Volume7 Issue 7
July 2012 - Tammuz-Av  5772


The Tabernacle in Branson's Monthly Newsletter


 


Messianic Mikvah
Rabbi Jeremy Storch

 

The biblical concept of water immersion is originally found in the Torah, not in the Brit Hadashah.  Water immersion in Biblical Judaism is what set the stage for Christianity’s practice of “baptism.”  The word baptism comes from the Greek word “bapto” which means “to cover entirely with a fluid.”

There are important Scriptures in the Torah showing us various times the mikvah was used: 

The “Cohanim” (Aaronic Priesthood) washed in the laver (mikvah) before ministering to the Lord (Exodus 30:19 & 40:32).
The High Priest entered the mikvah on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:4).

Other reasons for entering the mikvah include:
A person with an infectious skin disease (Leviticus 14).
Women after childbirth and during their menstrual periods (Leviticus 12:2 & Leviticus 15:19-29).
A man with an unclean discharge (Leviticus 15:1-7).
Anyone who came in contact with a dead person (Numbers 19:11-22).

Further on in Jewish history, entering the mikvah was necessary:
Before entering the Temple area.
For a scribe before writing the Name of God.
For formal conversion to Judaism, along with circumcision for men.  This is still true today.  However, this is not necessary for Messianic Judaism, and Paul makes that clear in the Brit Hadashah in Romans 2:28-29 and Galatians 6:15.

Also according to rabbinic Judaism, the water of mikvah must come from a natural spring or river with minimum capacity of 120 gallons to ensure entire coverage of the body.  This rules out water poured from a vessel, such as water poured on a baby’s head, or a swimming pool which has “treated” water and which is empty half the year.  This is why we have our mikvah services in a lake or a river!

The Mishnah states that Ezra made a decree that each male person should enter the mikvah before praying or studying God’s Torah.  That would mean “on a daily basis.”  We can see evidence of this in Israel in Qumran, where the Essene community lived for about 200 years between the first century B.C. E. and  135 A.C.E.  The evidence showed they entered mikvah in preparation for prayer and study of the Word, and in preparation for the evening meal.  This was daily.  The steps leading down into and up from the mikvah bath often had a division preventing one who was coming up (purified) from making contact with one going in (defiled).

The traditional blessing for entering the mikvah is Baruch ata adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kid-shanu b'mitzvo-tav v'tzi-vanu al ha-tvilah.  Blessed are You, Oh Lord Our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us concerning immersion.”

Hatvilah means “immersion/mikvah – ‘pool’ or “where the waters are gathered.”

The word “mikvah” begins with the Hebrew letter “mem.”  “Mem” means “water” in the ancient Hebrew pictograph.  “Mem” is also the first letter of “mayim” which means “water.” 

There is an interesting connection between “mayim” and “Miryam.”  According to Numbers 20:1-2, when Miryam (sister of Moses) died, there was no longer a “water supply” in the wilderness for the Israelites.  The water was cut off along with Miryam.  But God miraculously made water flow from the Rock, which is Yeshua (1 Corinthians 10:4), Who is the source of “living water” (“mayim Chayim”), in John 7:37, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”

Let’s look at the concept of mikvah from “the beginning.” 

In Genesis 1:9 - the waters being “gathered into one place” –in Hebrew reads “Makom Echad.”   From the root word “Makom” comes “Mikvah” (a “pool” or “gathering or water”), again - natural water created by God - not anything manufactured, treated or made by man.

In Genesis 1:1-2 it says, “the Spirit of God was hovering above the waters.”  According to the Midrash this was the “Spirit of the Messiah.”  It reads in MIDRASH RABBA 1:2, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,” meaning that the Spirit of the Messiah that was “hovering” over the waters during creation would one day “rest” upon the Messiah in the future. 

The Jewish sages concluded this from Isaiah 11:1-2:

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

As Messianic Believers in Yeshua, we can agree with the Jewish sages and add some further insights.  The same Holy Spirit that “overshadowed” the waters during “creation” also overshadowed “Miryam” (similar to “mayim”/“water”) the mother of Yeshua, impregnating her and forming within her a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As we all know a very famous messianic prophecy is found in Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Another Messianic prophecy connects with Isaiah 7:14 found in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

It is very interesting that the writer (Isaiah) intentionally misspelled the Hebrew word in verses 7, “MARBAY” which means “increase.”   It begins with the letter “MEM.”  There are two forms of the letter MEM.  One is open at the bottom, which is typically used at the beginning and middle of a word, and the closed bottomed MEM, which is only used at the end of a word.

 Mysteriously Isaiah uses a “closed MEM” AT THE BEGINNING OF “MARBAY!” 

The Talmud agrees that the closed “MEM” reveals a secret and hidden teaching which is related to the “sealing up” of Messiah’s identity.

Could it be that the “closed MEM” Isaiah uses here represents the “closed WOMB” that brings for the Messiah that he is speaking of?  A womb never penetrated by man, but a “closed womb” sovereignly impregnated by the HOLY SPIRIT!

Add to this – the Lord says to Isaiah in 42:9 “new (secret) things I declare to you before they spring into being.”

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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
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Psalm 122:6



"The Tabernacle" is an outreach of Tabernacle of Praise Ministries, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
The Tabernacle is led by Messianic Rabbi Jeremy Storch and is located in Branson, Missouri.
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