And Moshe made a serpent of copper, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of copper, he lived.”
Numbers 21:7-9

This is one of the most unusual accounts in the Torah. At first glance, it would seem to imply some type of magical property was invested in this copper serpent.

In fact, archaeological excavations in the ancient Yemeni city of Timna, modern day Beihan as Qisab, have unearthed copper serpents, probably used as healing idols of sorts[14]. Perhaps this story, like holysnake-nachash7the myths of creation, disseminated into the nations, surfacing in well known symbols today such as the Rod of Asclepius and the caduceus [15]. Both of these symbols are used in the medical field today, although the caduceus is used mistakenly so. The Rod of Asclepius is even used as the logo of the American Medical Association. In truth, however, it was not the serpent that healed, but God, when an Israelite believed the word spoken to Moshe. It was by emunah (faith), as the Wisdom of Solomon states,

“For when the horrible fierceness of beasts came upon them, and they perished with the stings of crooked serpents, your wrath did not endure forever. Although they were troubled for a small season, that they might be admonished, they had a sign of salvation, to make them remember the commandments of your Torah. For he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by You, because you are the Savior of all. . . . For you have power of life and death: You lead to the gates of Sh’ol, and bring up again.”
Wisdom of Solomon 16:5-13

Like the Copper Serpent, ancient Jewish literature records a belief of healing a fatal snake bite from another source: The Name of Yeshua.

ר’ אלעזר בן דמה שנשכו נחש, ובא יעקב איש כפר סמא לרפאותו משם של ישו פנדירא, ולא הניח לו ר’ ישמעאל

“R. Eleazar b. Damah was bitten by a snake. And Jacob of Kefar Sama came to heal him in the name of Jesus[16]…and R. Ishmael did not allow him [to accept the healing]. They said to him, “You are not permitted [to accept healing from him] ben Dama.” He said to him, “I shall bring you proof that he may heal me.” But he did not have time to bring the [promised] proof before he dropped dead.”
Tosefta, Hullin 2:22, translated by Jacob Neusner, Hendrickson Publishers, pg. 1380, Cf. b. Avodah Zarah 27b, Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 1:4, Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:24, 7:39

The book of Acts says Paul experienced something similar on the island of Malta,

“The natives showed us uncommon kindness; for they kindled a fire, and received us all, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said one to another, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped from the sea, yet Justice has not allowed to live.However he shook off the creature into the fire, and wasnt harmed.”
Acts 28:2-5

THE HIDDEN GEMATRIA

In Hebrew, every letter is also a number. Thus different combinations of different Hebrew letters yield different numerical results. The Torah is thus revealed not only as a historical, or theological document, but also mathematical. This is called Gematria. There are numerous forms of gematria, methods of determining mathematical values of Hebrew words and phrases. There are also methods called chilufei otiyot, or letter exchanges. These ciphers are code systems involving exchanging certain letters for others. The most well known form of chilufei otiyot is called atbash. Expressed in English terms, this would involve exchanging the letter ‘A’ for ‘Z’, the letter ‘B’ for ‘Y’, and so forth. The first becomes last, the second becomes the second to last.

With this understanding in mind, an illuminating story regarding the nature of the very word sin is told…

“The Kabbalists tell us that at one time the Hebrew word for “sin” was san which consists of two letters, samekh and nun. The samekh is for the word sam “poison” and the letter nun is for nahash “snake.” Thus sin was personified as “poisonous snake.”
Heaven on your Head, Rabbi S.Z. Kahana, Research Centre of Kabbalah, pg. 234

The story continues that Satan entered a dispute with God, claiming that man cannot truly have free will  if the word for sin resembles a “poisonous snake.” So God, using atbash system, reversed the letters on the Hebrew alephbet, leaving the word comprised of the letters Chet, and Tet. However, God decided to add the letter Aleph, to remind man that he is created in His Image.

holysnake-nachash3

atbash
THE ROD OF MOSHE

In the Torah, the staff of Moshe becomes the instrument of salvation for the Hebrews. In an unusual passage, HaShem changes the staff of Moshe into a snake:

“And the HaShem said unto him, “What is that in your hand? And he said, “A rod.” And he said, “Cast it on the ground.” And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses fled from before it. And the HaShem said to Moshe, “Put forth your hand, and take it by the tail.” And he put forth his hand and caught it and it became a rod in his hand.”
Exodus 4:2-4

In a fascinating comment, the Zohar likens the rod of Moshe to “Metatron”, who is the Divine Angel of the HaShem,

“The rod of the God” is Matatron, who has life on one side and death on the other, AS HE CHANGES FROM A SERPENT TO A ROD AND FROM A ROD TO A SERPENT.”
Zohar, Vol I:262, Beresheet A, Kabbalah Centre

Rebbe Nachman comments,

“If he violates the Torah, he drinks from the bitterness of the Tree of Evil, which is the Evil Inclination…but if he repents, it is said of him: “God showed him a tree” – the Tree of Life – through which “the water turned sweet” (Exodus 15:25). This is Moshe-Mashiach, of whom it is said: “with the mateh (staff) of God in my hand ” (Exodus 17:9). MaTeh is MeTat, from whom comes life and also death.”
Likutey Moharan 79:3, Breslov Research Institute, pg 165

THE HOLY SNAKE

In the thirteenth century, a Jewish mystic named Rabbi ben Jacob HaCohen likened the Messiah to a snake[17]. At first glance, it seems totally antithetical to liken the sinlholysnake-nachash2ess Redeemer to the archetypal symbol of evil. Yet, in mystical Judaism the Messiah is “The Holy Snake.” This is derived from the fact that the Hebrew word, Mashiach, has the gematria of 358, equivalent to nachash, snake. We see that Moshe’s staff that became a snake swallows up the snakes of Egypt, which is an earthly pattern of things in the Heavenly Realm.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg of the Gal Einai Institute states,

“Just as Amalek represents the epitome of evil, so does the positive snake represent the epitome of good. Mashiach himself is referred to as “the holy snake,” as alluded to by the phenomenon that the numerical value of Mashiach (358) is the same as that of the word for “snake” (nachash). In the Zohar it is told that when the holy snake, Mashiach, will kill the evil snake (overcome the fear of insanity), he will thereby merit to marry the Divine princess, to unite with the origin of the souls of Israel and so to bring redemption to the world.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, Kabbalah and the Healing of the Soul – Part 35 – The Snake [18]

The Ramchal writes,

“And from then onwards this characteristic of appearing in the mystical capacity of a snake is given to the Messiah, especially to MBY, who is the mystical embodiment of the left…Since then the tikun has been prepared in the mystical mission of the two Messiahs…for the Messiah ben Joseph mystically represents the left, and he bears the character of the exterior which needs all these tikunim, and the Messiah ben David mystically represents the right which needs to be joined to it [the left], and the Redemption will be complete.”
R’ Moshe Hayyim Luzzato, Kinat HaShem Tzevaot 20, cited in Messianic Mystics, Moshe Idel, Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, pg 238

The gematria values of the words Mashiach and nachash imply a connection between the two, and reveal the secret of this passage in Exodus. When the fiery serpents were biting and bringing death to the Israelites in the desert, God commanded Moshe to make a symbol of a bronze serpent, and lift it up, and everyone who looked to it would be saved (Numbers 21:5-9). This was a precursor to the crucifixion of the Holy Snake, the Mashiach, as the Master Himself says,

“As Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:14-15

Let us examine the Exodus account of the Moshe-Pharoah encounter more closely,

וַיִּבְלַע מַטֵּֽה־אַהֲרֹן אֶת־מַטֹּתָֽם

“And Moshe and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and they did as HaShem had commanded. Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers. Now the magicians of Egypt also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up (vayivla) their rods.”
Exodus 7:10-12

The Hebrew word for “swallow up” is vayivla, and is the same root word in Isaiah 25:8. This word connects the two verses and unlocks the plan of redemption. As Moshe’s staff-turned-snake swallowed up the evil serpents, so will the Messiah swallow up death! And whoever looks to the Son of Man, will be saved. The King Messiah is hidden in every jot and tittle of the Torah, and the plan of salvation is revealed in its words.

The eternal life, spoken of here, is a fulfillment of all of the prophets,

בִּלַּע הַמָּוֶת לָנֶצַח וּמָחָה אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה דִּמְעָה מֵעַל כָּל־פָּנִים וְחֶרְפַּת עַמֹּו יָסִיר מֵעַל כָּל־הָאָרֶץ כִּי יְהוָה דִּבֵּֽר׃

“He will swallow up (bila) death in victory! The Lord HaShem will wipe away tears
from all faces, and shall take away the rebuke of his people from all the
earth, for HaShem has spoken it.”
Isaiah 25:8

The Midrash Rabbah interprets this verse as a messianic prophecy,

“…when God created His world, there was no Angel of Death in the world…Messiah would arise, and in his days God would cause death to be swallowed up, as it says, He will swallow up death forever.”
Exodus Rabbah 30:3, Soncino Press Edition

The Zohar reveals the identity of the Rod of Moshe in a jaw dropping statement,

“…the staff given to you will be a Tree of Life – denoting Vav, which is the son of Yud Hei.”
Zohar, Exodus, Mispatim 384[19]

      Upon the execution stake, the King Messiah defeated death. Three days later, He arose from the dead…in the Garden[20]. He first appears to Miryam of Magdala as the Gardener.

“Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”
She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
John 20:15

Why does John include the unusual detail that she supposed him “to be the gardener”? The answer is found in Genesis,

“The HaShem G-d planted a garden eastward[21] , in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
Genesis 2:8

As Adam is formed from the dust of the earth, so is the Son of Man raised from the dust. The Messiah is the ‘Gardener’ who desires to be close to us, and walk with us again. The Messiah speaks with the woman alone in the garden to bring tikkun[22] for the snake speaking with the first woman in the garden[23]. Now The Holy Mashiach has reversed the curse and will return us to the Garden of Eden. The Holy Snake has crushed the head of the primeval serpent, and he has destroyed death.

“I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away. He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Revelation 21:2-5

אנכי התקומה והחיים

“I am the resurrection, and the life. he that believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”
John 11:25-26


REFERENCES

  1. Over 500 stories in various cultures have survived with an astonishing degree of agreement. The most notable of these being the Epic of Gilgamesh and Eridu Genesis.
  2. b. Eruvin 53a
  3. Contrary to the popular depictions of the Tower of Babel as if it were The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  4. The number 70 is derived from the number of the descendents of Shem, Ham and Japheth in Genesis 10. 70 equals גּוֹג וּמָגוֹג, Gog and Magog. Cf. Revelation 20:8, Ezekiel 38:1-39:29. Israel offered up 70 bulls during the festival of Sukkot on behalf of the nations (Numbers 29).
  5. However, the events in Genesis have multiple levels of deeper meaning. The Zohar says, “Woe to the sinners who consider the Torah as mere worldly tales, who only see its outer garment; happy are the righteous who fix their gaze on the Torah proper. Wine cannot be kept save in a jar; so the Torah needs an outer garment. These are the stories and narratives, but it behooves us to penetrate beneath them.” – Zohar III:152a, Soncino Press Edition
  6. Genesis 3:
  7. The Gematria of עמלק, Amalek, is 240, equivalent to ספף Safek, Doubt.
  8. Deuteronomy 25:17
  9. Genesis 1:28
  10. Adam was king over all the earth. Cf. Genesis 1:28-30.
  11. The New Testament acknowledges that Paul’s letters are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). The first mistake in interpreting Paul’s writings is to begin with the premise that he was a Hellenist Jew, and the “founder of the Christian church.” Instead, Shaul of Tarsus was a Rabbinic student of Rabban Gamli’el, a great Jewish mystic and a genius. Jewish scholar Alan F. Segal writes, “”Without knowing about first-century Judaism, modern readers – even those committed by faith to reading him – are bound to misconstrue Paul’s writing.” Alan F. Segal, Paul the Convert, Yale University Press, pg. xii
  12. A Gentile, non-Jewish understanding. Popularly called “Greek Thinking.”
  13. John Gill notes the possibility they had wings, see Isaiah 14:29. Herodotus said the serpents only existed in Arabia, whose wings had no feathers, but were like a bat. Another serpent described said that their bite would cause death by incurable, intolerable burning thirst. The phrase seraph in this text seems to imply a spiritual component to the snake.
  14. This evidence confirms 2 Kings 18:4, where the copper snake became Nechushtan, an idolatrous symbol.
  15. Both of these symbols are used in the medical field today, although the caduceus is used mistakenly so. The Rod of Asclepius is used as the logo of the American Medical Association.
  16. I have dropped the pejorative ‘Pandira’ from this text.
  17. Dr. Abraham Elkayam, Department of Philosophy, Bar-Ilan University. http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha/eng/lekh/elkayam.html
  18. http://www.inner.org/healing/healing35.htm
  19. Kabbalah Centre, http://www.zohar.com/zohar.php?vol=20&sec=691
  20. The Rod of Aharon also ‘resurrected’, cf. Numbers 17:8
  21. The word for eastward  is מִקֶּדֶם miqqedem, which links this passage to Micah 5:2, which means Messiah origins are miqqedem, i.e. He is coming to Beit-Lechem from the Garden of Eden above.
  22. Repair, restoration. Tikkun olam means the ‘Repair of the World.’
  23. The Messiah ‘rewinds the tape’ so to speak, as He repairs the damage in the order it was caused. Thus the Zohar states, “…Messiah … shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee; for in this part of the Holy Land the desolation first began, and therefore he will manifest himself there first.” Zohar II:7b, Soncino Press Edition