THE ALMOND ROD - PART ONE
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
The Rod of an Almond Tree in God’s Master Plan – The Garden of Eden
I want to ask you a question. Where was the Garden of Eden? I’ve only heard of three places that I can remember. Mostly we’ve been told that it must be over on the Indus Plateau over in eastern Iran, and I suppose that the scientists who dug up Lucy will say that it was in Africa, if they believe it at all. And I’ve also heard that it was on Atlantis. Well, I now believe that the Garden of Eden was located in a place that became the city of Jerusalem. How unlikely is that? On the other hand, you may have heard that Israel, the land of Israel is called the navel of the world. Anyway, as it turns out, it’s not unlikely at all in light of the Bible and some simple logic, and some geographic study, of course. You see, God is a God of patterns and codes and mathematics. I mean, we’ve done 15 years of shows on little bits and pieces that God has worked into His message that show a supernatural quality in the message. Everything He does is crammed with little details that all fit together. And any beginning Bible student can show you how God uses multiple types of the same thing throughout history.
Christ, for instance. Adam was a type of Christ. In fact, Christ is called the second Adam in some places. Shem is also a type of Christ, and Moses and David were all types of Christ. They all did things that pointed to what Christ would be, so that when Christ showed up, we would know it was Him, and we would say, Oh, yeah, well, that’s what it was all pointing to. You see, it’s this consistency of God that helps us accept Him. He shows that He is there by means that can’t be human. Now, this is a three-part series, this is the first show. And it’s going to show the intricate weaving of details surrounding the Garden of Eden and Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The Rod of the Almond Tree in God’s Master Plan: That’s the title of the book that I’ve just gotten through reading, by a fellow named Peter Michas, with help from his wife and another fellow named Robert Vander Maten. And here is one of these things that get put together in God’s pattern, the fact that Jacob was on Mount Moriah when he saw the angels going up and down on the ladder to heaven and so forth, and that this was the same place that Abraham, decades earlier, was told to sacrifice Isaac, Jacob’s father. That’s well known to most Bible students. And it’s also known that this particular place is where God told people to put the temple. Mount Moriah is a very special place for God, in other words, a very special place. And He keeps coming back to it. And this shows a wonderful consistency about God. But that’s only the beginning of what God put together to prove Himself and His promise of salvation!
Robert Vander Maten has part of Preface Number 2 here, some stuff that I’m going to read for you from him. Whenever God allows me to uncover another nugget of truth in His Word, I am able to see the events, time schedules and places all fit together to form amazingly detailed patterns that are completely beyond the realm of chance. I was taught about the Crucifixion of Jesus from the time I was allowed to talk. I remember the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to show the three crosses with Jesus in the middle. I remember going to church service on Thursday night with my parents, before “Good Friday” and commemorate the Last Supper, and then going to sunrise service on Easter morning singing the great old hymns and seeing all the white Easter lilies. And I sure relate to that; I mean, I did that all my life in the Baptist church when I was growing up.
The Bible is a Hebrew book, and thus can be better understood if the student also understands the background of the Hebraic law, traditions and history. Now, this means becoming familiar with other books, such as the Mishna, Talmud and Midrash, and some others. See, the Bible is the unerring Word of God. I saw your eyebrows go up! But It’s not the inerrant Word of God that most Christians would make it out to be, because they’re talking about the King James and other translations. It’s only the inerrant Word of God as far as the original in Greek and Hebrew go. And other resource materials, you have to view those as supplements, not substitutes, for Holy Scripture.
Now, in some cases, Scripture seems to take for granted that we know things that most of us do not know unless we study Hebraic law and customs. For instance, the Scripture assumes that we know what the law states about purification of the Jews. I mean, you look around the Bible and you find a lot of directions given to people about how to purify themselves in a lot of different situations. You know, you touch a dead body, you’ve got to do this, that, and the other thing, and wash seven times and all that. So purification was a really big thing back then.
The Scripture assumes, like I said, that we know about the purification, and the significance of the six stone water pots that are mentioned in John 2:6 at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, that we would just automatically know what those were about. Those were purification pots. Six stone pots were filled with water to supply water for purification rites. And what did Jesus do? Maybe you don’t remember that. It was His first miracle. He turned that water into wine. They ran out of wine, and so His mother said, Hey, why don’t you – and He said, wait a minute – well, okay. And He turned the water into wine, and it turned out to be better wine than the host was serving. But without the understanding of the water pots being significant for purification, we couldn’t fully appreciate the symbolism of this first miracle. It was the purification that He would follow. It was a type of His purification that He would accomplish on the cross. And wine is always symbolized as blood. So He revealed who He was, the ultimate purifier of humanity, through His blood. But you don’t know that unless you know Jewish law.
Occasionally, other sources can at first appear contradictory to Scripture. However, upon closer examination, the discrepancy is usually found to be in traditional thought rather than in Scripture. Also, I have come to realize that it’s the original language of the Bible that is inerrant; as I said before, only the Greek and Hebrew. Thus, in many cases it’s critical to refer to the original Hebrew or Greek in order to have a clearer understanding of the original intended meaning. And that’s really what all Bible study is about. It’s all about digging deeper and deeper and deeper, ever deeper into the Word and finding out what was really meant by the writer. You can’t do that by just reading the King James. How do you know?
Now the centerpiece of the Rod of an Almond Tree in God’s Master Plan was the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. And they usually use the term “Yeshua” or “Messiah Yeshua.” In examining these events, many new ideas will be revealed. Some of these ideas conflict with traditional teaching, but the intent of the research is not meant to generate controversy for the sake of controversy; rather, it is to demonstrate that these events leading up to the crucifixion were divinely orchestrated. All the little details were part of a whole, overall pattern. And thus, it becomes apparently and abundantly clear that every detail fits into the prophetic picture that is painted in the Old Testament. This picture is a masterpiece of precision beyond anything humanly possible and leaves no doubt that Yeshua is the Messiah.
Let me just mention one thing that comes out of the Old Testament: It says in one place that none of His bones were broken. And you put all those little details together like that one, and you look at the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and you find out that they all line up. None of His bones were broken. They went around to break the legs of everybody so that they could die before sundown, and they didn’t have to break His legs, because He was already dead. So no bones were broken. And the same thing with the Passover lamb.
Interestingly, God formed the light out of darkness. This chapter is called The Light of the Messiah, meaning that on account of darkness, light had to be revealed. He’s got a lot of footnotes that he lists here, but I’m not going to say, well, that came out of the Jewish Encyclopedia, or that came out of the Midrash, or whatever – we don’t time for that.
As light overcame darkness in the spiritual realm, so too this pattern became mirrored in the physical realm, the natural realm. That’s why day follows night. Day follows night. And why night and day – first night, then day – are considered one day. That’s the way it reads: The evening and the morning were the first day. So first we have night. So the Jewish timetable embodies this concept with each new day beginning at sunset, followed by daylight, and ending just before the following sunset. So the Jewish day is from sunset to sunset, not from sunrise to sunrise, like we usually think, or from midnight to midnight.
So there’s a confusion here, because it says in verses 3 to 5, it says that, “Let there be light,” the very first thing, “Let there be light.” “God said, Let there be light.” But wait a minute, what light could that possibly be, because it wasn’t until day four – not day one, but day four – that He created the sun, the moon and the stars. Well, wait a minute, where did that light come from?
I want you to think the word “aura.” A clear distinction can be made between the nature of light in verse 16 (that’s the one with the sun and moon), as compared to the light referred to in verses 3 to 5. One of the most brilliant Jewish sages, Rabbenu Malbim, raised a profound question: Why is the light of Day One, called “or,” and of Day Four called “meoroth”? It’s two different words! That clears it up right there, even if you don’t know the answer. The answer is found to be in the realization that the light of the word, “In the beginning was the Word,” says John; the Messiah, in other words, on Day One, preceded the light of the sun and the reflected light of the moon on Day Four. As David wrote in Psalm 104 when he described the Lord as creator, verse 1: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty.” Verse 2: “Covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, stretching out the heaven like a tent curtain.”
Everything on earth has an aura: Trees, bugs, us; everything has an aura. We generate infrared waves in our bodies, in our cells. If our bodies were perfect, as Adam’s was when he was created, we would shine. Moses got a dose of it when he came down from the mountain after the Ten Commandments, he was shining, and they thought he was a ghost! So the way I picture this is, God said to the Word – it wasn’t Jesus at that time; He would become Jesus later on – but He said to the Word, He said, turn your light on so I can see what I’m doing here! He turned on the shop light in order to do the work of the creation! It was Jesus’ aura, the Light of the world, that got turned on there.
Now let’s get to the Garden of Eden. Where was the Garden of Eden? Well, like I said at the beginning, there’s a lot of conjecture about that. And that’s what most of it is; it isn’t backed up by Scripture at all. Scripture seems not to be clear enough to pin it down. We’ve got four rivers. That’s the only thing – all we can say is, where is Eden? What does it say? Well, significantly, the Hebrew word “Qedem,” which translates as “east,” is derived from the Hebrew word for “Eden.” In fact, “Qedem” – and that’s with a capital Q, east, already occurs in Egyptian writings in 1900 B.C. as a land near Canaan. Qedem is a land near Canaan.
So the lands of Edom, Moab and Ammon, as cited in Isaiah 11:14, were located, respectively, south, east and north of the Dead Sea. This information confirms that the lands of the east and the Promised Land were closely associated. Genesis 4:16 states that when Cain was expelled from Eden – now, that’s not the Garden, okay? Cain wasn’t expelled from the Garden of Eden; they weren’t in the Garden of Eden. But they were still in the land of Eden, and that’s an important distinction to make. He “settled in the land of Nod east of Eden,” somewhere between what is now Jordan and Iraq, somewhere in that middle ground there. And I have to remind you that that wasn’t a desert. That wasn’t a desert to begin with; that was a beautiful, lush, well-watered valley.
Unfortunately, the location of the land of Nod presently is unknown. However, Scripture does tell us that Cain and his descendents were the first to build a city (Genesis 4:17), and archaeological evidence seems to indicate that the first city dwellers dwelled or lived in the area called Canaan. And I’ve read of Jericho being the oldest city in the world. Only much later after the Flood did Mesopotamian civilizations, including Babylon, develop. And for this reason it seems a likely possibility that the descendants of Adam and Eve actually settled in the area of what is today Israel and east of Israel in the Land of Eden, not the Garden itself, although the Garden was a good size. And given this understanding, Mesopotamia must be discarded, or could be at least discarded as in favor of the Promised Land as the most highly qualified and promising candidate for the location of the Garden of Eden.
Now, the four rivers. The account in Genesis 2:10-14 gives specific information regarding four rivers in the land of Eden – the land of Eden. If we locate these four rivers, our search for the Garden of Eden will be much more clearly defined. Now here are the four rivers. I won’t read all the verses, 10 through 14, but verse 10, “out of Eden” – not the Garden, but out of Eden there flowed a river, and from there – from Eden, not the Garden – it divided and became four rivers. And then it lists the four rivers in the next four verses. The first is Pishon, and that’s given a location of the land of Havilah. The second river in verse 13 is Gihon. And that flows around the whole land of Cush. So we’ve got two locations there, although we can’t find the Pishon or the Gihon. We do have Havilah and Cush to bring as evidence. The third river is Tigris, and we already know about that because that’s available for any geography student. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
Please pay particular attention to the fact that there was a river that flowed out of Eden, not the Garden. The land of Eden, in fact, comprised a very large area. It would designate a common headwaters source then, somewhere within the boundaries of the land of Eden; therefore, we should look for four separate rivers, which share a common headwater source somewhere within Eden. Hirsch comments that some criticize the geographic description in this verse because it has been taken to refer to a river which divides into four streams, and no such river has been found. That’s why I said earlier, well, you can’t pin it down, you don’t know, you can’t talk about these rivers, you don’t know anything about them. But, he goes on to say, ra-ashe-im, the Hebrew word, ra-ashe-im, does not mean branches, but four separate heads. The river starts as a single stream; it evidently disappears into the ground and springs up again in four different locations as four separate rivers. Now, I know that that sounds a little bit nebulous, but the evidence that we’re going to read will clarify some of that.
The Tigris River, the Euphrates River: To this day, the Tigris and the Euphrates are clearly identifiable because their original names have been retained. The lost Pishon River: The other two rivers, the Pishon and Gihon, are unknown today. Although we do have the word “Gihon” connected with water right there near Jerusalem, which we’ll see in a minute, their original locations have been a topic of much debate among biblical scholars, scientists and laymen alike. Identification of the lost Pishon and Gihon rivers will provide an essential key to unlocking the mystery of the true location of the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:11-12 says that the Pishon River flowed through Havilah. Well, Havilah connects to Canaan via the Arabah – that’s a desert region – from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
Now interestingly, Jacob Ben Amir reported that in the Globes newspaper that an annual flow of 140 million cubic meters of fresh water – that’s a lot of water! – 140 million cubic meters of water has been discovered flowing under the north end of the Dead Sea. In addition, within the past 15 to 20 years, a tremendous water source has been discovered under the Arabah. It’s interesting to note that the Arabah has been a barren desert since Sodom and Gomorrah in the Dead Sea area were destroyed. However, before that time, this area was described as lush and green, “Like the Garden of the Lord,” Genesis 13:10. See, that’s where Lot went. Abraham and Lot stood up on a hill, and they were having problems, and Abraham said, “Well, you go your way and I’ll go mine. We’ve got to split up here, we’re having too much trouble trying to keep together here. Pick what you want, and I’ll take what’s left.” And they were looking over the whole area. Well, Lot picked out the best area, which was the valley east of Canaan and the Promised Land. It was lush and green, and it had two huge cities in there.
Now, it’s possible that the Pishon River once flowed closer to the surface through Havilah and the Arabah, but subsequently became submerged, perhaps at the time of the destruction of these two cities. And he also mentions in a different place that water is starting to come to the surface in this area also. So you’ve got this huge underground river, 140 million cubic meters flowing under there, and waters in just exactly the area that the Bible talks about as Havilah.
Now, the Gihon River. The Bible tells us that the Gihon River originally flowed through the land of Cush. Where’s Cush? That’s over in Egypt. Well, this would seem to indicate that the Gihon River is located in what is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan. According to a first century Jewish historian, Josephus, there was a popular belief at that time that an underground river joined the Nile and the Sea of Galilee. Well, underground rivers are not uncommon; they’re not unheard of on the earth. But there’s a really unusual catfish that is only found in two places in the world, called Clarias lazara, called the “water raven” by Josephus, is the only representative of its African family found in both the Nile and the Sea of Galilee. Well, that was Josephus.
But the authors checked this out. And confirmed the largest spring at Tabgha on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. You’ve got a big spring over there. And it’s intriguing and certainly meaningful that this was the same place where Yeshua chose His first disciples among the fished by the authors, even fishermen today believe that this underground channel exists and emerges from the largest spring at Tabgha. Another little detail. So we’ve got this big river over there that waters Egypt, and also comes through the Holy Land in places.
Now here’s a little more to do with Satan in establishing the location of the Garden of Eden. This is in Ezekiel 28:13. “You were in Eden, the Garden of God.” He’s talking about Lucifer here, the whole section on Lucifer and how he fell, and you got covered in pride and you fell and so forth. But the description of who he was, the anointed cherub and all of that stuff, it says, You were in Eden. And it doesn’t say just Eden, it says “the Garden of God.” So he was in the Garden of Eden, not just the land of Eden, but the Garden of Eden. And then in verse 14, after more description it says, “You were on the holy mountain of God.” Okay, well, the holy mountain of God. How can we find the holy mountain of God? Can we establish that the holy mountain of God was in – well, we know it’s in the Garden of Eden, but was in Israel of today. And particularly near Jerusalem, or on Jerusalem, or Jerusalem was part of that whatever. How do we establish that?
Well, according to the Bible, we can only come up with two mountains that God has picked out as special places. Now, you might want to say, oh, the mountain of God, well, that’s Mount Sinai. I mean, it’s even described as the mountain of God in some places, Mount Sinai. That’s where the Ten Commandments were given to Moses. That surely has to be a holy mountain of God; that’s true. But there’s another holy mountain of God that simple logic says is more important than Mount Sinai. And that’s got to be Mount Moriah, where Jerusalem stands, where the temple stands. Why Moriah? Because that’s where God instructed; he ordered that the temple be built. He picked that out. He said, I’ll put my name, I’ll come and see you in this place. All the people, not just Moses. Well, Moses was the only one to go up to the mountain and everybody else will get killed. No. The high priest can always go in there every year, the high priest, and a different guy can be the high priest. God makes contact with humanity in the Holy of Holies on the mountain of God. So that’s Mount Moriah.
And he goes on to say, the holy mountain of God is a direct reference to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Today Mount Moriah forms a platform for the mount over the temple mount. God selected Mount Moriah as the site of His temple. Here the first temple was built by Solomon. After its destruction by the Babylonians, the second temple was also built on this site. And the Bible prophesies that the third temple described by Ezekiel will be established by the Messiah when He comes to set up his Millennial Kingdom. And He’s going to rule from Jerusalem. The prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah foretell that a tremendous amount of living, flowing water will pour out of this temple, the house of God. According to Jewish legend, Adam was created out of the dust of Mount Moriah, and a little bit of legend – he’s got a footnote here, but I won’t go to that. So there’s a bunch of evidence there that kind of all works together to show that the Garden of Eden was right there on Mount Moriah.
The Hebrew word “gan” does not refer to a Garden in the usual European sense of the word, a plot of cultivated ground. It refers to a guarded enclosure. It actually talks about the Garden of Eden as an enclosure. This information is confirmed by the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, which lists the meaning of “gan” as enclosure or Garden. The root word, “ganan” means defend, put a shield about, protect. Further, the basic idea of the verb is to cover over and thus shield from danger. “Ganan” is used only in reference to the protective guardianship of God, and all eight occurrences of the word “ganan” deal only with Jerusalem. So you’ve got this direct connection between the Garden and Jerusalem. And there’s another bit of evidence for where was the Garden of Eden.
But now I want you to stop for a second and kind of visualize this. Take the number 8 and lay it down on its side, something like an infinity symbol. So you lay it down on its side, and on the left side, that will be Mount Moriah. On the right side, that will be the Mount of Olives. And where the two lines cross in the middle, that’s a real deep valley, called the Kidron Valley. It’s real deep. And so what they did, they built a big bridge that goes from the city of Jerusalem from the wall, over across this valley, so you can walk straight across over to the Mount of Olives, so you don’t have to dip down, because it’s really deep. They had to do this for convenience sake, because that’s where the red heifer, the ultimate sacrifice for sin every year, was sacrificed and burnt, and then the ashes were brought back and mixed around in the temple over on Mount Moriah in the temple itself. So this bridge makes a way to get over easily to the Mount of Olives. Now, I guess you might remember that the Garden of Gethsemane was on the Mount of Olives.
The altar of sin sacrifice: According to the Torah Anthology, Adam constructed the first sacrificial altar. Moreover, Abel, Noah and Abraham successively rebuilt this same altar. In the corresponding passages of Genesis, the Hebrew word “banah” has been translated “built” in most English versions. However, this word may also be translated as “rebuilt” or “restored,” which in fact more accurately describes what actually took place.
Now, he goes on to describe two threshing floors that David bought in order to construct an altar. And we’ll talk about that at length, because there’s some confusion that we have to clear up. In 1 Chronicles 21, verse 18, it says that the angel of the Lord commanded Gad, who was David’s prophet at the time, to say to David that David should go up and build – and that word “build” means “qum,” meaning confirm or establish or lift up – build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan, the Jebusite. Well, so he goes up there and he talks to Ornan, and he says, “I’m going to buy your threshing floor here.” And he gave Ornan (verse 25) 600 shekels of gold by weight. Now gold, I have to remind you, is always the symbol for God. God = gold. So he gave him 600 shekels’ worth of gold. So the threshing floor of Ornan was purchased by David for 600 shekels of gold and became the site for the tabernacle. David’s son Solomon would eventually replace the portable tabernacle, the tent and so forth, with a permanent temple on Mount Moriah.
Now, he’s got that for offerings and peace offerings. Let’s take a look at verse 26. Then David built (“banah” – that would be “rebuilt”) the altar of the Lord there and offered burnt offerings and peace offering, and he called to the Lord, and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. Now that’s another little bit of evidence that we have to keep in there that this is peace offerings and burnt offerings.
Then in 2 Samuel chapter 24, it seems to be the exact same event, and yet it’s not. First of all, in verse 18 – and it’s really interesting that it again starts with verse 18 – Gad goes to David, and he says, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah,” not Ornan, but Araunah, the Jebusite. Okay, well, that’s two different people. Well, it’s not, because when you look up the words Araunah and Ornan, they’re the same. You look up Araunah, and it says, see Ornan. The name is exactly the same. So that throws a big bunch of confusion into the pot. Well, it’s the same guy, so it’s describing the same event. But it’s not describing the same event, because later on he talks to Araunah for a while and he says, Okay, you can have it, you can have this, and you can even have the oxen that I’m working here, and just go ahead, you’re the king. And David said, No, no, I’m going to pay for this.
And then it says in verse 24, “So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen,” not for 600 shekels of gold, but for 50 shekels of silver. So wait, that’s not a discrepancy, that’s got to be our confusion somehow. There are two different purchases. Whether this guy Ornan was the same guy or not, there’s two different purchases happening here. And it is especially borne out by the fact that it’s 50 shekels of silver. What is the symbol of silver? Always, in the Bible, silver symbolizes redemption. It always symbolizes redemption.
So the gold threshing floor was over on Mount Moriah, where burnt offerings and so forth were given. But the silver, the redemption sacrifice, again, is the red heifer. That’s the main ritual for redemption; the yearly redemption of the whole land of Israel, is by the sacrifice of the red heifer. And that’s over on the Mount of Olives. That was established on the Mount of Olives. So I hope that prevents any confusion on your part when you’re talking to somebody else about this. It can’t be the same threshing floor, even though there’s some confusion about the name. The threshing floor of Araunah, purchased for 50 shekels of silver, is separate and distinct from the threshing floor of Ornan purchased for 600 shekels of gold. The authors believe that the threshing floor of Araunah was located on the Mount of Olives. It also became the site of the red heifer sacrifice and the place where all sin sacrifices were burnt.
So this establishes the two different places. The Garden of Eden was over where the temple was. But the Mount of Olives was outside the Garden of Eden. It was in the land of Eden, but it wasn’t inside the Garden of Eden; it was outside. And it’s separated by a deep valley. See, that’s even more evidence of the symbolism of the separation between the two.
Now he’s going to talk about “outside the camp” here, which is a common phrase that’s used a lot of times, and refers to specific things in Jewish law even. During the time the Israelites lived in the wilderness, “outside the camp” was located directly east of the tabernacle entrance, at a distance of 2,000 cubits. Usually they talk about cubits as being 18 inches, so that’s 3,000 feet. The place called “outside the camp” retained the same specific designation in reference to the location of the sanctuary. Two thousand cubits east of the temple, marking the distance, 3,000 feet, a little over a half a mile, one comes to the summit of the Mount of Olives at the site of the red heifer altar. Again, in our number 8 lying sideways, the left-hand side is Mount Moriah, which is in Jerusalem and contains the temple.
And let me remind you that the temple, the same as the tabernacle in the wilderness, there was only one door to get in. Jerusalem has lots of gates all around the city that you can go in and out, but the temple only has one door. You can’t get in any other way but the door. And the door is always located on the east side of the temple. So if you want to look into the area of the temple, you have to be over on the east looking to the west.
Inside the temple courtyard is where the building, or the tent, depending on what time in history you’re talking about, a tent with the Holy Place. There’s a tent there with a smaller room over on the west end of the building or the tent, and the whole thing is called the Holy Place. And then the little room inside is where the Ark of the Covenant was, and that’s the Holy of Holies. In front of the Holy of Holies there was a large curtain, a veil, is what they called it. And it had two cherubim sitting on the veil, woven into the veil, and it was certain colors. And you may remember that on top of the Ark of the Covenant were also two cherubim. Well, outside of the Holy of Holies, just at the door of the Holy Place itself – not the door to the whole temple area, but just the door to the Holy Place – again was another big, heavy veil with doors behind it. See, you’re not allowed to see into the Holy of Holies. You’re not allowed that; see, you die! It’s a very special place, and nobody can go in there but the high priest, once a year. So there were two veils, one on the outside of the Holy Place, and one on the inside of the Holy of Holies.
Now, let’s take a look. You can’t see inside the temple. But the place of Jewish executions for blasphemers, which is what Yeshua was judged to be; they said, “Who are you?” And He said, “I am God.” Oh, blasphemy, blasphemy, only God can be God.” But the place where they were to be judged and executed was called “outside the camp.” Leviticus 24:14 says, Take the blasphemer outside the camp and let all who are within hearing lay hands on his head, and let all the whole congregation stone him. It says much the same thing in Numbers 15.
According to Jewish law, a person accused of committing the sin of blasphemy had to be tried and convicted and killed in the presence of God. Well, so they took him into the temple in front of the Holy of Holies and killed him – no, they couldn’t do that kind of stuff. Outside the camp was 2,000 cubits away from the temple, remember? And that turns out to be, when you get outside of the temple, that 2,000 cubits in any direction, you’re out of the city, not inside the city. You can’t kill people inside the city; you take them outside. But it says “in the presence of God.” Now, since God’s presence resided in the Holy of Holies of the temple, the only appropriate execution ground was on the summit of the Mount of Olives where the red heifer was sacrificed. From this high point – because you could look over there, you could look over the top of the wall of Jerusalem; it’s a half a mile away, right? You could look over that and see the inside of the temple courtyard and the big building that was the Holy Place. You could see all that from over there. From this high point the condemned man had a clear, unobstructed view of the only entrance to the temple on its eastern side. Thus, Yeshua died facing the temple in the presence of God.
Now, beyond doubt, Yeshua was led, like the red heifer, the holiest sin sacrifice, from the temple, through the east gate across the Kidron bridge, the bridge that goes over the valley of Kidron, and up the ascent to the Mount of Olives to the summit. This was the only path from the temple to the summit that afforded ritual purity. Again, ritual purity, necessary for the acceptance of the sacrifice. And just as the red heifer’s face was turned toward the entrance of the temple as it was sacrificed, so too Yeshua died, the ultimate holy sacrifice, His face turned toward the temple.
There is further scriptural evidence to show that the crucifixion occurred on the Mount of Olives. Scripture records that at the moment of Yeshua’s death, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. This event was witnessed by the centurion, among a bunch of other people who were there, who was so convicted, that he confessed Yeshua as the Son of God. As this veil was attached to the front of the temple, the witnesses had to be on the Mount of Olives, the only place in Jerusalem affording a crucial vantage point required to witness this event. See, you couldn’t stand outside the temple right inside the city limits and see that, because the wall of the temple, you can’t see over it from there.
The scripture associates the place of the crucifixion with the Garden. John 19:41 says, Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a Garden; and in the Garden, a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore, on account of the Jewish day of preparation, not the Passover itself, but preparation for the Passover – that’s important, and we’ll get to that next time. Because the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. Well, the Greek word translated “Garden” in verse 41 does not refer to a Garden in the western sense, but rather describes a tree orchard. During the time of Yeshua, olive tree orchards covered a large area of the Mount of Olives. That’s why it was called the Mount of Olives, right? Including the place called Gethsemane, where an olive oil press was located. Therefore, the Mount of Olives fits the actual biblical description of the place where Yeshua was both crucified and buried.
In addition, it’s known that the Jewish tombs were predominantly located on the Mount of Olives during the time of Yeshua. According to certain reliable sources, all Jewish tombs at this time were located on the Mount of Olives. In this case, this factor alone confirms that the Mount of Olives was the only possible site for the crucifixion and the burial.
See, there’s a lot more confusion here, just to show you how it works. When you look at a layout of the city and the temple and where the tombs are supposedly located, there’s two traditional sites for the tomb of Jesus. One is up north of the city, outside the city but north; that’s called the Garden Tomb. And then there’s another tomb that’s straight west outside the city wall, called the Holy Sepulcher Church. Well, can you see the temple from there? No, neither one of those tombs. Is it 2,000 cubits away? Well, maybe. Were there tombs there? Well, it turns out that when you look at the original, the old city wall where the old city was, both those places are inside the city. You don’t bury people in the city. Not only that, and he goes on to say – and I might come to it; I’m not sure – that you weren’t allowed to have a tree orchard in the city; you couldn’t have one of those in a Garden.
We’re going to go to a little chart he’s got in the back here that kind of summarizes all of that stuff before we finish. Comparison chart of the three sites: the Holy Sepulchre, Gordon’s Calvary, and the Mount of Olives. The basis for the site’s election, the Holy Sepulcher, that was Constantine’s visions and dreams. Well, that doesn’t sound very biblical to me! And this guy Gordon, what he did, he took an imaginary skeleton and overlaid it on the city and said, well, the head is there, so that must be where the tomb was; that’s where He was crucified. What? But for the Mount of Olives, as we’ve read, there’s biblical, historical and archaeological data that indicates that that’s where the site was.
Now, harosh, he discussed that at length, harosh, in Hebrew, doesn’t necessarily mean the skull, you know, Golgotha, the place of the skull, because it could also be summit, or top. So the top of the Mount of Olives, that works. But for the Holy Sepulcher, there’s no skull, you can’t see any skull there. And there’s no skull-like appearance due to much later erosion. See, Gordon didn’t come along at the time of Christ and His crucifixion; he was much later. And especially he just does this skeleton trip on there.
And, could you see the veil from either of the other places? No. But you could from the Mount of Olives. And also because of that, it was in the presence of God, the line of sight. Was it near the place called “outside the camp”? Well, no, because both of the other tomb places were inside the original walls of the city, but the Mount of Olives wasn’t. In the Garden? Well, Gardens were not allowed within the city limits at the time of Yeshua, for both of those other tombs. But the Garden of the Mount of Olives, the Garden or tree orchard, that fits. Were there new tombs nearby? No, and no. But yes for the Mount of Olives. That’s mostly where the new tombs were. And it satisfies all the sacrificial requirements, most of the things that we just read. And the other two places, they don’t do that.
Well, next time what we’re going to do is, we’ll concentrate on the tree of knowledge, the tree of life, and more about the crucifixion and the positioning of the bodies, the other two guys on the crosses, so to speak. And there’s some really neat stuff in there. I mean, what kind of a tree was the tree of knowledge? Did you ever think about that? Well, I don’t know. What kind of a tree was the tree of life? Well, I want to know that! But we’ll get to that next time.
We’ve set the stage for God’s locations, the Mount of Olives where the red heifer is, and Mount Moriah. And we’re going to be able to see how He used those locations to tell the story, His story, God’s story, about the tree of life and about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And we’ll also find out how all this evidence leads to Christ and His crucifixion.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “the devil is in the details”? Well, that may be true sometimes, but don’t you believe it in this case. It’s really God down there weaving all those details into a picture of Himself. Now, the devil might get in there and twist one or two of those through traditional thinking and so forth, and make it look weird, but God is in the details.
When one starts looking at the facts of creation, there’s just no denying that God is real, and that He keeps His Word.
Thanks to Pam for this transcription.
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