(Bible Geeks, Share your thoughts in the comments section below?)
I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, Dr. John David Pitcher, Jr., MD. I’ve asked David to share several of his insights with my readers, I especially want to introduce those of you in Messianic leadership to David’s work. You’ll see his introductory insights right after this short introduction I hve written for him!
David, is finalizing a multi-volume work that is revolutionary, and is being well received by the Orthodox Jewish community showing that six of Paul’s letters make up a Hebrew “Midrash” (a type of commentary) on the first 6 books of the Bible. The next oldest recognized earliest Midrashim come from the 2nd century AD.
What David has discovered is like finding a very significant archaeological item that has gone unnoticed for nearly 2000 years. It is significant to the Jewish community and both the New Testament and Old Testament scholastic community, in that he shows the New Testament contains the oldest known Hebrew Midrash that anyone has ever seen!
David is the first person we know of who has recognized these connections in modern times.
His perspective is that the Septuagint was a uniquely Jewish form of Greek (much like Yiddish in more recent times is a Jewish form of German). This Jewish Community’s form of Greek is what is used in our New Testaments. Our New Testaments are therefore a continuation of the Jewish Septuagint, and are part of the Jewish community’s body of ancient literature and part of our heritage. For that reason, David has been sharing his findings on Paul’s Midrash with Orthodox Jewish scholars, in the hope of introducing them to the New Testament’s writings in a way that they will interact with it.
And they are interacting.
David’s work is nothing short earth shattering and very important for scholarship in the Messianic Community, especially.
David has put together several videos to introduce you to his findings, if you prefer not to read, you can go here to watch them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aftertherapturepassingthetorch/videos/
The first Video he presents with the following introduction:
“Here is a short video explaining The Oldest Midrash with fifteen slides. The Rapture in and of itself has been quite controversial. A Midrash within the New Testament has proven to be controversial. In actuality, all the Midrash is doing is providing a cultural bridge for those believing in the Messiah to move toward the Chosen Jewish People and for that Midrash to be a cultural bridge for our Jewish brothers and sisters to be drawn into Paul’s letters and into all of the New Testament that testifies of the Messiah. I’ve crossed that bridge.”
Now, here is Dr. John David Pitcher, Jr., MD:
So there is a complete Midrash in six of Paul’s letters. So what? How is that going to change the way we see Scripture? Here is part of the discovery that has never been seen until now. Think of Midrash as a tool that has been missing from the Christian’s toolbox to study Scripture while all along in our Jewish brothers’ and sisters’ toolbox, yet they didn’t have Paul’s Midrash in particular in which to use it on. Now we both have the tool and the Midrash Paul wrote to share!
Here is a color ink sketch and another discovery in Scripture from “The Oldest Midrash”! This article and devotional is the sequel to “The Prophetic Transference of Elijah’s Mantle”. (This will be foundational to subsequent ones including one regarding “The Seed of Abraham in Midrash”, “All Scripture is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16 through the Lens of Midrash” and “Will There be a Passing of the Torch of the Gospel? (Covenantal verses Dispensational Theology)”, an unusual topic for me to write on that has come across my path that goes back to Spurgeon’s time in 1864!)
In this original unsigned sketch (feel free to use it as you wish) the main figure your eyes are drawn to is the back of Moses, whose arms are raised with his rod upraised with the same colors in his robe as in Cecil B. DeMilles’ “Ten Commandments”. At his back is the wall of the Tabernacle with its Shekinah shining forth and before him is a giant sinkhole that has swallowed Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their figures in black can be seen. Some of Korah’s donkeys are seen falling with them. Over them billows a cloud of dust. In the distance on the right and left are the tents of the Israelites. The eyes are immediately drawn after seeing Moses to three men in the air, the three sons of Korah who have stepped away from their father’s disobedience and in contrast to the dust have a clear sky backdrop. Look closely as I’ve tried to give them the tassels their father didn’t want! To keep the sketch from becoming cluttered I’ve left the onlookers out as well as the tents of the disobedient out of the sinkhole.
This is a captivating discovery in Scripture found through Midrash that has been lost since the Third Century when the writer of the Egerton Papyrus 3 wrote a homily of verses from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament indicating the author of that papyrus knew of the significance of 2 Timothy 2:19. I have over 80 commentaries on 2 Timothy and this is the first article revealing the discovery and just how elegant the letter is in both Hellenistic rhetoric (with the elements of enthymeme, maxim and paradigm) and Hebraic Midrash (with the elements of Peshat, Remez, Derash and Sod)–though I won’t elucidate all the elements in this article I promise! You’ll need to stay alert for this one!!!
“The Flying of the Righteous”
I love a good mystery. For the past eleven years I’ve been untangling a mystery that the Apostle Paul left for us to solve. A complete Jewish Midrash is hidden within six of Paul’s letters to the early believers in Messiah.
This, “The Flying of the Righteous”, is the part of the mystery that first became obvious to me before the rest of the Midrash and it has to do with Paul’s quote in 2 Timothy 2:19 from Numbers 16:5, “The Lord knows those that are his.”
It became clear to me while sitting in a course that included 2 Timothy that Paul used words and ideas in the second letter to Timothy in order from the book of Numbers in the Greek Septuagint, the translation made by the 70 Rabbis from the Hebrew into Greek about 250 years before the birth of Messiah.
I didn’t realize 2 Timothy was part of a Midrash then but it was obvious to me as a surgeon that the sequential uses of words and ideas was a component of Aristotle’s rhetoric, the model or paradigm. (A Jewish anesthesiologist colleague of mine pointed out that what I had discovered was a Midrash!) Another clear component of rhetoric was evident to me in Numbers 2:19, the maxim. The third component, the truncated syllogism or enthymeme was then readily visible, I believe through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy is also structured as a Hebraic chiasm and a picture is listed below in the comments. This has never been seen before and only becomes visible through Midrash.)
Because of Paul’s reference to Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16, all authors have concluded that believers are to separate themselves from evil and that has been the extent of commentators’ discussion for the most part. It has been recognized that an eschatological emphasis is present throughout the epistle. (1) Insight has also come from Spurgeon who identified the three sons of Korah as those who have been saved by grace separating themselves from their disobedient father. The idea, as Spurgeon pointed out, is separation. Man’s iniquities have separated him from God (Isaiah 59:2; cf. Ezekiel 14:7) because the common cannot approach the holy (cf. Ezekiel 42:20). (2)
The most insight however has come from the Talmud in Sanhedrin 92b (top) where it is recorded that at the time of the destruction of the world, there will be a “flying of the righteous” and in Tehillim 49, 278, the sons of Korah were saved by “flying in the air.” (3) I’ve tried to illustrate the event with a color ink sketch with Korah, Abiram and Dathan falling with Korah’s donkeys (cf. Numbers 16:15) into a sinkhole with a cloud of dust rising in front of Moses who is before the Tabernacle’s outer wall but above it all are the sons of Korah, Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph (Exodus 6:24) who separated themselves from their disobedient father (Numbers 26:11).
(The Egerton Papyrus 3, held in the British Museum and written in the Third Century and thought only important for contextual purposes is a homily of quotes from the Septuagint and New Testament all regarding the resurrection, ending with 2 Timothy 2:19, indicating the writer knew of the significance of the message in 2 Timothy in regards to the Resurrection of the Messiah and its implications for those that believe in him.)
Paul tells us the reason for the Hebrew Scripture history being written down was to be an example for us (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6). The reason Paul uses Korah’s rebellion is as an illustration for the believer.
This is where it gets exciting so stay with me.
The hermeneutical rule of “juxtaposition” was assumed by the Haggadah between the connections of the commandment concerning the tassels of the peoples’ garments (Numbers 15:37-40) and the underlying reason for the rebellion of Korah, (4) and Paul uses the connection of Christ’s first appearance (2 Timothy 1:10), the last days (2 Timothy 3), and Christ’s second appearance (2 Timothy 4:8) to use Korah’s rebellion in particular to make a point using at least twenty-one opposite comparisons or contrasts. One statement is without an opposite to let the reader come to a firm conclusion. This is the enthymeme, also known as the truncated syllogism, the most persuasive form of reasoning.
Paul is showing us the nearing completion of the Heilsgeschichte, the salvation history.
Let me show you.
But first, take a moment and read 2 Timothy 2:8-26 for yourself and try to find as many opposites as you can:
“8 Remember Yeshua the Messiah, risen from the dead, of the offspring of David, according to my Good News, 9 in which I suffer hardship to the point of chains as a criminal. But God’s word isn’t chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the chosen ones’ sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Messiah Yeshua with eternal glory. 11 This saying is trustworthy:
“For if we died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful; for he can’t deny himself.”
14 Remind them of these things, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they don’t argue about words, to no profit, to the subverting of those who hear.
15 Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth. 16 But shun empty chatter, for it will go further in ungodliness, 17 and those words will consume like gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus: 18 men who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some. 19 However God’s firm foundation stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.” 20 Now in a large house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honor, and some for dishonor. 21 If anyone therefore purges himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, and suitable for the master’s use, prepared for every good work.
22 Flee from youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife. 24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle toward all, able to teach, patient, 25 in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the devil’s snare, having been taken captive by him to his will.” (World Messianic Bible)
The whole section of these 19 verses in summary deals with the assurance versus the doubt of the resurrection of the dead in Messiah at the end of days (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) with its foundation the Resurrection of the Messiah.
Here are some of the opposites (a summary is made in diagram form for you in the comments below):
He is fully God having been raised but fully man having descended from David. On the one hand we have Yeshua (verse 8 and as far as possible in the enthymeme from him is the devil (verse 26). We have the gospel and chained to Yeshua bringing life versus Satan’s will being snared by him leading to death. Keep being reminded and being warned. Flee evil desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. Paul was suffering yet he endured everything.
If we die with him we will live with him. If we are faithless he remains faithful. If we disown him he disowns us. You can be ashamed in quarreling or approved in truth. There are gold and silver articles and wood and clay articles. There are noble instruments and ignoble instruments. There are quarrels or kind, gentle instruction. There is repentance and knowledge of the truth or snare and captivity of the devil.
On one side of the double-sided seal is God’s role, on the other is man’s role in 2 Timothy 2:19:
“However God’s firm foundation stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.”
How is the syllogism truncated?
The only statement that does not have an opposite in 2 Timothy 2:8-26 is “The Lord knows those who are his.”
To know the opposite, you must recognize that Paul is quoting from Numbers 16:5. In fact, this direct quote is an Anchor Point in the Midrash of Numbers, occurring just at the right time in the Source Text Numbers and the Midrash 2 Timothy. (Paul switches the word “God” in the Septuagint for “Lord” in his letter to also get across that the Lord Yeshua is God.) (Another Anchor Point is in 2 Timothy 3:8 where according to Jewish sages, Jannes and Jambres are the two servants of Balaam in Numbers 22:22.) (2Timothy 2:8-26 in 12 sections has 30 words used in sectional order from Numbers 13:21-21:9. Specifically, 2 Timothy 2:15-19 is a Midrash of the account of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16:4-50 with 11 words used–12 times in 2 Timothy and 19 times in Numbers.)
Numbers 16:5 is within the account of Korah’s rebellion where in something that was totally new, a few (three) disobedient men were swallowed into the middle of the earth with all their earthly possessions (and Korah according to the Jewish sages brought donkey loads of treasure from Egypt) in something that had never occurred previously. The event was witnessed by only the children of Israel there locally in the Wilderness.
What is the opposite of that?
The opposite of Korah’s rebellion is the Rapture of believers in Messiah where innumerable obedient men and women will be swallowed up into the middle of heaven with all their spiritual possessions, repeating the event of Enoch and of Elijah (5) being taken away and this will be witnessed worldwide.
The Rapture is the sign that will substantiate the Resurrection of the Messiah to the world, and specifically to the children of Israel.
Yes, those believing in Messiah will be spared the Tribulation but the most important characteristic of the Rapture is that it will substantiate the fact of the Resurrection of Messiah. (This type of reasoning is also present in 1 Corinthians 15.)
Korah, a Levite, perished. He, like Aaron and Moses, was a great grandson of Levi and great-great grandson of Israel (1 Chronicles 6:1-38). Perhaps he believed Moses had slighted him by appointing his cousin Elizaphan as chief of the Levite division of Kohathites or he was more worthy because of his great riches. Much can be learned from Josephus’ account of the sedition. (6)
It is said that Korah had prophetical insight and saw that Samuel would be his descendant and that twenty-four descendants of his, inspired by the Holy Spirit, would compose psalms and sing them in the Temple. (There are 12 Psalms sung by descendents of Korah.) This brilliant future of his descendants inspired him with great confidence in his rebellion, for he thought to himself that God would not permit the father of such pious men to perish.
His eye did not, however, look sharply enough into the future, or else he would also have known that his sons would repent of the [rebellion] against Moses, and would for this reason be deemed worthy of becoming the fathers of prophets and Temple singers, whereas he was to perish. (7) His descendants did not perish (Numbers 26:11). Spurgeon notes that those descendants were spared by God’s sovereign grace, and being elected to mercy, became so gratuitous that they “addicted themselves to sacred music in order that their spared lives might be consecrated to the glory of God.” (8, 9) They are listed as singers in twelve of the Psalms (42-49, 84, 85, 87, and 88). They are Levite singers saved by grace.
Just as believers in Messiah are sons of Abraham for our likeness in faith, we are sons of Korah for our likeness in separation from disobedience.
Listed below is a short summary of those twelve Psalms for which they were singers:
Psalm 42: the longing for communion with God
Psalm 43: vindication and deliverance from the ungodly
Psalm 44: the love of faith and fidelity to God
Psalm 45: the wedding of the bride and the Bridegroom
Psalm 46: the “victories of God” is the theme of those with a virtuous heart
Psalm 47: the present sovereignty and final victory of God is our song
Psalm 48: great is the Lord and his unfailing love, our defense and our guide
Psalm 49: it is only the Lord who can redeem our lives from the grave
Psalm 84: sweet is the blameless walk before the Lord, going from strength to strength
Psalm 85: Ayesha the Messiah (Jesus is his name in English) and his salvation reconciles earth to heaven and brings peace to man
Psalm 87: the foundation of the Lord is in Jerusalem and those born of her registered
Psalm 88: the Lord in his faithfulness saves even from the depth and sorrow of the grave
Hannah, the mother of Samuel and a descendant of Korah, prophesied about the Rapture when she prayed, “The LORD kills, and makes alive. He brings down to Sheol, and brings up.” (1 Samuel 2:6).” It is Hannah who first alludes to the rebellion of her ancestors as a opposite example of the future event! (10)
Simply stated, Korah’s rebellion is an antithetical foreshadowing of the Rapture and Paul pulls out all the stops, using the most persuasive form of reasoning with all three of the main components of rhetoric to leave us persuaded in the Resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. (10)
One final note. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a complete Midrash of the book of Exodus. Paul used the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture done by the 70 Rabbis, the Septuagint (LXX). Specifically, Galatians 1:21-2:7 is a Midrash of Exodus 4:27-6:23 (an Anchor point is the unusual word “bring into bondage” in Galatians 2:4 and “keep in bondage” in Exodus 6:5) and Galatians 2:8-9 is a Midrash of Exodus 6:24-7:25 (with four specific Greek words being the same in each passage). A break in the Midrash doesn’t make sense between Exodus 6:23 and 6:24 unless the Midrash in 2 Timothy is taken into account. A climax of the Midrash is seen in 2 Timothy 2:8-26. The fate of Korah (Numbers 16:32-33) and his sons (Numbers 26:10-11) were different. Note Paul identifies Korah (mentioned in Exodus 6:21) as one of the “false brethren” (Galatians 2:4) and his sons (mentioned in Exodus 6:24) as having “perceived the grace that had been given (Galatians 2:9) Moses. Using the same word “perceived” (used three times in Numbers 16 [5, 28, 30]) Paul directs the reader to Numbers 16 where the account is recorded.
Have you believed in the Resurrection of the Messiah? Have you perceived him and made him the Lord of your life? Are you sharply looking into the future? Today is the day to believe and be wholly persuaded. The blood that he shed on the Cross is as effective in cleansing you from all unrighteousness as the day it was shed. Come to him in repentance, separating yourself from disobedience and he is faithful to forgive you of all your sins.
(1) Mounce, William D.: Pastoral Epistles In Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and Ralph P. Martin (eds.) Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 46. Nelson Reference & Electronic, Nashville, Tennessee, 2000, p. 515.
(2) Spurgeon, Charles H.: The Treasury of David. Classic Reflections on the Wisdom of the Psalms. Volume I. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, n.d., pp. 270, 299, 315.
(3) Ginzberg, Louis: The Legends of the Jews. Volume VI. Notes to Volumes III and IV from Moses in the Wilderness to Esther. The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1956, p. 104.
(4) Ginzberg, Louis: The Legends of the Jews. Volume IV. Notes to Volumes III and IV from Moses in the Wilderness to Esther. The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1956, p. 100.
(5) There are those that dispute whether or not Enoch and Elijah are alive or dead. I want to go on record that I have no doubt they have not died and in the context of the Apostle Paul’s enthymeme it is clear in the structuring of 2 Timothy 2:8-26 I am proposing he also was sure they were alive so the Rapture would not be totally new and would not be for a small number nor of only living obedient but also that had died in obedience…
(6) Whiston, William: The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus, The Celebrated Jewish Historian. John E. Potter & Company, Ltd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, n.d, p. 96.
(7) Ginzberg, Louis: The Legends of the Jews. Volume III. Bible Times and Characters From the Exodus to the Death of Moses. The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1939, pp 286-287.
(8) Spurgeon, Volume I, op. cit., p. 270.
(9) Perhaps Barnabus, a Levite, was a descendant of Korah, and his combination with Paul made a successful ministry pair of preacher and praise leader, like many successful pairs in the past century.
(10) 2 Timothy, like much of the Tenakh is symmetrically written in a complete chiasm and 2 Timothy 3:1-9 describes the condition of the hearts of mankind opposing the Messiah during the terrible times of the Tribulation which will also substantiate the Resurrection of the Messiah. There are similar elements in Hannah’s prayer and in 2 Timothy 2:8-26. Many have said that 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is the key section of Scripture regarding the Rapture. I’d like to suggest, with all its literary devices and its point that the Rapture will substantiate the Resurrection of Messiah to the Jews that 2 Timothy 2:8-26 is the key section of Scripture that brings an understanding of the Rapture of Messiah’s believers in eschatological importance in bringing the identity of the Messiah to light to our Jewish brothers and sisters.
Here is the picture for a Midrash in Galatians from the Source Text of Exodus. The sketch is entitled, “The Seed of Abraham”.
Here’s an older article regarding the importance of the Septuagint that you may enjoy. It is lengthy but worth the read imho! ”
I Just finished the Sod of Numbers 16:4-50 as I’m working on the PaRDeS of Numbers. Here it is to whet your appetite for the Midrash of Numbers:
The glory of Messiah will appear and those that have separated themselves to Messiah will be swallowed up into the middle of heaven, both men and women, both alive and dead in Messiah in large numbers throughout the world like Enoch and Elijah before them, with all their spiritual possessions having loved the appearing of the Messiah. Fire will come from Messiah and devour those opposing him. The children of Israel will fall on their faces and Messiah will make atonement for them even as wrath goes out from him.