Notzrim and Jews
By Ben Cohen
“And there shall be a day that the watchman upon Mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 31:6).
To get a better understanding of where we are right now, we need to understand the Hebrew language the way it is expressed in the Bible.
Yesterday we were talking and singing about the watchmen. Does any body know what the word “watchman” is in the sentence? The way it is expressed in Jeremiah is notzey.
The way it’s been translated in our Bibles, it’s a wonder we can see it right. The word is notzrim, and the root is natzar. The real explanation of this word in Hebrew is to “safe keep” — to keep till a later time, to hide it in a way that will be revealed later.
Let me give you another explanation. You have a hand grenade; it has a pin. The pin in Hebrew is called nitzray. That’s with the same root. That’s what’s keeping it together. If you open it, it pops out.
So now you can go back to Jeremiah 31, and let’s try to understand it. [Editor’s note: Ben read from his Hebrew Bible; audio on the tape was not always clear, so I have substituted the Isaac Lesser version for Jeremiah 31:5,6 which is verses 6 & 7 in KJV].“For there cometh a day, that the watchers [Notzrim, in Hebrew] call out upon the mountain of Ephraim, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.
“For thus hath said the Lord, Sing for Jacob with joy, and shout at the head of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, The Lord hath helped thy people, the remnant of Israel.”
Here is something interesting. Most of you who are in touch with Israel know that Christians are called “Notzrim” in Hebrew. It is amazing! Why? You know where it comes from? It comes from the word “Nazareth”; it means “Nazarenes”. There is no other root in Hebrew that the word comes from. The reason for this city to be called Nazareth is amazing. At that time, obviously, it was just a name. The meaning wasn’t revealed. But looking back at it now, we can see what is the root of this word.
But before we discuss it, I just want to go to Isaiah 49:6 which also gives us the same root: “It is insufficient that you be a servant to me only, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel! [Ben’s Hebrew version] But I will (also) appoint thee for a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach as far as the end of the earth”(Isaac Lesser: Isaiah 49:6).
The “Preserved” of Israel in this particular case, is the same Hebrew root, notzri. The ones that were safe-kept for the time to come. So you can see we are talking about Israel, the Kingdom of Israel, that is being really safe-kept for the future time to come.
Now going back to the word notzrim, again I say, it came from the same source – from Nazareth. But now take into consideration that the Book of Jeremiah, of course, was written before there was Christianity. You look for a clue as to how it came about that Jeremiah used a word that was not used before at all, and it is the word used for “Christians” today. And it is translated “preserved of Israel” in English. Elsewhere it is translated as “watchmen”. Why watchmen?
Looking at the regathering of Judea and Israel, we can maybe begin to understand what was the purpose of all this. There is a big portion of the Israel people that is being kept, being safe-kept, for the future to come. And what is happening now is that this whole thing is coming about.
Branch out of Roots
One more sentence very significant that uses the same root is Isaiah 11:1: “And there shall come forth a staff [rod, KJV] out of the stem [geza, a cut down trunk or stump of a tree, above ground. A wild growth, a staff, comes out of it] of Jesse, and a Branch [Hebrew: netzer, a shoot] shall grow out of his roots [underground].”
Here we have two situations: (1) above ground stem -like a stump of a tree, and (2) the root which is underground; suddenly a branch, a shoot, is coming out the root. How can you explain the reason for that? In other words, the stump has already been there, then the branch comes from the stump of the tree. The passage says (in my translation), “And a shoot will strike from his roots”. Those roots were there all the time. Suddenly a shoot is coming out of it. So again you see you are dealing with something that was hidden — under ground. This word “branch” is netzer. It comes from the roots. So this is very interesting.
Why am I stating this? Because it is very important. It gives us an understanding of where is the Christian people mentioned in the Tenach [Hebrew Bible]. That’s where we’re going; we’re saying, “Hey! - now there’s two kingdoms that got separated 2700 years ago.” One of them as we’ll study a little later, is completely assimilated. It was taken out of Judaism and lost completely its roots. But here comes Isaiah and he says, “Look! - The roots are there; it’s under the ground, but when the time comes it’s going to pop out.”
So you know what it gives us? It gives us a distinct hope and it gives us an understanding of what was Christianity. We can view how Christianity came about and how is it to become a part of Israel. It’s been hidden underground. It was a shoot that comes from the root. The tree is there; it has a root, it has a trunk. That’s the first part, the first part of Israel’s descendants. Then a staff will emerge from the stump of Jesse.
I’ll try to explain to you what it means in Hebrew. [Ben draws a sketch of the main trunk of a tree, the roots, the branches.]
I don’t know what it is in English, but I’m going to try to explain to you what it means in Hebrew.
If you have a tree, and you want to cut off a big branch from it, what do you do? In order for it not to grow, you put some tar or something on it. So then when you look at it, on the trunk of the tree is some sort of big hole and nothing is coming out of it. It’s sealed. There’s a place on the tree’s trunk, but it is sealed.
Then you look at it a couple years later and suddenly, a staff – a shoot – is coming out of it. Totally unexpected. You didn’t expect it ever, because you had sealed it. But there it is; out of that black spot, you see something is sprouting out. This is exactly the word mentioned here – it is something not expected. The tree is there, and something is coming out of it that was cut off before and it’s coming back.
It takes a spiritual understanding but we’re talking about the linguistic and the real meaning of the word coming from the Hebrew language. I know if we could have read it 100 years ago, or 50 years ago – even 5 years ago, it would not have the substance it really has these days. It is becoming more and more clear to understand.
Sin Cuts Off
The purpose that the kingdom was cut off was because of the sins of King Solomon. King Solomon who was given everything by God, betrayed God at the end of his days. In respect to his father, who was David, God said He wouldn’t divide the kingdom during Solomon’s days but his son, Rehoboam, would pay for it in his time. One of his helpers, one of his assistants, Jereboam, took a whole group of tribes, a whole kingdom, out of Judah.
The capital was Jerusalem where David and Solomon reigned. the Temple was in Jerusalem. Then suddenly Jereboam comes and declares, “Hey, look we don’t have a part in Judah; we don’t need the House of David. We’re going to Samaria, to Shomron, and we’re going to establish our own kingdom, our own capital and our own temple.” But the temple was a pagan temple. They went completely out from God.
I want you to see it in this context. In II Chronicles 10 and the last verse, “Thus Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.” And so it has continued “to this day” — to the day that we are in now.
Then in chapter 11, [Ben’s version]: “Rehoboam came to Jerusalem and gathered together the house of Judah and Benjamin 180,000 choice warriors to fight against the House of Israel, to return the kingdom to Rehoboam.”
It was not a time to fight, to force a rule against God’s Word, but Rehoboam tried to bring back the whole Kingdom to Judah. Then what happens?
In 11:2, “The Word of HaShem came to Shemaiah the man of God saying, Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin saying, Thus saith HaShem, Do not go up and fight with your brethren: let each man return to his home, for this matter was brought about by me. They obeyed the words of HaShem and turned back from going to fight Jereboam.”
In other words what happened is that God made the decision that the kingdom is going to be split because of the sins of Solomon. Though Rehoboam tried to make the change, He sent him the prophet and who said, “Don’t do that. It is God’s plan to separate that kingdom. So don’t touch it.”
Back to this root, that word netzor, so we can understand that it is something being kept like in a safe. Nobody really knows about it. In other words it goes and develops its own life very much separated from the main – even Judah. Very much separated in its own different doctrine, different in everything. In fact, not only that, but unfortunately there was a big problem between Christianity and Judaism throughout the duration of the last 2,000 years. Because of this misunderstanding, doctrines developed into a show of righteousness, which as you know, brought all kinds of anti-Semitism, holocausts, pogroms and everything else which was a result of that.
Regarding Bones and Spirit
What we’re interested in now is how do we put these two back together? And for that we can go to Ezekiel 37 and read the prophecy regarding the rejoining of the House of Judah and the House of Israel.
[Then Ezekiel 37:1-14 was read; please read it now to be familiar with the following points discussed.]
Notice in verse 11, He is talking about the “whole house of Israel”. What IS the Whole House of Israel? It is both Judah and Ephraim. As we get into the second part, we will understand the whole chapter deals with Judah and Ephraim.
But I want to stop here awhile. We have a situation of body and spirit – the soul. First of all, He is bringing up the bodies; the bodies are standing up. They have flesh, they have bones, they have sinews. They have skin on them, but they are breathless; they don’t have the Spirit in them; they don’t have the breath in them. Then He calls the wind.
What is Ezekiel trying to explain to us? That the regathering of Israel, the rebirth of Israel is going to come in two separate stages. One stage is going to be the body. In other words, God’s plan is in the regathering. He is interested right now to bring the bodies in to build that country. Then when He gathers everybody together, He’s going to blow the Spirit – that’s when He is going to put the Spirit upon us. In terms of Judaism and Christianity, we can understand it this way: Judah represents the body, because these are the people who are to be Jews; they are KNOWN to be of the House of Israel. So they represent the body of Israel right now, but they do not have the Spirit. That Holy Spirit is in the hand of the true Christians today.
Jeremiah 31 is probably the most significant chapter in the Bible regarding the gathering of Ephraim into the whole house of Israel
It’s really a very honest discussion of love between God and the House of Israel. I’ll have to admit that whenever we read the Bible in the past, we Jews always considered it to be talking about us. That everything belongs to us, not knowing that we are just a part of the whole kingdom.
Jeremiah here is talking almost exclusively about the love of God to the House of Ephraim which is an outcast at this point and not a part of Judaism. And as we look at the very beginning of 31 and I hope the way I’m going to read is very much like your translation in your Bible. If you have any problem let me know.
Let’s start with and a sentence before that – the last sentence of Jeremiah 30: “At that time the Word of HaShem, I will be God of all the families of Israel and you will be a people for me.”
Now we see here that Israel is not just the family of Judah. Israel is a whole series of families that is going to gather together – and that’s when God is going to talk to us.
“Behold I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth and among them will be the blind and the lame and the pregnant and the broken together. A great congregation will return you.
“With weeping they will come, and with supplication will guide them by streams of water on a direct path on which they will not be astounded. For I have been a father to Israel and Ephraim is my firstborn.”
Isn’t that interesting?!
“Hear the word of HaShem, O nations and in distance islands and say the one that scattered Israel, He shall gather him and guard him as a shepherd guards his flock. HaShem will have redeemed Jacob and delivered him from the hand that is mightier than he.”
Now, we are coming to the peak of this chapter.
“Thus saith HaShem, A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children.”
Let’s talk about Rachel. Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Why did Jeremiah think of Rachel weeping? Benjamin, as you know, was a tribe that always went with Judah, and did so when the kingdom was split. Benjamin was always with Judah because the State of Benjamin was right around Jerusalem. The rest of the 10 tribes separated. Rachel being the mother of both Benjamin and Joseph, out of which the tribes of Ephraim and Manessah came, was crying. And “She refuses to be consoled for her children for they are not.”
In other words, she is looking from heaven and says “Hey, where are they? Where is Ephraim? Where is Manessah? Where is Joseph? I don’t see them. They’re not. They’re not around. I can’t see them; they are so assimilated; they’re so scattered.” They are so preserved inside that Rachel herself cannot see them, for they are not shown as a part of Israel.
“Thus saith HaShem, Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears. For there is a reward for your accomplishment, the Word of HaShem. And they will return from where? From the enemies’ land. There is a hope for your future the Word of HaShem and the children will return to their border.”
Now, He’s talking about Ephraim, again. God says, “I have indeed heard Ephraim moaning.” Ephraim is moaning; Ephraim is an outcast; is somebody who has no roots; someone who has no connection. And what does Ephraim say? “You have chastised me like an unclean cloth. Bring me back to you and I shall return, for you are HaShem, my God, You are the Lord my God.”
And then God says, “Is Ephraim my favorite son or a delightful child that whenever I speak of him, I remember him more and more.” Here we have the Father who knows who his son is. He is under the blanket. Under the ground and He wants him to come back, but the time is not come yet. And says, “He’s my delightful child; whenever I speak of him, I remember him more and more; therefore, my inner self yearns for him. I will surely take pity on him – the Word of HaShem.”
So that’s where we are, you see. When I read this chapter I want you to know that I get so excited over it and yet it becomes so heavy. What can we do about it to bring this thing together? But what God says is, “To everything there is a time.” The time’s not come.
So I just want you to know this is exactly how I feel as a Jew. This is talking about Ephraim – a BIG part of Israel that’s not been revealed yet, but it is all in safe keeping situation. And only when the time comes, these things are going to pop out and we’ll be together. We ARE together already. But we are just a very small remnant.
With that in mind, we’ll go for lunch and then have discussion.
Hebrew words are made from a root, usually of three Hebrew letters. This root is rxn.
During this teaching Ben Cohen was asked, “When you say “Christianity”, what do you mean? Do you include all that goes under that name?” Ben replied: “No, No! I’m talking about the true Christians. The people who are holding to the Spirit. The ones that understand about Israel. You who are here understand that Israel is Israel.
But there is a people that don’t understand yet, but they are a part of it, because they are Notzrim. They’re still “under the ground”. That shoot, that staff has not come out yet. You understand? In other words, they are a part of it, but they don’t know it yet. And that’s where the word “notzor” is coming from. It’s very important for us to understand it. It’s really a very unique word. I want you to understand, this word in the whole Bible is mentioned maybe three or four times at most. And every where its mentioned, it has to do with Ephraim. It’s amazing!]