The Power of Paradigms

[This teaching was originally taught coinciding with Parashat KiTisa – Ex30:11-34:35.]


Paradigms shape:

  • how we see the world;
  • how we understand words;
  • how we read and interpret texts (including, of course, the scriptures).

Much of our language is paradigmatic; the words are given meaning by the paradigm in which they’re used. Change the paradigm and the meanings change too.


  • “hammer” and “anvil” mean something completely different to a blacksmith making a horseshoe than they do to an ENT surgeon performing an ear operation;
  • “keyboard” means something completely different to a classical pianist than to an IT technician.

The same applies to translation. Every translator, every member of a translation committee, approaches the text to be translated from a specific paradigm. That paradigm includes their belief system, with specific a-priori theological, theosophical, Christological and soteriological assumptions and presuppositions. Where passages are ambiguous, they will choose words and phrases that fit into their paradigm.

I will declare myself up front here – I’m no different, and neither are you. We all approach the text from within our own paradigm; it’s just that some of us have had a paradigm shift and are learning to examine the text from a different perspective.

I propose that nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than when dealing with the writings of Paul. The church has historically portrayed Paul as the pioneer of Christianity and even the “father” of replacement theology. Anti-missionaries seize on this and interpret the apostolic writings using the church’s hermeneutic, contrasting it with their view of the Tanakh and showing why it is contradictory. This then (in their minds) justifies them in declaring Paul a false prophet and  Jesus as an idol (because parts of the church seem to worship him even above the Father) who cannot then qualify as the Jewish Messiah.

They dismiss any allegorical or mystical interpretation of what the church regard as Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh, insisting on a purely rational interpretation based on literal events that occurred in the life of the prophet. Furthermore, they have a list (based on their interpretation of scripture) of things that the Messiah will accomplish when he arrives and they go to great pains to point out that Yeshua (Jesus) accomplished none of them when he lived on earth.

All orthodox Jews agree that the actual prophecies about the Jewish Messiah are focused on the fulfilled promises that will mark the era and age of his coming, [1] not on the Messiah himself, as his role is in leading people into the proper worship and glorification of G-d alone.

[2]* The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)
[3] * Once he is king, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
[4] * The whole world will worship the One G-d of Yisrael (Isaiah 2:17)
[5]* He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1Chronicles 22:8-10) [Tribal lineage is via the biological father from one of the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel.]
[6] * The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with the “fear of G-d”(Isaiah 11:2)
*****In other words – this must all be accomplished in a human lifetime*****
[7]* Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
[8]* Knowledge of G-d will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
[9]* Hewill include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah11:10)
[10] * All Israelites will be returned to their homeland(Isaiah 11:12)
[11] * Death will be swallowed up forever(Isaiah 25:8)
[12] * There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
[13] * All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
[14] * The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
[15] * Hewill be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)
[16] * Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)
[17] * The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
[18] * The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
[19] * Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
[20] * The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvos
[21]* He [Mashiach?]will then perfect the entire world to serve G-d together (Zephaniah 3:9)
[22] * Jews will know the Torah without study (Jeremiah 31:33)
[23] * He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
[24] * He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9).

Note the key point that all these things must be accomplished in one human lifetime. That is a relatively recent interpretation regarding Messiah. In saying that, they ignore the writings of their own sages.

What follows below are passages written hundreds of years ago. They all say basically the same thing.

From Arba Mei’os Shekel Kesef (page 68) …written by Rabbi Chaim Vital, pupil of the Arizal….

“Just as we find that Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses] ascended to Heaven, body and soul, and remained there for 40 days…similarly, Moshiach [King Messiah] will, through the help of the Almighty, merit to attain that lofty soul. He will then realize that he is in fact Moshiach [King Messiah], although no one else will be aware of this. This is the secret to which the Zohar alludes, ‘Moshiach [King Messiah] will be revealed, yet no one will perceive him’.

“Shortly afterwards Moshiach [King Messiah] will be hidden away, body and soul, in that Divine pillar [the spiritual incubation of this sublime soul], as previously explained…

“Moshiach [King Messiah] will thereupon rise up to Heaven just as Moshe [Moses] ascended to the firmament, and will subsequently [return and] be revealed completely for all to see. The entire Jewish people will then perceive him and flock towards him.”

[See also Sha’ar Hagilgulim chapter 13]


Can the Moshiach [King Messiah] come from the dead?

The answer is, surprisingly enough, a resounding yes!

In the second to the last Rashi (the foremost explainer of the scripture and the Talmud, printed in every text) in the book of Daniel, (12:12) he writes: “The Moshiach [King Messiah] will reveal himself and then be concealed…. and then revealed once more, and so it says in the Midrash on Ruth and in the poems of Rabbi Eliezer HaKalir.”

Soit states in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98b), “If the Moshiach [King Messiah] comes from the dead he will be someone like Daniel. “Rashi there explains this to mean exactly what it says; Moshiach [King Messiah] can come from the dead.

The great and holy scholar, Rabbi Chiam Midini, in his work Sdei Chemed (Peyas HaSadeh, Maareches “Alef”, os Eyin), elaborates on this, and connects this Talmudic statement to an earlier one (ibid 98a) referring to the prophecy of Daniel: “If the generation is fortunate the Moshiach [King Messiah] will come from the dead, i.e.on “clouds of heaven,” and then everyone will accept him with no reservations. But if not he will come from the living, i.e. riding on a donkey (lit. “chamor”, which also means “physical” in Hebrew)”.

And so agrees the Holy Chacham Yosef Chiam (The Ben Ish Chai) in his commentary on Sanhedren 98 in his book “Ben Yhoyada”, that Moshiach [King Messiah] can come from the dead. (He also explains the topic there of Moshiach ben Yosef and how he can also be Moshiach)

The Zohar in Parshat Balak (pg. 203b) states that the Moshiach [King Messiah] will have to “die”‘ i.e. go to a higher spiritual level, and return again with the new level he has attained.

In the 13th. chapter of Shaar Hagilgulim (near the end) it states that after the Moshiach [King Messiah] arrives, he will be hidden in heaven like Moshe [Moses] was hidden on Mount Sinai, and then he will appear again.

Finally the Abarbanel states in his book “Yeshuot Moshicho” (Part2, topic 2, chapter 1) that “the Moshiach [King Messiah] will have to die in order to purify the generation…and he will wait in a spiritual state in ‘heaven’ until it he rises from the dead, as it says in the Talmud Sanhedrin (98b).

All the above were sources from several hundred years ago supporting the idea that Moshiach CAN come from the dead.


1)Sanhedrin 98b (see Rashi on this)

2)S’dei Chemed vo;.7, page 2984

3)Derech Eretz Zuta (end of chapter 11)

4)Yeshuos Meshicho (page 104)

5)Midrash Eichah Rabbah (1:51)

6)Yefeh Anaf (commentary on Midrash Eichah Rabbah, ibid)

7)Arba Mei’os Shekel Kesef (p.68 by Rabbi Chaim Vital , pupil of theArizal)

8)Meori Tzion (chapter 97)

9)Zohar (Balak, 203b)

10)Maamarim of the Alter Rebbe (5568 page 283)

11)Second to last Rashi on Daniel 12:12

12)The Ben Ish Chai in his commentary on Sanhedren 98 in his book “BenYhoyada”

13)The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s numerous references to the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe specifically “V’hu Yigaleinu” stated after the passing of the previous Rebbe found in Basi L’gani.

[adapted by Rabbi Moshe Yess from an article written by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton ]

There is, however, a small but growing number of mainstream, Christian scholars who are advocating for what is being called a “New Perspective on Paul”. It was pioneered to a certain extent by E.P. Sanders; a growing group of scholars including Anders Runesson and Mark Nanos (a Jew, not a Christian) are now taking it even further, proposing that Paul should be read not as having converted from Judaism to the then fledgling Christian religion, but that he remained fully and firmly within normative 2nd temple period Jewish faith and practice and that his writings and teachings need to be understood within that framework. This is the paradigm shift that we’ve been looking for.

It is not only Christian scholars though. Prof. Daniel Boyarin is but one Jewish scholar who is also re-examining the 2nd temple period and 1st/2nd century Jewish and Christian writings from a fresh perspective. In “The Jewish Gospels: The Story Of The Jewish Christ”, he examines post-Babylonian emerging views of the Messiah among Jews returning from exile, in the context of Daniel’s prophecy (ch 7) and others,and shows that the concept of a Divine Messiah appearing as the “Son of God” or “Son of Man” was not foreign to Jewish belief at that time.

[Dan 7:13-14 ESV] 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations,and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

In his book “Border Lines; The Partitioning of Judeo-Christianity”, he argues that the separation of ways between what became Rabbinic Judaism and what became Christianity occurred well into the 2nd century and that neither side had a fully developed “heresiology” (defining others as heretics in a pejorative sense in an effort to find self-identity as “not them”) until the late 2nd or early 3rd century. It was in this process, he contends, that the proto-rabbis began to divorce themselves of certain Messianic concepts and ideas (such as the divinity of Messiah) embraced by the follows of Yeshua, that had until that time been acceptable, and to assign them to “Christianity” as heretical doctrines, in doing so also defining what became Jewish “orthodoxy”.

Another example is what he calls “Logos theology” – the idea of the“logos” or divine Word of God personified in the scriptures as being a literal personification (ref. John 1). This idea is preserved in the Aramaic Targums as the “memra” or “Word” of Elohim.

Of course, I agree with Runesson, Nanos, Sanders et al that Paul (R.Sha’ul) lived, taught and wrote within the framework of 2nd temple period Jewish faith and practice. His understanding of the nature, the person, the role of Messiah was necessarily shaped by that paradigm, that culture.

We know that to be the case for Timothy also; his mother was Jewish, therefore he was also halakhically Jewish. In his second letter Paul writes to Timothy as follows;

[2 Ti 3:14-17 ESV] 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

So, having said all that by way of introduction, let me get to my main point. Someone asked a while back about Phil 2:6. That sent me (and others) on a journey of study, investigation and discovery. I found some interesting things and raised some questions about translation choices that have been made here (hence, my lengthy preamble about paradigms).
I’m going to look at Phil 2:3-13 in the ESV first; then I’m going to compare verse 6 in some other translations and ask some questions about the translation choices.

[Phl 2:3-13 ESV] 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

KJV Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

NKJV who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

NLT Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

NIV Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

ESV who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

HCSB who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

NASB who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

RSV who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

ASV who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,

YLT who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God,

DBY who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God;

WEB Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

HNV who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider it robbery to be equal with God,

VUL qui cum in forma Dei esset non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem Deo

MGNT ?? ?? ????? ???? ??????? ??? ???????? ??????? ?? ????? ??? ???

TR ?? ?? ????? ???? ??????? ??? ????????? ?????? ?? ????? ??? ???

Virtuallyall the translations of verse 6 seem to begin from a theological (or Christological) assumption of the deity (different to divinity) of Christ and his co-equality with God the Father.

Is that what Yeshua claimed?

Is that what Paul was really trying to say?

Is that consistent with the rest of scripture?

Do we have another witness? Or two?

[Jhn 5:36 ESV] 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

[Jhn 10:29 ESV] 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

[Jhn 14:12, 28 ESV] 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. … 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Let’s look at some key parts of Phil 2:6, but first, let’s be reminded of this: [Isa 46:9-10 ESV] 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

2:6 ?? ?? ????? ???? ??????? ??? ???????? ??????? ?? ????? ??? ???

The first word I want to look at is the word ??????? hyparchon.It is almost universally translated as “existed”, “subsisted”, “was”, but the Greek is a present tense active particple meaning, “being, coming forth, arising”. Not “existed”, nor (as the NASB renders it) “although he existed”.

The next phrase is “hen morphe theou” – in the “form” of God. In the Hebrew NT, this word has been translated using the Hebrew word ??????? “d’mut”.This word is first used in Gen 1:26.

[Gen 1:26 ESV] 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea andover the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all theearth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

????????? ???????? ????????? ????? ???????????? ????????????? ?????????? ??????? ?????? ???????? ??????????? ???????????? ??????????????? ???????????????? ????????? ?????????????

The word “likeness” is ??????? ‘d’mut’. “In our image” and “after our likeness” are parallel phrases.The next clause defines what they mean, “..let them have dominion…”

That is, to be in the image (b’tzelem) and likeness (d’mut) of God is to have authority to rule and reign. The first Adam (Adam rishon) was created to rule and reign as God’s regent, God’s Vassal king on the earth (with God as Suzerain). Image/Likeness is about the ROLE, not the appearance.

In a Suzerain/Vassal treaty, the Vassal carries the authority of the Suzerain in the territory over which he is appointed. The Suzerain may specify (grant) certain rights and privileges to the Vassal, and when the Vassal speaks it is as if the Suzerain has spoken. An offence against the Vassal is an offence against the Suzerain.

Looking at Gen 3:17-19, 21:

[Gen 3:17-19, 21 ESV] 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” …21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

????????? ?????? ???????? ??????? ????????????? ????????? ???? ????????????????

The kingdom authority was lost, abdicated, but God still needed a priest on the earth, so although the kingdom was lost He still restored their priestly role. The word used for “garment” here is used elsewhere in scriptures only to refer to the garments of the High Priest. As for authority though, everything now becomes hard work and creation resists Adam at every turn.

Something is broken and needs restoration. Enter ben Adam, the Son of Adam (Son of Man).

[Dan 7:13-14 ESV] 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

The term ‘ben Adam’ speaks of one who inherits the role, the purpose, the position of authority of Adam Rishon.

I think this is what Sha’ul is referring to when he speaks of Yeshua coming/arising/being ‘hen morphe Theou’ –in the form/likeness/image of God – he is the heir to the throne that Adam abdicated; the King over all the earth.

So, now we come to the next problem word; ??????? hegesato.This word comes from the root hegomai (from where we get our word hegemony – political, economic or military predominance of one entity over another). Virtually every translation renders this word as “consider”. Now, that IS a grammatically correct (if figurative) rendering of the word, but I’m not sure it’s contextually correct. I propose here that the rendering of this word is theologically rather than grammatically or contextually motivated. Why? Again, remembering Elohim’s words in Isaiah 46 (end from beginning), let’s go back to the beginning and see.

Deut 33:16 says, “…May these rest on the head of Joseph, on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.” The phrase “prince among his brothers” is variously rendered also as “set apart among…”, “distinguished among…”, “separated from…” etc. – all have to do with the idea of leadership or pre-eminence, and in the Septuagint this is the exact same word (and form) that is used in Phil 2:6, but there it is translated as “consider”.

I’m proposing that in the context of Phil 2, it would be better understood as speaking of pre-eminence, leadership, and rulership.

Therefore, based on the context of the whole cannon of scripture, bringing it into harmony with the Tanakh, I think Phil 2:6 would be better understood as: “who, arising/coming/being in the image of God, did not grasp (take hold of) pre-eminence/leadership, which (is/are) equalities with God, but emptied himself, by taking on the role/image of a bond-servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

This is completely consistent as a contrast with the statements Sha’ul makes in the prior verses and maintains the internal consistency of the scriptures. I also dare to suggest it is completely consistent with Jewish (and therefore Paul’s) view of the Messiah.

But there’s more;

[Phl 2:9-12 ESV] 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name ofJesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

[Mat 28:18-20 ESV] 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The kingdom authority has been restored to ben Adam, the “Son of Man”.Exactly as promised! So, what does that imply about the cross? That it is about something much bigger than just you or me; it was about VICTORY over death and the grave, about redemption and restoration of the KOSMOS (all creation) and the Kingdom, and restoration of Kingdom authority.

So, I hear you ask, what of sin? Isn’t the cross the place of forgiveness? Well I have two points there. Firstly, the Passover lamb is not a sin offering. A covenant meal, yes, but not a sin offering.

Secondly, this week’s Torah portion (Ki Tisa) teaches us that God provided the remedy for sin before it was needed. (You might have been wondering how I was going to get the Torah potion in…).

Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading about the instructions for building the tabernacle. This week’s portion (Ki Tisa) begins with the instructions on how to take a census of the sons of Israel (and not following these instructions got King David into hot water later on), and then goes on to relate the incident of the golden calf.

Now, there are some who suggest that this account is out of is proper chronological place. The suggestion is that the sin of the golden calf actually occurred before the instructions for the tabernacle were given, but that the Torah purposely tells about the tabernacle first to teach that God, in His grace, provides the remedy for sin and the means for forgiveness before it is needed.

Revelation 13:8 speaks of the “Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world.” Remember the Akedah – the “Binding of Isaac”? Do you remember what Abraham says to Isaac when Isaac asks about the lamb?

[Gen 22:8 ESV] 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
I looked this up in the Hebrew and it says, literally, “Elohim will [have] provided THE Lamb TO HIMSELF for a burnt offering.”

????????? ????????? ???????? ???????????? ??????? ??????? ?????? ?????????? ????????? ??????????

This week’s portion deals with the grace of God in providing the way of forgiveness of sin, which does not require human sacrifice or deicide. Phil 2 speaks of the victory over death and the grave (the ultimate result of Adam’s sin) and the restoration of kingdom authority.

So,we have both the assurance of forgiveness through repentance, because of the Lamb of God, and of resurrection through Messiah Yeshua’s death and resurrection.


Rodney posted at כ״ו בכסלו ה׳תשע״ו (December 8, 2015) Category: Epistles, Torah, World Views