This week’s Torah Portion speaks about the Terumah, the free will contribution the people are giving to the Lord, the materials being used to construct the Tabernacle. We also read about the dimensions of the various parts of the Tabernacle according to the pattern that Moshe saw upon the mountain of Sinai. Included in the list of items to be built was the Altar of God. In Bereshit / Genesis altars are often send to have been built (וַיִּבֶן).
Bereshit / Genesis 8:20
8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (NASB, כ וַיִּבֶן נֹחַ מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהוָֹה וַיִּקַּח מִכֹּל | הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהֹרָה וּמִכֹּל הָעוֹף הַטָּהוֹר וַיַּעַל עֹלֹת בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ:)
Bereshit / Genesis 12:7
12:7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. (NASB, ז וַיֵּרָא יְהוָֹה אֶל-אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהוָֹה הַנִּרְאֶה אֵלָיו:)
Bereshit / Genesis 26:25
26:25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well. (NASB, כה וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה וַיֶּט-שָׁם אָהֳלוֹ וַיִּכְרוּ-שָׁם עַבְדֵי-יִצְחָק בְּאֵר:)
These Altars were usually heaps of uncut stones, similar to what we read Jacob and Laban having built (וַיִּבֶן) as a witness between them in Bereshit / Genesis 31:52 ‘This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you for harm, and you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. (NASB) In Parashat Yitro, the stone altars were to be built with unhewn stone and prohibits that a tool be used upon the stone and prohibits one from ascending steps to the Altar. According to Bereshit / Genesis, an altar was made wherever there was a theophany (a visible manifestation of God). Take for example, Jacob erected a stone pillar at Bethel (Bereshit / Genesis 28:18-22) because he dreamed of God saying “this is the house of God.”
According to Parashat Terumah, we read the following, Shemot / Exodus 27:1 ‘And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. 27:2 ‘You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. (NASB, א וְעָשִֹיתָ אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת אֹרֶךְ וְחָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת רֹחַב רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַמּוֹת קֹמָתוֹ: ב וְעָשִֹיתָ קַרְנֹתָיו עַל אַרְבַּע פִּנֹּתָיו מִמֶּנּוּ תִּהְיֶין ָ קַרְנֹתָיו וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתוֹ נְחֹשֶׁת:) Here Moshe is instructing to build the altar, its materials (shittim wood), its dimensions, and it is to be overlaid with bronze. Daat Zkenim on Shemot / Exodus 27:1 Part 1 states saying, ‘וְעָשִֹיתָ אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וגו, “you are to construct the altar, etc.;” the word מזבח here may be understood as an acrostic of the words: מחילה, זכות, ברכה, חיים, “forgiveness, merit, blessing, life.” Daat Zechenim says the Hebrew word for Altar (מזבח) is an acronym for four Hebrew words referring to forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life. The Altar of God symbolizes these things, a place of forgiveness where we confess our sins, of merit where an innocent life stands in place of the guilty, of blessing where the Lord hears and sends his mercy, and of life the Lord gives life through His great mercy due to the blood of the sacrifice.
Rabbeinu Bahya, on Shemot / Exodus 27:1 Part 3
A Midrashic approach (based on Tanchuma Terumah 11): when the Torah wrote: “you shall make an altar of shittim wood and overlay it with copper,” what was this altar to atone for? For the effrontery characterized by a “copper-hard forehead.” We have a verse in Isaiah 48,4 where this simile is used for stiff-necked behavior. The prophet writes: ”because I know how stubborn you are; your neck is like an iron sinew, and your forehead bronze.” It is also worth noting that the letters in the word מזבח, “altar,” may be understood as an acrostic of the first letters in the words מחילה, זכות, ברכה, חיים respectively. The word שטים may also be understood as an acrostic of the first letters of the words שלום, טובה, ישועה, מחילה respectively. The measurements of five by five cubits for the length and width of the altar corresponded to the two Tablets of the covenant on each of which five of G’d’s directives had been engraved. The height described by the Torah, i.e. three cubits, is an allusion to the three redeemers of the Jewish people, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Thus far the Midrash.
The question is asked, “what was the altar to atone for?” and answered saying “For the effrontery characterized by a ‘copper-hard forehead.’” This tends to lead us to think of the bronze age, and the use of copper + tin to make bronze, a metal that was very hard that one fashioned weapons from. This may suggest something that is built standing against God (sin, rebellion) and the rabbis parallel this to the people who were stubborn and stiff necked. They say their stiff necks were like an iron sinew and a forehead of bronze meaning that they were unwilling to listen or move according to God’s word. The commentary also states the Hebrew word for Altar (מזבח) is an acronym for four Hebrew words referring to forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life, and then concludes saying the dimensions of the altar are an allusion to the three redeemers, Moshe, Aaron, and Miriam. The rabbis connect the altar to the mercy of God (forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life) and to the Lord sending redemption through a redeemer.
Shemot / Exodus 27:1-21
27:1 ‘And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. 27:2 ‘You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. 27:3 ‘You shall make its pails for removing its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. 27:4 ‘You shall make for it a grating of network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 27:5 ‘you shall put it beneath, under the ledge of the altar, so that the net will reach halfway up the altar. 27:6 ‘You shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 27:7 ‘Its poles shall be inserted into the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. 27:8 ‘You shall make it hollow with planks; as it was shown to you in the mountain, so they shall make it. 27:9 ‘You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side there shall be hangings for the court of fine twisted linen one hundred cubits long for one side; 27:10 and its pillars shall be twenty, with their twenty sockets of bronze; the hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be of silver. 27:11 ‘Likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings one hundred cubits long, and its twenty pillars with their twenty sockets of bronze; the hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be of silver. 27:12 ‘For the width of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits with their ten pillars and their ten sockets. 27:13 ‘The width of the court on the east side shall be fifty cubits. 27:14 ‘The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits with their three pillars and their three sockets. 27:15 ‘And for the other side shall be hangings of fifteen cubits with their three pillars and their three sockets. 27:16 ‘For the gate of the court there shall be a screen of twenty cubits, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver, with their four pillars and their four sockets. 27:17 ‘All the pillars around the court shall be furnished with silver bands with their hooks of silver and their sockets of bronze. 27:18 ‘The length of the court shall be one hundred cubits, and the width fifty throughout, and the height five cubits of fine twisted linen, and their sockets of bronze. 27:19 ‘All the utensils of the tabernacle used in all its service, and all its pegs, and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze. 27:20 ‘You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. 27:21 ‘In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel. (NASB)
א וְעָשִֹיתָ אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת אֹרֶךְ וְחָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת רֹחַב רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַמּוֹת קֹמָתוֹ: ב וְעָשִֹיתָ קַרְנֹתָיו עַל אַרְבַּע פִּנֹּתָיו מִמֶּנּוּ תִּהְיֶין ָ קַרְנֹתָיו וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתוֹ נְחֹשֶׁת: ג וְעָשִֹיתָ סִּירֹתָיו לְדַשְּׁנוֹ וְיָעָיו וּמִזְרְקֹתָיו וּמִזְלְגֹתָיו וּמַחְתֹּתָיו לְכָל-כֵּלָיו תַּעֲשֶֹה נְחֹשֶׁת: ד וְעָשִֹיתָ לּוֹ מִכְבָּר מַעֲשֵֹה רֶשֶׁת נְחֹשֶׁת וְעָשִֹיתָ עַל-הָרֶשֶׁת אַרְבַּע טַבְּעֹת נְחֹשֶׁת עַל אַרְבַּע קְצוֹתָיו: ה וְנָתַתָּה אֹתָהּ תַּחַת כַּרְכֹּב הַמִּזְבֵּחַ מִלְּמָטָּה וְהָיְתָה הָרֶשֶׁת עַד חֲצִי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ: ו וְעָשִֹיתָ בַדִּים לַמִּזְבֵּחַ בַּדֵּי עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתָם נְחֹשֶׁת: ז וְהוּבָא אֶת-בַּדָּיו בַּטַּבָּעֹת וְהָיוּ הַבַּדִּים עַל-שְׁתֵּי צַלְעֹת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בִּשְֹאֵת אֹתוֹ: ח נְבוּב לֻחֹת תַּעֲשֶֹה אֹתוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר הֶרְאָה אֹתְךָ בָּהָר כֵּן יַעֲשֹוּ: ס [שביעי] ט וְעָשִֹיתָ אֵת חֲצַר הַמִּשְׁכָּן לִפְאַת נֶגֶב-תֵּימָנָה קְלָעִים לֶחָצֵר שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר מֵאָה בָאַמָּה אֹרֶךְ לַפֵּאָה הָאֶחָת: י וְעַמֻּדָיו עֶשְֹרִים וְאַדְנֵיהֶם עֶשְֹרִים נְחֹשֶׁת וָוֵי הָעַמֻּדִים וַחֲשֻׁקֵיהֶם כָּסֶף: יא וְכֵן לִפְאַת צָפוֹן בָּאֹרֶךְ קְלָעִים מֵאָה אֹרֶךְ וְעַמֻּדָו [וְעַמּוּדָיו] עֶשְֹרִים וְאַדְנֵיהֶם עֶשְֹרִים נְחֹשֶׁת וָוֵי הָעַמֻּדִים וַחֲשֻׁקֵיהֶם כָּסֶף: יב וְרֹחַב הֶחָצֵר לִפְאַת-יָם קְלָעִים חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה עַמֻּדֵיהֶם עֲשָֹרָה וְאַדְנֵיהֶם עֲשָֹרָה: יג וְרֹחַב הֶחָצֵר לִפְאַת קֵדְמָה מִזְרָחָה חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה: יד וַחֲמֵשׁ עֶשְֹרֵה אַמָּה קְלָעִים לַכָּתֵף עַמֻּדֵיהֶם שְׁלֹשָׁה וְאַדְנֵיהֶם שְׁלֹשָׁה: טו וְלַכָּתֵף הַשֵּׁנִית חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְֹרֵה קְלָעִים עַמֻּדֵיהֶם שְׁלֹשָׁה וְאַדְנֵיהֶם שְׁלֹשָׁה: טז וּלְשַׁעַר הֶחָצֵר מָסָךְ | עֶשְֹרִים אַמָּה תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר מַעֲשֵֹה רֹקֵם עַמֻּדֵיהֶם אַרְבָּעָה וְאַדְנֵיהֶם אַרְבָּעָה: [מפטיר] יז כָּל-עַמּוּדֵי הֶחָצֵר סָבִיב מְחֻשָּׁקִים כֶּסֶף וָוֵיהֶם כָּסֶף וְאַדְנֵיהֶם נְחֹשֶׁת: יח אֹרֶךְ הֶחָצֵר מֵאָה בָאַמָּה וְרֹחַב | חֲמִשִּׁים בַּחֲמִשִּׁים וְקֹמָה חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר וְאַדְנֵיהֶם נְחֹשֶׁת: יט לְכֹל כְּלֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן בְּכֹל עֲבֹדָתוֹ וְכָל-יְתֵדֹתָיו וְכָל-יִתְדֹת הֶחָצֵר נְחֹשֶׁת: [פרשת תצוה] כ וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה | אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד: כא בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִחוּץ לַפָּרֹכֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל-הָעֵדֻת יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מֵעֶרֶב עַד-בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתָם מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: ס
The altar is known as a place of establishing peace between the people of Israel and their Father in heaven. Of the two Altars in the Temple, the golden one for the incense (inside the Mishkhan) is said to symbolize the devotion of the soul; the bronze Altar for animal sacrifices is for the sanctification of the body (Midrash Tadsheh 11). It is also said about the Altar, “It wipes away sin; it nourishes the higher man; it fosters love for God; and it atones for all guilt” (Talmud Bavli Ketuvot 10b) After entering through the only door in the Tabernacle, the first piece of furniture that was encountered was the Brazen (Bronze) Altar. This where the unblemished animal was brought for a sacrifice. The worshiper would lay his hand upon the head of the animal to signify the transferring of sin onto the animal. The animal was slaughtered, the blood was caught in a bowl and the priest would divide up the animal placing the blood and the required parts from the animal upon the altar. The blood of the innocent atoned for the guilty.
The following references from the Apostolic Writings are interesting to look at in relation to the Altar:
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 5:18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 5:19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NASB)
Here Paul wrote that Yeshua the Messiah functioned as an intermediary reconciling us to our Father God in heaven. He is begging the readers to be reconciled to God on behalf of the Messiah.
1 Peter 2:21-24
2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 2:22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 2:23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (NASB)
The idea here being laid out in the Apostolic Writings is Yeshua the Messiah functioning as the substitutionary atonement taking our sins upon himself, the innocent dying for the guilty. The curses of breaking the Torah (Devarim / Deuteronomy 27:11-26) were placed upon him when they should be upon us for violating the command. What Yeshua did taking these things upon himself were for us for the forgiveness of sins. These things did not do away with the obligation to walk in God’s ways according to the Torah. This is what Paul wrote to the Colossians in Colossians 2:14-15.
2:14 God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross. 2:15 There Christ defeated all powers and forces. He let the whole world see them being led away as prisoners when he celebrated his victory. (CEV)
Yeshua took upon himself our indebtedness. The charges leveled against us because of our sins were nailed to the cross. The Torah was not nailed to the cross, this is evident based upon Paul’s words, “the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moshe.” The scripture, contrary to what some teach, is not saying that the Torah was nailed to the cross, but it was the “curses” of our guilt and shame, from breaking Torah, that was nailed to the tree. The Torah’s description of the Tabernacle lays out the procedure for approaching our Father in heaven. At the entrance of the Tabernacle, we confess our sins, and make atonement upon the altar. This is first and foremost in our Torah centered approach to God. The Apostolic Writings is calling upon these things laying out the procedure that we come humbly confessing our sins in repentance in Yeshua the Messiah first and foremost. Sin is our first problem just as the Scriptures say, “The soul that sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Throughout the Scriptures, we read blood makes atonement, and this is the reason why it was forbidden to eat the blood because it was given to make atonement upon the Altar, as we read according to Vayikra / Leviticus 17:10-13.
Vayikra / Leviticus 17:10-14
17:10 ‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. 17:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ 17:12 ‘Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.’ 17:13 ‘So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 17:14 ‘For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ (NASB)
We are told here how the life of the flesh is in the blood, and it has been given upon the altar to make atonement for our souls. The blood of an animal must be poured out upon the ground (the beast or bird that may be eaten). The Jewish commentary Daat Zkenim continues saying the following:
Daat Zkenim on Shemot / Exodus 27:1 Part 2
חמש אמות, “five cubits (long).” This alluded to the Tablets, five of which commandments were engraved on one Tablet. The width of the altar, also five cubits, was to allude to the second of the Tablets; its height of three cubits was to allude to the three redeemers, i.e. Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Some commentators see in the measurement of three cubits for its height a reference to how much it rose above what has been described as רשת, a brass network, which was part of the altar’s walls. (Talmud, tractate Z‘vachim, folio 60).This “network” of copper, halfway up the sides of the copper altar may be viewed as if it were some kind of garment, something decorative. Its upper edge was five cubits from the ground. The section known as karkov, ledge extended from the upper end of the network to the surface of the altar which had four cube shaped corner posts each one cubit high and wide. The “roof” of this altar was five cubits square (external measurements, i.e. approximately three meters) The usable surface therefore was diminished by 60 centimeters at each corner where the corner posts, known as “horns” were positioned. The area comprising one cube square in the center of the roof of this altar was where the maaracha, the firewood for burning the sacrificial animals was kept. Even though the Torah does not spell out the details of the ramp leading to the top of the altar, it is understood that there was such a ramp, as it was forbidden to ascend the altar by means of steps. (Exodus 20,23) This ramp was at the south side of the altar rising northward. The Talmud in tractate Z’vachim, folio 62 explains why it was impossible for that ramp to have been positioned elsewhere.
Daat Zkenim makes the connection between the Ten Commandments, which had five words on each tablet, considers this to parallel the five cubits width and length of the Altar. He concludes with the shame of going up unto the Altar by steps as opposed to a ramp providing us with the description of a gradual ascent to the Altar. This connects sin and shame to the Altar and of our personal responsibility for our sins. During the Pesach, the blood was given upon the Mezuzot (door posts) to atone for the first born. Here the blood is given as a means for the admission of our guilt before God, bringing a sacrifice, and receiving the forgiveness offered to us through the blood of the acceptable sacrifice. The Scriptures tell us the blood was applied to the four horns of the altar, as well as sprinkled all around on the altar and the ground; by the priests. (Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1-17, 4:7, 4:25, 30, 34)
What we are learning about the Altar (מזבח, an acronym for forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life) is through the substitutionary sacrifice of the righteous we are forgiven of our sins. When Yeshua the Messiah came He taught this principle and said he was the promised seed of Abraham who saves the world from the kelalah (curse) caused by Adam’s transgression (Bereshit / Genesis 3:15). The disciples gave witness of his life and attached the prophetic words of Isaiah to the Lord saying “attached in him (הִפְגִּיעַ בּוֹ) the iniquity of us all…”
53:3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (NASB, ג נִבְזֶה וַחֲדַל אִישִׁים אִישׁ מַכְאֹבוֹת וִידוּעַ חֹלִי וּכְמַסְתֵּר פָּנִים מִמֶּנּוּ נִבְזֶה וְלֹא חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ: ד אָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָֹא וּמַכְאֹבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ נָגוּעַ מֻכֵּה אֱלֹהִים וּמְעֻנֶּה: ה וְהוּא מְחֹלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא-לָנוּ: ו כֻּלָּנוּ כַּצֹּאן תָּעִינוּ אִישׁ לְדַרְכּוֹ פָּנִינוּ וַיהֹוָה הִפְגִּיעַ בּוֹ אֵת עֲוֹן כֻּלָּנוּ:)
It is in error to claim that the Torah categorically forbade this type of sacrifice. The importance of the blood atonement was proclaimed to Adam and Eve, prefigured in the Akedah, and spoken directly by the prophets as we see written here in the book of Isaiah.
53:11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. (NASB, יא מֵעֲמַל נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְאֶה יִשְֹבָּע בְּדַעְתּוֹ יַצְדִּיק צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי לָרַבִּים וַעֲוֹנֹתָם הוּא יִסְבֹּל:)
All of these things are very important in relation to the One whom God had sent to save us from our sins, the sacrifices, blood atonement, etc. Something to note however in regards to these things. We read Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NIV) The proclamation of the cross that Yeshua hung upon as the means for atonement seems to run as an offense to the idea of “merits” taught in traditional Judaism. Remember how it is taught in the Talmud Bavli Berakhot 17a “among the disciples engaged in the study of Your Torah, … my fat and blood that diminished be considered as if I offered a sacrifice before You on the altar…” The idea here is to the significance of the Temple sacrifices and atonement by blood, and Torah study. The idea of Faith in Yeshua and what he did on our behalf, his merit, are antithetical ideas that underlie the issue with the question of how a person obtains atonement in Judaism. This is the very reason many reject Yeshua as their Savior. According to the Tanach and the Apostolic Writings (NT) there is a righteousness before God, and a righteousness by the way that we live our lives for God. One is related to the atonement upon the Altar. The other is related to the Spirit of God living in our hearts empowering us to walk in His ways. The question is whether it is faith in God’s Messiah, or is it through performing enough mitzvot that we receive these things (forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life)? The symbol of faith for the followers of Yeshua is in the Altar of God, confessing our sins, repentance, and trusting in God’s forgiveness and salvation that is given in the Messiah. Similar to what the Rabbis say in the Talmud Bavli Berakhot 17a we visualize going before the Lord, confessing our sins before God, and believing Yeshua bore in himself our iniquities. Here the blood is given as a means for the admission of our guilt before God, bringing a sacrifice, and receiving the forgiveness offered to us through the blood of the acceptable sacrifice. Studying the Scriptures, what we are taught in the Apostolic Writings is consistent with what we read in the Tanach, the Torah, and the Rabbinic literature.