Messianic jews, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 2
1. Therefore, we must pay much more careful heed to the things we have heard, so that we will not drift away.
If the Messiah is just another angel, there is little reason to take his Gospel seriously. But because he is God's Son and "much better than angels" (1:4, proved by 1:5-13), Therefore, we must pay much more careful heed lo the things we have heard. 

2. For if the word God spoke through angels became binding, so that every violation and act of disobedience received its just deserts in full measure,
Although angels are inferior to the Messiah, and in the end even inferior to saved human beings (1:14), nevertheless their role is not negligible, because through angels, God spoke a word, the Torah (Judaism recognized the intermediary role of angels at Mount Sinai; see Ac 7:53N). In the Torah, every violation and act of disobedience received its just deserts, that is, the Torah specified the sanctions for violations of its laws. The actual punishments are meted out on earth through judgments of b'tei-din (Jewish courts) and acts of God; the final distribution of just deserts, as foretold in the Tanakh (see especially Daniel 12:3), will be at the Last Judgment (Rv 20:11-15). 

3. then how will we escape if we ignore such a great deliverance? This deliverance, which was first declared by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him;
How will we escape the condemnation pronounced in the Torah for our disobedience (compare Ga 3:10-13&NN) if we ignore the deliverance called great because it spares us the terrible condemnation we richly deserve? The implied answer, of course, is that we won't; because there is no other way to escape it (Ac 4:12).

The Lord Yeshua both initiated this deliverance (v. 10) and was the first to declare it. By referring to those who heard him as having confirmed the Gospel to us, the writer indicates that neither he nor his readers knew Yeshua personally during his earthly lifetime (also see 1:1N). 

4. while God also bore witness to it with various signs, wonders and miracles, and with gifts of the Ruach HaKodesh which he distributed as he chose.
Gifts of the Ruach HaKodesh, charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. See especially 1С 12:4-31&NN; also Ro 12:6-8&N, Ep 4:11&N.

The readers of this book are exhorted not less than five times to bestir themselves and not drift away through complacency, apathy or neglect (here, 3:6b-4:16; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; and 12:1-13:22). 

5. For it was not to angels that God subjected the ‘olam haba — which is what we are talking about.
For. This connects the thought with 1:14. 

6. And there is a place where someone has given this solemn testimony: "What is mere man, that you concern yourself with him? or the son of man, that you watch over him with such care?
7. You made him a little lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor,
8. you put everything in subjection under his feet" (Psalm 8:5–7(4–6)). In subjecting everything to him, he left nothing unsubjected to him. However, at present, we don’t see everything subjected to him — at least, not yet.
9. But we do see Yeshua — who indeed was made for a little while lower than the angels — now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God’s grace he might taste death for all humanity.
Hebrew m'at can mean only "a little bit," but Greek brachu can mean either "a little bit" (v. 7) or "for a little while" (v. 9). In v. 7, where he quotes Psalm 8:5 from the Septuagint, which uses the word "brachu" the writer adheres to the meaning of the Hebrew m 'at, "a little bit." But there is no reason to suppose that "brachu" in v. 9 means the same thing. The author, a knowledgeable Jew of his time, did not distort the meaning of the Hebrew psalm when quoting it, but did make an interlingual midrash on the Greek word "brachu" which he could not have made with the Hebrew text alone. The writer makes his point through midrash, not through meaning something different in v. 7 than the Psalmist did.

Some manuscripts include after "honor" the missing line from Psalm 8, "You have set him over the works of your hands."
According to Genesis 1:28, God put everything on earth in subjection under the feet of mankind, not angels. Although this is not yet seen in relation to humanity as a whole, we do see it partly fulfilled in Yeshua. 

10. For in bringing many sons to glory, it was only fitting that God, the Creator and Preserver of everything, should bring the Initiator of their deliverance to the goal through sufferings.
As the Son of God (1:4-14) and the Word of God (Yn 1:1-18), Yeshua was much higher than angels. But as man he was made lower than angels,... so that... he might taste death, experiencing evil and pain, for all humanity — something angels cannot do. Because he suffered death, literally, "because of the suffering (Greek to pathima) of the death (tou thanatou)" The word "pathema" is used in the plural in v. 10 (sufferings, pathimaion) without "thanatos" to refer specifically to the sufferings of death, and this was a common euphemism. The author of this book uses "pathema" and the related verb "pathein" ("to suffer") in this way a number of times; some instances are 2:18,5:8, 9:26, 13:12. 

11. For both Yeshua, who sets people apart for God, and the ones being set apart have a common origin — this is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers
12. when he says, "I will proclaim your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise" (Psalm 22:23(22)).
13. Also, "I will put my trust in him,... (Isaiah 8:17)" and then it goes on, "Here I am, along with the children God has given me" (Isaiah 8:18 (Septuagint)).
As man, Yeshua had to suffer like us in order fully to identify with us. This is what uniquely qualifies him to be our mediator. By being identified fully both with God and with us he bridges the gap (Isaiah 59:1-2) and creates for us the unity with God that he himself has. Compare Yochanan 17. Verses 12-13 offer two proof-texts from parts of the Tanakh normally considered to have Messianic import. 

14. Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, he became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by his death he might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary)
This explicitly analyzes the Messiah's work in taking on himself the nature of humanity (compare Pp 2:6-8). "For the Messiah himself died for sins, a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that he might bring you to God" (1 Kefa 3:18). By doing this he tricked the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary, Satan, as explained in Mt 4:1N). For Satan has the power of causing death but has no right to inflict it on someone who resists his temptations and does not sin (2:17-18,4:14-16&N, Mt 4:1-11 &NN), because death is the punishment for sin (Genesis 2:17; Ro 5:12-21N).

Did Yeshua render Satan ineffective? Although Satan continues to exercise power, his days are numbered and he will ultimately be destroyed. See Lk 10:18; Rv 12:9; 20:2, 10. 

15. and thus set free those who had been in bondage all their lives because of their fear of death.
Not everyone admits his fear of death. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross writes as if death were merely a passage from one form of life to another; many religions teach the same thing. For nonbelievers that is a snare and a delusion. For believers it is true, better than she or those religions can imagine. 

16. Indeed, it is obvious that he does not take hold of angels to help them; on the contrary, "He takes hold of the seed of Avraham" (Isaiah 41:8–9).
17. This is why he had to become like his brothers in every respect — so that he might become a merciful and faithful cohen gadol in the service of God, making a kapparah for the sins of the people.
The majority of the mitzvot set forth in the written Torah deal with the sacrificial system, including the cahanut (priesthood), in which all the cohanim (priests) and the cohen hagadol were members of the tribe of Levi (see 7:5-14). Thus it is very surprising, indeed revolutionary, to find that Yeshua, the Son of David, from the tribe of Judah, is spoken of as our cohen gadol. Much of the rest of the book is occupied with explaining how this can be and why it is necessary (see 3:1—6, 4:14—5:10, 6:19—10:23). 

18. For since he himself suffered death when he was put to the test, he is able to help those who are being tested now.
He suffered death, literally, "he suffered." See vv. 9-10N above.

Yeshua had to become human in order to deliver us. Yet, just as he is better than angels, so also he is better than other human beings.

Yeshua did not take hold of (that is, either "take on the nature of or "concern himself with") angels, because angels cannot die. He takes hold of not human beings generally but the seed of Avraham, because Jews, of all humanity, have in the Torah the most stringent conditions to fulfill in order not to sin and by not sinning escape death. If Yeshua could live as a Jew according to the Torah without committing any sin, so that he would not have earned the death penalty, he would deliver Jews from death and a fortiori (Mt 6:30&N) Gentiles as well.

Yeshua had to be made exactly like those to be rescued from death so that he would fully know and empathize with our experience and thereby, as our cohen gadol (high priest), be able to be fully merciful and (as brought forth in 3:1-6 and also at Ro 3:22,24) faithful, making a kapparah ("atonement") for the sins of the people. The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:12 predicted this seven hundred years in advance and also makes the best commentary: it is precisely because he "poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors" that he "bore the sin of many and will make intercession for the transgressors" (see 7:25&N). 

next chapter...