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Archive for February, 2011

Siloam and Bethesda

We have seen that water baptism, was part of the Mosaic Law and there is further prove. We are going to be looking at two pools that the Jews used to water baptize Siloam and Bethesda. For Jews it was not a new concept, they had constructed pools designated for the ceremony of water baptism. Archeologist have found parts of these pools, they have discovered that these pools were not just symbolic inventions of the authors in the bible, they actually did exist, very close to the descriptions given in the bible. Here are some of the biblical references to the pools Siloam and Bethesda:

2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Kings 20:20; Nehemiah 3:15; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 8:6-7; Isaiah 22:9-11; Isaiah 36:2; John 5:1-9; John 9:7-11

Bethesda borrowed from jesusbranded.org

From the accounts in John we can also see that this pools were not limited only to the priest they were open to the public (John 5:3 and John 9:7). Water baptism was a very important part of the Jewish Law, that they had facilities for the  practice of these ceremonies in ancient times.

I will not be going into the details of the pools but if you want to learn more here is a link: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-pool-of-siloam.htm

Siloam borrowed from shu.edu

John the Baptist Baptism!

A voice cries in the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD make straight in the desert a highway for our God”
Isaiah 40:3

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:1

The messenger that fulfilled this prophecy was John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3; 11:10-14; 17:10-13; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:3-5 and John 1:6-8; 1:19-23). When John the Baptist appeared on the scene in the Jordan River (John 10:40) there were multitudes that came down from Jerusalem and Judea (Matthew 3:1; 3:5-6 and Mark 1:5) John only anounced and baptised with water preparing the way and telling the Jews about Jesus (John 10:41-42). Since we have seen that water baptism was part of the Mosaic law this act was not unusual for them. If Jews had not seen water baptism before they would have been skeptical about John’s baptism and in fact some of them were, not about the water baptism itself but about the purification rules (John 3:25-26). John was water baptizing among a Jewish community that was coming out because they knew about a Messiah. It wasn’t the Greeks or the Romans, nor any other gentile nation, because no other nation had been promised a messiah, Israel was the chosen nation that waited for the messiah.

But one would wonder if the Jews had known about water baptism then why did they need John to just repeat something that they were use to? John’s water baptism was special, he was preparing the way for the messiah, it was like no other water baptism seen before. He was preparing the hearts of the Jews to be ready to welcome the long awaited messiah. John the Baptist baptism was radical in the sense that he was calling Jews to become Jews because they took that decision in their hearts not to just be Jews because they were born into a culture with a religion, (as we Friends should make the distinction between a convinced Friend and a birthright Friend). Remember the comparison of Jerusalem being a wife (Ezequiel 16), well John’s baptism was to prepare the bride (Jews) for the groom (Jesus). Just like a Jewish bride goes through the baptism before her wedding day and this water immersion (tevilah) is special and like no other, John’s baptism was the same in the sense that it was unique. This was a call to preparation for the new covenant. God wanted His people to repent to comeback to Him (teshuvah) to start a new life with Him. This baptism was for a change of heart, the honest Jew baptizing recognized that it was a symbol of them turning their heart to God and away from wickedness, for that reason we see John condemning the Pharisees and Sadducees for coming to him without repenting (Matthew 3:7-9; 21:32; Luke 3:7-8; 7:30). Unfortunately many did not prepare for the coming of the messiah and they did not recognized him when He came to them (John 5:43; Acts 13:46-47) Later on we see that Jesus was discussing with Pharisees that knew the law well but they had forgotten the most important part of the law, which was the love of God (Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42).

The water baptism for repentance was preached in Israel (Acts 13:24) because John’s water baptism was for the Jews to prepare for the New Covenant, not for the gentiles we have been given The Holy Spirit Baptism (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8;Luke 3:16; John 1:5; Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16). We want Jesus baptism!

The Bride Preparing for the Groom!

Only immersion in the mikvah, following the requisite preparation, has the power to change the status of woman. When stripped to its essence, a woman’s menses signals the death of potential life. Each month a woman’s body prepares for the possibility of conception. The uterine lining is built up – rich and replete, ready to serve as a cradle for life – in anticipation of a fertilized ovum. Menstruation is the shedding of the lining, the end of this possibility.

borrowed from firstlightforum.com

The presence of potential life within fills a woman’s body with holiness and purity. With the departure of this potential, impurity sets in, conferring upon the woman a state of impurity or, more specifically, niddut. Impurity is neither evil nor dangerous. Within that consecrated union, the expression of human sexuality is a mandate, a mitzvah. In fact, it is the first mitzvah in the Torah and one of the holiest of all human endeavors. Moreover, human lovemaking signals the possibility and potential for new life, the formation of a new body and the descent from heaven of a new soul. In their fusing, man and woman become part of something larger; in their transcendence of the self, the draw on, and even touch, the Divine. They enter into partnership with God; they came closes to taking on the godly attribute of creator. In fact, the sacredness of the intimate union remains unmitigated even when the possibility of conception does not exist. In the metaphysical sense, the act and its potential remain linked. Human sexuality is a primary force in the lives of a married couple; it is the unique language and expression of the love they share. A strong relationship between husband and wife is not only the backbone of their own family unit but is integral to the world at large. For the blessings of trust, stability, continuity, and ultimately community, all flow from the commitment they have to each other and to a joint future. In this light it becomes clear why marital relations are often referred to as the Holy Temple of human endeavor. And entrance to the Holy always was and continues to be, contingent on ritual purity.

borrowed from firstlightforum.com

Woman are also commanded to immerse before their wedding day. Mikvah before marriage, strictly speaking, is not contingent upon a commitment to regular observance of Family Purity. Even so, it should not be understood as unrelated to this larger framework. And it is and awesome and auspicious way to start a new life together with one’s beloved. (chabad.org)

Women Washing

Leviticus 15:21-22; 15:27-28

In the Old Testament God makes many commandments to immerse in water for purity and we can specially see the importance for woman to be clean. Just like the Jewish woman still see the tevilah as an important part of their marital lives we as the bride of God have to learn to immerse in the Holy Spirit constantly. In the Old Testament we also see Jerusalem being compared to an unfaithful wife Ezequiel 16 that He cleanse (Ezequiel 16:4 and verse 9).

We also see another example of Ruth being advised by Naomi to cleanse before presenting herself to Booz (Ruth 3:3)

borrowed from holisticrabbi.com

Jesus compares himself to a husband (Mark 2:19-20). John the baptist compares Jesus to a husband (John 3:29) The church is now the bride that he will marry one day (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:24-27; Revelation 19:7-9; 21;1-2). As the new wife we do not need to clean with physical water but with Living Water (Psalms 36:9; Proverbs 14:27; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Zechariah 13:1; John 7:37-38; John 4:14; Revelation 22:1; 22:17). Today we should seek the one and only baptism that can clean us the Holy Spirit Baptism, so that we as the bride can be ready for the Groom!

Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Isaiah 4:3-4

Symbolism Behind Tevilah

Symbolism behind Tevilah

What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Is there a sign so dramatic, dynamic, and all encompassing that it could represent the radical change undergone by the convert to Judaism? This was an integral part of his teshuvah (repetance) process, of his attempt at return to his original perfection. In keeping with this theme, immersion in the mikvah is described not only in terms of purification, revitalization, and rejuvenation but also– and perhaps primarily– as rebirth. The mikvah was not a work of man, it was not invented by man. God is the designer and originator of this baptism (by baptism we mean immersion). Why mikvah? In observance of mikvah we are fulfilling God’s will to sanctify our most intimate and secrete relationship it is a commandment giving by God. The single greatest gift granted by God to humankind is teshuvah– the possibility of return- to start anew and wash away the past. Teshuvah allows man to rise above the limitations imposed by the time and makes it possible to affect our life retroactively. They were all for a good conscience before God. Maimonides (and ancient rabbinical teacher) finds a symbolical significance in tevilah “The person who directs his heart to purify his soul from spiritual impurities, such as iniquitous thoughts and evil notions, becomes clean as soon as he determines in his heart to keep apart from these courses, and bathes his soul in the water of pure knowledge” This is all a part of being born again. Changing our sinful ways and turning or returning to a righteous deeds. First we must acknowledge our sins and second repent and turn from our evil ways and deeds. After that, going trough mikvah or water separates us from our past. Only then is new birth or rebirth evident by our deeds and actions. A single immersion in the mikvah late in life may appear insignificant to some, a quick and puny act. Yet coupled with dedication and awe, it is a monumental feat; it brings purity and its regenerative power not only to the present and future but even to one’s past.

The baptismal water (mikvah) in rabbinic literature was referred to as the womb of the world, and as a convert came out of the water it was considered a new birth separating him from his pagan world. As the convert came out of these waters his status was changed and he was referred to as “a little child just born” or “a child of one day” We see the New Testament using similar Jewish terms as “born anew,” “new creation” and “born from above.” Water symbolizes birth as a Jew. Baby is immersed in water in his/her mother’s womb, which connects to life, through mikvah God wants to be connected with us. The mikvah personifies both the womb and the grave; the portals to life and afterlife. The immersing Jew signals a desire to achieve oneness with the source of all life, to return to a primeval unity with God. Immersion indicates the abandonment of one form of existence to embrace one infinitely higher.

Submerging in a pool of water for the purpose not of using the water’s physical cleansing properties but expressly to symbolize a change of soul is a statement at once deeply spiritual and immensely compelling. No other symbolic act can so totally embrace a person as being submerged in water, which must touch and cover every lesion, every strand of hair, every birthmark. No other religious act is so freighted with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a regards to purification, restoration, and qualification for full religious participation in the life of the community, ensuring that the cleansed person will not impose uncleanness on property or its owners. To the ancient Jew, the mikvah was a process of spiritual purification and cleansing, especially in relation to the various types of Turmah or ritual defilement when the Temple was in use. Holiness is first the product of the mikvah before it is the product of daily living and a part of a person’s character. Although the mikvah was more spiritual than physical, often the bath had two sets of steps, one entering the pool and another leaving the pool so as not to defile what had been purified. Impurity is a spiritual state of being, the absence of purity, much as darkness is the absence of light. This change of status by the mikvah could be obtained repeatedly, while water baptism, like circumcision, is in the general view of Christians, unique and not repeatable, We as human always fail and Holy Spirit Baptism is available to us and it can be repeatable if we are truly repent. The symbolism behind mikvah should not just be a metaphor for us Christians it should be a reality of our baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Something has to really happen to a person to see what God is doing. It takes something on the inside to change a person’s life, to want to live a life that’s holy and pure and righteous and reject the world.

Actually going to water (tevilah) does not give you birth. But what happens, is something takes place and an acknowledgment that you need God and are a sinner must realized. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Borrowed from yeshuatyisrael.com

We are unclean and we can’t clean ourselves
Job 9:30; Ezekiel 16:4; Jeremiah 2:22

Only God can clean us because he is the fountain of living water
Psalm 36:9; Psalm 114:8; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 33:8; Ezekiel 16:9; Ezekiel 37:23

God wants our hearts
Psalms 24:4; Jeremiah 4:14

God promises abundance of Living Water
Isaiah 4:4; Isaiah 41:18; Ezekiel 36:25; Joel 2:28-30; Zechariah 13:1

The one that have been washed
Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27

Tevilah Jewish Water Baptism

In the Mosaic law there are many requirements such as animal sacrifices, the Sabbath, and washing. In order to understand Christianity and everything that happened and happens we have to go back to the Jewish religion, because there we will find many of the example we need to understand this spiritual journey. Water baptism (immersion) was not originally a Christian act. All through the tanakh (old testament), the children of Israel, whenever they would have to come before God, would cleanse themselves. The old covenant is only a shadow of the new covenant that we Christians should be under (Colosians 2:17). The sacrificed lambs represented Jesus the perfect lamb. The old covenant is the physical parallel to our spiritual covenant. In order to understand baptism we have to look into the mosaic law, many Christians today think that water baptism is something that began when Christianity began or with John the Baptist, but water baptism has deep roots in Judaism. Ancient mikvahs dating from before the late first century can be found through out the land of Israel as well as in historic communities of the Jewish diaspora. Although the term “baptism” is not used to describe the Jewish rituals, the purification rites (or mikvah-ritual immersion) in Jewish law and tradition have many similarities to water baptism that are almost identical, and the two have been linked in the Jewish Bible and other Jewish texts, immersion in water for ritual purification was established for restoration to a condition of “ritual purity” in specific circumstances. But Gentiles were also familiar with this and would have not seen immersion as a foreign concept. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia further states, “Baptism, as an initiatory rite, was no less familiar to Gentile converts who had no acquaintance with the Jewish religion. The baptisms, like the baptism of proselytes were immersions for purification. We see that immersion in water was not a new concept being taught in the New Testament. In fact, not only the Jews but also the Gentiles knew the reasoning and purpose for being immersed in water. Immersion was done for purification or to be ceremonially cleansed. All water baptism of the new testament have their beginnings in these ancient mikvah cleansing, purification washing of the Jews. Water baptism was essential to becoming Jewish in olden times and just like baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential to being a Christian today. Any teaching that does not study the importance of the Jewish ceremony immersions will not really understand the Holy Spirit Baptism today.

Description of mikvah

Ritual washing, or ablution, takes two main forms in Judaism: tevilah, full body immersion in a mikvah and netilat yadayim, washing the hands with a cup. The Jewish law is filled with many required washing, for many different reason. The mikvah tradition has been an important part of the Judaism since its beginnings. In order to have a proper cleaning as prescribed in the Tanakh you had to be immersed in water which is Tevilah (immersion) we will concentrate on the tevilah performed in the mikvah which is full body immersion in water. Mikvah is a gathering of water, the world’s natural bodies of water–its oceans, rivers, wells, and spring-fed lakes–are mikvahs in their primal form (Genesis 1:10) The jews did not understand these washes to be taking out of a scrub brush and taking the filth off the body. Nor did they understand these washes to be a simple sprinkling of water. The jews believed that immersion in water was necessary and that the water much touch every part of the body to become ritually clean (Science and the Bible; National Geographic Channel). This explains why Jerusalem had so many pools available to the people.

The construction itself of the mikvah is also very important it has to be supervised by a Rabbi and has to be according to the traditional regulations. It must contain enough water to cover the entire body of an average-size person; based on a mikvah with the dimensions of 3 cubits long, 1 cubit wide, and 1 cubit deep, the necessary volume of water was estimated as being 40 seah of water. The water has to be “living water” for example from springs or groundwater wells. Many measures have been taken in order to secure that the water gathered in a mikvah made by men filled this requirements. The mikvah is so important to the Jews that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikvah before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide for the construction.

Mikvah=gathering of water (has to be “living water”)

Genesis 1:9-10
Exodus 30:18; 40:30
Leviticus 11:36
Numbers 19:9
1 Kings 7:38
How is tevilah in mikvah performed?

The Jewish law is very strict in this ceremony, when a person does a mikvah they have to remove anything that would be an obstacle between the body and the water. For example all clothes has to be removed, jewelry, and women have to remove braids, hair accessories, make-up, nail polish, anything has to be removed is just the body and the water.

Jewish law requires at least three witnesses made up of qualified leaders to be present for certain immersions. Ordinarily an Elder, a member of Sanhedrin performed the act of observing proselyte immersions. But in case of necessity others could do it. Secret tevilah (immersions) were not acknowledged as valid. The systems of laws first showed how to recognize the various violations of purity. Then the priest examined the situation to confirm the presence of impurity and he provided instruction for cleansing. Later, after the physical cleansing was completed and after the impurity was eradicated, additional rituals were performed for ceremonial cleansing. When all of this was completed, the priest could finally declare that cleanliness had been re-established. The Torah requires full immersion for the cleansing ceremony to valid.crownheights.info

Who does Tevilah and Why?
In ancient Judaism mikvah was used when a gentile converts to Judaism, for a women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation and childbirth by Jewish men to also achieve ritual purity and for priest before performing ceremonies. This ceremony has deep meaning to the Jews. Traditionally, the mikvah was used by both men and women to regain ritual purity after various events, according to regulations laid down in the Torah and in classical rabbinical literature. The Torah requires full immersion. Its main uses nowadays are still: by Jewish women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation or childbirth by Jewish men to achieve ritual purity as part of a traditional procedure for conversion to Judaism for utensils used for food.

The Jews went beyond the teachings of Moses concerning ritual washing and required those who converted to Judaism to also be immersed in water. For the Jews required three things of strangers who declared themselves to be converts to the Law of Moses: circumcision, baptism, and to offer sacrifice if they were men the two latter if they were women: For example, Jews who (according to the Law of Moses) became ritually defiled by contact with a corpse had to use the mikvah before being allowed to participate in the Holy Temple. We have usually recognized the need for converts to Judaism to be circumcised if they were males. But immersion and sacrifice were also needed to be part of Judaism. This also explains why there were so many pools in Jerusalem in the early centuries. Therefore we see that the Jews were very familiar with the need to immersed in water. Immersion is required for converts to Judaism as part of their conversion. In the Torah there are also many commandment for priest to cleanse themselves through immersion, they had to cleanse before coming before God and entering the temple.

God wanted his people to be clean when they came to His presence. God commanded His people to cleanse themselves. Mikvah is performed because God commanded it, and the reason why God commanded this was to be pure and free from illnesses and filthiness. The mikvah was used for several different washing. Immersion in the mikvah has offered a gateway to purity ever since the creation of man. In order to become a Jew one has to go through, to clean a person from any impurity that he or she might bring and in order to be accepted into the community of God the new convert had to repent and clean themselves. The mikvah provided a way to clean their bodies and to be healthy. The system of laws first showed how to recognize the various violations of purity. Then the priest examined the situation to confirm the presence of impurity and he provided instructions for cleansing. Later, after the physical cleansing was completed and after the impurity was eradicated, additional rituals were performed for ceremonial cleansing. When all of this was completed, the priest could finally declare that cleanliness had been re-established, according to regulations laid down in the Torah and in classical rabbinical literature.

Apart from ritual purification, the Jewish people have always regarded bathing and physical cleanliness as implicitly important because, as Hillel taught, the human body reflects the divine image of God. Going through mikvah has a deep meaning for the Jews. Before you go into the water or mikvah, you should know why go into the water. You don’t go into the mikvah to join a synagogue. You are not submerged to join a church. You go into the water as an outward manifestation of an inward work that’s happened in your life, a change in your life. That day it was to be for repentance. The tevilah is practiced at conversion, before marriage, after a women’s menstrual cycle, and for the cleansing of the diseased. For the priest it was extremely important to cleanse before going into the temple (God’s presence), they had to be pure before performing anything in the temple.

Priest Washing

Exodus 29:4
Exodus 30:19-20
Exodus 40:12
Leviticus 8:6
Leviticus 16:24
Numbers 8:5-7
Numbers 8:15
Numbers 8:21
Numbers 19:7
Nehemiah 13:30

Israelite Washing

Numbers 18:11
Numbers 18:13
Numbers 19:8
Leviticus 22:7

Skin Disease and Body Emissions Washing

Leviticus 13:34-37
Leviticus 14:8-9
Leviticus 15:7-11
Leviticus 15:13
Leviticus 15:16-18
Leviticus 16:28
Deuteronomy 23:10-11

Gentile Washing

Leviticus 16:24
Leviticus 17:15-16

Women Washing

Leviticus 15:21-22
Leviticus 15:27-28

Contact with Corpse Washing

Numbers 19:11; 14

Clothes Washing and Belongings Acquired in War

Exodus 19:10
Exodus 19:14
Leviticus 13:58-59
Numbers 19:10
Numbers 31:21-24

Hand and Feet Washing

Exodus 29:18-21
Exodus 30:19
Exodus 40:30-32

Why the Word Baptism is not in the Old Testament?

The word “baptism” will not be found in the Old Testament because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. But we have to look at the meaning of baptism: from Greek baptizo: immersing, performing ablutions ritual washing, a rite of washing as a sign of religious purification and consecration. Now if we look at the definition of tevilah: full body immersion in a mikvah, is the biblical act of immersing oneself in a natural water source, ritual washing in water.

Both definitions of baptism and tevilah are described by the same word immersing and washing from there we can conclude that tevilah and water baptism are the same act different language use. Water baptism were being performed in the Old Testament. The Jewish understanding of “wash” was to go and immerse in “living water”

Now many churches will have the contradictory argument that water baptism was not part of the Mosaic Law. But nothing in Christianity is new to Christianity it was already give to Israelites, God devoted a lot of time explaining with symbolism, what it was going to be but the only difference now is that is through grace not law Romans 6:14. But the insistence of many churches to live under law (in order to water baptize for salvation) makes them not realize that they put themselves in a contradictory position because absolutely nothing done in Christianity was new to it, it had already been performed in the law. Now if it was new only to Christianity why did God not devote more time explaining it giving us more symbolic examples of something that is absolutely necessary for salvation? But God did explain the Physical counterpart (Tevilah) of the Holy Spirit Baptism which is necessary for salvation. Everything is a parallel, everything in the new covenant can find their physical counterpart in the old testament.

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