The Holy Anointing Oil

The Holy Anointing oil, or the Shemen Ha’Mishchah (שמן המשחה), formed an integral part of the Old Testament ritual in the ordination of the priesthood as well as in the consecration of the articles of the Tabernacle. The primary purpose of anointing with the holy anointing oil was to cause the anointed persons or objects to become ha’kodesh – most holy.[1]

Originally the oil was used exclusively for the priesthood and the Tabernacle articles but was later extended to include prophets and kings. It was forbidden to be used on an outsider[2] or to be used as an emollient on the body of any common persons [3] and the children of Israel were forbidden to duplicate any like it for themselves.[4]

The Holy anointing oil described in Exodus 30:22-25 was created from:[5][6]

  • Pure Myrrh, מר דרור mar deror, 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
  • Sweet Cinnamon, קנמן בשם kinnemon besem, 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
  • Sweet Calamus, or Sweet cane, קנה בשם keneh bosem, 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
  • Cassia, קדה kiddah, 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
  • Olive oil, שמן זית shemen sayith, one hin (about 5 quarts according to Adam Clarke; about 4 L according toShiurei Torah, 7 L according to the Chazon Ish)

The oil was used to anoint the vessels of the Tabernacle[7] and the High Priest. It is traditionally regarded as the oil used by prophets to anoint Saul, David, and other kings of ancient Israel as well as to anoint the prophets themselves.

History

In modern western societies odors such as the stench of dead bodies, feces, and sweat are largely eradicated. The olfactory organ is much less depended on for survival than are those of sight and hearing. [8] The Old Testament Israelite way of life came from a cultural environment in which the sense of smell was highly depended on for survival and was highly esteemed. It contributed to the ability of man to orientate himself and to find his way in a world where life and death were permanently struggling. Where stench arose, he diagnosed the presence of disease, decay, rotting processes and death (Ex vii, 18)[9] and where pleasant aromas existed were places biologically clean and conducive to habitation and/or food production and harvesting. Spices and oils were chosen which assisted man in orientating himself and in creating a sense of safety as well as as a sense of elevation above the physical world of decay. The sense of smell was also considered highly esteemed by deity. In Deut. iv 28 and Psalms cxv 5-6 the sense of smell is included in connection with the polemics against idols. An anthropomorphic Old Testament conception of Yahweh takes pleasure in inhaling the soothing odor (reah hannihoah) of offerings (Gen. viii 21; Ex. xxix 18; 1 Sam. xxvi 19; Lev. xxvi 31; Amos verse 21). [10] The ancient Egyptians used scented anointing oils when coronating the Pharaohs. They usually used fats from animals depicting strength and courage. To the ancient Israelite there was no oil or fat with more symbolic meaning than olive oil. It was used as an emollient, a fuel for keeping their lamps lit, as a food, and for many other purposes. The first mention of the olive tree in the Torah appeared in the book of Genesis after the global flood when the dove carries an olive branch in its beak announcing that the destruction of the sinful world was complete and that the new world had emerged. It was scented olive oil which was chosen to represent a holy anointing oil for the Israelites. The symbolism of the components in the holy anointing oil are no longer completely known but, as the other articles in the mishkan, had great meaning to the early Israelites. It is believed that the Ha’Mishchah has spiritual connections with the Ha’Ketoret.[11]

The Continuity Factor

Some believe in the continuity factor relative to the Holy Anointing Oil.

Customs utilizing the continuity factor is found in many of the world’s religions. Early Jewish rabbi’s stressed the importance of the succession of classical semikhah . The Catholic Church emphasized the importance of Apostolic succession, the continuity of laying on of hands for ordination, in an unbroken chain.

One Jewish tradition teaches that the ashes of the last red heifer sacrificed were always mixed with the ashes of each new red heifer [12] The Temple Institute states, “Some opinions maintain that the newer ashes were always mixed together with a combination of the previous ashes. One way of understanding this, is to the view this mixture of old and new ashes as being yet another precautionary measure . . . Additionally, mixing in the newer ashes we have produced now with those from olden times is a way of connecting through time with the original heifer that was slaughtered and prepared by Moses. As such, in a sense, it is a way of connecting with the level of Moses himself.”[13] [14] Since the last succession of ashes [15] of the red heifer were either hidden or lost after70 AD [16] certain groups today are searching for the original ashes by following the map on the Copper Scroll that purports to tell the location, so that the old ashes can be added to the new, thus continuing the continuity factor.[17]

Some Jewish people remove a small piece of the sourdough challah and give it away to someone else as a challah starter. In one Jewish custom a portion of the challah is set aside (refrigerated) until the making of new challah when the old is added to the new (however this is not the piece of challah which according to traditional Jewish law, may not be eaten, and must thus be destroyed in a dignified manner).[18]  The Churches of the East keep back a portion of their liturgical bread, called the Holy Malka, and when new bread is made the old is added to the new. It is claimed this continuity reaches back to the original loaf used by Christ and his disciples at the last supper.[19] They also add a portion of the old anointing oil to the newly made anointing oil to establish a continuity of the oil, believed to reach back to the early disciples (see section below).


It is recorded in Exodus 30:31 “And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.” [20] Commenting on this verse Rashi quotes a teaching of the Sages [Horiyos 11b] that the original Shemen HaMishcha that Moses made, to anoint the priesthood and the tabernacle furnishings, would remain intact in its entirety into the distant future (l’asid lavoh). When the Temple was to be rebuilt they would then need that very same Holy Anointing Oil to anoint the priests prior to their service in the Third Temple as well as to anoint the furnishings of the mishkin.[21] It is obvious that such a small quantity of oil (around a gallon) would not last that long. It is claimed that one juglet of oil lasted over 800 years.[22] To explain this discrepancy it is claimed that one of two things occurred: Either the container of Holy Anointing Oil miraculously multiplied when supply became low (as did the cruise of oil mentioned in the story of Elijah and the widow woman as well as the miracle at the time of the Chanukah story of the oil that lasted for eight days without being consumed) or, following the custom of the continuity factor, new oil was added to the old, thus continuing the original oil for all time. The question arises if the original Holy Anointing oil, or it’s descendent substance, is no longer available then how will the priesthood and the tabernacle be sanctified holy? The answer would be to locate some of the original Holy Anointing Oil or it’s descendant substance.

The search for this oil has led some to follow the map of the copper scroll (see section below). Olive oil residues may last countless centuries. A glass flask from before or during the life of Christ was unearthed in Israel and it still bears the residue of the olive oil it once contained. The residue is still easily identifiable. The residue from an olive press in Karanis, Egypt was determined by scientific analysis to be olive oil residue. For many years, this olive residue was thought to be bread, until scientific analysis determined its true nature.[23] A combined gas chromatography-electron ionization , atmospheric pressure chemical ionization, mass spectrometry and MS/MS approach has been used for characterizing organic residues of ceramic vessels from a vault in a 13th century church in Sant’Antimo in Piombino. The data showed organic markers of vegetable residues. [24] Cream of tartar, a byproduct of wine-making, was found as a residue in ancient jugs found in Iran indicating that wine has been existent for c 7,000 years. [25] In 2005 a Greek and American interdisciplinary team investigated two shipwrecks off the coast of Chios dating to the 4th-century B.C. The project pioneered archaeological methods of precision acoustic, digital imaging, and chemical analysis. Chemical and molecular biological analysis of two amphoras from the 4th-century wreck revealed ancient DNA of olive oil which was part of a cargo, among other substances, outbound from Chios. [26] A team from Bonn University’s Egyptian Museum is studying the residue of a perfume belonging to the ancient Egyptian Queen, Pharaoh Hatshepsut. The team is trying to recreate the scent worn by the Pharaoh, who ruled Egypt in the 15th century B.C., by using the dried-out remnants of a scented oil found in a metal jar in her tomb.[27] The modern scientific achievements in discovering such ancient residues which have survived the ravages of time presents the possibility that a portion of the HaMishchah may have survived in some manner. Some believe it can be found and have searched for it. One search for the Holy Anointing Oil, and the treasures of the copper scroll, purportedly led to the archaeological discovery of the Juglet of Qumran.

Alleged discoveries of the ancient Holy Anointing Oil

The Juglet of Qumran

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Qumran in 1947. Over 900 ancient documents written on parchment and papyrus were carefully preserved and buried in sealed vessels. Written between 150 BC and 70 AD the discovered treasures included the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-Biblical documents, making it one of the most sensational archeological discoveries in centuries.[28] Whether written by the priesthood of the Essenes, the Zadokite priests in Jerusalem, or some other ancient Jewish sect has not been determined with certainty.

Among the scrolls discovered was a most intriguing scroll made of thin sheets of copper found in cave number three. Translations of the ancient Hebrew text revealed the copper scroll was a treasure map revealing where valuable treasure was buried.[29] The treasure of the copper scrolls has been assumed to be the treasure of the Jewish Temple, presumably the Second Temple, among other options. One theory says that the treasures could be that of the First Temple, built by King Solomon and later destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC, with the scrolls having been left in a cave during the Babylonian Exile, possibly with a small community of caretakers who were precursors of the Dead Sea Scrolls community. There is mention in the scroll of the “House of Hakkoz”, with the family of Hakkoz being treasurers of the rebuilt Temple, following the return from Babylon, as listed in the Biblical Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Following the map inscribed on the ancient copper scroll an archaeological team began excavation in the Qumran area. In April of 1988 a small juglet was discovered containing a very thick liquid believed to be the Holy Anointing Oil of the Temple. Intensive testing by the Pharmaceutical Department of Hebrew University, financed by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute, allegedly verified that the substance inside the small juglet was indeed the ancient Holy Anointing Oil. On February 15, 1989, the New York Times newspaper broke the news of the discovery to the public.[30] During the ensuing few weeks, major networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, carried the story on national and international television. In October, 1989, National Geographic Magazine featured the find, followed by Omni Magazine in December of the same year. Countless other news sources carried the story. The VJRI stated, “The finding of the oil was important for two reasons. It is the first item to be found from the First Temple period and is one of the items listed among the treasures in the Copper Scroll.” They added that“the oil was used as the fragrance on the oblation for a sweet smelling savor on the sacrifices. It was also used as the Holy Anointing Oil for the priest, prophets and kings.” It has been variously referred to as the Holy Anointing Oil, Shemen Afarshimon, or Shemen HaMishchah. Jones wrote that “the Holy Anointing Oil was made by Moses himself and was for all generations to come. Moses made 24 juglets of the Holy Anointing Oil . . . this twenty-second juglet was used for 844 years . . . less than a third of the juglet was used. This is the juglet of the Holy Anointing Oil that our team found in 1988. Since that juglet was made by Moses himself, it is the item of earliest antiquity in Israel.”[31]

The Jerusalem Juglet

An ancient glass anointing juglet was discovered in Israel, found in excavations of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem in the early part of the century.[32] The glass juglet was a hand blown piece believed to have been crafted by a Judean artisan. It appeared to be created in the typical style of the Roman Empire, but could easily fit anywhere within the period of 37 BC to 100 AD. Authenticated by scholars and archeologists, as well as groups such as the IAA and members of the Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria and the Numismatic Association of America, it eventually ended up being transported from a gallery in Jerusalem, Israel to a gallery in Australia.[33] It was advertised as “Ancient Roman glass anointing juglet discovered in the Holy Land.” The olive colored bottle was intact with a very small loss on the pouring spout. A second angled dispensing spout projected from the body. Vessels of this type were used for dispensing oils and other liquids in small controlled quantities – in religious, priestly functions – sacrificing, anointing, purifying, etc. It measured 104mm (H) x 72mm (W). What seemed to be mineral deposits lined the inside of the glass juglet. Subsequent tests allegedly revealed that the deposits within the juglet were indeed the aged remains of the Holy Anointing Oil of Exodus 30. The juglet remains in the gallery in Australia.

Other Alleged Finds

“The Messianic Holy Anointing Oil vial” was discovered by an elderly monk living as a hermit in the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1960s, excavating inside an ancient grotto located in the immediate vicinity of the Upper Room on Mount Zion.[34] Fischer says that at least two of the objects were obvious ceremonial pieces which may have been used by James the Just, the brother of Jesus.[35] A stone that is believed to be the base for the vial is a brick-sized block of well-worn local marble. This block bears an ancient Aramaic inscription that reads “La Shemen Ruehon” or “For the Oil of the Spirit.”[36] [37] The ancient vial is believed to contain residues of the Holy Anointing Oil but these residues have not been allowed for testing. Another find, “The Juglet of Hebron,” an ancient black anointing oil juglet, was discovered in an archeological excavation in the ancient city of Hebron in the early part of the century.[38] It was dated between 1000 to 800 BC. Authenticated by archeologists as well as members of the Archaeological Institute of America, the juglet was sold from Israel to a private collector in the United States. A faint but detectable image of a Hebrew letter etched on the outside of the juglet reportedly authenticates it’s ritual use. The tested residues in the juglet are allegedly residues of the Holy Anointing Oil. Another juglet from Israel was discovered in an archeological excavation and purportedly contained residues of the Holy Anointing Oil but as yet results are not conclusive. Muslim excavations on the Temple Mount resulted in the discovery by archaeologists of artifacts from the 10th century (the reigns of King David and King Solomon) as well as from the Hasmonean, Herodian, and the Second Temple period. [39]The base of a juglet used as a container for olive oil was discovered.[40] A cave discovered in Kibbutz, Israel, outside of Jerusalem, is believed by some to be the place used by John the Baptist for baptismal purposes.[41] Around 250,000 pottery shards, remnants believed for ritual use, were discovered in the cave. A stone inside had a small depression which is said to have contained anointing oil for ritual cleansing. In another discovery an ivory pomegranate, believed to be from Solomon’s Temple, bears the inscription; “[Belonging] to the Temple of [Yahwe]h, consecrated to the priests.” Although the pomegranate itself is admittedly genuine, Professor Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University believed that the inscription was a forgery because three critical letters adjacent to an ancient break seemed to stop too conveniently before reaching the break. Professor Yitzhak Roman of the Hebrew University examined the artifact under a scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and concluded the inscription was authentic. His examination showed that the three critical letters, contrary to Goren’s finding, did in fact go into the ancient break. This was the same conclusion reached by an examination at the Israeli Museum sponsored by the Biblical Archaeological Society May 3, 2007 ; “The three letters clearly go into the break.” In addition Professor Roman examined the patina of the surviving letters of the inscription and concluded they were genuine. [42] The inscription “Belonging to the Temple of Yahweh, consecrated to the priests” seems to indicate this was an anointing artifact. To date it has not been tested for residue of the Holy Anointing Oil.

The Continuity of the Holy Anointing Oil in the Eastern Churches

The Armenian Church

The Holy Anointing Oil of the Armenian Church is called the Holy Muron. The church holds a special reverence for the continuity factor of the oil. According to tradition, a portion of the Holy Anointing Oil of Exodus 30, which Moses and Aaron had blessed, still remained in Jesus’ time. Jesus Christ blessed this oil and then gave some of it to Thaddeus, who took the holy oil to Armenia and healed King Abkar of a terrible skin disease by anointing him with the holy oil. Saint Thaddeus is said to have buried a bottle of the Holy Anointing Oil in Daron under an evergreen tree. Saint Gregory the Illuminator discovered the hidden treasure and mixed it with muron that he had blessed. It is said that “To this day, whenever a new batch of muron is prepared and blessed, a few drops of the old one go into it, so that the Armenian muron always contains a small amount of the original oil blessed by Moses, Jesus Christ, and Gregory the Illuminator.”[43][44] The Holy Muron is composed of olive oil and forty-eight aromas and flowers. The remaining portion of the previous blessed holy oil is poured into the newly prepared oil during the blessing ceremony and passes the blessing from generation to generation. It is said that this very procedure has been followed for nearly 1700 years. The Catholicos of all Armenians in Etchmiadzin combines a new mixture of Holy Muron in the cauldron every seven years using a portion of the holy muron from the previous blend. This sweet-scented holy oil is stirred with what is said to be the tip of the lance driven through Jesus’ side and a fragment of the true cross.[44a]  This is distributed to all of the Armenian churches throughout the world. Before Christianity, Muron was reserved solely for the enthroning of royalty and for very special events. In later years, it was used with extreme unction and to heal the sick, and to anoint ordained clergy. [45]

The Assyrian Church of the East

It is said by the Assryian Church that the Holy Anointing Oil “was given and handed down to us by our holy fathers Mar Addai and Mar Mari and Mar Tuma.” The Holy Anointing Oil of the Assyrian Church is variously referred to as the Oil of the Holy Horn, the Oil of the Qarna, or the Oil of Unction. This holy oil is an apostolical tradition, believed to have originated from the oil consecrated by the Apostles themselves, and which by succession has been handed down in the Church to this day. [46] The original oil which the deciples blessed began to run low and more oil was added to it. This has alledgedly continued to this very day with new oil being added as the oil level lowers. This succession of holy oil is believed to be a continuity of the blessings placed upon the oil from the beginning.

Both the Oil of Unction and the Holy Leaven are referred to as “leaven” although there is no actual leavening agent, so the nomenclature Holy Leaven seems to be a bit misleading. Yohanan bar Abgareh referred to it in 905 as did Shlemon d-Basra in the 13th Century. Yohanan bar Zo’bee in the 14thCentury integrated the Holy Oil of unction with baptism and other rites. Isaaq Eshbadhnaya in the 15thCentury wrote the Scholion which is a commentary on specific theological topics. It tells us that that John the Baptist gave John the Evangelist a baptismal vessel of water from Christ’s baptism, which was collected by John the Baptist from water dripping from Christ after his baptism in Jordan River. Jesus gave each disciple a “loaf,” at the Last Supper, but the Scholion informs us that to John he gave two with the instructions to eat only one and to save the other. At the crucifixion John collected the water from the Lord’s side in the vessel and the blood he collected on the loaf from the Last Supper. After the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost the disciples took the vessel and mixed it with oil and each took a horn of it. The loaf they ground up and added flour and salt to it. Each took a portion of the holy oil and the holy bread which were distributed in every land by the hand of those who missionized there. [47][48]

The Assyrian Church has two types of holy oils; the one is ordinary olive oil, blessed or not blessed, the other is the oil of the Holy Horn which is believed to have been handed down from the Apostles. The Holy Horn is constantly renewed by the addition of oil blessed by a bishop on Maundy Thursday. While most anyone can by tradition be anointed with the regular oil, the oil of the Holy Horn is restricted for ordination and sanctification purposes.

The Coptic Church

The Holy Anointing oil of the Coptic Church is referred to as the Holy Myron.

The laying of hands for the dwelling of the Holy Spirit is believed to have been a specific rite of the Apostles and their successors the Bishops, and as the regions of mission increased, consequently numbers of Christian believers and converts increased. It was not possible for the Apostles to wander through all the countries and cities to lay hands on all of those baptized, so they established anointment by the Holy Myron as an alternative, it is believed, for the laying on of the hands for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.

The first who made the Myron were the Apostles who had kept the fragrant oils which were on the body of Jesus Christ during his burial, and they added the spices which were brought by those women who prepared them to anoint Christ, but had discovered he had resurrected. They melted all these spices in pure olive oil, prayed on it in the Upper Room in Zion and made it a Holy Anointing Oil. Today the Coptic Church uses it for ordination, in the Sanctification of Baptismal water, ordination of Churches, and church altars and vessels. They decided that their successors the Bishops, must renew the making of the Myron whenever it is close to dimishing, by incorporating the original oil with the new.

It is said that when St. Mark went to Alexandria, he took with him some of the Holy Myron oil made by the Apostles and that he used it in the Sacrament of Chrism, as well as the Patriarchs who succeeded him. This continued until the era of Athanasius the Apostolic – the 20th Patriarch, who then decided to remake the Myron in Alexandria. Hence, it is reported, he prepared all of the needed perfumes and spices, with pure olive oil, from which God ordered Moses to make the Holy Anointing Oil as specified in the recipe in the thirtieth chapter of the book of Exodus. Then the sanctification of the Holy Myron was fulfilled in Alexandria, and Athanasius was entrusted with the holy oil (leaven), which contained spices which touched the Lord’s body whilst in the tomb, as well as the original oil which had been prepared by the Apostles and brought to Egypt by St. Mark. He distributed the oil to the churches abroad : to the See of Rome, Antioch and Constantinople, together with a document of its authenticity, and all of the patriarchs are said to have rejoiced in receiving it.[49] The Coptic Church informs that he Fathers of the Church and scholars like St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Hippolytus, Origen, St. Ambrose, and St. Cyril of Jerusalem, spoke about the Holy Myron and how they received its use in anointing by tradition. For example, St. Hippolytus in his Apostolic Tradition, speaks of the holy oil “according to ancient custom” [50] Origen writes about the holy oil “according to the tradition of the church” [51] St. Cyril of Jerusalem goes into further detail in speaking about the grace of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Myron: “this oil is not just any oil after the epiclesis of the Spirit, it becomes charism of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit through the presence of the deity” [52]

The early fathers and scholars mention the use of the Holy Myron, as well as a documentation by Abu l-Barakat Ibn Kabar, a 14th century Coptic priest and scholar, in his book Misbah az-Zulmah fi idah al-khidmah (The Lamp of Darkness in Clarifying the Service). According to his account, the holy apostles took from the spices that were used to anoint the body of our Lord Jesus Christ when he was buried [53], added pure olive oil to it, and prayed over it in Upper Zion, the first church where the Holy Spirit fell in the upper room.

This holy oil was then distributed amongst all of the apostles so that wherever they preached, new converts would be anointed with it as a seal. They also commanded that whenever a new batch of Holy Myron was made, that they add to it the old Holy Myron to keep the first Holy Myron continually with all that would ever be made afterwards.

According to the available resources, the Holy Myron in the Church of Egypt has been made 34 times. [54][55] [56] [57][58]

The Saint Thomas Christians

The general consensus of opinion among scholars is that St. Thomas laid the original foundation for Christianity in India. It is reported that Jewish communities which were already present in India were the contributing factors which enticed Thomas on his missionary journey there. It is said that he brought the Holy Anointing Oil with him and that the St. Thomas Christians still have this oil to this day.[59]

Patriarch Ya`qub, of the Syrian Malabar Narani Church, is fondly remembered for his spiritually uplifting celebration of the liturgy and his humble encouragement to accept the simple way of life. After he consecrated sacred myron in the Mor Gabriel monastery in 1964, holy myron reportedly flowed from the glass container the following day and many people were said to have been healed by it.

keneh-bosem

Ramban, the Septuagint, Nachmanides, Saadya Gaon and Ibn Janach all identify the calamus of the Old Testament as sweet calamus, Acorus calamus.[60] Most biblical authorities and commentaters also identify the keneh bosem as the cane balsam [61] of the plant variously referred to as sweet cane, sweet flag, or calamus.

By Dr. Curtis D. Ward

References

  1. ^ Exodus 30:29
  2. ^ Exodus 30:33
  3. ^ Ex. 30:32a
  4. ^ Ex.30:32b
  5. ^“Exodus 30:23-25 – Passage Lookup – King James Version”. BibleGateway.com. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2030:23-25&version=KJV. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  6. ^ Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke
  7. ^ Exodus|30:26 30:26
  8. ^ A. Corbin, Le Miasme et la jonquille. L’odorat et l’imaginaire social , 18e-19e siecles (Paris 1982)
  9. ^ On the Function of the Holy Incense (Exodus XXX 34-8) and the Sacred Anointing Oil (Exodus XXX 22-33) C Houtman – Vetus Testamentum, 1992
  10. ^ M.C.A. Korpel, A Rift in the Clouds, Ugaritic and Hebrew Descriptions of the Divine (Munster , 1990), pp. 99,105, 142, 419.
  11. ^ The Spiritual Significance of the Qetoret [Incense] in Ancient Jewish Tradition, Rabbi Avraham Sutton
  12. ^http://www.escapeallthesethings.com/red-heifer.htm
  13. ^ The Red Heifer, The Original Ashes, The Temple Institute
  14. ^http://www.templeinstitute.org/red_heifer/original_ashes.htm
  15. ^ Pharisees and the Sadducees: Rethinking Their Respective Outlooks on Jewish Law, GR Knight – BYU L. Rev., 1993 – HeinOnline
  16. ^ The end of days: fundamentalism and the struggle for the Temple Mount, By Gershom Gorenberg
  17. ^ The strange search for the ashes of the Red Heifer DC Browning – The Biblical archaeologist, 1996 – cat.inist.fr
  18. ^http://www.chewonthatblog.com/2009/06/02/how-to-make-challah/           and    http://www.thechallahblog.com/2012/08/rustic-sourdough-challah.html
  19. ^ Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, Commission on Inter-Church Relations and Education Development, Fifth PRO ORIENTE, Non-official Consultation on Dialogue within the Churches of the Syriac Tradition: “Sacraments in the Syriac Tradition — Part II”, 26th February to 1st March 2002; Vienna (Austria),The Sacrament of the Holy Leaven “Malka” and the Holy Oil
  20. ^ Shmos 30:31
  21. ^http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfrand/5765/kisisa.html
  22. ^ Jones,ThD, Professor Vendyl, Researcher 17, March 2004
  23. ^http://www.umich.edu/~kelseydb/Exhibits/Food/text/farm2.html
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  29. ^ Copper Scroll Studies, By George J. Brooke, Philip R. Davies
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  34. ^ Israel Today, News About Israel, Ludwig Schneider, 1990
  35. ^ The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, by Bob Fischer and Reuven Schalz, Olim Publications
  36. ^ The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, by Bob Fischer and Reuven Schalz, Olim Publications
  37. ^ Evangelical Press News Service, July, 6, 1999
  38. ^ The Archaeological Institute of America, A1 A.A>, 2005
  39. ^ Shragai, Temple Mount Dirt Uncovers First Temple Artifacts, 19.10.06
  40. ^ National Geographic News, Solomon’s Temple Artifacts Found by Muslim Workers, mati Milstein, Tel Aviv, Israel, October, 23, 2007
  41. ^ Gibson, Shimon, The Cave of John the Baptist, 2005
  42. ^ Leading Israeli Scientist Declares Pomegranate Inscription Authentic, Biblical Archaeological Review, December 16, 2008
  43. ^ Abrahamian, Nyree, The blessing of the Muron: Behind the ritual
  44. The Armenian Reporter, “The Blessing of the Muron: Behind the ritual,” Nyree Abrahamian, 9/23/2008, ^http://www.reporter.am/go/article/2008-09-23-the-blessing-of-the-muron-behind-the-ritual              44a.—— Los Angeles Times, “Armenian Priests Journey for Jars of Holy Oil,”  Luis Sahagun, 10/11/2008.   http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/11/local/me-beliefs11
  45. ^ Armenian Heritage, The Blessing of the Holy Muron
  46. ^ Catholic ecycl
  47. ^ MacLean & Browne, The Catholicos of the East and his People, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1892. pages 247 & 248.
  48. ^ Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East , Commission on Inter-Church Relations and Education Development , Fifth PRO ORIENTE Non-official Consultation on Dialogue within the Churches of the Syriac Tradition: “Sacraments in the Syriac Tradition — Part II”, 26th February to 1st March 2002; Vienna (Austria), The Sacrament of the Holy Leaven “Malka” and the Holy Oil
  49. ^http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/sacraments/2_confirmation.html
  50. ^ quoted in Berardino, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, v. 1, p. 190
  51. ^ in Rom. Comm. V, 8; quoted in Berardino, ibid.
  52. ^ Cat. 21, 3; quoted in Berardino, ibid.
  53. ^ cf. John 19:38-40
  54. ^http://www.suscopts.org/resources/literature/539/the-holy-myron/
  55. ^ Burmester, O.H.E., The Egyptian or Coptic Church, A Detailed Description of Her Liturgical Services and the Rites and Ceremonies Observed in the Administration of Her Sacraments, Cairo, 1967
  56. ^ Abu l-Barakat Ibn Kabar, Misbah az-Zulmah fi idah al-khidmah, Cairo, 1971
  57. ^ Berardino, Angelo di, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, translated by Walford, A. Cambridge 1992
  58. ^ Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffa, Tartib al-kahanut, manuscript.
  59. ^http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=39&Itemid=223
  60. ^“Ki Tisa”. Bible.ort.org. http://bible.ort.org/books/torahd5.asp?action=displayid&id=2403. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  61. ^“Exodus 30:23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels”. Scripturetext.com. http://scripturetext.com/exodus/30-23.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-18.

WARNING: The Holy Anointing oil should be used ON CHRISTIANS ONLY. According to Exodus 30 the Holy Anointing Oil is not to be used on the common person, but it was only to be used on God’s chosen people, specifically the priestly lineage. In the New Testament it speaks of God’s Church saying, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” I Peter 2:9. As a royal priesthood and as a holy nation, Christians may be anointed by the Holy Anointing Oil. It is Biblically  prohibited to be used on or by the unregenerated.

Holy Anointing Oil made by a Rabbi of Cohanim descent (lineage of Aaron and Moses) may be purchased here:  http://www.messianica.org/Oil.htm

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HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT

HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT

 It is believed by both Jews and Muslims that the first of all God’s magnificent creation was the Foundation Stone. This massive rock today is embedded beneath the Temple Mount located in present day Jerusalem. It is further believed that all of earth was created from this one stone and that the first sacrifice of all time was made upon it.

 The Temple Mount is unarguably the most sacred, the most coveted, and the most valuable piece of real estate on planet earth. Battles have raged, blood has been shed, and martyrs have died over this piece of property which was originally blessed by the Lord as the meeting place between God and man. It was here that God Almighty descended in the form of Shekinah fire and spoke directly to mankind. The Foundation Stone, which sets upon the Mount, is said to be the place where the Ark of the Covenant once sat and the very spot where Elohim himself appeared once a year on the Day of Atonement.

 In reality the Temple Mount is simply a walled off section of the larger Mount Moriah located in present day Jerusalem. The Foundation Stone is actually a large mass of bedrock running the entire length of Mount Moriah (from the city of David to Gordon’s Mount Calvary) and outcrops in two different places on top of the Mount (under the Dome of the Rock and under the Dome of Tablets). It was on the Temple Mount where the first two Jewish Temples were built and where the third temple is anticipated being built.

 Let us now review persons and times in history which were most significant to the Temple Mount.

 MELCHISEDEK

 The ancient King-Priest Melchizedek was called “King of Salem” which, as we will discover below, is an old word for Jerusalem. Although the Mount itself is not specifically mentioned during this period, we find that, even at this very early date, “Salem” was a meeting place between man and the Most High God.

 ABRAHAM

 God spoke to the patriarch Abraham instructing him to take his only son Isaac upon Mount Moriah where he was to take his life through a sacrificial offering. It is believed that Isaac was laid upon the Foundation Stone which served Abraham as an alter to the Most High. As Abraham prepared to sacrifice the fruit of his loins an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and stopped him. The angelic being informed him that this was but a test and God had prepared himself a sacrifice. Abraham then turned to see a ram whose horns were caught in the thickets. This drama unfolded upon Mount Moriah which we today refer to as the Temple Mount.

 JACOB

 Abraham’s grandson, the patriarch Jacob, was traveling and one day and came upon a certain place where he chose to stay for the night. Taking up one of the stones of the place he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. In a dream of spiritual dimensions he beheld a flight of steps rising from earth, till it reached high Heaven. Upon this ladder God’s angels were ascending and descending. The voice of Almighty God spoke to him from Heaven saying,”I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants.”

 When Jacob awoke from his sleep he exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.” He was afraid, and said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Gen 28:19. Jacob then anoints the stone on which his slept and called the place “Bethel” which means “The House of God.”
The place at which Jacob stopped for the night was in reality Mount Moriah, the future home of the Temple in Jerusalem (Jacob called Jerusalem Bethel – Pesahim 88a). He named the place “Bethel or House of God intuitively anticipating the future Temple that would be built upon that very place. One prophet wrote “come let us go to the mountain of God to the house of Jacob.” Isa.2:4. Many believe the ladder signified the “bridge” between Heaven and earth, as prayers and sacrifices offered in the Holy Temple soldered a connection between God and the Jewish people. The stone on which he slept is believed to have been carried by Moses through the wilderness and placed again later in Solomons Temple where the King was coronated beside of it. Today there exists in Westminster Abby a stone encased in a royal throne which is believed to be the very stone anointed by Jacob. Upon this stone every English sovereign, from King Edward I to Victoria, has been coronated and crowned.

MOSES

The charismatic Moses led the children of Israel for forty years through the treacherous wilderness. God had instructed Moses to build a tabernacle out of skins and acacia wood. Within the Tabernacle was a esoteric room of great sanctity called the Holy of Holies. The great Ark of the Covenant was the only furnishing adorning this cubicle. Once a year on the day of atonement God himself would descend in a flame of shekinah fire and set upon the mercy seat of the Ark. There God himself would commune and speak with man.

The Tabernacle was in actuality a moving “portable temple.” When the children of Israel broke camp to journey forward, they would fold up the Tabernacle and carry it with them. Arriving at the next place of encampment they would unpack the Tabernacle, set it back up, and once again sacrifices were made and the Most High communed with man. It is believed that the rock from Mount Moriah was carried with them throughout their sojourn through the wilderness (not the large Foundation Stone of course, but a loose rock that Jacob found lying near or on the Foundation Stone and used for his pillow). They were to carry this rock and the Tabernacle for forty years until the children of Israel would at last enter into the land of promise and ultimately rediscover Mount Moriah.

DAVID

Mount Moriah was located in a city called Urusalim, a word probably of Semitic origin that apparently means ‘Foundation of Shalem’ or ‘Foundation of God’. The town was inhabited by a mixed population known as Jebusites. About 1000 BC, Urusalim was captured by David and was renamed Jerusalem. Scriptures tell us that King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Aravnah the Jebusite (2 Samuel, 24:18-25) overlooking Jerusalem with the intention of erecting an altar. He wanted to construct a permanent temple there, but as his hands were “bloodied” from war, he was forbidden to do so himself. The Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary carried through the wilderness, was erected upon this spot but the Temple itself was not built until c. 950 BC by David’s son Solomon.

SOLOMON

Solomon built upon the Temple Mount the most beautiful edifice that has ever adorned planet earth. It was a temple par excellent. The lavish beauty of it’s detail and symmetry, the opulence of it furnishings, and the holiness that permeated the atmosphere surrounding it, was a grandeur the likes of which may never again be recreated in our world. The Kings of the earth marveled at its beauty and nations were blinded by its majesty. It was a shining gem among kingdoms of darkness. It was floored and wainscoted with the wood from the mighty cedars of Lebanon. It’s floors and walls were overlaid with gold. Two cherubim of olive-wood , each more than fifteen feet tall were set within it. Their outspread wings measured fifteen feet from tip to tip, so that, since they were standing side by side, the wings would touch the wall on either side and meet in the middle of the room. A two-leaved door overlaid with gold stood between this area and the holy place; also a veil of heavenly blue, royal purple, crimson red, and fine linen. In the Holy of Holies sat the Ark of the Covenant adorned with cheribims and a mercy seat of pure gold. Inside the Ark was the tablets of stone which God himself had written upon with his own divine finger. The Ark also contained the manna which miraculously fell from Heaven, and the rod of Aaron which had miraculously blossomed. Scripture tells us that when Solomon had finished praying, holy fire descended from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices. Solomon looked on with a holy awe and reverence as God manifested his majesty and the glory of the LORD filled the temple II Chron 7:1. The priests ministered and worshiped before the Lord as the glory rose in the temple. This glory of the Divine King of all Kings fell in the Temple upon Mount Moriah which today we refer to as the Temple Mount and the great Ark of the Covenant sat upon the Foundation Stone which ran the length of the mount.

EZRA

After standing for 410 years, the First Temple in all its splendor and glory was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 BC.

Reconstruction of the Temple began after the exile to Babylonia. The Hebrew people had been in exile for more than seventy years. Upon return to their homeland they had no idea where the exact spot was where the Temple stood on the Mount. Three prophets came and chose the spot where they believed it had stood. New foundations had to be laid for the new temple.

The rebuilding of the Temple began under Cyrus when the Persians first took over the Babylonian empire, and was then interrupted for 18 years. It resumed with blessing of Darius II, the Persian king whom it is believe was the son of Esther. Honor is given to Ezra for the rebuilding of the Temple, the spiritual rebuilding of the Jewish people and his efforts to reinstate Torah law in the land. A scribe, scholar and a Hebrew community leader in Persia, Ezra, a cohen (descendant of Aaron and Moses), took with him 1,496 well-chosen men with leadership abilities. Ezra’s impact upon the Hebrew nation is so dramatic that in the Talmud it is written of him that “the Torah could have been given to Israel through Ezra, if not that Moses preceded him” (Sanhedrin 21b).

However, the new temple was but a faint image of the splendor of the former temple of old and the people wept.

HEROD THE GREAT

King Herod the Great completely renovated the Temple Mount creating a massive expansion of the Temple Mount platform and a major expansion of the Temple around 19 BC. Mount Moriah had a plateau at the northern end, and steeply declined on the southern slope. Herod had planned for the entire mountain to be developed into a giant square platform. The Temple Mount was originally intended to be 1600 feet wide by 900 feet deep by 9 stories high with walls up to 16 feet deep, however it was never finished according to this original plan. As it turned out the Platform and the Temple was still greatly expanded and was a grand architectural achievement of the day.

It was in this temple (which we refer to as the second temple, that Jesus had taught many times including the episode when he was twelve years old. At the beginning of his ministry he read from the book of Isaiah upon this spot. It was here that he ran out the money changers and it was this same temple that he prophesied would be destroyed and that not one stone would be left sitting upon another. This foreboding prophesy was destined to be fulfilled in just a very few short decades

It was in 70 AD that the Jewish people experienced one of the most tragic events in their history. Just 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Roman army burned down Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. It was a stunning loss. This event took place on the 10th day of Loos (August 29th), the exact same day the Babylonians had burned down Solomon’s temple 657 years earlier. The Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world without a country or king. However, one of the most amazing notes in history is the fact that throughout almost two thousand years of dispersion they never lost their identity, religion, or language.

CHRISTIAN OCCUPATION OF THE MOUNT

Around 325 AD Saint Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, built the Church of St. Cyrus and Saint John on the Mount. This structure was later enlarged and named the Church of Holy Wisdom (the church was later destroyed and the Dome of the Rock was built upon its ruins).

In 363 AD, Emperor Julian II ordered the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt. An ancient historian writes of this attempt:

“Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.”

Was the failure to rebuild the temple due to the Galilee earthquake of 363 AD? If so, the timing was extraordinarily eerie.

DOME OF THE ROCK

After the Muslim conquest of this region, they renamed the Temple Mount as the AL-Haram AL-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).

The Muslims revered the Mount as the place of longstanding worship of God by the Jewish prophets as well as the site of the Prophet Muhammad’s night journey to heaven. They soon began to regard the Temple Mount as the third most important holy site, after Mecca and Medina.

In 690 CE, after the Islamic conquest of Palestine, an octagonal shrine (not a mosque) was built around one of the outcroppings of the Foundation Stone, which became known as the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhra). The Dome of the Rock was built from the remains of local Christian Churches as well as the remains of the Church of Holy Wisdom which had set upon this same exact spot. Some believed material in the new structure also included some of the remains of the old Jewish Temple. It was built by Jews, Byzantine Christians, and Muslim workers under the leadership of Abd el-Malik. It was built not as a mosque for public worship but rather a mashhad, a shrine for pilgrims.

Building the Dome of the Rock provided at least four strategic purposes for Abd el-Malik :

  1. It temporarily satisfied and won the moral support of Jewish residents (who wished for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple) by providing them a place of prayer and worship.
  2. It brought unity to Jerusalem by providing a structure that could also be used as a place of pilgrimage by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
  3. It redirected his Muslim residents away from pilgrimaging to Mecca which was in the province of his enemies.
  4. It provided a structure meant to rival the over-dominating Christian structures in Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock is not, and has never been, a Mosque or a place for Islam but, as mentioned above, it was built as a mashhad, a shrine for pilgrims.

In 715 AD the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built on the far southern end of the Temple Mount where the ancient chanuyot (storage house for the priests) once sat. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD the chanuyot were destroyed along with the Temple. Yet unlike the Temple, which was destroyed completely, a significant portion of the chanuyot survived the destructing forces. The current mosque includes rows of ancient Corinthian columns which clearly predate the Islamic architecture. Evidence also exists that a Byzantine church once sat on this spot. The mosque has been destroyed several times in earthquakes; the current version dates from the first half of the 11th century.

CHRISTIAN ORDER OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

The Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon, which later became abbreviated to “Knights Templar,” was a Christian religious order which occupied the Temple Mount for many years. Their history occupies about two centuries during the time of the Middle Ages. They rose from humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of all the Christian orders. They eventually garnered the favor of the Church and the collective European monarchs. It was the Knights Templar who invented the banking system used by all of the civilized world today. They believed it was their duty to protect the Temple Mount and all of Jerusalem from non-Christian invaders. After many victories they, in the end, lost the Temple Mount to the Muslims and in 1312 were disbanded due to a plot devised by King Phillip. Deeply in debt King Phillip IV of France plotted to get the riches of the Knights Templar for himself. Templar members were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Any remaining Templars merged with the Order of Hospitallers. Templar Jacques De Molay recanted the false confessions that he and other Templars had been previously tortured into giving. As Molay was burning at the stake he spoke forth a prophecy proclaiming that King Phillip and Pope Clement would account for their actions before God’s court within the year. It is a chilling record of history that within one month Pope Clement was dead. By the end of the year King Phillip had died.

MUSLIM OCCUPATION OF THE MOUNT

From the time of the Templar crusaders to the present twenty first century the Temple Mount has remained under Muslim occupation.

In 1948 Israel once again became a nation. The Temple Mount and all of east Jerusalem was captured by the Israelis during the six day war of 1967. The Chief Rabbi of Defense Forces led Israeli soldiers in religious celebrations on the Mount. More than 200,000 Jews flocked to the Mount and the Western Wall in the very first mass Jewish pilgrimage for the first time in two thousand years. The Israeli flag was hoisted high into the air from the site of the Dome of the Rock. Shofars were blown. Shouts rang out in joyous celebration. General Mordechai Gur shouted, “The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!”

Then an unexpected turn of events took place. In order to keep peace between the Jews and the Muslims the Israeli government made a decision. To the dismay of the religious Jews of Israel, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan handed the custodial keys of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf. Although today Israel has sovereignty over the Mount the Waqf are the custodians of the site, empowered to decide who is permitted entry and who is forbidden.

WHY THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THAT THE TEMPLE COULD BE REBUILT

                                                   (Article to be continued)

By Dr. Curtis Ward, DD, MHC     History of the Temple Mount

____________________________________________________________

The following are some very interesting and excellent sites to check out:

http://www.templemount.org/

http://www.templemount.org/theories.html

http://www.templeinstitute.org/main.htm

http://www.triumphpro.com/dome-of-rock-riddle.pdf

http://www.bibleplaces.com/templemount.htm

Temple Mount, Ark of the covenant, Bible, Word of God, Dr. Curtis Ward, “Dr. Curtis Ward”, Dr. Curtis D. Ward, Deeper Life Church, Curtis Ward Ministries, Global outreach

SEMIKHAH ( aka Semicha )

Semikhah(Hebrew: סמיכה‎, “leaning [of the hands]“), also semichut (Hebrew: סמיכות‎, “ordination”) is derived from a Hebrew word which means to “rely on” or “to be authorized”. It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism, but can also apply to Christian groups who have preserved the lines of Semikhah. In the Jewish sense it is the “transmission” of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law. In Judeo-Christian groups it is the simple transmission of ordination.  

According to the Hebrew Bible, Moses ordained Joshua through semikhah. (Num.  27:15-23, Deut. 34:9). Moses also ordained the 70 elders (Num. 11:16-25). The elders later ordained their successors in this way. Their successors in turn ordained others. This chain of hands-on semikhah continued through the time of the Second Temple, survived the persecutions prior to the twelve century, and is said to remain intact in the twenty first century.

According to tradition a chain of unbroken Semikhah was passed down from Enoch down to Jethro and from Jethro to Moses. 

Traditionally Moses is also assumed to be the “first rabbi” of the Children of Israel. He is still known to most Jews as Moshe Rabbeinu (“Moses our Teacher”). Moses was also a prophet and is considered to be the greatest of all the Hebrew Bible’s prophets. Moses passed his leadership on to Joshua as commanded by God in the Book of Numbers where the subject of semikhah (“laying [of hands]” or “ordination”) is first mentioned in the Torah:

  • Book of Numbers: “Moses spoke to God, saying, ‘Let the Omnipotent God of all living souls appoint a man over the community. Let him come and go before them, and let him bring them forth and lead them. Let God’s community not be like sheep that have no shepherd.’ God said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man of spirit, and lay your hands on him’. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the entire community, and let them see you commission him. Invest him with some of your splendor so that the entire Israelite community will obey him. Let him stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall seek the decision of the Urim before God on his behalf. By this word, along with all the Israelites and the entire community shall he come and go.’ Moses did as God had ordered him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the entire community. He then laid his hands on him and commissioned him as God had commanded Moses.” (Num  27:15-23) *Book of Deuteronomy: “Joshua son of Nun was filled with a spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him. The Israelites therefore listened to him, doing as God had commanded Moses.” (Deuteronomy 34:9)

Classical semikhah was granted by a court of three judges (Mishnah Sanhedrin 2a), and it later required the participation of at least one who had attained this status, himself. According to Rambam (hil. Sanherin 4:3) the other two did need not be semukhim. Semikhah represents an unbroken chain of authority and an unbroken line of ordination dating back to the time of Moshe (Moses) and Yehoshua (Joshua). It is believed that God taught the Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu on Mt. Sinai in 1312 BCE and that since that time, the knowledge of Torah has been passed from generation to generation by the conferment of semikhah, rabbinic ordination, and the unbroken transmission of authority dating back to the time of Moshe (Moses). This unbroken chain is believed by many to have continued for over 3,300 years and continues to this day.

Classical semikhah refers to a specific type of ordination that, according to traditional Jewish teaching, traces a line of authority back to Moses and the seventy elders. The line of classical semikhah was formerly thought to have died out in the fourth or fifth century CE. However evidence exists that classical semicha was existent during the 12th century when semuchim from Lebanon and Syria were traveling to Israel in order to pass on semikhah to their students. In the mid-12th century there were 10 yeshivot in Baghdad, which had the largest concentration of Jews. There is evidence that lines of unbroken Semikhah have survived intact into the twenty first century. Many Orthodox Jews, however, do not accept these lines believing them to have been contaminated with semikhah being handed down through Jews who were Christian converts.

A LOST TRIBE OF ISRAEL: THE LEMBA

Rav Yisroel of Shklov (1770-1839), believed that classical Semikhah continued outside of the land of Israel, specifically in Yemen.

Modern day research discoveries reveal Rav Yisroel may have been in the right area at the wrong time. Dr. Tudar Parfitt discovered evidence that a group of Jewish people left Israel 2,500 years ago settling in Yemen and populating a city their oral tradition remembered as Senna. Unfavorable conditions forced them to travel onward ultimately settling around the area of Zimbabwe. They began to assimilate with the surrounding gene pool. They passed down from generation to generation the tradition that they were Jewish and had an unbroken ordination succession (both Cohanim and some non-Cohanim Lemba claim Semikhah). Magdel le Roux quotes a Lemba saying, “The succession is just from our forefathers right up to this generation.” For many years scientists laughed at this group of black people who called themselves Jewish.

Skepticism gave way to research when the Lemba were tested and found to share the same genes as Jewish people in Israel as well as having the Y chromosomal genetic markers, known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype.

In Jewish populations in general the frequency rate for these genes is 3 to 5 percent. When they tested the priestly tribe of Lemba they were astonished to discover they had 53 percent! They had unique genetic markers found only in the Jewish communities.

Dr. Tudar Parfitt says “It turned out what they are saying about themselves is substantially correct.” Geneticist Trevor Jenkins said the tests turned out to “prove consistent with Lemba oral history.” Science had conclusively proven the Lemba carried the Priestly genes dating back to the time of Aaron and Moses just as they had always proclaimed.

Many of their other historical traditions have turned out to be true. The unknown city that the Lemba claimed they journeyed from was discovered (“Journey to the Vanished City”, Dr. Tudor Parfitt). An artifact they claimed they possessed and lost hundreds of years ago was discovered in a an ancient cave. Dr. Mathiva said, “Old maps of the Holy Land have now revealed that there was a place called Lemba way back BCE.” She further stated that the Jewish community was left with a moral dilemma as to their responsibility and future obligations to the Lemba and concluded saying, “Now that we know, can we continue to pretend they do not exist?”

Dr. Rudo Mathiva stated, “We, the Jewish community are guilty–guilty because we never accepted what the Lemba had always maintained…until [the] genetic proof recently; that their story was a part of ours. We are guilty because we rejected them.

Many now believe that if their oral tradition was indeed accurate concerning their origins, there is also merit for their claim of possessing an unbroken chain of Semikhah.

HABBANI JEWS OF YEMEN

There are other communities making claims, some with DNA tests backing their claims, of descent from the lost tribes and keeping Torah the whole time: Jews of Kurdistan, gruzia, mountain Jews, and most notably : the Habbani Jews from Yemen as well as other Yemenite Jewish tribes.

MESSIANIC NASARINI ’S

Another group with claims of being one of the Ten Lost Tribes, the Nasarini’s of Malabar and Kerela, are said to indeed be of Hebrew heritage . (Ref. Dr. Asahel Grants’ ‘The Nestorians or the Lost Tribes of Israel’ ). Variously known as known as Nasranies, Nestorians, Jacobites, or Saint Thomas Christians, they follow a Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition saturated with many Jewish elements. They are some of the earliest people who joined Christianity in India and also with many Malabar Jews from the pre-Christian Diaspora as well as the post Christian Diaspora (40 AD to the fourth century). The Saint Thomas Nasarani’s themselves have a consistent tradition that their church was founded by the very early original Nazarene Church, most specifically by Saint Thomas. Many Pharisee’s also converted to Christianity and joined the early Nazarene Church.

REMNANT IN EUROPE

It is claimed that Semikhah survived intact in a remnant of Jewish people in Europe. A small group of Messianic Jews as well as independent orthodox groups claim to have received preserved Semikhah from this and other lines.

ISRAELI AND AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITIES

There are Jewish and Christian Messianic groups in Israel and in the United States that claim an unbroken Chain of Semikhah.

TEACHER/STUDENT TRANSMISSION

In areas and times when persecution prohibited the existence of ordained Rabbi’s the father automatically became Rabbi of the home and passed his rabbinical blessing to his son (or children)until such time the classical form of Semikhah was able to be resumed (Rabbi simply means “teacher”).

THE SEAT OF MOSES

The seat of Moses was not merely “where the person [man actually] sat and read from the Torah.”

In fact, the phrase “chair of Moses” is an essential element of the “semikhah”–which was the only form of authority that existed among the judges, elders, scribes, and rabbisduring Jesus’ time. 

John the Baptist was son of a Temple Priest and had the respect of the more radical Jews of the day. He would not have had this respect had he not been given Semikhah.   

Jesus Christ was referred to as “Rabbi” and “teacher” and was listened to by Jewish multitudes. These things would not have occurred if Christ had not fulfilled the Jewish need for Semikhah. The same applies to the disciples. 

Apostle Paul obviously had Semikhah since he studied under Gamaliel and was a Jewish leader of the highest order.  

WHY CHRISTIANS ARE CONCERNED WITH SEMIKHAH

Semikhah is essential in the rebuilding of the third Temple, the restoration of the Jewish priesthood, and the restoration of the Sanhedrin. Without Semikhah the Temple cannot be rebuilt. Many Christians feel that Biblical prophecy teaches that the rebuilding of the third Temple in Jerusalem is one of the prophetic factors indicating the return of Jesus Christ and end time revival among the Jewish people.

In Search of the Unbroken Chain of Semicha

One of the most intriguing stories ever told is that of the ancient chain of Semicha.

Today it is almost universally accepted among the liberal Jewish community that the chain of Semicha was broken around the fifth century AD and was forever lost. Recent research, however, has uncovered some very remarkable sources of possible intact Semicha.

Semicha is the rabbinical ordination classically transmitted by the laying on of hands. Moses ordained Joshua and the seventy elders through this authority (Num 27:15-23, Num 11: 16-25, Deut. 34: 9). Their successors in turn ordained others. This hands on transmission continued until around the fifth century at which time it is believed to have ceased to exist.

But G-d said Semicha was unto all generations forever. Is G-d not capable of preserving the gift He so graciously bestowed upon his people. Without Semicha there is no succession of the Sanhedrin nor a priesthood. Without the priesthood there is no building of the Temple. Without the Temple to where will Messiah come ? (Rambam said, “If there is one with uninterrupted semicha, you do not require everyone’s agreement”). Jewish people today believe in the absolute transmission of Torah and Mesorah from Rabbineau Moshe to the present day but believe Semicha ceased centuries ago. But if Hashem preserved the Torah why could He not also preserve Semicha? There are at least seven sources of possible Semicha to consider: (1) A Lost Tribe of Israel (Lemba’s) (2) Isaac Ben Luria and Baal Shim Tov (3) Habbani Jews of Yemen (4) Messianic Nasarini’s (5) Remnant in Europe (6) American Jewish community (7) Teacher/student transmission. Today I will give more space to sources one and seven beginning with the first source. (1) A LOST TRIBE OF ISRAEL: THE LEMBA

” I would like to mention that we, the Jewish community are guilty–guilty because we never accepted what the Lemba had always maintained…until [the] genetic proof recently ; that their story was a part of ours. We are guilty because we rejected them. ” (Dr. Rudo Mathiva).

Approximately 2,500 years ago, a group of Jews left Judah settling in Yemen populating a city called Senna. Unfavorable conditions compelled them to journey many miles until settling in and around Zimbabwe. Similar to other Jews during the Diaspora they assimilated local customs and genes from the local gene pool. For centuries these people passed down their tradition to their children and adamantly claimed they were Jewish. Unlike the locals they believed in one God, Shabbot, Kosher dietary laws, circumcision, the lunar calendar, Torah, and many other Jewish customs. They not only claimed to be Jewish and of the Cohanim but they also boasted an unbroken Semicha (both Cohanim and non-Cohanim Lemba claim Semicha). Academia laughed at these black people proclaiming to be Jews. They were in a delusion…or were they they? In 1997 critical research data indicated that a large proportion of contemporary Jewish Cohanim (those claiming ancestry from the priestly line of Aaron the High Priest) share a set of Y chromosomal genetic markers, known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype, which has been oftlinedetermined to have derived from a single common ancestor dating back to the very time in which the Torah recorded Aaron existed. Scientific calculations which were based on the high rate of genetic similarity of today’s Cohanim resulted in the highest “paternity-certainty” rate that has been ever been recorded in population genetics studies. Scientists found that 45 percent of Ashkenazi priests and 56 percent of Sepharic priests have the cohen genetic signature, while in Jewish populations in general the frequency rate is 3 to 5 percent. When they tested the priestly tribe of Lemba they were astonished to discover they had 53 percent! They had unique genetic markers found only in the Jewish communities. Dr. Tudar Parfitt says “It turned out what they are saying about themselves is substantially correct.” Geneticist Trevor Jenkins said the tests turned out to “prove consistent with Lemba oral history.” Science had conclusively proven the Lemba carried the Priestly genes dating back to the time of Aaron and Moses just as they had always proclaimed.

Numerous other historical traditions they proclaimed turned out to be true. The unknown city that the Lemba claimed they journeyed from was discovered (“Journey to the Vanished City”, Dr. Tudor Parfitt). An artifact they claimed they possessed and lost hundreds of years ago was discovered in a an ancient cave. Dr. Mathiva said, “Old maps of the Holy Land have now revealed that there was a place called Lemba way back BCE.” She further stated that the Jewish community was left with a moral dilemma as to their responsibility and future obligations to the Lemba and concluded saying, “Now that we know, can we continue to pretend they do not exist?”

We have an even GREATER dilemma. If their claims of Jewish origin, Cohanim decent , names of lost cities, etc. proved to be true….what about their claim to possess an unbroken line of Semicha!!! They have persistently claimed an unbroken succession of ordination …the Semicha.

Please keep in mind Semicha has alledgedly been conferred on clans of Lemba that were Cohanim as well as those that were not but were nevertheless considered Jewish. Those recieving Semicha are considered Priests although most are born into into the Priesthood as well as recieving Semicha.
Magdel le Roux says the Lemba still has the priesthood to this very day and the priest traditionally passes his teaching and priesthood on to his son in perpetual succession. He reports the priest said to him: “The succession is just from our forefathers right up to this generation and it will just continue like that. You see there is just a house of priesthood like in the Old Testament and this priesthood is not something of imposition of something you do to yourself. It was something bestowed to a particular house by G-d.” (D:A:4; italics mine).Would such a Semicha be halackally acceptable? It may be time for us to reconsider what is halackally acceptable transmission of Semicha when faced with dispersion and hardship. Even Elijah when in exile accepted food from non-kosher unclean birds until such a time he could resume a normal kosher life. Rabbi Yisroel Shklover said a dispersed group distant from the rest of Klal Yisroel before certain halachic Rabbinical rules were declared would be exempt from those rules not having accepted nor heard them.

One thing is for certain…the Lemba and their claims of Semicha are here…and they are not going to just “go away.”

(2) ISAAC BIN LURIA and BAAL SHIM TOV

Isaac Bin Luria (ARI) was a mystic whom many felt was a holy man with divine favor. He claimed the prophet Elijah, who had been his godfather in his babyhood, paid him frequent visits, initiating him into sublime truths. Rabbi Chayim Vital said the ARI increased his piety, asceticism, purity and holiness until he reached a level where Eliyahu HaNavie (Elijah the prophet) would constantly reveal himself to him, speaking to him “mouth to mouth,” teaching him these mysteries. ” According to scripture Elijah was one of two men who had never tasted death. This would not have been a “phantom” but the real Elijah. If this is true then there would be no doubt Semicha continued because the ARI’s line is still presently extent. It has been recorded that Baal Shim Tov received Semicha from Elijah and it was referred to as “Heavenly Semicha” and , of course, his line of Semicha is still with us today. However this is impossible to verify and smacks a bit as being Quixotic but is still an avenue for the mystically minded to explore.

(3) HABBANI JEWS OF YEMEN

There are other communities making claims, some with DNA tests backing their claims, of descent from the lost tribes and keeping Torah the whole time: Jews of kurdistan, gruzia, mountain Jews, and most notably : the Habbani Jews from Yemen as well as other Yemenite Jewish tribes.

It has also been said that they do not necessarily have to even know it as “smicha” because any permission to judge dinei knasot or nefashot would be sufficient. However some of them do claim classical Semicha.

(4) MESSIANIC NASARINI ’S

Another group with claims of being one of the Ten Lost Tribes, the Nasarini’s of Malabar and Kerela, are said to indeed be of Hebrew heritage . (Ref. Dr. Asahel Grants’ ‘The Nestorians or the Lost Tribes of Israel’ ). Variously known as known as Nasranies, Nestorians, Jacobites, or Saint Thomas Christians, they follow a Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition saturated with many Jewish elements. They are some of the earliest people who joined Christianity in India and also with many Malabar Jews from the pre-Christian Diaspora as well as the post Christian Diaspora (40 AD to the fourth century after which it is claimed Semicha ceased). The Saint Thomas Nasarani ‘s themselves have a consistent tradition that their church was founded by the very early original Nazarene Church, most specifically by Saint Thomas. Many Pharisee’s also converted to Christianity and joined the early Nazarene Church.

The Saint Thomas Nasranies can allegedly trace their ordination succession person by person all the way back to the original Church. I have seen these ancient documents and have spoken with Greek Orthodox scholars who insist these Syrian records are are historically accurate. If this be so then, considering those who already had Semicha when becoming part of the Nasarini, this would be another unbroken chain of ordination going back to Moshe.

Although Rabbi Yisroel Shklover said that under certain circumstances certain groups would be exempt from the halachic Rabbinical rules I am aware that no Orthodox Torah observant Jew would consider such a Semicha as being even close to being halachic but it would be a very interesting research for a messianic observant Jew to explore.

(5) REMNANT IN EUROPE

It is claimed that Semicha survived intact in a remnant of Jewish people in Europe. A small group of Messianic Jews as well as independent orthodox groups claim to have received preserved Semicha from this and other lines. Further research is needed before I can accurately publish the details which I can do at a later date.
Also we must not forget there have been many laymen “balebatim” who have semicha and were officially “ordained” but do not practice as rabbis at all.

(6) AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY

I have uncovered several in the United States that claim an unbroken Chain of Semicha . I will elaborate on that in another article.


(7) TEACHER/STUDENT TRANSMISSIONWe must seriously consider the theorem that in times when persecution prohibited the existence of ordained Rabbi’s that the father automatically became Rabbi of the home and passed his rabbinical blessing to his son (or children) until such time the classical form of Semicha was able to be resumed (after all Rabbi does mean “teacher”). Perhaps we need to reconsider what is halackally acceptable transmission of Semicha when faced with insurmountable persecution and threat of death.

It is possible, no PROBABLE, that in time of unavoidable secrecy and threat of death that Hashem accepted the following as transmission of Semicha : Transmission of Torah from teacher to student (or father to son) consisting of Torah teaching, pronunciation of blessing, and the physical embrace and/or kiss. This would have been an acceptable link in the unbroken chain of Semichut until such a time that the classical Semicha could be resumed by Rambam’s suggestion of all the sages of Israel coming together, unanimously ordaining judges, and then resuming classical Semicha. This is the most practical and pragmatic approach . If , as many believe, there was an unbroken chain of transmission of Torah, there by necessity must be a teacher to transmit it and a student to receive it, and this done in perpetual succession.

Consider the precision that the Torah was preserved in and passed on in times of aggressive prohibition. Consider the intricate , detailed, typologies involved in Pesach observance. Consider the multitude of details in Jewish observances accurately handed down from generation to generation of families forbidden to observe such custom even at the threat of death and extinction. Do you…COULD you…imagine for one single moment that some Jewish family or families failed to pass on something as critical as Semicha? The vast interactive, connecting, branching, web of of Jewish culture has spun a geometric weave of cultural preservation in the metropolitans, prison camps, jungles, and villages throughout the far reaches of the earth. To think the anointed, ethereal substance of Semicha came to an end is to strike the very heart of faith as well as the credibility of human potential. Hashem is much wiser then we could ever imagine and what He has established He has the ability to preserve. There are no DNA tests, no historical discoveries, no law in the land, nor religious body that can prove to be as dependable a source of evidence as the way and word of Hashem. He has preserved the Jewish people, their traditions, and the Cohanim in the brutal face of Dispersion, holocausts, prison, and centuries of exile. Hitler could not burn her traditions, Nazi’s could not imprison them, and exile could not silence her voice. Through the stygian darkness of night by the candles of Shabbot precious oral history and religious traditions were secretly passed down from generation to generation as her persecutors stalked her doors firing their brutal ammunition over her weary head. When the smoke of historical debates have cleared and skeptics reluctantly lift their heads from the fox holes…before them standing undaunted will be proof of Hashem’s perpetual Semicha . . . to all generations forever.
“THEIR ANOINTING shall surely be an EVERLASTING priesthood throughout your generations.” (Ex. 40: 15)

By Dr. Curtis D. Ward