Much of the Christian world in the west knows very little of the ancient Hebrew customs, culture, and their idioms. For several generations Christians have been taught that we do not need to know the Old Testament because we are under the New Testament.
This teaching could not be more wrong because the New Testament is straight out of the Old Testament. We cannot understand the New Testament, the New Covenant without first knowing the Old Covenant.
The Bible was written to the Hebrew people: first as the Torah (Law), Neviim (Writings), and Ketuvim (Prophets) (the TNK / TaNaKh); and then as the writings of the apostles and disciples of Christ (the New Testament).
Christ was a Judean, of the tribe of Judah (Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5). He was sent to the tribes of Israel (Matt. 15:23). His disciples were Galileans (Acts 2:5,7), which were mostly of the tribe of Benjamin which had populated Galilee at the southern tip of the northern kingdom. Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5). (1)
The disciples knew the customs, manners, and sayings of the Jews (original Judeans). As students of the Bible, it behooves us to become familiar with the Hebraic idioms and customs so that we can more fully understand what Christ (a Judean) was saying to His disciples (Benjamites).
Christ came into the world at the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4) while the Mosaic Law was still in effect. He observed the feasts, and kept the law, as did His disciples. The bond or “handwriting of ordinances” was nailed to the cross in AD 30-31 (Col 2:14), but the Law was still in practice during the time of transition (probate) while the gospel of the Kingdom was being preached throughout the known world (the Roman empire). (2)
Therefore, Christ’s words must be considered in light of the Hebraic idioms and customs and their culture under the Mosaic covenant. The English speaking Western readers have missed some very significant clues by ignoring the Hebraic /Jewish idioms of the first century A.D.
Christ knew when He would return to them, and He told His disciples the very day and hour.
1 Thess. 5:1-2, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (KJV)
Paul told those of the assembly in Thessalonica that he didn’t have to tell them of the time of Christ’s return because THEY KNEW IT. So, what did they know that we are missing by just reading the scriptures literally?
“Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”
In the context of the judgment pronounced against the scribes and Pharisees, and of the destruction of Jerusalem we find in Matt.23:39 that Christ told them,
“ For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (KJV)
Christ told the scribes and Pharisees that they would “see him” when they would say “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”.
The Jews knew immediately what that phrase referred to as they had been practicing it since the return from the Babylonian captivity in the three annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem for Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Feast of Weeks / Pentecost), and the Sukkot (Feast of Booths / Tabernacles).
During these three pilgrimages the Psalms 113 – 118 were sung in the temple. Psa. 118:26 was chanted from the rooftops and parapets of the walls to welcome the traveling caravans as they journeyed upward through the hills and valleys toward Jerusalem. The people chanted it as Christ entered Jerusalem before the Passover of His crucifixion (Matt. 21:9).
Excerpt from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on Psa. 118: 26, para. 7, lines 5-11:
“…they scattered palm branches at the same time, like the lulabs at the joyous cry of the Feast of Tabernacles, and saluted Him with the cry, “Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord,” as being the longed-for guest of the Feast (Matthew 21:9). According to the Midrash, in Psalm 118:26 it is the people of Jerusalem who thus greet the pilgrims. In the original sense of the Psalm, however, it is the body of Levites and priests above on the Temple-hill who thus receive the congregation that has come up.” Source: Biblehub
Ellicott’s Commentary on Psa. 118:26:
“—These words of welcome are probably spoken by the Levite in charge, to the procession approaching the gates. According to Rabbinical writings, pilgrim caravans were thus welcomed on their arrival at Jerusalem.” Source: Biblehub
From Christ in the Passover, by Ceil and Moishe Rosen, pp. 57-58:
“On the fourteenth of Nisan, the slaughter of the Passover lambs took place…..The Levites killed the lambs at the signal of the silver trumpets sounded by the priests. Then they removed the fat and burned it. ….While all this was happening, the Levitical choir chanted Hallel, the recitation of Psalms 113 – 118. The congregation joined the liturgy by repeating the first line of each psalm after the Levites sang it. They also chanted the words Hallelu Yah (praise ye the Lord) at the end of every line. When the priests came to Psalm 118, the congregation repeated vs. 25 and 26 (KJV):
Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord [Hoshia-Na, or Hosanna]: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Luke 2:41-42, “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.” (KJV)
When Christ told the scribes and Pharisees that they would not see Him afterward until they “shall say ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord“, He was referencing the time of the Passover feast, as that would have been the first feast of the year when those words would be said / sung. It was also the last pilgrimage feast that was attended before the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
As we know from the studies on this blog that Christ told them He would return in that generation (Matt. 23:36; 24:34), and we know that Christ told His disciples that some would still be living when they saw the son of Man coming in His kingdom (Matt. 16:28), and He told them that John would live to see His coming (John 21:22-23), then we know His return happened in the first century A.D. (3)
And, now, from the application of the song of Psa. 118:26 we know that Christ told the scribes and Pharisees when the time of their judgment would be poured out – at Passover.
Matt:23:35-36, “ That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” (KJV)
That judgment was promised to the scribes and Pharisees who killed the prophets and apostles that Christ sent to them. It began when they said, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” at Pesach (Passover) in A.D. 70 when the Romans waited for the gates of the city to be shut before encompassing Jerusalem and laying siege. (4)
We will look at some other idioms of the feasts in the next posts which pinpointed Christ’s return, including “as a thief in the night.”
Matthew 23:29 – “Blessed is he comes in the name of the Lord”
“…The Feast of Passover” –BereanBibleChurch
(1) Judas Iscariot was half of the tribe of Judah, and half Moabite. Iscariot is from the Greek “Ish Kerioth” meaning “man of Kerioth”. From Joshua 15:25, Kerioth was one of the cities given to the sons of Judah. Kerioth was the capital of Moab, south of Judah. Amos 2:2 is a prophesy of the destruction of Moab and the palaces of Kerioth, Num. 24:17 prophesied of the sceptre that would rise out of Judah and smite Moab.
(2) See the previous posts “Frequent Mistakes – Part IV: Where was All The World?” and Frequent Mistakes – Part V: “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…” at the right margin.
(3) All previous posts on this blog have shown the overwhelming scriptural proof that Christ’s return was promised to that very same generation in which He was crucified. Especially see all ten parts of “It’s Not The End of The World”, and “The Signs of Revelation – Part I: The Time of His Coming”.
(4) See also the post “The Gathering of The Elect” at the right margin for more info on the siege of Jerusalem.