'became standardized by the early years of the 2nd century AD and consists of two hollow cubes made of the skin of clean animals. They vary between 1.25 cm and 4 cm a side' (about half an inch to one and a half inches respectively). 'That for the head is divided into four equal compartments; that for the hand has no division. In them are placed the four passages Ex. 13:1-10; 13:11-16; Dt. 6:4-9; 11:13-21 written by hand on parchment (on four pieces for the head, on one for the hand). The phylacteries are attached to leather straps by which they are fastened to the left hand and the center of the forehead by the men before morning prayers, whether in the home or the synagogue, except on the sabbath (sic) and high festivals. They are put on after the' prayer 'shawl (tallit), that for the hand coming first. Both they and the straps are always colored black. The phylactery for the head can be recognized by a three- and four-armed' sheen 5 'on its right and left sides.6
'Behold, in putting on tefillin I intend to fulfill the Commandment of my Creator, Who has commanded us to put on tefillin, as is written in His Torah: "Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes."'7 (This last sentence comes from Deut. 6:8 although as we'll see, the Hebrew word is not tefillin but totafote, 'bands'.)The idea that the wearing of tefillin is commanded by God is further seen in the next prayer which is said after the left arm tefillah is in place, but the straps haven't been tightened yet. The box goes on the biceps, the prayer is said, and then the straps are wound around the arm and hand seven and three times respectively while the other box on the forehead is also placed in a 'mystically significant manner.'8 It is wrapped in such a way as to form seven 'circles' around the forearm and three on the hand (forming three sheens). The seven circles around the forearm are said to make two sheens, one of three prongs and one of four 9 while that on the hand makes another sheen.
'for their value and importance in the eyes of the Rabbis, it were impossible to exaggerate it. They were reverenced as highly as the Scriptures'. 'It was said that Moses had received the law of their observance from God on Mount Sinai; that the 'tephillin' were more sacred than the golden plate on the forehead of the high-priest, since its inscription embodied only once the sacred name of' Yahveh, while the tefillin 'contained it not less than twenty-three times'.11For the Orthodox Jew, the wearing of tefillin is a Commandment from Heaven. The Chumash by Rabbi's Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz (Gen. Editors), confirms this. In a comment on Deut. 6:8, it states,
'The Torah commands that this passage be written and inserted into tefillin that are to be placed on the upper arm and on the head, above the hairline, directly above the space between the eyes.'12They also tell us that Rashi got the idea where the four compartments (which house the parchments), came from. They are from two foreign words which both mean 'two' and when combined, form the Hebrew word totafote. The 'word tat, means two in Katpi and fas (faht), means two in Afriki, two ancient languages.'13 (The 'tat' will change with a different vowel to a 'tote' sound and likewise with 'faht' to 'fote' to make totafote, the rabbinic base for tefillin.) How this connection between the foreign words for 'two', and the four compartments of the tefillin was made, is hard to see but shows us how free association played an important part in Rashi's life (1040-1105 A.D.). Rashi's 'theology' is impregnated with it.
'The two passages in this chapter' (Ex. 13), 'speak of the Exodus, which is basic to the Jew's awareness of his responsibilities to God, Who liberated him and made Israel a nation. The first two passages of Shema' (in Deut. 6, 11), 'express the concept that God is One and that we accept His Kingship, the concept of reward and punishment, and the responsibility to observe all the commandments. These principles must always be with us - upon the arm that symbolizes our capacity for action and is opposite the head, the seat of emotion; and upon the head, the abode of the intellectual soul and the power of memory which enable us to be conscious of our antecedents and obligations to do His will. The Torah repeats over and over that commandments are reminders of the Exodus from Egypt. Clearly, therefore, there is a dimension of the Exodus that affects the entire Torah.' 'This message of the Exodus is not only basic to our belief and existence, but it must be reiterated constantly. Therefore, we wear it on our person in the form of tefillin and recall it when we perform the commandments.'14The concepts behind the wearing of tefillin are certainly biblical. But do they pertain to tefillin?
'It is remarkable that Aristeas seems to speak only of the phylacteries on the arm, while Philo of those for the head, while the LXX' (Septuagint), 'takes the command entirely in a metaphorical sense.'25When tefillin were first invented, it seems that only one tefillah was put on. Eventually it would grow to both. But the practice of only placing one on was also in the days of Yeshua too. And actually, Philo (20 B.C. to after 40 A.D.), of Alexandria, Egypt, was alive in the days of Messiah Yeshua.26 It seems that the practice hadn't really changed much since the writing of Aristeas' letter, to the time of Philo and Yeshua. That's why we think the Letter couldn't have been written before 60 B.C. The wearing of only one tefillah seems to provide a time period that couldn't have been that great.
'As the oldest of all ancient versions' (of the Hebrew Bible), 'the Septuagint is important for the text and interpretation of the Bible.'27As late as 250 B.C. the Jewish people knew nothing of wearing a material object called tefillin in relation to fulfilling the four passages of Scripture. The Jewish people interpreted the texts as figurative and not literal. Tefillin didn't exist in 250 B.C. And as the Prophets and the Writings wouldn't be translated into the Septuagint till 50 to 100 years later, we also see that no revision of the Torah texts that are used to support tefillin, are ever made. In other words, if by 200 B.C. to 150 B.C., when the Prophets and the Writings were added to the Septuagint, if the Jewish people had begun wearing tefillin, the texts for the four passages in the Torah that the Rabbis claim to authorize tefillin would have been changed in the Septuagint from a 'metaphorical sense' to a literal one. But they weren't. Tefillin most likely appeared around 60 B.C., two generations before Messiah.
'the members of the Pharisaic confraternity wore them all day long. The practice itself, and the views and ordinances connected with it, are so characteristic of the party'.29One of the characteristics of the party was that they wanted to be noticed (Mt. 23:5-7, 14, 27-28; Mk. 12:38-40, etc.). They wanted to be seen as very holy. That's why we think that the Pharisees opted for the head tefillah. It seems that the Pharisees were the first group to wear tefillin. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us:
'Both the somewhat later Talmudic acknowledgment that they were not worn by the common people (am ha'aretz) and the failure of pagan writers to mention them indicate that in the time of Christ they were still worn only by a minority of the people. We may be sure that all Pharisees wore them, not merely during morning prayer but throughout the hours of daylight. Their later restriction to the time of prayer was due to their providing an all too easy mark of recognition of the Jew in times of persecution .'30Alfred Edersheim also affirms that only the Pharisees wore them:
'The admission that neither the officiating priests, nor the representatives of the people wore them in the Temple (Zebach. 19a,b), seems to imply that this practice was not quite universal.'31Edersheim, in typical British understatement says, 'this practice was not quite universal.' If the common people, the Elders of Israel and the priests didn't wear tefillin, there isn't anyone left who could except the Pharisees. The wearing of tefillin was one of several distinct marks of a Pharisee.32 As such, no 'ordinary' Jew wore them.
'The very term used by the Rabbis for phylacteries - 'tephillin' prayer-fillets - is of comparatively modern origin, in so far as it does not occur in the Hebrew Old Testament. The Samaritans did not acknowledge them as of Mosaic obligation, any more than do the Karaite Jews'.33With the Samaritans not wearing them, tefillin must have come upon the scene relatively late. If the Jews had been wearing them before 200 B.C., it's likely that the Samaritans would have worn them too, in imitation of the Jews. But this is not the case. (Also, the Karaite Jews, a religious sect of Jews who don't accept the Talmud as divine, interpret the passages as figurative. They began around 700 A.D.)34
'It is more culpable to transgress the words of the Scribes than those of the Torah. He that says, "There are no tefillin", transgresses the word of the Torah, and is not to be regarded as a rebel (literally: is free)' [from punishment]; 'but he who says, "There are five compartments" (instead of four), to add to the words of the Scribes, he is guilty.'35Here we see the Rabbis overstepping their authority. The scribe was held in greater esteem than God's Word. This is truly reprehensible but such was, and is, the case today. Many Jews run to their rabbi to see how he might interpret a passage, even if the passage is plain to understand but goes against Jewish practice. Most Jews will stand on the side of their rabbi, but not God's Word.
The 'Greek term 'phylacteries' for these 'tephillin,' is apt. 'It is now almost generally admitted, that the real meaning of phylacteries is equivalent to amulets or charms. And as such the Rabbinists really regarded and treated them, however much they might otherwise have disclaimed all connection with heathen views.' 'Many instances of the magical ideas attaching to these 'amulets' might be quoted; but the following will suffice.' We 'have it expressly stated in an ancient Jewish Targum 37 (that on Cant. 8:3), that the 'tephillin' prevented all hostile demons from doing injury to any Israelite.'38'The word 'phylacteries' occurs in the Bible only in Mt. 23:5. The Greek word means 'safeguard,' 'means of protection,' 'amulet,' and as used in Mt. 23:5 is generally identified as the tefillin (lit. 'prayers'), small boxes containing Scripture verse'. 'Rabbinic literature indicates that the tefillin were equivalent to amulets or charms for some wearers, yet for many others they were a memorial of God's commandments'.39
Ex. 13:1-16: 'Then Yahveh spoke to Moses saying, 2. 'Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the Sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.' 3. Moses said to the people, 'Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the House of Slavery. For by a powerful Hand, Yahveh brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten.
4. On this day in the month of Aviv, you are about to go forth. 5. It shall be when Yahveh brings you to the Land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your Fathers to give you, a Land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month.
6. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a Feast to Yahveh. 7. Unleavened bread must be eaten throughout the seven days and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders.
8. You shall tell your son on that day, saying, 'It is because of what Yahveh did for me when I came out of Egypt.'
9. And it will be for you as a sign (oat) upon your hand, and as a reminder (zikaron) between your eyes, that the Torah of Yahveh may be in your mouth; for with a powerful Hand, Yahveh brought you out of Egypt!
10. Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year. 11. Now when Yahveh brings you to the Land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your Fathers, and gives it to you, 12. you shall devote to Yahveh the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to Yahveh. 13. But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
14. And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' Then you shall say to him, 'With a powerful Hand, Yahveh brought us out of Egypt, from the House of Slavery. 15. It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that Yahveh killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to Yahveh the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.'
16. 'And it will be as a sign (oat) upon your hand and as bands (totafote) between your eyes, for with a powerful Hand Yahveh brought us out of Egypt.'
Deut. 6:4-7: 'Hear Oh Israel, Yahveh is our God! Yahveh is one! And you must love Yahveh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And these Commandments that I am giving you today must be upon your heart. And you must impress them upon your sons and talk of them when you sit in your home and when you walk on the road, and when you lie down and when you get up.'
Deut. 6:8-9: 'And you must bind them as a sign (oat) on your hand and they shall be as bands (totafote) between your eyes. And write them on the doorposts of our home and upon your gates.'
Deut. 11:13-17: 'It shall come to pass, if you will obey My Commandments which I am commanding you today, to love Yahveh your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them or the anger of Yahveh will be kindled against you and He will shut up the Heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which Yahveh is giving you.'Yahveh 'owned' Israel by His mighty deliverance. As such, He was her King and entitled to direct the lives of His subjects whose devotion to Him meant that they would obey Him. It was the actual doing of the Feast and the redemption of the sons and animals (as well as the relating of it to the sons), that were to serve as a sign upon the hand and as a reminder and as bands between the eyes. This seems fairly evident. There is no request or commandment on Yahveh's part to make any physical object like tefillin. J. Gamberoni affirms this in the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament:
Deut. 11:18: 'You must therefore place these words of Mine upon your heart and on your soul and you must bind them as a sign (oat) on your hand, and they shall be as bands (totafote) between your eyes.'
Deut. 11:19-21: 'You must teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You must write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the Land which Yahveh swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the Heavens remain above the Earth.'
'Literarily, the occasion or subject matter in Ex. 13:11-16 is specifically the law of the first-born; but the rhetorical situation (the child's question in Ex. 13:14; cf. v. 8) involves the exodus and the' Law 'in their entirety (cf. v. 9, the only occurrence in the Pentateuch of' the Torah of Yahveh), 'as is stated explicitly in De. 6:8; 11:18; 6:7; 11:19).41Many church goers speak derogatorily about the Law of Moses as if by the mere mention of it, one could catch leprosy. But Moses didn't create the Commandments. He was 'only' a scribe for Yahveh. It's God's Law to His Bride, Israel. Here, in Ex. 13:9, it's called the Law of Yahveh which can also be called the Instruction or Teaching of Yahveh.
Yahveh also spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the Sons of Israel and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the Commandments of Yahveh so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My Commandments and be holy to your God. I am Yahveh your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahveh your God."'Here we see a plain set of instructions for making a religious object. The tassel is to be a sign, something that points to something else, and in this case, as was the case with the Exodus and Deuteronomy passages, it points to the remembering of Yahveh and His Commandments. Here it further states that Israel is to do the Commandments and not follow their own hearts. And the reason again is because Yahveh delivered them from Egyptian slavery to be His people. Nothing like this is seen for tefillin. There is no set of instructions on how to make them or any hint to do so. Obviously, the sign upon the hand and the bands between the eyes are meant as an admonition for us to always be reading and learning the Word of God (bands between our eyes), and doing it (as a sign upon our hands). We are to continually be aware of Yahveh,what He has done for us (salvation from Egypt and Satan), and His Commandments (to do them) as a way of walking in His will and expressing His reality to the world around us.
|Ex. 13:9||sign (oat)||reminder (zikaron)|
|Ex. 13:16||sign (oat)||bands (totafote)|
|Deut. 6:8||sign (oat)||bands (totafote)|
|Deut. 11:18||sign (oat)||bands (totafote)|
'literary evidence for related ideas: 'Upon my belly, upon my back, I bear the word of the king my lord'; 'Behold, I have told you the best that is within me, let it stand as a firm rule before your eyes.' But there is no extrabiblical evidence for' totafote: bands 'itself.' 'A material or historical connection between' totafote 'and phylacteries (Mt. 23:5; cf. the Targum on 2 S. 1:10 and Middle Hebrew) is not to be assumed.'46Gamberoni tells us that in the ancient world there were things that were placed upon the forehead but shows us that 'bands' in Exodus and Deuteronomy have no connection to these things. It can only be a figurative expression. This is also evident from the concept of the 'word' on the back, and the 'rule before' (between?), 'the eyes'. He states that the custom of wearing tefillin did not come from the Scriptures.
figurative 'of (the) dedication of (the) firstborn', Ex. 13:16; 'of (the) commandments' of Yahveh, Dt. 11:18; 6:8. 'This injunction, orig. fig. for perpetual remembrance'. 'Now', 'taken literally by later Jews, and hence the custom of wearing phylacteries'.47Gamberoni goes on to state that only a 'later age found in the' totafote 'the tefillin or phylacteries to be worn on the forehead'.48 For the bands to literally be between the eyes, as the Scripture says, it would mean that whatever it was to be worn, would be worn literally between the eyes at the bridge of the nose. As this would make sight almost impossible, if any Commandments were written on anything, we think that what Yahveh is saying is that His Commandments should always be what we set our eyes on. In other words. If something is literally in front of you, that's what you see. It's God's way of saying that we should always be thinking about Him and His Commandments. The other part, that it should be upon our hand, is a metaphor telling us that we should always be doing His Commandments.
'headbands, as is evident from the Chaldee armlet' totefa '(2 Sam. 1:10), tiara' totafta '(Esth. 8:15; Ezek. 24:17, 23). This command was interpreted literally by the Talmudists, and the use of tephillim, phylacteries (Matt. 23:5), founded upon it; the Caraites' (Karaites), 'on the contrary, interpreted it figuratively, as a proverbial expression for constant reflection upon, and fulfillment of, the divine commands. The correctness of the latter is obvious from the words themselves, which do not say that the commands are to be written upon scrolls, but only that they are to be to the Israelites for signs upon the hand, and for bands between the eyes, i.e., they are to be kept in view like memorials upon the forehead and the hand.49Alfred Edersheim confirms what Keil has told us. He says that the observance of tefillin are not biblical, but that they,
'The expression in Deut. 6:8,' 'does not point at all to the symbolizing of the divine commands by an outward sign to be worn upon the hand, or to bands with passages of the' Law 'inscribed upon them, to be worn on the forehead between the eyes'. 'The line of thought referred to merely expresses the idea, that the Israelites were not only to retain the commands of God in their hearts, and to confess them with the mouth, but to fulfill them with the hand, or in act and deed, and thus to show themselves in their whole beings as the guardians and observers of the' Law. 'This figurative interpretation is confirmed and placed beyond doubt by such parallel passages as Prov. 3:3, 'Bind them (the commandments) about thy neck; write them upon the tables of thine heart' (cf. vv. 21, 22; 4:21; 6:21, 22; 7:3).'50
'arose from a literal interpretation of Exod. 13:9, to which even the later injunction in Deut. 6:8 gives no countenance. This appears even from its repetition in Deut. 11:18, where the spiritual meaning and purport of the direction is immediately indicated, and from a comparison with kindred expressions, which evidently could not be taken literally - such as Prov. 3:3; 6:21; 7:3; Cant. 8:6; Isa. 49:16.'51The negation of tefillin is also seen from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia which says:
'If 'these words' (Dt. 11:18) refer to all of Dt. 5-11, then a literal fulfillment is not intended', as the injunctions in Ex. 13 are primarily matters of ritual practice and are meant to be obeyed literally.'52In Proverbs 3:3; 4:21; 6:21 and 7:3, the writer 'expands on a pregnant phrase (Ex. 13:16)', but he 'does nothing with' totafote (bands), to show us that it might be a physical object,
'presumably because it suggested nothing specific and there was no alternative in common usage for this barely comprehensible word, so that he did not dare to express himself in clear, concrete terms (cf. the more graphic treatment of the mezuzoth in Deut. 6:9; 11:20'). 'Instead, he made do with vague' 'references, since the word'53 totafote had no material existence around 900 B.C. when Proverbs was written.Bands between the eyes is a Hebraic way of saying that Yahveh and His Commandments must be continually before us, in our soul and in our daily life. Bands cannot be the basis for a physical object such as tefillin.
The totafote (between the eyes), 'had a very personal meaning, reminding the individual of deliverance and the' Law, 'just as stelae, inscribed (Dt. 27:1-8; Josh. 8:30-35) or uninscribed (Ex. 24:3-8; Josh. 4:4-7; 24:26f.), served as reminders for the nation.'54
'Memorial, reminder, token, record. The zikkaron is an object or act which brings something else to mind or which represents something else. As such, it may be a 'memorial,' a 'reminder,' a historical 'record,' or a physical 'token' which calls to mind a deity. The Passover feast was a memorial (Ex. 12:14) of a great historical event. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was like a reminder between the eyes (Ex. 13:9).'56The Wordbook speaks of our cite and tells us that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be the 'reminder' for Israel that they had been delivered from Egyptian slavery by Yahveh. Nowhere do we see this entailing the making of a physical object to place upon one's body or head. The vehicle that will 'remind' us is the Feast.
'points to a meaning beyond itself and it has no value if its meaning is not understood. This is true whether we are speaking of a biblical sign or a street sign.'60The doing of Yahveh's Commandments point to the fact that He is our God, has sent Messiah Yeshua to free us from sin, sickness and death, and promised us Eternal Life in the New Jerusalem. Of course, theoretically, tefillin could also be seen as a 'sign', like tassels, the celebration of the Sabbath, etc., but tefillin aren't biblical.
'Just as the consecration of the firstborn in Ex. 13:16 is intended to serve as a sign and a mark (totaphoth, 'frontlets') to remind Israel of the exodus (sic) from Egypt, so also the affirmation of Yahweh's uniqueness together with the demand that the people love God (Dt. 6:4f.) and the admonition to obey him (11:13, 22) are intended to serve as a sign and a mark (6:8; 11:18). These words, in 6:4-9 'a chain of very forceful imperatives,'62 in 11:18-21' 'an admonition'63 remind Israel of the uniqueness of Yahweh and of the people's obligation to love God and to obey him. The summons to this sign has its setting in the proclamation of the law' (sic) 'since the summons 'Hear Oh Israel!' opened the cultic assembly in ancient times.'64This understanding, that the words were not to be seen as demanding of Israel that they make tefillin, but on the contrary, served as reminders to them to observe the ways of Yahveh, is confirmed by F. Stolz in the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. He states that,
'According to Exod. 13:9, 16, the Passover haggadah 65 is ot' (oat; sign), 'and zikkaron' (reminder) 'or totapot' (totafote; bands), 'for Israel; according to Deut. 6:8, it is the confession of faith' (the Shema, which is Hebrew for 'Hear' in 'Hear Oh Israel!', that begins Dt. 6:4); 'according to Dt. 11:18, it is the entire' Deuteronomic 'proclamation. The ot here too then, actualizes past salvation history.'66Keil too says that the words for sign on your hand, reminder and bands between the eyes, of Exodus 13 are used figuratively for the sanctification of the first born in direct connection with the Passover.67 He states,
'By this the deliverance of the Israelitish first-born was effected, and the object of this deliverance was their sanctification. Because Jehovah (sic) had delivered the first-born of Israel, they were to be sanctified to Him. If the Israelites completed their communion with Jehovah in the Passover, and celebrated the commencement of their divine standing in the feast of unleavened bread (sic), they gave uninterrupted effect to their divine sonship in the sanctification of the first-born. For this reason, probably, the sanctification of the first-born was commanded by Jehovah at Succoth' (Ex. 12:37), 'immediately after the exodus, and contemporaneously with the institution of the seven days' feast of Mazzoth' (Unleavened Bread).68The ceremony for Matza (Unleavened Bread), and the redemption of one's son (along with the transmission of the faith), are the major motifs found in Ex. 13. The passages in Deuteronomy speak of continually learning Yahveh's Commandments in order to do them and in order to continually be grateful for what He has done. God doesn't seem concerned with placing some physical object on our heads and hands but that we know and keep His Commandments.
'For the parallel passages in Deut. 6:8 and 11:18, 'bind them for a sign upon your hand,' are proofs that the allusion is neither to branding nor writing on the hand.' 'The words are' 'used figuratively, as a proverbial expression employed to give emphasis to the injunction to bear this precept continually in mind, to be always mindful to observe it. This is still more apparent from the reason assigned, 'that the', Law of Yahveh, 'may be in your mouth.' 'For it was not by mnemonic slips upon the hand and forehead that a law was so placed in the mouth as to be talked of continually (Deut. 6:7; 11:19), but by the reception of it into the heart and its continue fulfillment.'69
'As the origin and meaning of the festival' (Ex. 13; Matza) 'were to be talked of in connection with the eating of unleavened bread, so conversation about the', Law of Yahveh 'was introduced at the same time, and the obligation to keep it renewed and brought vividly to mind.'70
'But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves' (Acts 27:41).The idea behind the word in Ex. 13:16, Dt. 6:8; 11:18, is that whatever it is, it will not be taken or moved from before one's eyes. This is affirmed by Walter Bauer who says that the Septuagint uses asalutone in a 'special sense', as, 'immovable, unshaken'.74 He goes on to state that literally, it's, 'part of a ship that has run aground',75 and obviously is not moving or going anywhere. Hebrews 12:28 is also given as an example of the Greek word where it's written of, 'a kingdom that cannot be shaken'.76
'We can recommend nothing better, to those who have heard that the teaching of the New Testament has been derived from that of the Rabbis, than to collate the revolting details on this subject, as well as those connected with prayer, in Ber. 23a to 25b; or else to study their interpretations of dreams, or such details as Ber. 62a, b. To those who have been told that Hillel might be compared with Jesus, we recommend the perusal of what at times engaged that great Jewish Rabbi's teaching; for example, in Ber. 23a.'78The Pharisees wore them but Yeshua never did. For Yeshua to have worn them would have made Him a Pharisee. Everyone would have seen Him as such, and none would have questioned where He got His authority or teachings from (Matt. 7:29; 13:54; 21:23). They would have known! From the Pharisees! Yeshua was not a Pharisee, nor did He ever wear tefillin.
'We have no reason for thinking that they were worn either by Christ or his disciples.'79Alfred Edersheim was of the persuasion that Messiah never wore them either:
'For our part, we refuse to believe that Jesus, like the Pharisees, appeared wearing phylacteries every day and all day long, or at least a great part of the day. For such was the ancient custom, and not merely, as the modern practice, to wear them only at' (morning) 'prayer.'80It's also interesting to note that recently discovered first century tefillin from Qumran and Murabba'at shed light on the phrase, 'they make their phylacteries broad' (Mt. 23:5):
'Previously this phrase had generally been understood to mean that the straps were made broad'. 'But these tefillin from the 1st cent. A.D. show that the head tefillin were not cubical, but rectangular, with the breadth across the forehead varying much more than the length.'81It seems that the boxes on their heads were much larger than what is worn today. With the leather straps and the boxes protruding from arm and head, Edersheim writes that the 'wearer of them could not be mistaken.'82 This should not surprise us as Yeshua distinctly says that the Pharisees wore tefillin to be noticed:
'But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men. For they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments' (Mt. 23:5).Believers in Messiah have always understood the Exodus and Deuteronomy passages to be figurative and not literal. Ellison writes that there is no possibility that God intended for the passages to be taken literally:
'Though Christian exegesis has always understood the' 'passages as metaphorical, our increasing knowledge of the ancient Near East would not rule out their possible literal intent'. 'All available evidence suggests, however, that they were a late innovation brought in by the' Hasidim, the spiritual forefathers of the Pharisees, 'being intended as a counterblast to increasing Hellenistic influence. There is no mention of them in the OT, and they seem always to have been unknown to the Samaritans. LXX' (the Septuagint) 'clearly takes the passages on which the custom is based as metaphorical.'83The actual dating of tefillin can be seen from the fact that in the generation before Yeshua, that of Hillel and Shammai, there wasn't any established tradition as to when they were to be worn and how many were to be worn. The Hasidim being spoken of could very well have lived a generation before Hillel. More than this and the wearing of tefillin would most likely have been already deeply entrenched among the people.
'How far the profanity of the Rabbis in this respect would go, appears from the circumstance, that they supposed God Himself as wearing phylacteries (Ber. 6a) The fact is deduced from Isa. 62.8, where the 'right hand' by which Jehovah swears is supposed to refer to the law, according to the last clause of Deut. 33:1; while the expression 'strength of His arm' was applied to the 'tephillin,' since the term 'strength' appeared in Ps. 29:11 in connection with God's people, and was in turn explained by a reference to Deut. 28:10. For 'the strength' of God's people (Ps. 29:11) is that which would cause all to 'be afraid' of Israel (Deut. 28:10); and this latter would be due to their seeing that Israel was 'called by the name of Jehovah,' 'this ocular demonstration being afforded through the tephillin.' (Because the Name of Yahveh is written about 23 times in the boxes.) 'Such was the evidence which traditionalism offered for such a monstrous proposition.'84The Rabbis would have us to believe that tefillin came from Mt. Sinai. They even go as far to say that God Himself wears them. This is their way of investing the tradition with divine authority. Now, tradition is not evil, in and of itself. Tradition can enhance the observance of a Commandment. But we must draw the line when tradition, overrides the Word of God, as Judaism endorses, making a mockery of Yahveh and His Word.86
'The above may serve as a specimen alike of Rabbinical exegesis and theological inferences. It will also help us to understand, how in such a system inconvenient objections, arising from the plain meaning of Scripture, would be summarily set aside by exalting the interpretations of men above the teaching of the Bible. This brings us straight to the charge of our Lord against the Pharisees (Mark 7:13)' another indication that Yeshua was not a Pharisee, 'that they made 'the Word of God of none effect' through their 'traditions.' The fact, terrible as it is, nowhere, perhaps, comes out more strongly than in connection with these very 'tephillin.' We read in Mishnah (Sanh. xi. 3), literally, as follows: 'It is more punishable to act against the words of the Scribes than against those of Scripture.'85
'And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.'In Revelation 14:9 it states: 'Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,' and in Rev. 20:4 the Apostle writes:
'Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yeshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with the Messiah for a thousand years.'We are not saying that tefillin are the mark of the beast, even though there is a parallel here. But tefillin are a literal perversion of God's Word. Is tefillin commanded by Yahveh? No. Is it sin to wear tefillin? Yes. One of sin's definition's is 'to miss a mark.'88 If God never intended for us to wear tefillin than those who do are certainly missing the mark as to proper interpretation and walking out of God's Word (i.e. His Will).
'Whatever I command you, you must be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it' (Dt. 12:32).We must do what is right in God's eyes.90
'It was for everyone. It was to be in the heart as well as the head, in the home as well as the courts. These verses powerfully dispel two misconceptions. The first misconception is that OT law was a matter of legalistic conformity to an external code. On the contrary, Deuteronomy 6:6 is part of a strong stream of OT teaching that calls for the internalizing of the law (sic) in the heart, i.e., at the center of a person's mind, will and character (cf. 4:9; 10:16; 11:18; Jer. 4:4; 31:33; Ezek. 18:31; 36:26f.). The second misconception is that religious traditions and observances are the preserve of a professional elite with esoteric knowledge, whether clerical or academic. The priests of Israel were, indeed, to teach the law, but not as something only they within the confines of the professional guild could understand. On the contrary, the law was to be the topic of ordinary conversation in ordinary homes in ordinary life, from breakfast to bedtime (v. 7; cf. the comments on the law being accessible and 'near' in 30:11-14). Such would be its popular scope and relevance.'92With his dispelling of the first misconception, that the Law of Moses was only an external and mechanical code for Israel, we see the reality of the reason for the New Covenant. Yahveh says in Jeremiah 31:31-34 that He will give us the New Covenant so that our sins could be forgiven, and that the Law of Moses would be in our hearts to walk in it. And in Ezk. 36:26-27, Yahveh speaks giving us a new heart and His Spirit so that we'll be able to keep His Law. Perhaps Christopher is not far from walking in Torah.
'He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate' Gen. 18:8He was an intelligent American Jew, a man about 50 years old who had recently made aliyah to Israel. What he told me shocked me. He said that he'd have to go to his rabbi and see what he said. He told me that he wasn't smart enough to understand the Torah. Only his rabbi could unlock the mystery of the proper interpretation. But this goes against the very word of God:
'For this Commandment' (to obey Him and all His Commandments), 'which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in Heaven that you should say, 'Who will go up to Heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' 'But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity' (Dt. 30:11-15).Wright goes on to relate that the Commandments of Yahveh should pervade our entire world. Speaking of Dt. 6:4-9, he states, the
'I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life!, in order that you may live, you and your descendants' (Dt. 30:19).
'rapid sequence of verbs helps us feel the force of the advice: impress them (the commandments) ... talk about them ... tie them ... bind them ... write them. The law of God is thus to be applied to the individual (your hands and your foreheads), the family (your houses), and public, civic society (your gates, the place of public business, courts, markets, etc.). The believer must work out the meaning of loving God in appropriate ways for all three levels. The love commitment of the whole person in verse 5 is thus expanded to the whole community in verses 7-9.'93 (Emphasis Wright's)The 'love commitment' of v. 5, to love Yahveh with all our heart, soul and strength, is not only 'expanded' but explained. What does it mean to love God? God tells us that we must obey His Commandments and teach them to our children and walk them out in our community. We must be 'one' with Yahveh and His Word. Of course, this is a play on words as Yeshua too is called the Word of God (Rev. 19:13). The written word of God, His Commandments, are a reflection of Yahveh, and that's how to two can be one. Yeshua is the veritable mirror image or reflection of Yahveh (2nd Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). The Commandments are nothing less than a verbal reflection of our God and King.
'Remind them of these things and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth' (2nd Tim. 2:14-15).
'Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted. For evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the holy Writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yeshua. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, fully equipped for every good work' (2nd Tim. 3:12-17).