Land of Nod and City of “Enoch”

Image result for figs on mount olivet

by

Damien Mackey

“So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden”.

Genesis 4:16.

“Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch.

He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch”.

Genesis 4:17.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Pin-pointing a geography for the antediluvian patriarch, Cain – the “Land of Nod” and the City that he is said to have built in honour of his son, Enoch (Genesis 4:16-17) – has turned out to be quite a challenge.

 

Firstly, I was drawn to the idea that the ancient cities of Sumer (southern Iraq) were Cain-ite cities. David Rohl seemed to have a point when proposing, in his book The Lost Testament, that ancient Eridu was called after Cain’s grandson, Irad; Uruk (Sumerian Unuki) and Ur (Sumerian Unuki) after Cain’s son, Enoch; Badtibira (“City of the Metal Worker”) after Tubal-Cain.

Moreover, the Babylonian ‘Noah’, Ziusudra, is associated with Shuruppak.

All ancient cities of Sumer with possible biblical connections.

“The Land of Nod” could then be the region “beyond the Euphrates”, which tended to have sinister connotations in the Bible (e.g. Jeremiah 2:18; Revelation 9:14).

My interest in Sumer waned somewhat, however, when I came to realise that – thanks to an article by Creationist, Anne Habermehl – Sumer was not the biblical “land of Shinar”.

See my subsequent:

Tightening the Geography and Archaeology for Early Genesis

https://www.academia.edu/8608280/Tightening_the_Geography_and_Archaeology_for_Early_Genesis

 

Second attempt. I, now thinking that ancient Jericho – one of the oldest cities in the world – must rank as a prime candidate for Cain’s city, found that Roy Schulz had indeed argued for Jericho’s “Pre-Pottery Neolithic” (PPN) phase to have been what he called “Cain’s Famous Walled City” (http://www.churchofgoddiaspora.com/pre-flood_world.htm).

But I later rejected PPN Jericho as being stratigraphically far too recent for the era of Cain.

 

Thirdly, the view of Dr. Ernest L. Martin about the Land of Nod is the one that I now accept and intend to build upon in this series. Dr. Martin embraced – as do I – the traditional view that the Garden of Eden was located at the site of Jerusalem. For him, the Land of Nod was the region beyond the eastern perimeter of the Garden. He wrote about it, e.g., in “The Temple Symbolism in Genesis” http://askelm.com/temple/t040301.htm

 

Further Temple Teaching

 

Cain was sent into the land of Nod, East of Eden, away from the presence of God. He became cut off from the Eternal. God then gave him a “mark” to show that Cain was not completely forgotten and that a measure of protection would be afforded him and his descendants. Cain became a representative of all Gentiles. They were reckoned as being in Nod (wandering — without a fixed spiritual home). And while they could approach the East entrance to Eden, they could not go in. A barrier was placed around Eden. The altar which Cain and Abel constructed in the area of Eden near the East gate (door) of the Garden was out of bounds to those who lived in Nod.

This condition existed throughout the antediluvian period. But with the great flood of Noah, everything was destroyed — the Garden, the altar, the barriers, etc. When Noah and his children began to repopulate the earth, none of these former things were retained — except in the memory of man, and only in symbol. In the time of Moses, however, God selected the Israelites to be His nation — in favored status to Him. Moses was ordered to build a tabernacle which resembled the condition that existed in the pre-flood age. Outside the tabernacle was represented the land of Nod. The court on the inside of the tabernacle (the court of Israel) was Eden. The Holy Place was the Garden. The Holy of Holies was the center of the Garden. The tabernacle not only represented Eden and the Garden, but it was also a physical type of God’s heavenly abode.

The Israelites were reckoned as being in Eden like Adam and Eve were. However, even the privileged nation could only go to the East entrance to the Holy Place — which represented the Garden. Into the Holy Place (the Garden) only the Aaronic priests could go at the time of the morning and evening (the cool of the day) sacrifices. And even the priests were barred from entering “the midst of the Garden” — the Holy of Holies. They were only able to get close to the curtain that separated the outer Garden from its midst.

Only once in the year was anyone allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement the High Priest, after many ceremonies of purification, and after he clouded the entire inner chamber with incense so that the mercy seat would be hidden from view, was able to push the curtain aside and briefly step into the inner sanctum. After he did his required duties, the curtain came down once again, and the Holy of Holies (the midst of the Garden) became closed for another year. This showed that while the tabernacle stood, God still reckoned barriers between Himself and mankind. 12

While Adam and Eve before they sinned were able to witness God’s presence, their sins caused them to be sent from the Garden (the Holy Place). Cain and his descendants were sent further East — they were expelled from Eden and went to Nod. But when the Flood came the Garden, the altar, Eden, etc. all disappeared from earth. Mankind now found itself without any physical area on earth in which God dwelt. That’s why the early descendants of Noah wanted to build a tower “to reach to heaven” (Genesis 11:1–9). They wanted to reach God, to have access to His heavenly presence. But God would not allow it. He had been angry with man for his ways, so He changed their languages and scattered them into all the earth. He sent all mankind into a condition of “Nod.”

Finally, God selected Abraham to be the father of a nation which would be responsible for leading man (in a step-by-step way) back to God. By the time of Moses, the Abrahamic family had now reached nationhood. Moses built the tabernacle, and Israel was brought back into Eden once again. A middle wall of partition was erected, however, that kept all Gentiles out. God even put restrictions on Israel. Even they were told to stay out of the Holy Place (representing the Garden). The Aaronic priests were allowed to go in. But no one was permitted in the Holy of Holies except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement — and even then he (the holiest man on earth, symbolically) was not allowed to see the mercy seat. All of this shows that God still had several barriers which kept many sections of mankind away from an intimate association with Him.

[End of quote]

 

This estimation greatly limits the geographical boundaries so that any search for Cain’s city of Enoch in far away Sumer, or even in much closer Jericho, is doomed to failure.

Our attention must now turn rather to the region directly to the east of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem itself.

 

 

The “Land of Nod”

 

Cain apparently had not travelled very far by this stage.

The “Land of Nod”, presumably with its city, was adjacent to the Land of Eden.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Modern scholars have suggested various regions for the biblical “Land of Nod” (Genesis 4:16): “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden”. I earlier referred to both Mesopotamia and the region of Jericho.

David Rohl, who has located the Garden of Eden as far east as the fertile Adji Chay valley in East Azerbaijan, Iran, has identified the Land of Nod with Noqdi, to the east of that valley.

http://davidrohl.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/road-to-paradise.html

 

….

But, back in the real Garden of Eden, we still have much more to discover. Even further to the east of the Adji Chay valley and Tabriz, beyond a high pass leading out of the Garden of Eden, is the land of Nod into which Cain was exiled after he had murdered his brother Abel. The area is still today called Upper and Lower Noqdi and many villages bear the epithet Noqdi (‘belonging to Nod’).

 

We well-travelled moderns tend to think in global terms and vast distances, and for us, mention of a “city”, such as the entity that Cain built, conjures up the notion of something sizeable. However, the reality appears to have been different. Not only had Cain not moved far away at all from the original home, the Land of Eden – which I have accepted to have been at the site of Jerusalem – but Cain’s “city” may have been a very small affair. I think that David J. Gibson may be right on track with the following observations of his (http://nabataea.net/eden8.html):

 

EDEN Originally titled “The Land of Eden Located” 1964 by David J. Gibson

 

Chapter Eight

Cain’s City of Enoch

 

Now that we have arrived at what seems to be a reasonable opinion as to the location of the Land of Eden, the identification of the four river-heads and the approximate site of the Garden of Eden, it should be possible from this to know where to look for the next-door region, that is, the Land of Nod to which Cain went after he was revealed as the murderer of his brother Abel. The Scripture account states:

 

And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” –Genesis 4:16.

 

It is to be noted that “the presence of the Lord” was in Eden. Here, in the infancy of the human race the Lord’s presence is connected with a place. Many think the place was the entry to the Garden, where the Cherubim stood with a Flaming sword. It is generally assumed that to this sacred spot the people brought their sacrifices, as we read of the offerings of Cain and Abel. At this place God spoke directly to the worshippers and the worshippers spoke to Him. From this place Cain was driven and cut off for life.

 

Cain dwelt thereafter in the Land of Nod. It was “on the east of Eden,” an expression which seems to mean adjoining it. Therefore, it was not far away. Here in due time Cain’s son Enoch was born. As Adam’s family increased in Eden, and Cain lived in fear that “everyone” there sought his life for slaying Abel, he hit upon an idea. He enclosed and “fortified” his residence, for self protection. This is the primary meaning of the word, “city” in Hebrew. It did not at first denote size, but an enclosed, fortified place. Cain may merely have erected a wooden palisade about a few huts, but this was new, it was novel, it deserved a name. He named it after his son, “Enoch.” The record runs:

 

And he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” –Genesis 4:17.

[End of quote]

 

With this in mind, it may be futile to look for any archaeological remains of such a basic enclosure, given the ravages afterwards of the Noachic Flood. And Gibson has made this very point: “Now obviously the city which Cain builded and named after his son Enoch must have been destroyed by the Flood so that the physical entity itself probably disappeared, though it was subsequently re-founded”.

In the same article, Gibson quotes Dr. Arthur C. Custance, who thought that the name of Cain’s city, “Enoch”, became a standard for subsequent cities:

 

The subsequent history of this city we do not know: but of the name of the city we know a very great deal. Without entering into too much detail regarding changes in pronunciation which occur in the course of the development of a language, it seems necessary to point out here that the sound represented by the letter N is often reproduced (strange as it may seem) as an R. The CH sound which terminates the name Enoch may be replaced by a K or G, or a GH.

These changes are very common. When cuneiform was being deciphered for the first time, it soon became apparent that some of the cities mentioned in Biblical antiquity were still in existence as mounds and very often the natives in the area had preserved the original name in a modified form. A very important city in antiquity appeared under the name Uruk and a study of cuneiform soon revealed that this could equally well be pronounced Unuk, which was recognized at once by Sayce, and many others, as identical with the Biblical word, Enoch.

One of the features of cuneiform writing was the use of what are called determinatives, signs which are placed before or after certain words to enable the reader to distinguish between names of cities and names of people, or names of deities and names of mortals, and so forth. Thus if a city happened to have a name which was also the name of a famous man, it was customary to use a determinative to let the reader know whether one was referring to the man or to the place. In the case of a man’s name, the determinative was put in front of the word; in the case of a … The interesting thing about the city Unuk, or Uruk, was that the determinative was omitted. It is the only instance in which this is so. The reason for this sole exception to the rule was not apparent at first until it was realized after considerable study of cuneiform texts that the word had come to mean the City par excellence, a special city, special for historical reasons.

And as such, it was not considered to stand in need of any distinguishing~ determinative. The ‘specialness’ lay in the fact that it was the name of the first City ever to have been built, and as such it was the prototype of all others and came to be referred to, to all intents and purposes, as The City – in somewhat the same way that people tend in England to refer to London as ‘The city‘.

 

Nod and Nob

 

 

Could the obscure name, “Nob” (e.g. Isaiah 10:32), be a vestige of Cain’s old “Land of Nod”, which we located earlier “east” of the Temple site in Jerusalem (Eden) and adjoining it?

 

 

Introduction

 

The two names are quite similar in Hebrew:נוֹד “Nod” and נֹב “Nob”.

“The name Nod comes from the verb נוד (nud) denoting a going back and forth” http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Nod.html#.V9Dri03yl9A

The meaning of Nob is rather less certain.

http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Nob.html#.V9Dts03yl9A

“The name Nob is thought to be derived from the otherwise unused verb נבה (nabah), meaning to be high or prominent”. However, there appears to be a fair degree of assumption involved here:

 

The root נבה (nabah) isn’t used in the Bible, and some scholars assume it once existed because of a few otherwise difficult to explain names. The venerable theologian Gesenius pointed at a comparable verb in Arabic, and that verb means to be prominent or to be high. The Hebrew equivalent probably had a similar meaning, or so it is assumed.

 

I made an attempt to locate Isaiah 10:32’s strategic “Nob”, and other associated places, in my postgraduate university thesis:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

 and its Background

 

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

Volume Two, pp. 6-7:

 

The Rabshakeh, after having left Lachish where Sennacherib had established himself, may have firstly had to connect with the main body of the Assyrian army – which was steadily dismantling the forts of Judah – before coming in person to parley with Hezekiah’s officials at ‘Nob’ – so far not unequivocally identified, but apparently in sight of Jerusalem. If so, then this location must coincide with the “conduit of the upper pool … Fuller’s Field”. Certainly the verse, “he will shake his fist against the mount of the daughter of Zion”, is an appropriate description of the Rabshakeh’s contemptuous words against Jerusalem and its king (e.g. Isaiah 36).

So where was this precise location?

Boutflower who, keeping open his geographical options, was not sure if the Upper Pool were “north, west or south of the Sacred City”, imagined that it must have been at least “very close to the walls”. He refers here to Josephus’ testimony that north of the city, in the same quarter as the “camp of the Assyrians”, there “stood a monument called ‘the Monument of the Fuller’.” According to Burrows … it was probably to the south of the city, near the Gihon Spring. I think however that one can be somewhat more specific than any of this, and can perhaps tie up, all together, (a) the Upper Pool location, (b) the Fuller’s Field, and (c) the ‘Nob’ of Isaiah 10.

 

A Clue from 2 Samuel

 

‘Nob’ is usually thought to be either Mt. Scopus, or the Mount of Olives. I am going to suggest the latter, following Macduff, who went even further to equate ‘Nob’ with the New Testament’s Bethphage:

 

Bethphage is literally “the house of unripe or early figs”. Dr. Barclay identifies it with the ruins of a village on the southern crest of “the Mount of Offence”, above the village of Siloam. He describes it as “a tongue-shaped promontory or spur of Olivet, distant rather more than a mile from the city, situated between two deep valleys, on which there are tanks, foundations, and other indubitable evidences of the former existence of a village”. … – City of the Great King, 67. …. the direction, indeed the spot, is visible from the Hosanna road; and I have no hesitation in expressing accordance with the above reliable authorities. …. In his account of the travels of the Roman lady Paula [Jerome] mentions that she had visited [Bethphage]. They describe it as a Village of the Priests, possibly from “Bethphage” signifying in Syriac “The House of the Jaw;” and the jaw in the sacrifices being the portion of the priests.

 

‘Nob’ of the Old Testament was most certainly, likewise, a ‘village of the priests’ (cf. 1 Samuel 22:11, 19).

 

The Fuller’s Spring

 

During Absalom’s revolt, more than two centuries before Hezekiah, king David had been forced to abandon Jerusalem, which he fled via the Mount of Olives. Beyond the summit of Olivet was a place called Bahurim (cf. 2 Samuel 15:30; 16:1, 5). …. Now Jonathan and Ahi-maaz, acting as spies for David, “were stationed at the Fuller’s Spring”, which was apparently on the road close to Bahurim (cf. 17:17, 18).

Thus we seem to have our location: a spring or pool (conduit); with the name ‘Fuller’, apparently on a main road. All about a mile or so from Jerusalem.

That would appear to be our perfect location for the Rabshakeh’s address.

[End of quote]

 

Bethphage – in the land of Nod (Nob)? – will be re-visited next, as a suggested site for Cain’s primeval city named “Enoch”.

 

A location for “Enoch”

 

 

“The village of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives was a most important religious center for the Judahite authorities in the period of the Messiah and the apostles. It was a walled village which was the only area outside the walls and camp of Jerusalem that was considered by the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of the nation) to be an official part of the city of Jerusalem”.

 

 

The site of the important Bethphage is a possible candidate for where Cain had built that city named after his son, Enoch. The “walled village”, though situated “outside the walls and camp of Jerusalem”, as Cain’s “Land of Nod” was situated outside the Land of Eden, and likewise to the east, “On the Mount of Olives”, was still “considered by the Sanhedrin … to be an official part of the city of Jerusalem”.

Dr. Ernest L. Martin has written of the supreme sacerdotal importance of this site

http://www.hope-of-israel.org/bethpage.html

 

The Significance of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives

 

Ernest L. Martin

 

The village of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives was a most important religious center for the Judahite authorities in the period of the Messiah and the apostles. It was a walled village which was the only area outside the walls and camp of Jerusalem that was considered by the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of the nation) to be an official part of the city of Jerusalem. In this village was one of the two seats of the great Sanhedrin of seventy-one members. The prime seat of the Sanhedrin was in the Temple at the Chamber of Hewn Stones located just to the south and east of the Altar of Burnt Offering. The other was at this walled village of Bethphage located just east of the western summit of the Mount of Olives (a little to the east of the Miphkad Altar where the Red Heifer was burnt to ashes and the Day of Atonement sacrifices were burnt). There were specific decisions of the Sanhedrin that were reserved for determination only at this official seat of the court in Bethphage. Those were decisions affecting what were the limits of the camp of Israel around the city of Jerusalem (and this included where the Red Heifer could be burnt).

 

For more on the meaning of the Red Heifer, see my:

 

Third Temple and the Red Heifer

 

https://www.academia.edu/15371207/Third_Temple_and_the_Red_Heifer

 

Dr. Martin continues:

 

This also embraced what districts surrounding Jerusalem were to be reckoned as inside the city: This also included what were to be the dimensions of the Temple (whether enlarged or restricted). And this is also where death sentences for rebellious leaders of the nation as shown in Deuteronomy 17:8-13 were validated (Sanhedrin 14a, b; Sotah 44b; 45a).

 

The reason that these types of decisions were to be made at this special village on the east side of Jerusalem proper is because it was necessary that these decisions be made “at the entrance” to Jerusalem (or if local decisions were made by lesser Sanhedrins associated with the various towns throughout Judaea, they were held in the gates or entrances to the towns). There were biblical reasons for this. Note Proverbs 31:23 which says “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders.Also: “Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16). In the case of Jerusalem, which was the capital city of the nation, the principal gate to the city was on the eastern side just beyond the camp (that is, “outside the camp”). Thus, the Sanhedrin had the village of Bethphage built just to the east of the city limits of Jerusalem proper. This village of priests was located just to the east of the summit of the Mount of Olives.

 

Although Dr. Martin has not made the point here, he will discuss in another article the “gates” or “door” of Eden in connection with Cain. Thus we read in his:

 

The Temple Symbolism in Genesis

 

by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D, 1977

 

Cain and Abel

 

Our first parents were cast out of the Garden — never to re-enter in this life. They still remained, however, in the territory of Eden. It is important to note that the “Garden” and the country of “Eden” were not synonymous. The Garden was in Eden, but the Garden did not represent all Eden. Look at a modern example. My residence is in Pasadena, California. Pasadena is in California, yet not all California is Pasadena. Adam and Eve were simply expelled from the Garden in Eden. They were still able to live in other regions of Eden.

Adam and Eve then had children. The first of which we have record were Cain and Abel. Cain became a tiller of the ground — he raised fruits and vegetables. Abel was a sheepherder (Genesis 4:2).

 

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, ‘Why are you wroth? and why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And unto you shall be his desire, and you shall rule over him.’ And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

  • Genesis 4:3–8

 

There are three major points to consider in this narrative.

First, both men decided to bring offerings at a set time of the year — on a particular day. The phrase “in process of time,” in Hebrew, means “at the end of days.” It often signified the end of the agricultural (or civil) year (1 Kings 17:7) and was near the beginning of Autumn. Recall that the Israelites were required to appear three times in the year at the temple (Exodus 23:14–17). One of these occasions was “at the end of the year” (verse 16). This was the season of Tabernacles. Cain brought token offerings of his crops “at the end of days.” This shows the brothers must have appeared before God at a precise time near the Autumn of the year. This means they must have been told by God when to bring them.

Second, they also must have been told where to bring them because they “brought” their offerings to one altar.

Third, they were no doubt told what to bring. God would hardly have been angry with Cain unless he brought offerings not sanctioned by God.

This is similar to what happened with the later Israelites in regard to the temple. They were told when, where, and what to bring to the temple. All sacrificial offerings could only be presented at the sanctuary. Under no circumstances was any other location allowed (Deuteronomy 16:5–6, 11, 16). With Cain and Abel, the same factors are in evidence. Back at that time, they went to the area where they knew God had been dwelling — He was a resident of the Garden. They built their altar as close to God as possible near the East entrance (the gate or door) to the Garden.

When the proper time came they both offered their gifts, waving them in sacrificial praise to God whom they believed to be in the Garden. God then issued His approval of Abel’s offering, but He was displeased with Cain’s offering. The older brother no doubt had been told to bring a lamb or goat, but Cain offered fruit and vegetables. God was not pleased and Cain’s countenance fell. God then answered:

“Why is your countenance fallen? If you do well [in the future and bring the proper sacrifice], shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin [a sin offering] lies at the door.”

  • Genesis 4:6–7

 

Many people for generations have stumbled over the meaning of this verse. Yet it is quite clear what is meant if one understands that temple language is being used. God was really being merciful to Cain. The mercy was this: If Cain would repent and still bring the proper offering (“if you do well”), then he would be accepted; but if he did not do so, then “sin [a sin offering] lies at the door.” This “sin” was a sin-offering. God said that He would provide a sin-offering which would lie “at the door.” What was this door?

 

The Gate of the Garden, the Door of the Temple

 

The matter becomes understandable once this “door” is identified. The word in Hebrew is pehthagh and refers in other parts of the Old Testament to the entrance of any tent (Genesis 18:1), but more particularly to the door of the tabernacle” (Exodus 29:4), or the door of the temple” (Ezekiel 8:7, 16), or “the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house” (Ezekiel 10:19).

In the case of Cain and Abel, they constructed their altar at the East gate of the Garden just in front of the Cherubim which guarded its entrance (Genesis 3:24). God was indicating to Cain that he still had a chance to obtain a proper offering and offer it. Cain, on the other hand, was a tiller of the ground. He had no lamb to give unless he got one from his brother. God understood the problem, so He added further: “if you do not well” (even if Cain was unable to obtain the proper animal sacrifice) God would have a sin-offering to lie “at the door” of the Garden where the altar was located. 9

[End of quote]

 

Was the village of Bethphage, facing the east gate of the Temple, considered to be a “door” in this sense, and near to the Miphkad Altar of Atonement?

Dr. Martin continues, now with a New Testament connection:

 

Now note this important point. The word “Bethphage” means the “House of Unripe Figs.” There were two symbolic reasons for naming this village of priests by this name. As I explained in my book Secrets of Golgotha, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from which Adam and Eve ate that brought sin into the world was the fig (not the apple). Adam and Eve took leaves from that very tree from which they ate to hide their nakedness from YEHOVAH God. But, with the Sanhedrin, they were supposed to act as YEHOVAH’s judges and thereby were to be rendered free of sin in their judgments. This is why they named the village the “House of Unripe Figs” because at this place there were supposed to be “no ripe figs” available to tempt the judges to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

But there was a second reason for naming the village Bethphage. Figs are always unripe at the start of the growing season. This place of Bethphage was the site where the Sanhedrin determined legal measurements for the nation. It was where they set the limits on sacred and secular things (the size of the city, the Temple, the day to start the sacred calendar, when to observe the festival days, starting the census, etc.) This part of the court was located east of Jerusalem and away from the city lights so that the heavens could be observed in starting the new season for the months and years, etc. It was also from Bethphage where fire signals were sent to the Jewish communities outside Jerusalem so that they could determine when to start the festival seasons with those at Jerusalem. In a word, it was from Bethphage where the measurements for the nation were enacted and legalized. It was also the place where the most rebellious of the elders in Israel were sentenced to die. Indeed, after the Messiah was tried by the Sanhedrin at the Chamber of Hewn Stones in the Temple itself, and afterward was taken to Pilate to obtain Roman permission for his death, he was then taken to the Mount of Olives to await the final sentence of the Sanhedrin when they gave their decision for his death at Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. The New Testament says that all the chief priests, scribes and elders of the Judahites witnessed the crucifixion of the Messiah (Matthew 27:41), and in the Talmud it states that all the elders of the Sanhedrin including the High Priest had to make the decision for such things at Bethphage (Sanhedrin 14b).

There is even further New Testament significance to these matters. It was no accident that the Messiah told his disciples to go into Bethphage and obtain a donkey for him to ride into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah about the Judahites adoring their king riding on a donkey. By getting this donkey at Bethphage was like saying that the Messiah went to the central Supreme Court area of the land in order to get his royal position for legal sovereignty approved (note that the owners of the donkey at Bethphage did in fact allow the donkey to be taken and Bethphage was the village of the priests and the measuring center for all things that the Sanhedrin had to determine).

But there is even more. Note that when the Messiah departed on the donkey from Bethphage that the people praised him as the King of Israel (Matthew 21:1-17). The Messiah then returned to Bethany on the east side of the Mount of Olives and the next morning started once again into Jerusalem. He then saw a fig tree (note carefully that this was a fig tree) that had no eatable fruit on it. Indeed, the texts say that it was not yet the time for ripe figs because it was so early in the season. But the Messiah, finding no ripe figs on it, cursed it then and there! This event occurred on the Mount of Olives and right next to the village of Bethphage (the House of Unripe Figs). And soon, that fig tree withered away and died, and this all happened suddenly, within a matter of hours.

Judahites living at the time in Jerusalem (without the slightest doubt in their minds) would have known the significance that the Messiah was placing on that miraculous event. That fig tree was a Tree of Unripe Figs next to the village of Bethphage (the House of Unripe Figs) which was the site where the Sanhedrin determined the limits of things that were holy and things not holy. In effect the Messiah, through the miraculous withering of that fig tree of unripe figs, was showing the demise and final authority of the Sanhedrin to make decisions at Bethphage (the House of Unripe Figs). This symbolic act was taking away the authority of the Sanhedrin and the Messiah said it would be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. Recall, the Messiah then went on to the Temple and stated dogmatically: “Therefore say I unto you. The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).

Yet there is even more symbolism to this withering of the fig tree and its unripe figs. Since it was recognized that the fig tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (again, not the apple), the Messiah cursed the tree that introduced sin into the world with our first parents. The symbol the Messiah was creating showed that the type of tree that introduced sin into the world will not be available for humans as a temptation to sin in the future. This, of course, became the case when he was crucified two days later for the sins of the world not but a few yards from that symbolically accursed tree.

Once it is realized that the Messiah was in fact crucified on the Mount of Olives, all these historical and symbolic matters found in the early Judahite records and the New Testament begin to make sense to those who understand the basic facts of the Holy Scriptures.

 

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