A classic section of scripture I’ve read time and again, and heard referenced many more. There are interesting things about this passage like:
- Yeshua is not some meek and mild, passive individual. He flipped over tables, chased out livestock, and no one could stop him.
- Yeshua was keeping the Festivals, and in this case it is Passover. He traveled on foot to get there in time. This is a specific day, and in my understanding he had about 2 week notice to make this happen.
- He went to the Temple. Clearly he wasn’t just a Jew, but an observant, Temple centered one.
But I caught something, and it ties into other things I’ve been learning by reading Torah. As I read Torah, I learn that there is a real heart to it. There are lots of passages that keep describing not just specific behaviors, but themes.
Read through this first.
John 2:13-17 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”c
So yes, Yeshua was mad. Apparently Yeshua didn’t like the fact this was happening. Why is that?
Some people I know claim it wasn’t the buying and selling, it was the location. That may be. Yeshua specifically associates it with the verse about a “House of Prayer”, quoting Isaiah. The intention for the Temple itself was to be a place for all nations to gather and engage in intimacy with Yahweh. I’ve never been to the Temple Mount, but I hear it is quite large, and it was by many accounts even bigger 2000 years ago. This must have either been a massive operation, or perhaps there is an even bigger issue underneath . . .
It’s the HEART
Possibly this issue is something even deeper. There are some concepts that occurred to me, and it involves how profound the Feast of Passover is, and how the Torah instructs us to interact with one another.
Passover is Big
The Passover is perhaps the single biggest event in the faith practiced by Yeshua. This is true even of a religion like Judaism (My take is Yeshua was Jewish by ethnicity, but not by practice of a religion). Passover is an event, followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They are not technically the same thing, but they are associated with each other as if they were the same thing.
The Passover is simply the single most defining event in Israel’s history. They were essentially birthed by the Exodus from Egypt.
It is also the first Feast of the New Year. The New Year begins in the month of Aviv. While some people believe this is in the 7th month, there isnt any support for this. It is a creation of a Babylonian context, and Babylon is never associated with anything positive in scripture. In fact it is associated with everything negative.
Every Adult male is required to come up to Jerusalem and celebrate the Feast. They are to present a Lamb, or develop a connection with other families and share the Lamb. By some accounts of this era is that there were hundreds of thousands of lambs being sacrificed in the afternoon of this specific day. If true,this would mean multiple dozens of thousands of men coming into Jerusalem from all over the area. This is a massive amount of people, who are travelling, and where there is this many people far from home, there is money to be made.
Loving your Neighbor
Yehovah makes constant reference to the approach you are to have in dealing with your neighbor. Whether they are rich or poor, you are to treat them fairly. You are to seek out their best. If they are poor you are to lend them money, and do everything you can to help them stay living in the land in any way possible. In Leviticus 19 it specifically states to love your neighbor as yourself. It describes a generosity of heart. An interest for each other. A way to help support others and facilitate them to obey commands, enjoy the blessings of the God of Israel, and thrive.
I see this in all the commands. Even the hard and painful ones about sending people away or even executing them. As hard and traumatic as it would be, YHVH explains that the reason for something this intense is to protect everyone else from falling into the same issues and losing out on the blessings.
Getting Practical From the Heart
So if I were an average Joe travelling up from dozens to hundreds of miles away through deserts full of bandits, possible complications, and various trials. I might be bringing my sons, and even wife and daughters if they want to come along (they aren’t required). It is a lot of logistics. And I need a lamb. I need a beautiful one too, not just some cheap excuse to fulfill my obligations. YHWH doesn’t want just basic, ritualistic actions, but a heart motivated action that is coming form JOY.
But I’m excited to be in the big city, at the most significant time of the calendar. It is one of the Moedim, an appointed time where the God of creation meets with us. And I’m commanded to do this, for at least 8 days. There is at least 1 weekly Sabbath, and there are potentially 2 others within this week. I can’t work, as I’m not at home. I’m not able to bring my own lamb, and I have limited ability to bring infrastructure.
So the way I see it, is that if I live in Jerusalem it is my job to welcome in these people who are not just my countrymen, but fellow brothers and sisters in our faith. And in fact, they are going to be m literal neighbors for at least 8 days if not longer. I need to proactively love these people. But how?
The most practical thing I could do is to meet any of these wonderful pilgrims, and try to help them any way I can! Can I find some lambs and help them supply their needs? Can I make it as easy and cheap as possible so they can enjoy and celebrate as much as possible? Is there a way that I can help them and support them and celebrate with them? And can I do it without worrying about what Im going to “wear or eat”? As Yeshua teaches in other places, we are to give to whomever asks, to give more. And to care for my neighbor in every way.
Setting up a shopping mall is the wrong idea. Not just practically either. The Temple itself is NO PLACE for any business transactions between people. It is a place, THE PLACE for transactions between God and Man. It is offensive.
But it also goes against the very heart that seems to underlay the commands themselves. Taking advantage of people who are earnestly trying to come and obey the Torah is patently WRONG. Taking opportunity to make profit off of someone else while they are weary, hard pressed, and displaced is wrong. It isn’t the heart of being a God directed neighbor. Taking opportunity wouldn’t be wrong at other times, but doing it during what is arguable the most important time of the year is worse.
What is the Real Beef?
I think it is all of it.
- The heart of the matter is to keep the Temple HOLY, set apart for God and Man.
- The paradigm of a Jerusalemite is to welcome my fellow people as neighbors.
- Part of being a neighbor is to ensure that anyone who desires is able to participate. The deeper heart is to see my neighbor able to do this as easy as possible.
- Part of loving my neighbor as myself is also to protect the integrity of the process. Encouraging others to maintain integrity. Protecting them from giving in the opportunistic greed and taking advantage of the pilgrims, the Temple mount, or the holiday.
- Charging interest, high interest, or other types of behavior like this is an indicator my heart is worried or fearful. People can argue wether any interest is acceptable. The main point is during a holiday, if not THE Holiday.
The negatives make it so that the whole point is missed. It doesn’t communicate the Heart of Yahweh, nor does it facilitate the heart response Yah is looking for in Yah’s people.
Im sure there is a lot of different things Im not seeing, but this really grabbed my attention. It is the heart as much as anything to me so far.