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Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

Nehemiah was a Jew during the period where most Jews were in exile in Babylon.  He served as a cup-bearer to Artaxeres, king of Persia and ruler over Babylon, around the time 445 BC. His duty was to taste the king’s drink to verify that it was not poisoned.

Nehemiah learned that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and the Jews in that city were suffering.

He prayed:

[4] And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
[5] And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
[6] Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.  (Nehemiah 1)

The King then granted Nehemiah permission to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and gates.

As he began the reconstruction, Nehemiah was opposed by Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah and by Samaritans, Ammonites, Arabs and Philistines.  These adversaries were very wroth and conspired to fight against Nehemiah and his fellow workers.

Nehemiah armed his men and told them to trust in the Lord.

[14] And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.  (Nehemiah 4)

The builders completed the wall.  Ezra, the priest and scribe, and Nehemiah  then revived Sabbath day worship among the Jews in Jerusalem.

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Remember Nehemiah, who was charged with building a wall to protect Jerusalem. Some wanted him to come down and compromise his position, but Nehemiah refused. He was not intolerant of others; he simply explained, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease … ?

Elder Robert D. Hales, Stand Strong in Holy Places,
General Conference, April, 2013

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Nehemiah of the Old Testament is a great example of staying focused and committed to an important task. Nehemiah was an Israelite who lived in exile in Babylon and served as cupbearer to the king. One day the king asked Nehemiah why he seemed so sad. Nehemiah replied, “Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ [graves], lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?”

When the king heard this, his heart was softened, and he gave Nehemiah the authority to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. However, not everyone was happy with this plan. In fact, several rulers who lived near Jerusalem grieved exceedingly “that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” These men “took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.”

Fearless, Nehemiah did not allow the opposition to distract him. Instead, he organized his resources and manpower and moved forward rebuilding the city, “for the people had a mind to work.”

But as the walls of the city began to rise, opposition intensified. Nehemiah’s enemies threatened, conspired, and ridiculed. Their threats were very real, and they grew so intimidating that Nehemiah confessed, “They all made us afraid.” In spite of the danger and the ever-present threat of invasion, the work progressed. It was a time of stress, for every builder “had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.”

As the work continued, Nehemiah’s enemies became more desperate. Four times they entreated him to leave the safety of the city and meet with them under the pretense of resolving the conflict, but Nehemiah knew that their intent was to do him harm. Each time they approached him, he responded with the same answer: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.”

What a remarkable response! With that clear and unchanging purpose of heart and mind, with that great resolve, the walls of Jerusalem rose until they were rebuilt in an astonishing 52 days.

Nehemiah refused to allow distractions to prevent him from doing what the Lord wanted him to do.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down
General Conference, April 2009

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– Tom Irvine

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One of the first references to Zion in the Bible is:

Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. (2 Samuel 5:7).

This scripture refers to a military battle in which David captured a fortress on Mount Zion from the Jebusites.

Mount Zion is a hill outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The name Zion also became a synonym for Jerusalem itself.

Zion is used 197 times in the King James Bible. This number includes the alternate spelling Sion.

An example which foreshadowed the exile of the Jews to Babylon is:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. (Psalm 137:1)

“Return to Zion” refers the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile to the Land of Israel after the destruction of the First Temple, following the decree of Cyrus the Great. These events are recorded in the Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

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Zion is also used to refer to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.

In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. (Psalm 76:2)

The temple is understood to be God’s dwelling place.

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The phrase “daughter of Zion (or Sion)” is given 28 times in the Bible.

The apostle John wrote of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the days before the Last Supper.

Fear not daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. (John 12:15)

This was a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.

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Zion is used 45 times in the Book of Mormon, mostly in reference to Isaiah scriptures.

An example is Mosiah 12:

[21] How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth;

[22] Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion;

(Cross reference: Isaiah 52:7-8)

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Zion is also used several times in the Doctrine & Covenants.

An example is:

Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn. (Doctrine & Covenants 97:21)

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“The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory.”

– The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr.

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“Zion is both a place and a people. Zion was the name given to the ancient city of Enoch in the days before the Flood. ‘And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion’ (Moses 7:19). This Zion endured for some 365 years (see Moses 7:68). The scriptural record states, ‘And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled’ (Moses 7:69). . . .

“The Lord called Enoch’s people Zion ‘because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them’ (Moses 7:18). Elsewhere He said, ‘For this is Zion—the pure in heart’ (D&C 97:21).”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign, Nov. 2008

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– Tom Irvine

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To be a Nahshon

The following is from the Midrash, a collection of Jewish stories and teachings which expand upon the Torah.

When the Jews arrived at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian Army in hot pursuit from behind and the sea in front, there was an argument in the Heavenly Court if the Jews were worthy of being saved or not.

While Moses was praying to God for help, Nahshon ben Aminadav decided to take matters into his own hands and leaped into the sea.  Nahshon’s action tipped the scales in the Jews’ favor.

Then God said to Moses, “Stop praying already! Turn around and look at what your friend Nahshon has done. While you stand here praying he is taking some action!” Only then does God part the sea so that the Israelites can cross.

This is what Rebbe Nachman of Breslev calls azut d’kedusha, or boldness for holiness.

The popular Yiddish saying to be a Nahshon means to be an initiator.

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Nahshon was appointed by Moses, upon God’s command, as prince of the Tribe of Judah.  He was, through Boaz, the ancestor of David.

Nahshon is mentioned several times in the Bible.

He brought forth an offering at the dedication of the Tabernacle.

And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah. (Number 7:12)

Nahshon’s name is also given in the New Testament in the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth. (Matthew 1:4 and Luke 3:32).

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Jesus Christ will Return to the Mount of Olives

Zechariah 14

[4] And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
[5] And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
[6] And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
[7] But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

Jews shall Recognize Christ as the True Messiah

Zechariah 13

[6] And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

Cross reference with

Isaiah 49

[16] Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Doctrine and Covenants 45

[51] And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?
[52] Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.
[53] And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.

Revelations 1

[7] Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

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Jewish teachings outside of the Torah refer to a Messiah Ben-Joseph (aka Messiah ben Ephraim).

“According to the Talmud, the Messiah will be a descendant of the House of David and will be preceded by a secondary Messiah, from the House of Joseph . . .”
Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.

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When the Chief Rabbi, Avraham HaKohen Kook (1865–1935) was appointed in Palestine in the 1920’s, he was asked if the Jews could now build the Temple (destroyed since year 70 A.D.). His response was that the priestly rights had gone and referred to the great 12th century rabbi Moses Maimonides. Maimonides said, in effect, “We are waiting for a Messiah Ben-Joseph, to him will be given the keys of the gathering of Israel, he will restore Temple worship.”

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Other legends state that Messiah Ben-Joseph will rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple, and bring to pass the restoration of the ten tribes.

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The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844) fulfilled some, but not all, of these roles.

Joseph Smith was an Ephraimite and thus a descendent of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

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Visions manifested to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, April 3, 1836. HC 2: 435–436. The occasion was that of a Sabbath day meeting.

The Prophet prefaces his record of the manifestations with these words: “In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day.

After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us.”

[11] After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
[12] After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.
[13] After this vision had closed, another great and glorious avision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
[14] Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
[15] To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
[16] Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
Doctrine & Covenants 110
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Joseph Smith sent Apostle Orson Hyde to Jerusalem in 1841 to offer a dedicatory prayer.

Orson Hyde blessed the land ” . . for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets — for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a Temple in honor of Thy name (the Lord’s name).”

The complete prayer is given at: http://www.vibrationdata.com/Orson_Hyde.htm

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