Revelation Jewish New Testament, JNT, CJNT, David H. Stern
1. I was given a measuring rod like a stick and told, “Get up, and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count how many people are worshipping there!
2. But the court outside the Temple, leave that out; don’t measure it; because it has been given to the Goyim, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months.
2 Measuring symbolizes reserving a city either for preservation (Ezekiel 40:3-48:35, Zechariah 2:5-9(1-5)) or for destruction (2 Kings 21:12-14, Isaiah 34:11, Lamentations 2:8). Verses 2, 8 and 13a suggest that Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish nation and therefore a figure for the Jewish people (as at Isaiah 40:1-2, Mt 23:37-39&N, Lk 2:38), deserves judgment and destruction. But v. 13b shows that its destiny is repenting and being preserved. The Temple of God. In addition to the Tent of Meeting (the Tabernacle) and the heavenly original after which it was modeled (see 15:5&N, Ml 8:2-6a&N), Scripture mentions six literal temples:
(1) Solomon's, the First Temple (1 Kings 5-8).
(2) Z'rubavel's, the Second Temple (Haggai 1-2, Ezra 3:4-13).
(3) Herod's, called the rebuilt Second Temple or, by some, the Third Temple (Mt 21:12ft, 24:1-2; Yn 2:19-20).
(4) A future temple in the days of Anti-Messiah (Daniel 9:27, 11:45, 12:7; Mt 24:15; 2 Th 2:3-4; and here).
(5) A future temple in the days of the Messiah (Ezekiel 40-48, Zechariah 6:12-15).
(6) The temple in heaven (below at 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 16:17).
Besides, there are three figurative ones:
(1) The Messianic Community (1С 3:16-17, 2C 6:16, Ep 2:21). (2) The physical body of a believer (1С 6:19).
(3) God and the Lamb (in the New Jerusalem; Revelation 21:22).
The people... worshipping in the Temple are Jews, and perhaps not all the Jews but the believing Jewish remnant (see Ro 9:6N, 9.27-29N, 11:1 -6N, ll:26aN); since the court outside the Temple, known as the Court of the Gentiles (see Ep 2:14N) is to be left out and not measured. In fact, the role of the Goyitn (see Mt 5:46N) here is to trample over the holy city, Jerusalem (as at Lk 21:24&N), while the remnant is spared. At v. 9 Gentiles prevent the burial of the two witnesses.
42 months (also at 13:5). This is apparently identical with the "1,260 days" of v. 3 and 12:6 (compare Daniel 12:11-12, where "1,290 days" and "1,335 days" are mentioned) and the "season and two seasons and half a season" of 12:14 below (and Daniel 7:25, 12:7). Related, but pertaining rather to a period twice as long, seven years, are Daniel 8:14 ("2,300 evenings and mornings") and Daniel 9:25-27 (referring to 7 weeks of years, 62 weeks of years and 1 week of years). A Talmudic passage cited in Mt 24:1-39N speaks of a seven-year period during which various plagues occur. Also see 13:1-8N.
3. “Also I will give power to my two witnesses; and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.”
4. These are the two olive trees and the two menorahs standing before the Lord of the earth.
5. If anyone tries to do them harm, fire comes out of their mouth and consumes their enemies — yes, if anyone tries to harm them, that is how he must die.
6. They have the authority to shut up the sky, so that no rain falls during the period of their prophesying; also they have the authority to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
My (the Messiah's) two witnesses are identified with the two olive trees of Zechariah 4:3 and the two menorahs standing before the Lord of the earth. Zechariah 4:2 speaks of one menorah with seven branches, while Zechariah 4:14 identifies the two olive branches with "the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
These two witnesses testify about Yeshua, spread his Good News among the Jewish people in Jerusalem, prophesy and perform miracles; during this time they enjoy God's special protection (vv. 5-6). Then the beast from the Abyss kills them (v. 7). Their bodies lie in the main street of Jerusalem for three-and-a-half days (vv. 8-9), after which they rise from death and go up into heaven (vv. 11-12).
In the context of Zechariah 3-4 the two "anointed ones" are Joshua the cohen hagadol and Z'rubavel the governor. Various midrashic traditions identify them as Aaron and Moses (Exodus Rabbah 15:3), Aaron and David (Numbers Rabbah 14:13. 18:16), Aaron and the Messiah (Avot diRabbi Natan 30b), possibly Mashiach Ben-Yosef&nd Mashiach Ben-David (Pesikta Rabbati 8:4; the text is ambiguous). In the Talmud Rabbi Yitzchak calls the scholars of Eretz-hrael "anointed ones" (?> 'nei-yitzhar, literally, "sons of clear oil") because they debate amicably, and those of Babylon "olive trees" because their disputes are bitter (like uncured olives; Sanhedrin 24a).
So then, who are the two witnesses? Often they are said to be Moses and Elijah, since these appeared with Yeshua at the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8). The problem with this understanding is that the witnesses must die (v. 7), and human beings die only once (MJ 9:27).
The case for Elijah is a good one. He has not yet died (2 Kings 2:1, 9-12), he is expected to return before the Messiah comes (Malachi 3:23-24(4:5-6)), and he has already shut up the sky, so that no rain falls (1 Kings 17:1, 18:42-45; Lk 4:25; Ya5:17-18&N).
While Moses did turn the waters into blood and strike the earth with every kind of plague (Exodus 7:17-12:30; 1 Samuel 4:8), Scripture says that he died, so that he cannot die again. Nevertheless Jewish tradition is not satisfied to let him rest in peace. To prove he is still alive one Talmudic rabbi used the principle of interpretation called g 'zerah shavah. The term means "analogy" (literally, "equal decision") and operates by inferring that if a word has a particular meaning in one passage of Scripture it must have the same meaning in a second passage. (The rabbis saw that this technique could easily be misused to reach conclusions contrary to Scripture and therefore prohibited its further use; only the instances cited by the early interpreters are recognized.)
"It has been taught that Rabbi Eli'ezer the Elder said, 'Over an area [about two miles square], the size of the camp of Israel, a bat-kol [heavenly voice] proclaimed, "So Moses died there, the great sage of Israel." But others say that Moses never died. For although the Tanakh says, "So Moses died there" (Deuteronomy 34:5), it elsewhere says, "And he was there with Adonai" (Exodus 34:28). Just as in the latter passage the word "there" means "standing and ministering," so likewise in the former it means "standing and ministering."' "(Sotah 13b)
In any case, perhaps only because Moses' death was unusual (Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Yd 9&N; below, v. 12N), there is a popular belief that he and Elijah will return:
"Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai... [taught that God] said, 'Moses, I swear to you that in the time to come, when I bring Elijah the prophet to [Israel], the two of you will come together.'"(Deuteronomy Rabbah 3:17)
Yochanan himself is sometimes suggested as one of the witnesses, on the basis of Yn 21:20-24. But the two witnesses had lived and were already in heaven in the fifth century B.C.E., when Zechariah prophesied (see Zechariah 4:11-14).
Besides Elijah, only one person has been taken into heaven without dying — Enoch (Genesis 5:21 -24; MJ 11:5). Both lived before 500 B.C.E., and both were prophets (they will prophesy; see Yd 14). Since they have never died, they can yet undergo the death of v. 7. If the "two witnesses" are two literal persons and we are not dealing with a figurative expression, I nominate Enoch and Elijah.
Meanwhile, believers in Jerusalem have grown used to being presented with other candidates. They appear every few months, often dressed in sackcloth like the Prophets of the Tanakh (Isaiah 20:2; compare 2 Kings 1:8, Zechariah 13:4, Mt 3:4), and claiming to be "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk 1:17) or even to be Elijah himself. Whatever the spirit, till now the power (vv. 5-6) has not been in evidence.
Fire comes out of their mouth and consumes their enemies. At Jeremiah 5:14, the prophet addresses Israel: "Therefore thus says Adonai, God of the armies of heaven: 'Because you speak this word, I will make my words fire in your mouth, and this people wood, and it will consume them.'" See also 2 Kings 1:10, 12; Lk 9:54.
7. When they finish their witnessing, the beast coming up out of the Abyss will fight against them, overcome them and kill them;
The beast seems to be the same as the Anti-Messiah (1 Yn 2:18-19&N). See 13:1-18&NN, 14:8-11&NN. The Abyss. See 9:1N.
8. and their dead bodies will lie in the main street of the great city whose name, to reflect its spiritual condition, is “S’dom” and “Egypt” — the city where their Lord was executed on a stake.
The city where their Lord was executed on a stake can only be Jerusalem. "Their" refers to the Jewish people, as does the city itself (vv. 1-2N). The author, speaking to his own people, uses hard language. Their spiritual condition is that of "S'dom" (compare Isaiah 1:10), where sexual sin and misuse of people were rife (Genesis 19), and "Egypt," where false religion, hatred of the one true God and antisemitism flourished (Exodus 1-15).
9. Some from the nations, tribes, languages and peoples see their bodies for three-and-a-half days and do not permit the corpses to be placed in a tomb.
Some from the nations, tribes, languages and peoples, that is, from the Gentiles (see 5:9b-13N), are so hostile to God, his Word and his Prophets that they prevent the burial of the two witnesses whose bodies lie exposed in the main street of Jerusalem to dogs and flies, and, more importantly, to shame (19:21N, Psalm 69:2-4, 1 Kings 13:22; Josephus' Wars of the Jews 4:5:2).
10. The people living in the Land rejoice over them, they celebrate and send each other gifts, because these two prophets tormented them so.
The people living in the Land. I believe this refers here not to the pagans of the earth, as elsewhere in Revelation, but to Jews living in Israel. This conclusion is based on the facts that (1) the Hebrew antecedents of the Greek expression frequently mean this (see 3:10N), and (2) a Gentile reaction to the death of the witnesses has been given already in v. 9.
Yochanan foresees a time when Jewish opposition to the Gospel is intensified by the appearance of these two prophets. From the point of view of believers, they evangelize the non-Messianic Jews of the Land, testifying to Yeshua and proclaiming the Good News. But the non-Messianic Jews' evaluation is that the two prophets tormented them. For this reason they not only reject the witnesses' message but, instead of sitting shiv'ah (Yn 11:19-20N), they celebrate and send each other gifts — like the Jews of Shushan after slaying Haman's sons (Esther 9:22). The difference, of course, is that Haman and his sons were truly oppressors, whereas the Messiah's witnesses offer deliverance.
11. But after the three-and-a-half days a breath of life from God entered them, they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.
12. Then the two heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up into heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them.
The resurrection and ascension of the witnesses, similar to Yeshua's own, causes great fear in their enemies, because this demonstrates in power (IC 2:14.4:20,6:14,15:54-57) that our God reigns. The Word of Adonai is powerful (Isaiah 55:10-11; MJ 1:3) and indestructible (Isaiah 40:8: 1 Ke 1:23-25); it cannot be silenced by killing those who speak it.
They went up to heaven in a cloud, not only like Yeshua (Ac 1:9-11), but also, according to Josephus, like Moses. Notice how Josephus deals with the contrary witness of Deuteronomy 34:5-6:
"As [Moses] was going to embrace Elazar [the cohen hagadol] and Y'hoshua [bin-Nun], while he was still talking with them, all of a sudden a cloud stood over him, and he disappeared in a certain valley — although he wrote in the holy books that he died. This he did out of fear that people might say that because of his extraordinary virtue he went to God." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 4:8:48)
See also vv. 3-6N, 6:9N, Yd 9N.
13. In that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were awestruck and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The earthquake is a frequent form of judgment in the Last Days (6:12, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18; Ezekiel 38:19-20). It kills seven thousand people (about 1.3% of Jerusalem's present population) and causes widespread damage (a tenth of the city collapsed). The result, for the survivors, is nothing less than salvation, the fulfillment of God's promise through Sha'ul that "all Israel will be saved" (Ro ll:26a&N). "Jews ask for signs" (1С 1:22). At Mt 16:1-4, the P'rushim asked Yeshua for a sign, but he promised none "except the sign of Jonah," whose being vomited from the stomach of the fish is a type of resurrection. The two witnesses' resurrection and ascension, along with the simultaneous earthquake (in that hour), are correctly understood by the Jewish people as signs from God — the rest were awestruck. Even while grieved at the death of 7,000 people, they handled their pain in God's way (2C 7:10&N) — it led them to repentance, so that they gave glory to the God of heaven. Throughout the book of Revelation, only those in a right relationship with God give him glory (1:6; 4:9, 11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 15:4; 19:1,7). Conversely, those who are not in a right relationship with God glorify themselves (18:7) instead of God (14:7, 16:9) — compare the hardened pagans of Ro 1:21: "Although they know who God is, they do not glorify him as God or thank him." This mass repentance breaks the back of the Jewish national establishment's centuries-long opposition to the Gospel. May it come speedily, in our days.
14. The second woe has passed; see, the third woe is coming quickly
Although some take this passage as referring symbolically to the Church, many see it as a graphic way of saying that after the Anti-Messiah and his minions do all in their power to destroy the Gospel witness to the Jewish people (v. 7) and to destroy the Jewish people themselves (v. 2b), then "All Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26a&N). Verses 1-2&N show that the focus is on Jews, not Gentiles.
15. The seventh angel sounded his shofar; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world
has become the Kingdom
of our Lord and his Messiah,
and he will rule forever and ever!”
16. The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones in God’s presence fell on their faces and worshipped God,
“We thank you, Adonai, God of heaven’s armies (Amos 3:13; 4:13),
the One who is and was, that you have taken your power and have begun to rule.
When the seventh angel sounds his shofar, then The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah, and Adonai has begun to rule. The active reign of God on earth, the Messianic Kingdom, promised at 1:5-8 and 6:10, now begins to become real. Between these verses and Chapter 19 are the various judgments and other events associated with the overthrow of the system of this world and the inauguration of the Messiah's rulership. This is why essentially the same cry is heard again at 19:6: "Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven's armies, has begun his reign!"
18. “The Goyim raged. (Psalm 2:1).
But now your rage has come,
the time for the dead to be judged,
the time for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your holy people,
those who stand in awe of your name,
both small and great.
It is also the time for destroying
those who destroy the earth.”
This is a midrash on the whole of Psalm 2, contrasting God's righteous judgment and rage with that of the Goyim, the pagan nations opposed to God and his ways.
19. Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant was seen in his Temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake and violent hail.
The Temple of God. See vv. 1-2N.
In heaven... the Ark of the Covenant. The earthly ark, mentioned in the New Testament at MJ 9:4-5&NN, is first described at Exodus 25:10-22. Initially kept behind the Tabernacle's curtain and later inside the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple, this chest was afterwards apparently either removed by Shishak, king of Egypt, when he "took away the treasures of the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 14:25), or destroyed along with the temple by the Babylonians (compare Jeremiah 3:16).
Extra-biblical narratives say that the ark was hidden "in its place" (Talmud, Yoma 53b) or elsewhere. Yoma 52b says it was King Josiah who hid it; but in the Apocrypha, 2 Maccabees 2:4-8 tells that Jeremiah rescued the ark and brought it to a cave on Mount Sinai to be preserved until God gathers his people together in Messianic times (see 2:17N). Mention of the ark in the present verse accords with this tradition, since Israel's salvation, a Messianic event, is reported above at v. 13.
If the earthly ark symbolized God's presence guiding his people, the appearance of the heavenly ark symbolizes God's being about to fulfill the rest of his covenanted promises.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13
- chapter 14
- chapter 15
- chapter 16
- chapter 17
- chapter 18
- chapter 19
- chapter 20
- chapter 21
- chapter 22