This week’s Torah portion (Ha’azinu, Deu. 32) has been particularly interesting to study with it yielding a number of heretofore unseen gems. I don’t really have the motivation to share all I learned, though I filled several margins of my Bible with notes. I do want to share an item or two regarding the Memra and Moshe.
As many here recall, I have really enjoyed reading/studying the ‘angel of the Lord’ passages which led to me reading and searching the Targumim for the translator’s understanding of the presence of the Memra. Now, if you are not familiar, the crash course is simple: During the intertestamental period between the Babylonian exile and the destruction of the Temple, several authoritative Aramaic translations of the Torah were composed. What makes them of particular interest is that they are dynamic equivalent translations allowing the translators to interject some of their theological understanding, thus giving us an avenue into the minds of some some Second Temple thought.
The part that has been most fascinating to me is the use of ‘the Word of the Lord,’ or ‘the Memra d’Yah,’ as a personification of YHVH working in the affairs of men. Here is a basic article with additional pingback links in the comments.
With this fascination, I often search the Targumim in certain Torah portions to see what they yield, and this one was special.
Yeshua’s Presence is clearly visible, even without the Memra additions, as we see four significant uses of ‘the Rock,’ which Rav Sha’ul definitively connects to Yeshua in I Cor. 10:4. Besides the ‘Rock’ references, I want to share a few ‘Memra’ occurrences as well as a few thoughts…
32:6-7 Can you indeed so requite the Name of the Word of the Lord, O foolish people, and receive the law, yet not be made wise? Is He not your Father who bought you, who created you and established you?
Moshe is relating future prophecy to Israel. Through the chapter we see many events that happened later, however there are a couple yet future events. In the above quoted paraphrase from Targum Pseudo-Jonathan/Yonatan, we see the prophecy that Israel ‘repays’ the Word of the Lord wrongly by acting corruptly. (See v.5) It is even more interesting to see Him referred to as ‘Father’ while mentioning that Israel had been ‘bought with a price,’ echoed in I Corinthians 6:19-20 as what Yeshua has done for His people. Further, the Father of Deut. 32:7 made and established them, again attributed to Yeshua in Colossians 1:15. -Especially interesting in light of the ‘Who is…‘ series we did a while back.
32:15-18 But the house of Jeshuron ate and kicked; they became rich, and rebelled; they prospered, got wealth, and forsook the Word of God who had created them, and refused to worship the Almighty who had redeemed them. They provoked Him to anger with their idols, by their abominations they made Him wroth They sacrificed to demons in whom is no stability, idols which they had not known, lately formed, which your fathers remembered not. The Almighty who created you ye have forgotten, and have forsaken the Word of God who gave you to be, and made you so many refuges.
Here Targum Jerusalem attributes the creation of Israel to ‘the Word of God’ and it is He that they ‘forsook’ when they got comfortable.
While there are several other Memra references between the Targumin (some vary in their use/translation of the term), there are two places with a great deal f agreement that is exciting/interesting!
The first is 32:39 which the NASB renders,
‘See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.
T. Pseudo-Jonathan renders this passage as,
When the Word of the Lord shall reveal Himself to redeem His people, He will say to all the nations: Behold now, that I am He who Am, and Was, and Will Be, and there is no other God beside Me: I, in My Word, kill and make alive; I smite the people of the Beth Israel, and I will heal them at the end of the days;
You get that? ‘the Word of the Lord will reveal Himself to redeem His people!!!’
T. Jerusalem concurs with,
See now that I in My Word am He, and there is no other God beside Me. I kill the living in this world, and make alive the dead in the world that cometh; I am He who smiteth, and I am He who healeth; and there is none who can deliver from My hand.
How cool?… But, it gets better,
T. Pseu-Jonathan translates verse 43 in this way,
Rejoice, ye nations, (and) ye people of Beth Israel; for the blood of His servants which was shed, He hath avenged. He hath kept (in mind) and returned just vengeance upon His adversaries, and by His Word will He make Atonement for His land, and for His people.
Now, we have studied before the presence of Yeshua on Mt. Sinai, as well as Moshe’s interaction with the Angel of the Lord, but here is an incredible look into the Memra (Yeshua/Angel of the Lord) speaking with Moshe at the end.
32:48ff And the Lord spake with Mosheh on the seventh of the month Adar, on the same day, saying, It was when the Word of the Lord had said to him, Go up to this mount Ibraee,
the mountain of Nebo, and he thought in his heart, and said, Perhaps this up-going will be like that to Mount Sinai; and he said, I will go and sanctify the people; but the Word of
the Lord said to him, Not so at all, but, Go thou up and view the land of Kenaan, which I have given to the children of Israel for an inheritance. (T. Pseu. Jonathan)
34:1 And Mosheh went up from the plains of Moab to the mountain of Nebo, to the summit of the height which is over against Jericho; and the Word of the Lord showed him all the strong ones of the land, and the mighty acts which would be done by Jeptha of Gilead, and the victories of Shimeon bar Manoah of tribe of Dan;….
34:5 And Mosheh the servant of the Lord died there, in the land of Moab, by the Word of the Lord. (T. Onkelos)
T. Pseudo-Jonathan renders the same verse in the tenderest of pictures,
34:5 Therefore is Mosheh, the servant of the Lord, gathered in the land of Moab, by the kiss of the Word of the Lord.
Wow, such tender mercies. Even in administering the judgment against Moshe (‘you shall not enter the Land’), the Word of the Lord, Yeshua, the Memra, gives him a vision or lets him see the conquest and then lays him to rest with a kiss. (Even the NASB says, ‘according to the word of the Lord’ with a footnote at ‘word’ that says, ‘mouth!’)
What a Rock and Redeemer!
May Yehovah bless and keep you and give you His shalom!~