Other Feast: Korban Etzim (Wood Offering)

Wood in a Woodpile.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Leviticus 6:8 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 9 “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it. 10 The priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. 12 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. 13 Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out. (NASB 1995)

The least known of all the appointed times (Heb. mo’edim) is the Offering of Wood (Heb. Korban Etzim).  To learn more about what korban means; see here (note that wood is overlooked).  As Torah clearly states above, the sacrificial altar and the fuel to keep it burning perpetually had to be provided for in some manner.  Unfortunately, the calendrical passages describing when this event would occur would be lost to history if it were not for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, most of which are warehoused and/or on display at the Rockefeller Museum and the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.  Four scrolls mention this mo’ed:  The Temple Scroll (11Q19), the Reworked Pentateuch (4Q365), and portions of the priestly courses (Heb. mishmarot) in 4Q325 and 4Q327; the definitive date is contained in the latter:

“After the Feast of New Oil is the Feast of the Offering of Wo]od.”  (4Q325, Fragment 1, Column 3) from p.350 of “The Dead Sea Scrolls in English” by Geza Vermes

4Q327 is more definitive:

“[On the twenty-firs]t (day) in (the fifth SIXTH month) is a Sabbath.  On the twenty-second (day) in (the fifth SIXTH month) is the Festival of Oil.  Af[ter the sab]bath … is the Offeri[ng of Wood].” (4Q327, Fragment 1, Column 2) Ibid.

Note:  Corrections were made from the reconstructed Qumran calendar.  There is no weekly Sabbath on the twenty-first day of the fifth month, but there is in the sixth.  As we will discover, Vermes based his translation on the incorrect practice recorded by “rabbinic sages” in the Talmud, where this festival was observed in the fifth month of the Masoretic ecclesiastical calendar known by its Babylonian name Av.

As was presented last week, the Feast of New Oil (Heb. Chag Yitzhar) occurs on the twenty-second day of the sixth month — 49 days after the Feast of New Wine (Heb. Chag Tirosh), and as is stated above, the Wood Offering occurs “after the Feast of New Oil” (4Q325) and “after the (weekly) Sabbath” (4Q327).  This means that it occurred on the twenty-ninth of the sixth month on the first day of the week.  When reconciling that date with the pagan Gregorian calendar, that coincides with the “evening” of 9/14 and the “morning” of 9/15 during non-leap years and the “evening” of 9/15 and “morning” of 9/16 during leap years.

One additional piece of information leads up to the culmination of the festival itself; this is documented in the Reworked Pentateuch:

“And the Lord [lit. Yahoah] said to Moses, ‘Command the children of Israel, saying: When you enter the land which I am giving to you as an inheritance, and you dwell upon it securely, you shall bring wood for a burnt-offering and for all of the service of [the H]ouse which you shall build for Me in the land, to lay it on the altar of burnt-offering, [and] the calves … for Passover sacrifices and peace-offerings and thank-offerings and free-will offerings and burnt-offerings daily … and for the doors and for all the service of the House you shall offer … the festival of Oil, the twel[ve tribes] they shall offer wood … Those who offer on the first day shall be Levi and … [on the third day, Reu]ben and Simeon, [and on] the fou[rth] day …’” (4Q365, Fragment 23) from p.445 of “The Dead Sea Scrolls in English” by Geza Vermes

So, it appears days were appointed before the festival to present the wood offering from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Is this practice mentioned elsewhere in the Bible?

Nehemiah 10:34 Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people so that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers’ households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the law; 35 and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the Lord annually, 36 and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. (NASB 1995)

“As it is written in the law” in v34 refers to Leviticus 6:8-13.

Nehemiah 13:30 Thus I purified them from everything foreign and appointed duties for the priests and the Levites, each in his task, 31 and I arranged for the supply of wood at appointed times and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good. (NASB 1995)

Is this mentioned in extrabiblical texts as well?

“Now the next day was the festival of Xylophory; upon which the custom was for every one to bring wood for the altar (that there might never be a want of fuel for that fire which was unquenchable and always burning).” — Titus Flavius Josephus, “The Wars of the Jews,” Book 2, Chapter 17, Section 6

Note:  Josephus employed the Greek term Xylophory, meaning “wood-bearing,” instead of Korban Etzim by the time of the First Jewish-Roman War in 66 CE; this proves that the Hellenization of Israel — including its paganism — was an expanding influence.  The timing of the Wood Offering had changed from the 29th of the sixth month of the Qumran calendar to the 15th of the fifth month (Heb. Tu B’Av), or mid-August, recorded by “rabbinic sages” in the Mishnah. This became a time associated with marriage and pagan practices such as mid-summer bonfires.  Do you see how the Law was continually corrupted?  This is documented throughout the Scriptures.  Are you beginning to see why modern Jerusalem — and by extension — Israel is Mystery Babylon?

Be sure to read the companion articles in the Mo’edim (appointed times) and Agricultural Feasts series:

Shema Yisrael! (Hear, Israel!)

Copyright (C) 1995-2018, L. Alan Schuetz. All rights reserved.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB 1995)

HaDerech Scroll - Paleo-Hebrew

HaDerech: Who Penned the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Khirbet (=ruins of) Qumran

Since the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) manuscripts in the caves of Qumran in 1946, Biblical “scholars” and “theologians” have opined about who actually penned them and why. For the most part, their theories are inconclusive at best. Is it because they know the truth and have been providing mis-/disinformation about it?

The mystery is easily solved in the Book of Acts. Luke and Acts were written to Mattathias ben Theophilus (recorded simply as “Theophilus” — just as Yosef ben Caiaphas was referenced as “Caiaphas” in the New Testament). Theophilus was the kohen gadol (=chief priest) of the Second Temple in 65-66 CE before the outset of the First Jewish-Roman War spanning 66-74 CE. Luke was explicitly written in chronological order taken from eyewitness accounts; see Luke 1:1-4 concentrating on v3. The purpose was to give Israel one last chance to acknowledge her Messiah (Heb. Mashiach) or suffer the consequences of denying the Son of God.

The “sect” was called THE WAY (Heb. HaDerech/Gr. tēn Hodon) in Acts and throughout various DSS manuscripts. Josephus, a self-described Pharisee (cf. Section 2) — and we know what Christ thought of them in The Eight Woes recorded in Matthew 23, coined the derogatory term “Essenes” (=pious ones) that is applied incorrectly to this day. Somehow, NO “scholar” nor “theologian” has made the very obvious connection between The Way in Acts and the DSS to the Essenes of Josephus; that is because they know that this was the ONE, TRUE CHURCH — “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, 2:9-11). To admit this would send reverberations to the core of modern “Christianity” and “Judaism” and would challenge the alleged “apostolic authority” that some churches falsely claim. When was the last time you heard the “sect” called The Way mentioned in your church or synagogue?

Regardless, this is what he recorded about them in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 1, Section 5:

Ant. 18.1.5 “The doctrine of the Essens is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; and when they send what they have dedicated to God into the temple, they do not offer sacrifices because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the common court of the temple, but offer their sacrifices themselves; yet is their course of life better than that of other men; and they entirely addict themselves to husbandry. It also deserves our admiration, how much they exceed all other men that addict themselves to virtue, and this in righteousness; and indeed to such a degree, that as it hath never appeared among any other men, neither Greeks nor barbarians, no, not for a little time, so hath it endured a long while among them. This is demonstrated by that institution of theirs, which will not suffer any thing to hinder them from having all things in common; so that a rich man enjoys no more of his own wealth than he who hath nothing at all. There are about four thousand men that live in this way, and neither marry wives, nor are desirous to keep servants; as thinking the latter tempts men to be unjust, and the former gives the handle to domestic quarrels; but as they live by themselves, they minister one to another. They also appoint certain stewards to receive the incomes of their revenues, and of the fruits of the ground; such as are good men and priests, who are to get their corn and their food ready for them. They none of them differ from others of the Essens in their way of living, but do the most resemble those Dacae who are called Polistae [dwellers in cities].”

These “Essenes” — who were chaste priests, Levites, Israelites, and proselytes lived a communal lifestyle with all things in common — were considered to be “wise men” as they were known for their gift of prophecy. The following is found in Ant. 13.11.2:

Ant. 13.11.2 “But here one may take occasion to wonder at one Judas, who was of the sect of the Essens, and who never missed the truth in his predictions; for this man, when he saw Antigonus passing by the temple, cried out to his companions and friends, who abode with him as his scholars, in order to learn the art of foretelling things to come? That it was good for him to die now, since he had spoken falsely about Antigonus, who is still alive, and I see him passing by, although he had foretold he should die at the place called Strato’s Tower that very day, while yet the place is six hundred furlongs off, where he had foretold he should be slain; and still this day is a great part of it already past, so that he was in danger of proving a false prophet. As he was saying this, and that in a melancholy mood, the news came that Antigonus was slain in a place under ground, which itself was called also Strato’s Tower, or of the same name with that Cesarea which is seated at the sea. This event put the prophet into a great disorder.”

These “wise men (Gr. magos from Matthew 2:1) from the east” of Jerusalem — 15 miles as the crow flies — in the desert wilderness of Qumran had resided there for nearly two centuries before Christ’s conception on the Feast of New Oil (Heb. Chag Yitzhar) in 5 CE and His birth on the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Chag Shavu’ot) in 6 CE during the census of Quirinius; see Luke 2:2. (And, yes, I have confirmed what the “star of Bet Lechem” was with our local planetarium.) What is not widely publicized about the DSS is that these “wise men” were also greatly attuned to the signs in the Heavens (Genesis 1:14-19 concentrating on v14) including the course of the Heavenly luminaries (i.e., the sun and moon), lunar cycles, zodiology (=annual traversal through the zodiac), and even brontology (=signs from thunder).

Yochanan (John), who was a Levite, went to study at Qumran; see Luke 1:80. Recall that he was “the voice crying out in the (desert) wilderness” and had his own disciples (Matthew 9:14 et al.). The Feast of Weeks is when The Way renewed Biblical covenants. Yehoshu’a (=Joshua, falsely called “Jesus” from the Latin transliteration — NOT translation — of His name) ushered in the ultimate New Covenant with His birth. The manuscript that documented their way of life is in the Community Rule (Heb. Serekh* HaYahad) designated as 1QS.

Author’s Note:  Serekh (samech-resh-kaph) does not mean “rule” as so many DSS scholars have proclaimed and mindlessly regurgitated.  According to Reuben Alcalay’sThe Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary (Nun-Tav)” on p.1823 under the second entry, serekh means “custom, manner, or conduct.”  Therefore, the better translation is “Community Conduct” or “Conduct of the Community” instead of “Community Rule.”  What is interesting is that the first entry is defined as “dragging” in reference to adherence.  We know from Biblical history that the Israelites were notorious for disobeying the Law of Moses.  Picture this:  The Conduct of the Community would ensure adherence — to drag one back into compliance with the Law — or the transgressor would be punished or banished if the infraction were severe enough.

Malachi was likely the Teacher of Righteousness, and John Hyrcanus — the first Jewish ruler to “proselytize by the sword,” loot David’s tomb (at least twice!), and embrace Hellenistic Judaism among other detestable things for political influence — was the Wicked Priest recorded in the DSS when this “sect” was in its infancy. Malachi explicitly speaks of The Way and of the coming of Yochanan before Yehoshu’a:

Malachi 2:8 But as for you, you have turned aside from THE WAY [emphasis mine]; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. (NASB 1995)

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear THE WAY [emphasis mine] before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. (NASB 1995)

The original prophesy in Isaiah:

Isaiah 40:3 A voice is calling,
“Clear THE WAY [emphasis mine] for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. (NASB 1995)

Here is the confirmation to this prophesy from the three Synoptic Gospels and John focusing on Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, and John 1:23.  No one knows with absolutely certainty when the Book of Malachi was originally penned; therefore, it could have been during the second century BCE when The Way was formed.  In fact, Malachi may not be a proper name but a title meaning “My Messenger” in reference to the Angel of the Lord.  Multiple sectarian manuscripts of the DSS clearly state that literal angels were in the presence of those worshipping within the Community.

The Congregation, or men and women of The Way, lived in Damascus, Syria, where there is a “street called Straight” to this very day; see Acts 9:11. Their way of life was recorded in the Damascus Document. They would dedicate their first-born sons to Yahoah and send them to Qumran to study. Where was Sha’ul (Saul) going to persecute the men and women of The Way under direct orders (i.e., letters) from the Great Sanhedrin? See Acts 9:1-22, 22:1-16. It’s all right there in black and white, folks! You just have to open your eyes and quit listening to Biblical “scholars” and their false machinations.

Of those in Qumran, the last vestiges of them were discovered at Masada according to research via the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS). Scribal remnants were crossed matched at both locations.

So, how does The Way factor into prophesy? They are the 144,000 of Revelation! What other Jewish males in that number (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel) were chaste? Neither the Pharisees nor Sadducees were celibate; Josephus recorded it in Ant. 18.1.5. Certain DSS documents clearly state that those in Qumran were. This “sect” separated themselves from the political and religious corruption being practiced in Jerusalem, and they lasted for just under three centuries (early second century BCE to 74 CE). The generation that existed in the time of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection in 36 CE certainly witnessed the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. They met their ultimate demise in 74 CE at Masada. But, believers in Christ will encounter them again as the 144,000…

Be sure to read the companion articles in the HaDerech (The Way) series:

Shema Yisrael! (Hear, Israel!)

Copyright (C) 1995-2018, L. Alan Schuetz. All rights reserved.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB 1995)

HaDerech Scroll - Paleo-Hebrew