Photo: "Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares", A sculpture by Evgeniy Vuchetich United Nations Building, New York City
It is not the purpose of this article to prove whether or not Jesus was the messiah. The issue here is whether or not the original word in the Gospels was: “carpenter” or: “plowman”.
The important thing to understand here, however, is that BOTH the Old and New Testaments are based on metaphors and are NOT literally true. So, for example: during the Korean War, China sent a force of 400,000 soldiers against a United Nations army (which was over 90% American) and the South Korean Army. The Chinese succeeded in pushing both these armies back hundreds of miles. Yet we are expected to believe that a 600,000 man Israelite army, flushed with several recent victories, was turned back at the borders of Canaan by some local tribes of Amalikites and Canaanites…Let us also remember that approximately 800 years after the period of time associated with Moses, Alexander the Great conquered the entire Persian Empire with barely 50,000 men...
Regardless, in this article I will refer to a group of Pharisees known as: “Ha-tan-nim” (i.e. “the repeaters”). It is my belief, however, that many of the words in Hebrew have a double meaning, and therefore the name "Ha-tan-nim" can also mean: "the figs" This group came into existence around 10 A.D. and kept teaching till 200 A.D. while Jesus, according to the New Testament narrative, was teaching around 30 A.D. till 33 A.D.
Nevertheless, why should we waste our time studying the Gospels if they are not true stories? Simple: just like the Old Testament, the New Testament contains spiritual truths, not literal truths.
The Gospels were written around 135 A.D. during the same period “Ha-tan-nim” began writing the first books of the Talmud, this is why The Pharisee: Paul of Tarsus almost never refers to any of the stories found in the Gospels. When Paul of Tarsus was alive, there were no Gospels to quote or to interpret, hence Paul of Tarsus ONLY writes about the Old Testament stories like Hagar; Sarah; the Tabernacle; Melchizedek; circumcism;…etc etc. He barely mentions the Jesus narrative…things like: walking on water, feeding 5,000 people, raising Lazarus from the dead
Nonetheless, once again, that does not mean the Old and New Testaments are worthless, as people like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins try to suggest. They are very valuable documents if they are understood as to be discussing spiritual growth and development. They simply are NOT historical documents….and they do NOT describe actual events.
Okay…. So: Can a Messiah Be a Carpenter?
In short: The answer is: “No”
A messiah cannot be a carpenter…...
The first issue we will deal with is:
Why, in general, no messiah can be a carpenter?
Then, afterward, we will examine several examples and try to understand:
Why Jesus, in particular, was not a carpenter?
To begin with: If we look for: “a classical” description of what will happen during messianic times (i.e. a description which is accepted by both Jews and Christians), this can be found in the Book of Isaiah and is even depicted in a statue outside the United Nations Building in New York (see above photo)
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks….”
Accordingly, based purely on logic:
If a messiah was a carpenter, won’t we expect the people to beat their swords into saws and their spears into hammers or some other type of carpentry tools?
The term “messiah” means: ‘the enlightened one”, but what the word actually refers to is: “being anointed with olive oil” since in those days olive oil was as the fuel source to give light in lamps.
The Book of Genesis clearly draws a connection between: “trees” and “knowledge”, with the name: “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. In the New Testament, this connection between a tree and knowledge is confirmed when Jesus describes: “a false prophet” as: “a tree which has bad fruit”.
Another point along these same lines is that: “The Torah”, traditionally, is described as “The Tree of Life”
How can a messiah be a person who cuts down trees and makes furniture for the needs of men?
It is not possible…. AND…. Cutting down fruit trees is specifically forbidden by the Torah. Thus, for a messiah to be a carpenter is almost a contradiction in terms, since it is the function of a messiah to relay God’s word to the people in its purest form.
It is crucial to understand that the title: “messiah” does NOT refer to one single man. Technically, any person who has olive oil pour over his head is a messiah. So, for example: King Saul; King David and King Solomon were all messiahs and so was Aaron, the brother of Moses, and all the other priests.
A Pharisee/rabbi, however, is not a messiah, because he is not anointed with olive oil. In fact, metaphorically speaking, a Pharisee/rabbi is a carpenter, since a Pharisee/rabbi changes the laws in the Torah to suit his own needs and to accommodate the needs of the people in his community.
In other words, a Pharisee/rabbi is not a spiritual intermediary or a prophet who attempts to relay to others the exact words of God. A Pharisee/rabbi MERELY interprets the words of God which were spoken to others. This is why the claim of the rabbis that their predecessors at Mount Sinai received directly from God some type of: “oral law” is just an out-right lie.
The Torah makes it clear that the leaders of the community did indeed receive God’s word, but they received it at the base of Mount Sinai, via Moses; not at the top of the mountain directly from God.
In numerous articles in this series, we have shown that: “each type of food” is a metaphor for: “a specific type of knowledge”, hence it is: “the fruit” of the tree of knowledge which: “actually provides the knowledge” and not the tree itself.
Jesus told the Canaanite woman that it was not right to give her: “the bread” of the children. The 5 Books of Moses clearly describe Moses as: “the servant of God” and all of Israel as: “his children” (In Hebrew the words for “sons” and “children” are the same). Later, Jesus will compare his body to bread and the rabbis have for centuries claimed that: “the Torah is the bread of life”.
Therefore: In the Book of Exodus we are told that at the base of Mount Sinai, the leaders of Israel “ate a meal”. Moses, as God’s servant, distributed “the bread” (i.e. “the word of God”) to: “the Children of Israel” seated at the table (i.e. it was NOT a: “self-service buffet”).
This is later confirmed in the Book of Deuteronomy. In short: after Moses is dead, if the judges have a case which is too difficult for them, they are to go to the High Priest and first swear that whatever he tells them they will obey. Only then, will the priest go into the sanctuary and receive an answer from God, which he will relay back to the judges and we have already noted that a priest is a messiah.
Obviously, if: "the teachers of the oral law” (i.e "the judges") received communications directly from God, they would have no need to go to the priests for answers.
The first authors of the written Talmud were Pharisees who called themselves: “the figs” (In Hebrew: “Ha-tan-nim”, but it should be conceded here that the Hebrew word for: "fig" may have come from another language and so the name "Ha tan nim" just sounds like the word for: "figs"). Regardless, what needs to be understood here is that in the Book of Judges, a son of Gideon told a parable about different types of fruit trees. He explained that: “the fig tree” had: “good fruit”. Since only God is good, this then indicates that: “a fig” is a metaphor for: “knowledge about God” and this is why Adam and Eve, from all the varieties of trees in the Garden of Eden, selected the fig tree to provide leaves with which to dress themselves (i.e. they wanted to make it appear they were knowledgeable about God). It also explains why later on God exchanged their outfits for the skins of dead animals in order to show that they had no real knowledge.
Thus, the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree is NOT about a real tree and real fruit. It is a metaphorical allegory about a Pharisee claiming to have received “fruits of knowledge” directly from God (i.e. The Pharisees identified themselves as figs for the same reason Adam and Eve dressed themselves with fig leaves and it must be recalled that it was because of the fig leaves Jesus was first attracted to the tree).
Jesus knew that it was not the right “season” for the Israelites to receive direct revelations from God (i.e. nevertheless, this implies that at some date in the future God will speak directly to his people or, at least, to their leaders).
In spite of his doubts, when Jesus heard about this school he went over to check it out. After he examined the “teachings” he found there was nothing of value there (i.e. the tree had “no fruit” and all this talk about: “an oral law directly from God” was simply a bunch of lies).
He then cursed the tree and it died. In one account it is reported that Jesus said: “no one would come to get fruit from that tree again” (This means: Jesus made sure that everyone in the area knew the teacher was a fake and “the school” died due to lack of students).
As a result, we are told that the Pharisees come and demand: “By what authority did he do this thing…” (i.e. close down one of their schools).
In other words: The Gospels are spiritual books about the word of God, they are not magazines by: “Better Homes and Gardens”. We are not talking about the death of a mere fig tree; we are talking about: Who is authorized to speak for God? Hence, the question: “By whose authority had Jesus acted?
The Pharisees were the judges of Israel and authorized by Moses himself to interpret the laws and settle disputes. They demanded to know:
By whose authority did Jesus discredit one of their well-known teachers of the oral law and tell people to stop coming to him for answers?
What needs to be grasped here is that Adam and Eve received a certain type of knowledge and this knowledge deluded them into thinking they were: “figs” (i.e. sources of knowledge about God). The result was they received a curse from God; were expelled from the Garden and they suffered a type of: “spiritual death” (but not actual physical death).
The Pharisees also possessed a certain type of knowledge. This knowledge also deluded them into thinking they were figs. The result was that they too received a curse from God, they were expelled from Jerusalem and suffered a type of: “spiritual death” (i.e. Some Pharisees were indeed killed, but the movement continued to live on and eventually they all became known as “rabbis”).
So, to conclude our first topic: A messiah does not cut down trees or make furniture out of trees. A messiah is himself a type of tree and he dispenses fruits of knowledge to the people via “his branches” (i.e. “his disciples/students/apostles”).
A messiah is also a plowman; because, similar to the way a tree drops its fruit to the ground in order to spread its seeds, a plowman disperses his seeds unto the ground…
And, as we already noted, Isaiah said: In messianic times, people would beat their swords into plowshares….thus implying the messiah himself is a plowman…
A Pharisee, however, is a carpenter, because he takes the teachings of the tree and “re-shapes them”, through his interpretations, in order to accommodate the day to day needs of the people and to make allowances for extenuating circumstances.
Okay, so if all that is clear, let’s now turn to the issue of:
Why Jesus specifically is not a carpenter?
Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah the prophet because it was a commonly held belief amongst the Jews that Elijah the prophet would come before the messiah.
Hence, to test our theory we must ask:
Who came after Elijah the prophet?
The answer is: Elisha the prophet came after Elijah and the very first image we are given of Elisha the prophet is that he is “plowing a field” with 12 oxen (as in 12 disciples).
Therefore, using a very simple algebraic equation, we could say that: 2 is to 4 as 8 is to 16
The chronological relationship of John the Baptist to Jesus is the same as the chronological relationship of the prophet Elijah to the prophet Elisha
The prophet Elisha was a plowman, NOT a carpenter…
Now let’s examine the language used in the Gospels: Although there is a great deal of debate about whether or not the Gospels were originally written in Aramaic or Hebrew, it is my personal opinion that if Jesus was arguing that he spoke for God and he was engaged in debates about the interpretations of the words of Moses with the best scholars of his time, then the conversations found in the New Testament would have had to have taken place in Hebrew.
As a parallel example: While it is certainly possible to debate about the original intentions of the United States constitution speaking French with a group of friends in a café in Paris; one could NOT enter the United States Supreme Court to argue a constitutional point based on French translations of the document.
Jesus was debating legal points of the law with the most important Pharisees and priests of his day. These conversations had to have taken place in Hebrew. Especially when Jesus was claiming to be: “the word of God”.
Finally, as a side note: Jesus said he would “rise again” on the third day and BOTH the Old Testament and the New Testament claim that: “a day is like a thousand years”.
If Jesus is indeed: “the word of God”:
Which language has suddenly undergone: “a re-birth” two thousand years after the time of Jesus? Hebrew or: Aramaic?
Which language is universally accepted to be: “The word of God”? Hebrew or: Aramaic?
With these issues in mind, it should just be pointed out that in the Modern Hebrew translations of the New Testament these translations are not from original Hebrew sources. Usually, they have been re-translated back into Hebrew from Greek sources. Nevertheless, the Hebrew word now commonly accepted as: “carpenter” actually means: “plowman”. (It could also mean: “craftsman”, but there is absolutely nothing in the Hebrew root of this word to suggest it means: “carpenter”)
So, just to emphasize this point again: The Hebrew word found in the Gospel of Matthew clearly does NOT mean: “carpenter” and it is my personal opinion, based on both Old Testament and New Testament lexicons, that: “plowman” is indeed the correct translation of the Hebrew word pronounced: “ha-resh”.
Our next example comes from: “The Parable of the Sower” which was described by Jesus as being: “the most important” of the parables and he stated that without this parable nothing else could be understood.
In the explanations that Jesus himself gives for this parable, he said: “the sower of the seeds is the Son of Man”. This was a term Jesus used to describe himself and the “Son of Man” was a common expression used during those times for: “the messiah”. Thus, the question then becomes:
Who sows seeds in a field? A plowman or: a carpenter?
In other articles, we have discussed that, based on the Holy Day of: “Shavuot”, there is a connection between: “first born sons”, “first fruits of the field” and “the word of God”.
We have also noted that Jesus is described as: “the Son of God” and “the word of God” and concluded that: “son” is a metaphor for: “word”. Thus, the Pharisee Paul of Tarsus also referred to: “his sons via the Gospels” meaning: “they spoke about the Gospels the same way he did”.
The English title: “The Son of Man” in Hebrew means: “The son of Adam”, hence Jesus is implying that his words reflect the original ideas and beliefs which God gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden and Jesus is many times referred to as: “the second Adam”.
And Adam, we can be pretty sure, was a plowman. The Book of Genesis specifically says that Adam worked the land in order to produce: “bread”, which is another metaphor for: “the word of God”. Hence, the rabbis have repeated for centuries: “The Torah is the bread of life”.
Therefore: Jesus is described as: “the word of God” because he repeatedly claimed that “he never spoke anything which God did not tell him to say”, and, as we have already noted, Jesus said that his body was like: “bread”.
By contrast, the Pharisee: Paul of Tarsus clearly stated that God NEVER told him to teach that: “it was better not to have sex” and he said it was SOLELY his own opinion…
Another point to consider is that in the Gospels there is NOT a single parable about: “carpentry”, “chairs”, or “building tables”; yet there are many, many, many parables about: “vineyards”, “wheat fields” and “fig trees”.
Furthermore, from a more “down to earth perspective”, many crusaders and other “treasure hunters” brought back to Europe: “pieces of the cross”, “Holy Grails” and even: “the shroud worn by Jesus the day he was crucified”, but no one ever brought back: “a chair made by the Lord”, or: “a table crafted in the Lord’s workshop”.
In conclusion: the Aramaic word for: “scholar” sounds very much like the Hebrew word for: “carpenter” which is pronounced: “na-gar”. Because Jesus grew up amongst Galileans, it was just assumed that on a daily basis he spoke Aramaic and not Hebrew. All this is very possible and probably is correct, nonetheless, it must be remembered that as Paul of Tarsus points out: “the target audience” for the Gospels was: “First: the Jews” and then: the Gentiles….
Hence, the logic behind the Gospels; the phrasing used in the conversations and parables; the examples based on agriculture and even the locations given such as: Bethlehem which means: “the house of bread” or “Gethsetheme” which means: “the oil press”, were all images formulated on purpose to appeal to the mind of the average Jewish listener. The Gospels were written to convince a Jew that he was indeed listening to a story about an authorized spokesman for God and “the word of God”, as accepted by the Jews of that time, was in Hebrew…
If you have any questions or comments, you can send them to my Facebook Page which I have set up specifically for this purpose: https://www.facebook.com/people/Dror-Ben-Ami/100011593230333