Fishers of Men – Yeshua’s Messianic Midrash

The other day while preparing for this past Sabbath’s drash, I came across something which was—at least for myself—very exciting. I discovered a midrash of Yeshua of which I had not known.

Although my entire life I have been very familiar with Yeshua’s words in Matthew 4:19 in which he calls his disciples to be “fishers of men,” it has never had the impact as it has since my discovery.

When Yeshua tells his disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” he is doing a remez on Jeremiah 16:16-18 in which the “fishermen” are literally fishers of men. However, in reading Jeremiah in context, it appears that these fishermen are a curse upon Israel. They will hunt down the men of Israel and haul them off into captivity.

Behold, I shall send many fishermen—the word of Hashem—and they will fish them out, and afterwards I shall send many trappers and they will trap them from atop every mountain and every hill and from the crevices in the rocks. For My eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hidden from before Me, and their sin is not concealed from before My eyes. I shall repay them first for the repitition of their [forefathers’] sin and transgression, for having desecrated My land; with their disgusting abominations and their detestations they have filled up My heritage.

However, in Yeshua’s use of the term “fishers of men” in regard to his disciples, he alludes to this passage in a different manner. His use is in the positive, rather than the negative sense. Instead of his disciples bringing their catch into captivity, they will bring them back from exile (first from spiritual exile). Yeshua does a very sophisticated remez in that he ties the terminology to both the proper context (by contrast) and to the previous statement by Jeremiah. He connects the “fishermen” with the return of the exiles, rather than the drawing away of the exiles, focusing on the previous verses which state:

However, behold—days are coming—the word of Hashem—when it will longer be said, “As Hashem lives, Who took out the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt,” but rather, “As Hashem lives, Who took out the Children of Israel from the land of the North and from all the lands where He had scattered them,” and I shall return them to their land, which I gave to their forefathers. (Jeremiah 16:14-15)

Yeshua opts for an alternative reading in which it can be read:

However, behold—days are coming—the word of Hashem—when it will longer be said, “As Hashem lives, Who took out the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt,” but rather, “As Hashem lives, Who took out the Children of Israel from the land of the North and from all the lands where He had scattered them,” and I shall return them to their land, which I gave to their forefathers. I shall send many fishermen—the word of Hashem—and they will fish them out, and afterwards I shall send many trappers and they will trap them from atop every mountain and every hill and from the crevices in the rocks. (Jeremiah 16:14-16)

No longer are the “fishers of men” those who would take Israel into captivity, but those who would end the exile through bringing the good news of the Kingdom and true t’shuvah through Mashiach HaTzeddik. May we be good fishermen and bring about the end of the exile in our lifetime.

Law of Liberty

“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the Law (Torah) of liberty.” (James 2:12)

“R. Elazar said further: “It is written [Exod. 32:16]: ‘Engraved upon the tables,’ which means, that if the tables had not been broken the first time, the Law (Torah) would never have been forgotten by Israel, for a thing that is engraved cannot be obliterated, and R. Aha bar Jacob added, “that no nation on earth could have power over them; for it is said ‘engraved upon the tablets.’ Do not read “Charuth” (engraved) but “Cheiruth” (liberty).” Talmud (b.Eruvin 54a)

Messianic blessing for non-Jews

We have a mid-week study by which we are going through Torah Club Volume 4 (available through FFOZ – it is a year-long study through the Gospels, plus Acts). This week’s study was on Acts 10-12. In it Peter has his encounter with Cornelius and his household. When Peter recounts his experience with Cornelius to the elders at Jerusalem, their response is recorded as follows:

“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

– Acts 11:18 –

Daniel Lancaster, in his commentary, makes note that this sounds as if it could be formulated into a beracha (blessing):

Blessed are You, Oh L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe Who has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.

I propose that for non-Jewish, Messianic believers, we substitute this blessing in place of the second blessing of the 15 Blessings recited during Shacharit (based on Berachot 60b). We definitely cannot say the standard blessing, “Blessed are You, Adonai, our G-d, King of the universe, for not having made me a gentile.” We can, however, thank Hashem for who He has made us: Gentiles who have repented unto life. I propose our blessing be as follows:

Blessed are You, Adonai, our G-d, King of the Universe Who has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.

Yeshua and the Prozbul

Last night I was reading to my children from the Gospel of Matthew a few mishnayyot of Yeshua in order to get across the point of how to deal with a person who is acting poorly (such as demanding, hitting, or wanting something you have). I read to them Matthew 5:39-42, after which we had a question and answer session (with M&M rewards!) and a role-play session to work on putting these principles into practice. In my reading to them, however, I stumbled across something for which I had had a hunch for the last few years, but was not sure I could back it. Fittingly, it corresponds to this week’s parasha. Continue reading “Yeshua and the Prozbul”

Comfort, comfort my people…

This little phrase from the Haftarah of Va’etchanan (Isaiah 40:1) has become the focus of my attention this last week and a half. It has drawn me into a world of understanding the work of Messiah for which I have only seen glimpses. At this point, being able to express my research has turned into several pages and I hope to publish my finished examination in the next week or so entitled, “Mashiach – Restoring the Crowns to Israel.” This will by no means be a “complete” examination of the work of Messiah. However, at least for me, it has seriously broken new ground in understanding more about his purpose while among his people, as well as his eternal work—especially in relationship to some of the difficult sayings of Paul.

Here’s a teaser, and part of the premise of my research:

In a midrashic interpretation of Shemot 33:4-6 (the removal of adornments from the people prior to judgement), the spiritual crowns given to Israel on the mountain of G-d were taken from them. They were forfeited at the sin of the Egel Maseikhah (Golden Calf). Thus Israel was stripped of the Crowns of Freedom—freedom from death and freedom from exile. With this hope being foregone, the second comfort is Israel’s only hope in regaining these two lost crowns. They can now only be attained through the righteousness of Mashiach.

Your prayers are always appreciated.