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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 1, by Kevin M. Williams

Looking into this second level of biblical understanding requires work on behalf of the Bible student. Generally, it is not handed to you. Rather, it is more akin to asking your mother how to spell a word, and being told, “Go look it up in the dictionary.” We like to be spoon-fed, and the Bible does spoon-feed us instruction. But if we will mine a little deeper, putting some effort into it, we uncover so much more and are made richer by the experience.

There are rabbis who will take a passage of Scripture and dig even deeper, applying the sod model. As we examine Matthew further, we are going to dig into the living water—known in Hebraic studies as the mayim chayim—and reveal some of the significance and traditions within ancient Judaism. These meanings will give us a sod understanding of Yeshua’s statement on a deeper, spiritual level.

The purpose of this study over all, as we glean the passages of Matthew, is to reveal the remez and the sod interpretations where reasonable and applicable. We assume that the reader already has a firm grasp of the p’shat, or literal interpretation. This will not only give us an Hebraic perspective of this gospel of Jesus Christ, but it will help us peer beneath the surface into the depth of Scripture and what the Messiah was saying in his life, death, and resurrection. When we are done, and we are asked, “Was Jesus the promised Messiah?” we will be able to answer with a stronger conviction that resounds, “Yes and Amen!”

Let’s begin with those genealogies in the first chapter of Matthew.

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It has been bantered about by theologians that Matthew may have been originally written in Hebrew for the Hebrews. If we understand the records of Paul correctly, we know that it was at least 15 years after the resurrection before Paul began proclaiming the good news to the non-Jewish world. Similarly, many theologians place the writing of Matthew within 15 years of the Messiah’s resurrection. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that Matthew wrote it in the Promised Land for the people of the Land, in the language of the people—Hebrew.

Certainly by 300 of the Common Era (300 AD), the historian and scholar Eusebius believed it had been written in Hebrew. In Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, he quotes Papias, “Matthew wrote the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each one interpreted as he could.”

In its 28 chapters, the Tanakh is quoted 93 times, with over 100 easily recognized allusions to the Torah or the Tanakh. There are numerous references to the Oral Law, frequently cast in the positive rather than the generally interpreted negative light.

If, therefore, we can accept that it was written in Hebrew, to proclaim the Messiah to the people of Israel, if we accept its many Tanakh references and inclusions of oral traditions, in short—if we accept that it was written by a Hebrew for Hebrew people—then that context ought to be consistent throughout the document.

If you have made that leap, then you are ready to examine this gospel from its Jewish perspective and relevance. You can look at the words, and then you can look beneath those words, stepping down into the culture, the theology, the sights and smells of ancient Israel, and prepare to walk with the Messiah!

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham . . .” (Matthew 1:1).

If nothing else, we can see that Jesus is Jewish. Not that anyone would argue that point, but for the purposes of taking the gospel message to the Hebrew people, Matthew sets the stage so that no one can misunderstand.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2001

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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