and … New Book!
“From Rehovoam to Nehemiah,” a terrific study of Israel’s history from the time of Solomon’s son to the rebuilding of the Temple of HaShem in Jerusalem, by Dimitar Kosev, the Noahide thinker who is First Covenant’s correspondent in Bulgaria, has just been published, online, on our website, here.
We were honored to provide an introductory foreword, and a brief afterword. This is a short but important book.
If man can invent robotic agents to accomplish certain tasks, God’s power to create His own agents can be presumed.
Scripture teaches that He sometimes dispatches angels – special messengers or servants (the Hebrew word malach, angel, literally means “envoy,” or “messenger” - to effect His will.
You, even You, are HaShem alone: You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth… and the host of heaven worship You.
Scripture refers to God’s “heavenly court” (1 Kings 22:19, Isaiah 6). As a retinue of courtiers serve in a human sovereign’s court, “God’s” “heavenly court” is where His angelic retainers surround what we speak of as His throne. They come and go as He wills, like a human king’s envoys, messengers and agents, fulfilling the missions that He assigns them.
Daniel 7:10 refers to uncountable numbers, or at least many millions, of angels.
As God is spirit – that is, nonmaterial, non-physical, and beyond our perceptive abilities – His heavenly court with its angelic servants must be too. Yet angels - ‘Angel’, from angelos, a Greek word, also means ‘messenger’ - lack God’s capacity to be everywhere at once, or even merely in two places simultaneously.
The inability to be in multiple places at the same time is an attribute of material, physical beings. Which indicates that God’s celestial envoys must, at times, have some capacity to become material and palpable. So we see Israel’s patriarch Jacob, for instance, physically “wrestling” with an angel (Genesis 32:25-33).
Israel has a tradition that God revealed to certain prophets certain facts about angels:
Going from highest to lowest, the Bible’s prophets refer to ten different kinds of angels: chayos, ofanim, er’elim, chashmalim, seraphim, malachim, elo[k]im, b’nei elo[k]im, cherubim (the “ch” in this case pronounced like a hard ‘k,’ and ishim.
Maimonides, c. 1170; Mishneh Torah, Yesodei haTorah – “Foundations of the Torah” - 2:7.
Ishim are “watchers” or “guardians,” who are man-like but incredibly intelligent. Cherubs are usually imagined as winged-beings who look like children, but who may, at times, wield flaming swords. B’nei Elo[k]im are “sons – or children – of the powers, or ‘high ones.’ Elo[k]im are even higher, and imagined as arch-angels. In Psalms 8:6, “What is man?... he is little lower than the angels,” the angels referred to are Elo[k]im. Malachim or ‘messengers’ are higher even than that. Seraphim burn with love for God. Chashmalim are fiery too but higher yet, and fast – see Ezekiel 1:4 - colored like ‘electrum’.
Going up this hierarchy, visualization and description get progressively more problematic. Er’elim have been described as God’s ‘lions’ or ‘valiant ones’ – Isaiah 33:7. Ofanim, in the prophet Ezekiel’s Vision of the Chariot (Ezekiel 1:15 and 10), are incredibly attentive, far-seeing, fast-moving creatures propelled not just by wings but by spinning wheels. Chayos or Chayos Kodeshim (holy chayos) have been described as fiery, fiercely vital beings sustaining the Heavenly court.
Some angels exist only for a short time to perform a single function. Chayos, on the other hand, are eternal.
What more do we know? Not much. Of course we’re not talking here of human angels – people who pop up from anywhere or somewhere and help us in miraculous or super-human ways. They are indeed angels, God’s messengers, but we’re talking about a different kind of angel: celestial beings.
Do angels have free will? Some of them evidently serve like pre-programmed robots, but holiness requires free will. It’s impossible to imagine the God of Eternity being honored in any respect by creatures whom He created only to adore Him. Forced adoration is worthless. So we can be sure that when the Heavenly angels praise God, in joy and holiness, they do so because they choose to, not because they must.
Ghosts aren’t part of a Hebrew worldview. When the Witch of Endor conjures up the shade or spirit of the prophet Samuel - to tell King Saul that both he and his kingship’s have had it (1 Samuel 28) – this comes as a shocking surprise to her, a phony witch. It probably was just a vision. So much for ghosts in the Hebrew Scripture.
We’ve elaborated before on the consequences of death in Scripture, in “Soul of Fire,” Covenant Connection Vol. 1:8 (July 2006). “The silver cord snaps and the golden globe is released. And the pitcher breaks at the fountain, and the wheel is released into the pit, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God Who granted it” (Ecclesiastes 12:6). The physical body “returns to the earth as it was” while the “spirit,” “wind” or higher soul [the ru’ach – returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
One part of the soul – the nefesh – is liquid and goes down to a liquid realm, Sheol (See Isaiah 14:15). But the other, higher part of the soul, the neshama, zips up like a balloon cut from its tether, its destination shemayim, Heaven. [Thanks to our friend, Ethan Dor-Shav, for making these points.]
When we speak of afterlives we have the frequently encountered problem of “them that know don’t tell, while them that don’t know do.” But Scripture often speaks of God’s Heavenly court.
As mortal beings, we can’t know where God’s recruits to Heaven come from. We have the right to imagine, at least, that He selects the choicest souls from all Creation – this may be the closest that created beings ever come to intergalactic travel – to staff His celestial court. So the most elevated mortals become, somehow, even more elevated, loving God with all their might - as chayos, perhaps, or er’elim, or seraphim – as holy and immortal beings.
Today in America, more and more states are trying to enact the Torah’s law on abortion: the fertilized “hairy egg” or early fetus may be removed, for any or no reason, before the heart has time to develop enough to beat and before the nerves and brain tissue develop enough to register the faintest pain. This occurs some 40-days or six weeks post-conception. After that is totally another thing.
At no time before birth does the fetus become fully human – birth changes being, the fetus goes through a metamorphosis when it comes into the world. So its life should be terminated if necessary, God forbid, to save its mother’s life.
We don’t want to delve into questions in very hard cases, where the doctors know that the fetus is egregiously damaged and has no prospects for any kind of good life, or where an abortion is wanted to protect “the health” of the mother, but not necessarily her life. “Hard cases make bad law” and these are extremely trying cirucmstances. Noahide governments need to deal with such things according to their own lights. On the other hand, some “experts” believe that, regardless, the fetus must be carried to term and that’s the Law of God that Noahide courts, police and laws must enforce.
We definitely want to address the problem where some states deliberately put legal, bureaucratic, “red tape” obstacles before any woman who’s sincerely trying to terminate her pregnancy within the limits of the Torah. State legislators have been working to impose all kinds of “waiting periods,” “reflection sessions,” “counseling” requirements, certificates of parental approval, guardians’ approval, pre-examinations, and fee requirements, besides limiting the number of capable facilities and making travel necessary.
That kind of nonsense isn’t going to help women who are trying to live within the law. If and when the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, the famous abortion case that anti-abortion activists have been trying to overturn for the last 46-years, the states shouldn’t put a lot of expense and red tape foolery before women who want to comply with the rule of the Torah. Similarly, for states trying to restrict abortion, they shouldn’t keep trying to restrict or obstruct women’s access to contraception, including the famous “day after” pill.
If you want to see arguments and opinions to the contrary here, just write them out – briefly and concisely, please – and send them along.
Some ethnic groups and movements are hated only by right-wing people and some are hated only by left-wing people. You have to hand it to the People of Israel for attracting fulminating hatred from both sides.
One reason for that: neither side knows who Israel really is.
One thinker, Alice Walker, the widely beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning author of works including “The Color Purple,” comes to mind.*
One of Ms. Walker’s poems, “It Is Our (Fightful) Duty to Study the Talmud,” features the lines: “Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of the Jews, and not only/That, but to enjoy it?”
Obviously, this does not reflect any kind of truthful Torah proposition. It does, unfortunately, accurately reflect what some Jewish and Noahide thinkers believe to be Torah.
The political right doesn’t regard the concept that Ms. Walker voices above as any more appealing than Ms. Walker does.
One reason we believe that people who know better than this should support First Covenant is to oppose all such nonsense with the light of truth. Our first priority: to make it clear and obvious to all who’ll listen that God - the God of Israel, and Torah – is absolutely, 100%, good and just and holy.
*Ironically, the Pulitzer Prizes come from the good work and kind intentions of what stared out, at least, as a Jewish publishing family, the Pulitzers, while “The Color Purple” became massively profitable for Ms. Walker only after Steven Spielberg, a Jewish film-maker, turned it into an award-winning movie.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself… The stranger that sojourns with you shall be unto you as the homeborn among you, and you shall love him as yourself.”
Leviticus 19:18, 19:34