The Sacred Reversal (2)

Reversing the Evil

My dear readers, as much as I like series, I haven’t planned to make “The sacred Reversal” a series; I thought it would be a title for one particular article on the first Torah Portion only. However, having entered the second Portion, Noah, I realized that the title is still very relevant for this portion as well. Why? Because the Flood came as judgment for the corruption of the earth, and as I have written several times before, Second Temple Judaism believed that the Watchers – the rebellious angels of Genesis 6:1-4 – were to blame for the spread of evil on the earth. Once again, I recommend you to read a wonderful book Dr. Michael Heiser,  showing very clearly that Second Temple Judaism saw in Genesis 6:1-4, not only the story of a supernatural rebellion, but one of the central passages in biblical theology and in understanding God’s plan in history. Since the New Testament writers belonged to Second Temple Judaism, this understanding of the Watchers being responsible for the spread of evil on earth, and the theme of reversing the effects of this evil, had to be part of their theology. “Consequently, it should be no surprise that the sin of the Watchers was in the back of their minds as they wrote about what the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth must, did, and would reverse at His coming and return.”[1] The New Testament writers knew that Jesus’ mission was the reversal of evil – and if they believed that the evil was brought and spread by the Watchers, then Jesus had to reverse what the Watchers did.

You have probably heard the Hebrew expression: “Tikkun Olam”, “repair of the world”. Documented use of this term dates back to the Mishnaic period (approximately 10-220 CE). This means that the term and the concept may well have existed at the time of Jesus, and that for the New Testament writers, the idea of reversing the evil of the Watchers could have been part of this Tikkun Olam theology.

Even today, an essential part of a later Jewish tradition is the belief that when the Messiah comes, all things will be repaired. Some Jewish texts even say that even the pig will become kosher at the time of the redemption:  (“Why is the pig called [in Hebrew] chazir? – because in the future, God will return [le-hachazir] it to Israel” (חזיר-להחזיר). However, only one person could repair the world in such a profound way—only one person could reverse the evil and restore the divine order of heaven and earth: the Messiah.

Thus, if we keep in mind all these elements of Jewish theology of Jesus’ time: the Watchers being responsible for the spread of evil on the earth; the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world; the belief that when the Messiah comes, all things will be repaired – then we are able to see that the New Testament is built around this belief in the Messianic Tikkun Olam—Messianic reversal of evil. And here is a really striking example:

Transfiguration as the Reversal Statement

In all three Synoptic Gospels we read the story of the transfiguration; it’s important to note that in all three gospels, this dramatic event happens just a few days after Peter’s confession:

1Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him[2]

Where was the transfiguration? What was this a “high mountain”? Starting from the early church fathers, it has been widely believed that the location of the Mount of Transfiguration was Mount Tabor located in the Lower Galilee, west of the Sea of Galilee. However, the gospels themselves give no name to this “high mountain”.  So, along with the “Mount Tabor tradition” (and many scholars still hold to this view), another tradition has been developing, claiming Mount Hermon as the site of the transfiguration.

Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in Israel, located at the very north of the country, not far from the city that was called Caesarea Philippi. In Matthew 16, where Peter confesses Jesus as Messiah, we read: When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”[3]. As I mentioned previously, in all three Synoptic Gospels, the transfiguration happens after Peter’s confession, so it would certainly make sense for this dramatic event to take place in the same region where Peter’s confession happened. So, even regardless of the Watchers’ story, just based on the proximity to Caesarea Philippi and on the height of the mountain, some scholars identify the Mount of Transfiguration as Mount Hermon.

This identification becomes incomparably more significant, however, if we see it against the backdrop of the Watchers’ story. Let us remember that, according to 1 Enoch, Mount Hermon was the place at which the Watchers descended. There they bound themselves with an oath to corrupt humanity: “Then they all swore together and bound one another with a curse. And they were, all of them, two hundred, who descended in the days of Jared onto the peak of Mount Hermon.”[4]

Thus, for Second Temple Judaism, Mount Hermon became emblematic of the evil of the Watchers. In this context, the whole transfiguration event becomes even more meaningful and dramatic! Think of it: Jesus picks Mount Hermon precisely because of his mission—to reverse the evil spread from Mount Hermon! The transfiguration marks a turning point in the Synoptic Gospels, especially in Matthew: after that, we see Jesus turning more to Jerusalem and to the suffering and death that awaits him there. Before that, however, this dramatic event happens: Jesus is transfigured and revealed in his heavenly glory upon Mount Hermon. The meaning of this statement is clear: ‘The spread of the evil started from here, and I came to reverse this evil and to repair the world!’ “When Jesus chose to go to Mount Hermon to be transfigured, He was claiming it for the Kingdom of God.”[5]

 

[1] Heiser, Michael S., Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 928-930).

[2] Matt. 17:1-3

[3] Matt. 16:13

[4] 1 Enoch 6:5,6

[5]  Heiser, Michael S., Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, (Kindle Locations 1218-1222).

 I  would like to remind you, dear friends that eTeacher offers a wonderful course, where you can study  Torah Portions along with their New Testament interpretation. As always, you are welcome to contact me for more information! 

Excerpts from my books are included in many posts, so if you like the articles on this blog, you might enjoy also my books,  you can get them here

 

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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Join the conversation (11 comments)

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  1. Ken Henderson

    Has the pig already been made kosher? See Acts 10:9-16

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Ken, thank you for your question. First of all, I am talking about Jewish tradition, and as you can imagine, the book of Acts would not be an authority in this tradition, even if God did make non-kosher animals kosher there. However, I don’t think this is the meaning of Peter’s vision, although many Christian commentators assert that it is. Just a few verses later, Peter himself explains his vision: “God has shown me not to call any person unclean”. So the vision was about persons and not about food.

  2. Cara Hanson

    Would those demons who inhabited people of that time be the “watchers”?

  3. Mark Stevens

    Dr. Blum, Very insightful as always! Could you comment on the statement by Jesus in Matthew 19:28 “in the regeneration when the Son of man will sit on His glorious throne…,”; Is this “regeneration” a reference to the ‘Tikkun Olam’? I have always understood it to reference the remaking of the earth upon Jesus’ return before He sets up His Kingdom due to the destruction of it as a result of the Seal-trumpet-bowl judgments as well.
    Thank you!

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you for your kind words, Mark. Concerning your question: Jesus speaks about “olam ha -ba”, “the world to come”, while the whole concept of ‘Tikkun Olam’ refers to the transformation of this world.

  4. Nick

    The skeptic would ask why the evil in the world has continued if Jesus was/is Messiah??
    Nick

    1. Dorothy Healy

      …and what would you answer Nick?

    2. Julia Blum

      A million-dollar question, Nick. Many people do ask that, Jewish people in particular. At the end of the day, it’s the question of faith whether Jesus was Messiah. However, if one believes in the words of Torah, there is no doubt that God wants and plans this sacred reversal of evil – and that it should and would happen, at some point and in some way.

  5. mpaule

    brilliant

    1. Michael Toliver

      Professor, the work you done here on one and two is great, I have never seen this relationship in the Old and New Testaments. God bless you for your study time and sharing it with us!

      1. Julia Blum

        Thank you, Michael, so appreciate your generous words!