From Jerusalem Israel.

By Joseph Shulam.

Normally, the Passover Feast and Holiday has at least one Shabbat within the seven days of the Holiday. The name of this Shabbat in Hebrew transliteration is Shabbat Chol HaMo’ed Pesach.

 “Chol HaMo’ed” is a Hebrew phrase made from two Hebrew words. 

        “Chol”:   חול     “ common – not holy – regular” 

        “HaMo’ed”:   מועד “the Feast – the appointed time, the holiday.” 

The readings of this Shabbat are special. But it is still accurate in the consecutive order of the Torah readings. 

The Torah readings are from Exodus 13:17 – 15:26

From the prophets “The Haftarah,” the reading is from 2 Samuel 22:1-51

and the Gospel reading is from the Gospel of John 20:1-14.  

This Shabbat’s Torah reading is very logical. It tells us the events and commands of what happened right after the children of Israel began their way out of Egypt. The reading from the prophets is from 2 Samuel 22, and it relates to the Exodus. It is King David’s hymn that God is His Rock and Fortress. 

Like the song of Moses that comes next in Exodus 15, and like the song of Deborah in Judges 5 – King David also has this song of God’s salvation. King David has more than one song of salvation in the Book of Psalms. 

The reading from the New Testament from the gospel of John 20:1-14 is the narrative of the visit of Mary Magdalene and later Peter in the early morning visit to the Tomb of Yeshua. 

John 20 is one of the most fascinating texts in the Gospel of John. It is essential because it contains details that give us an accurate picture of events that substantially prove some crucial details of Yeshua’s Crucifixion, death, and burial. These details add color to this dramatic and most important event in human history and feed the deep need for HOPE and fulfillment of God’s prophetic promises to Israel and the world. 

I am so excited about chapter 20:1-14 that I will do this first and then return to the Torah and the prophets. 

Verses 1-10, for me, make all the difference between blind faith and Biblical Holy Spirit Revelation: 

“Now, the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the Tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the Tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter, therefore, went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the Tomb. So, they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the Tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the Tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the Tomb first, went in also, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

Why do the verses excite me? 

  1. There are some things here that are not easy to understand, especially why Mary Magdalene went to the Tomb alone early in the morning before sunrise. She must have known, and the texts substantiate this, that the Tomb was already sealed and the big heavy stone was already rolled over the entrance. She must have already known that she couldn’t roll this stone alone to open the entrance and go inside the Tomb.  
  2. Reading carefully, The text reflects Mary’s foreknowledge because she doesn’t go into the Tomb after she sees that the stone has been moved away. Mary went TO the Tomb, but not into the Tomb. The reasons are clear to every religious Jew, then and now. Going into a tomb makes you unclean. Even today, the tombs are 99% European style and not like the ancient cave tombs from Roman times. Jews who come from a Priestly family and whose family name can be Cohen, Shapiro, or Katz can’t go to the cemetery close to the tombs. But they must stay a distance from the Tomb that they visited. So, Mary doesn’t go inside the Tomb. Mary’s first impression is that THEY have taken the LORD out of the Tomb. The “THEY” is probably the Romans.  
  3. Neither Mary nor Peter or John know anything about the prophecies of the LORD’s resurrection. The first impression of Mary is that “THEY” have taken the body of the Lord, and “We,” the disciples, don’t know where “THEY” took the body.  
  4. Peter and John (“The disciple whom the Lord Loves”) come to the Tomb, but John looks inside, and Peter doesn’t stop at the entrance to look inside. He runs inside. Now, this is the most important detail to mention and analyze. What Peter sees is that Yeshua is not in the Tomb. The text says: “he saw the linen cloth lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 

Why is this text so important?   

  1. If someone comes to take the body of a dead person without authority or for some sinister reason, He will grab the body and run out, not worried if the dead body is covered with the Linen cloth or the handkerchief that was wrapped around the dead man’s head.  
  2. If a person or a group of people wanted to take a fresh body out of a new tomb legally and had papers from the Roman governor, they would not bother to come in the middle of the night before dawn to take the body. They would certainly not worry about properly folding grave clothes and placing the body in a place by itself.  
  3. To open the Tomb with the round stone door rolled in place and sealed could not be something that one person, probably not two strong people, could have done. It would have taken at least three or four men to do this work.  
  4. Again, even if the Romans legally wanted to take the body out of the Tomb, they too would not bother to fold the head cloth and place it neatly folded. They most likely would have just taken it off the corpse and cast it down on the ground floor of the Tomb.  

The story continues because Yeshua comes to the gathering place of the Apostles and doesn’t knock on the door, as the door is locked. Still, he walks through and enters: 

    “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then, the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:19-21 NKJV)

The phrase “Peace to you” is not a Greek phrase. It is a Greek translation of a very well-known Hebrew greeting: Shalom Aleichem – שלום עליכם!

We have very famous songs with the phrase “Shalom Aleichem!” But please notice that Yeshua enters the room where the disciples are gathered through locked doors. This small detail is provided for us by the Holy Spirit to let us know that on the outside, for the apostles and disciples, Yeshua was the same Galilean Preacher of Good News that he was before the Crucifixion. But now, he looks the same on the outside, and the disciples can recognize him. However, Yeshua is no longer a regular human being; He can walk through locked doors.   

A fundamental lesson repeated several times during the Passover narratives in the Bible is also found in our Torah reading from Exodus chapter 13, which is Moses giving the command to celebrate the Passover every year of all our generations as a nation. But the exciting thing in this reading is the repetition of the most important reason and aspect of our life, which is the future of our children as they grow up to follow the Lord and Keep His commandments. So, look at these two texts from the Passover Story:

“And it shall be when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand, the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:5-9 NKJV)

This is not the first time God has given this commandment to the children of Israel. This commandment is connected to the Feast of Passover, and it explains the reason why Israel was commanded in the holiest texts in the Torah to concentrate on children and the next generations. Especially for our generation, this text is essential to understand the urgency of taking care and investing in our children and grandchildren and the next generations. Here is the second text that connects the celebration of Passover with our Children and youth: 

“And it shall be, when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, “It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.” (Exodus 12:26-27 NKJV)

Take into consideration that the text that is considered the holiest in the whole Hebrew Bible is the “Shema Israel” ״שמע ישראל״  “Hear O Israel.” This text declares the oneness and unity of God, our God, the God of Israel. Immediately after the proclamation, the text takes us to our children. The function of this text is to ensure that the next generations of the children of Israel will be educated and trained to uphold the most important spiritual inventor that we, as Jews, have, and that is our faith in God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Jews died in the Holocaust with the words, “Hear O Israel – The Lord our God is ONE!” 

I am ending this part of this prayer letter in the middle of the Passover Feast 2024 with the following declaration. 

If you are a father with young children, a Synagogue, or a Church leader, Please take very seriously the responsibility God has given you and me collectively for having children and youth in our communities. 

It is not a gift to have children or in a congregation youth – it is a deposit to be guarded, protected, and raised properly bonded to know God, want God and serve God. Also, above all, worship and serve your fellow man, walk in God’s light, and make this world live up to the Creator’s expectation of His servants. Invest, work, pray, and train your children at home and those in your congregations and your schools – to know God. To want God and to Serve God by serving our fellow men, brothers, and sisters with the Good News that has the power to make us fit God’s design and Israel’s prophetic horizons. You must take care, protect, train, and invest in your youth! Especially when you see how much narrative and commandments we have related to the Passover that engage our children and youth. Nothing is more important than the next generations.