4.1.6 Daughter: The Family's Treasure
Volume 4: The Human Condition—Chapter 1.6
Daughter: The Family’s Treasure
“Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,” and immediately he will send them.’ All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:1-5; cf. John 12:15)
This passage could serve as the springboard for discussion about any number of different subjects. The one I’d like to consider here is the poetic phrase, “the daughter of Zion.” Actually, the prophet that was quoted by Matthew doubled down on the concept: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (Zechariah 9:9) The word “daughter” is obviously being used metaphorically: the “daughter of Zion” prophecy of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem was fulfilled not by a single female child, but “a very great multitude” (Matthew 21:8)—one with shared hopes and aspirations.
A “daughter” in this context is one or more people who are inextricably bound to an area, town, country, or its population by ties of familial support and mutual interest. The “daughter” derives her sense of identity from the place, which she sees as her protector, provider, and even her creator—in short, her father and mother (at least in the demographic sense). So when the Bible speaks of the “daughter” of a city, it is describing the bond of family and interests—mirroring the literal relationship of a daughter to her family. The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines a “daughter” as “The female offspring of parents. Daughters lived in their father’s house, under his protection, until marriage. Usually they became his heirs only if he had no sons to inherit his estate. Normally they shared in the inheritance of their husbands.” For believers, our “Father” is Yahweh, and our “Husband” is Yahshua. A “daughter of Jerusalem” (or Zion) is one whose self-perceived destiny is linked to “the place where Yahweh has chosen to make His name abide”—even if they’ve never actually been there.
A daughter’s “place” needn’t be Jerusalem—the “daughter-of” description is used of many different home towns in scripture. The point is that the nature or image of the place is what shapes the character, agenda, and motives of the “daughter.” In addition to the “daughter of Zion,” Isaiah mentions the “daughter of Babylon,” the “daughter of Tarshish,” the “daughter of Sidon,” and the “daughter of Gallim.” It would not be inappropriate (considering their behavior) to label Lot’s two girls “daughters of Sodom,” although they weren’t specifically called this. The “city” to whom the daughter belongs is invariably a scriptural symbol. For example, Babylon = idolatry; Tarshish = trade or commerce. And Jerusalem/Zion indicates the plan of Yahweh for the redemption of mankind—a plan introduced and implemented through Israel. After all, “Jerusalem” means “possession of peace,” and “Zion” means “fortress.” For the “daughter of Jerusalem,” then (whether believing Jews or Christians), salvation is secure.
It would seem that when the phrase is used in the plural (as in “the daughters of the Philistines” in II Samuel 1:20 or “the daughters of Edom” in Ezekiel 16:57), the female population of a place is probably in view, although with the frequent use of the phrase “daughters of Jerusalem” in the allegorical Song of Solomon, it’s hard to be dogmatic.
A few examples will suffice to demonstrate how the interests or agenda of the “daughter” and the “place” are linked. The “daughter of Babylon” is the one who is linked to and derives support from all that Babylon stands for—in a word, idolatry. “O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us!” (Psalm 137:8) The daughter willingly participates in the destiny of the city. “The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor when it is time to thresh her. Yet a little while and the time of her harvest will come.” (Jeremiah 51:33) The threshing floor is where the wheat is separated from the chaff—violently. So we read, “Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.” (Zechariah 2:7) We are told incessantly in scripture to distance ourselves from Babylon and all she stands for. But the “daughter of Babylon” is one who clings to the principles and perversions for which the city is known, and she will take part in its demise. Babylon is the birthplace and universal scriptural symbol for false worship.
But by far the most often-used permutation of the “daughter-of” formula is that of the place where Yahweh chose to make His name abide—Jerusalem, a.k.a. Zion. Isaiah pleads with her to repent, for with repentance comes liberty: “Shake yourself from the dust, arise. Sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!” (Isaiah 52:2) He foresees the threats of Assyria toward Judah: “He will shake his fist at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 10:32)
As the Assyrians grew stronger, the terrified King Hezekiah prayed, “Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O Yahweh our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are Yahweh, God, You alone.” (II Kings 19:17-19) So Isaiah was sent to assure him that even though all looked hopeless in the face of Assyrian aggression, “This is the word which Yahweh has spoken concerning [Assyria]: ‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn. The daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back!’” (II Kings 19:21) Shortly thereafter, the 185,000-strong Assyrian horde besieging Jerusalem were slain by the Angel of Yahweh in one night.
The daughter of Zion would still be laughing, were it not for their short memories of Yahweh’s deliverance. Judah’s growing apostasy over the next 150 years finally brought Babylon to their door: “Behold, a people comes from the north country, and a great nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth…as men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion.” (Jeremiah 6:22-23) There would be no miraculous deliverance this time, for their apostasy was full. “The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground and keep silence. They throw dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground.” (Lamentations 2:10) Don’t look now, but I see a similar fate for the “elders of the daughter of America” on the not-so-distant horizon. Now as then, a godly remnant remains. But the vast majority have turned their backs on Yahweh, or at the very least have fallen asleep at their posts. The Babylonians are at the gate. Repent!
The relationship between place and people is expressed in this Millennial prophecy: “So Yahweh will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:7-8) Jerusalem has been held by Israelites only since 1967—and then only tentatively: East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, is overrun with Muslims to this day. Only when Yahweh, in the persona of King Yahshua the Messiah, reigns there, will Jerusalem truly be “the stronghold of the daughter of Zion.” But once the kingdom age begins (shortly now, I’m convinced) it will never end.
Zechariah says pretty much the same thing: “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has taken away your judgments. He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, Yahweh, is in your midst. You shall see disaster no more.” (Zephaniah 3:14-15) Once again, Yahweh Himself is seen as “King,” and once again, the “tearing” and “striking” Israel has endured for the past two thousand years (see Hosea 6:1-2) will come to an end—but only when Christ reigns in Zion.
We’ve been looking at this through the eyes of the “daughter”—what she values, who she considers her home and family (whether Yahweh or something else). But in the case of Israel (or even the ekklesia), the relationship is instigated by God. Like any parent, Yahweh holds special affection for his offspring, his creation. For Him to characterize believing Israel as the “daughter of Zion” says as much about Zion (the fortress of God) as it does its “daughter.” So we should not be surprised to see that Yahweh considers Israel His “special treasure.” Nor should it surprise us that the affection Yahweh naturally feels for Israel is mirrored in Christ’s love for the church.
The Psalmist writes, “Praise Yahweh, for Yahweh is good. Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant. For Yahweh has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.” (Psalm 135:3-4) He wasn’t just making things up, of course. This principle had been laid down in no uncertain terms back in the Torah, where Yahweh says to Israel: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:4-6) As with any daughter, Yahweh’s special relationship with Israel would depend upon their attitude while living in the Father’s house. Mistakes, of course, were expected and used as “teaching moments” (as reflected in the Torah’s rites of the asham (trespass offering) and chata’t (sin offering). Overt rebellion, however, would result in the cutting off of communication, resulting in the need for reconciliation. I lived through this “phase” with several of my daughters. I never stopped loving them, but until reunion was achieved, it was no fun at all.
God had ordained a unique and vital role for Israel to play in the redemption of mankind, so He tells them: “For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6, repeated almost verbatim in Deuteronomy 14:2) The Jews weren’t presumed to be “better” (or worse, for that matter) than anybody else. But they were holy, that is, set apart from other nations for God purposes. They weren’t slaves or mere tools, however. If God had wanted nothing more than obedience, He could have used angels. No, His selection of Israel made them His “special treasure,” His jewel, His cherished possession (Hebrew: segullah).
Again and again Moses told Israel what they meant to the God who had called them out of Egypt—out of bondage in the world. “Today Yahweh has proclaimed you to be His special people [segullah], just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to Yahweh your God, just as He has spoken.” (Deuteronomy 26:18-19) Again we see that being Yahweh’s “special treasure” entails “keeping all His commandments.” The reason He was so insistent on this issue was that these commandments all pointed—one way or another—toward His coming Messiah. What Israel did in their observation of the covenant would be a picture of what God was in the process of doing for the entire world. If Israel kept Yahweh’s commandments, the whole world would be able to look at them and see with their own eyes how Yahweh’s salvation—their reconciliation with God—would come to pass.
But if Israel failed to do that for which they had been called out of the world, the gentiles would be left in darkness—that is, until the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the World, appeared during the fourth day (i.e., the fourth millennium of man’s fallen state: see Genesis 1:14-19, Malachi 4:2). Alas, that is precisely what did happen—forcing God to keep His promise to expel them from the Land of Promise if they rebelled. Since Israel refused to see herself as the “daughter of Jerusalem,” she could go and live with someone else.
Does this mean that Israel is no longer Yahweh’s “special treasure?” No, it doesn’t. He has declared to the point of ennui that they will someday be restored—physically and spiritually—to the Land and to His heart. The process has already begun. “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:6-7) He is speaking of scattered biological children of Israel here (popularly known as Jews), but note that “His sons and daughters” will be comprised only of those among them who are “called by the name of Yahweh.”
In the end, this qualification will be defined by their willingness—as a nation—to receive Yahshua as their Messiah. This national epiphany will come about on a single day—the day they see Him return to the Mount of Olives in glory (as described prophetically in Zechariah 12:10, 14:4, and Acts 1:9-12). The day is memorialized as one of seven prophetic annual holy convocations of Yahweh—the sixth of the series: the Day of Atonement. “‘They shall be Mine,’ says Yahweh of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels [Hebrew: segullah]. And I will spare them [literally, show compassion and pity toward them] as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” (Malachi 3:17-18) Israel’s status as God’s “special treasure” will be restored. Count on it.
The blessings of Yom Kippurim need not wait for the day of their definitive spiritual epiphany, of course. (It will take place, if I’m not mistaken, during the very last week of the Great Tribulation, on October 3, 2033.) Nor need they be enjoyed only by sons of Israel, daughters of Zion. Writing to a largely gentile audience, Paul writes, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?” He’s talking about holiness—the same thing Yahweh demanded of Israel. “Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says Yahweh. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18, quoting Isaiah 52:11)
What God taught Israel, then, is to be considered a lesson for all of us. Even if we’re not biological Israelites, we can still become Yahweh’s “sons and daughters.” The “rules” haven’t changed. We (like Israel) are holy, set apart for God’s glory. But it’s not as if performance of the rites of the Torah per se is what saves us. What reconciles us to God is what the Torah portrays: innocence atoning for guilt, separation from the world, love toward God demonstrated through compassion for our fellow man, and unshakable faith in Yahweh’s provision—all of which are personified by Christ. These things never change.
It is a time honored tradition for fathers to intimidate their daughters’ suitors. It is hard wired into us to want to protect our “special treasures.” The Last-Days trend toward diminishing natural affection notwithstanding, it is normal for a father to seek safety and well-being for his daughters. It is a “given” that our daughters don’t always make the best choices: after all, their mothers chose us, and we know what we were like back then.
How we’re “wired” is, I believe, an artifact of our Creator’s design: our protective “instincts” as parents reflect how God feels about us, His children. He knows we’re susceptible to error—prone to making rash decisions based on emotion and hormones, not knowledge and logic. He wants us all to grow “in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man” (something that requires experience) but He also wants to protect us from our own foolishness, insofar as He can without abridging our free will.
God’s desire to protect His “daughters” is evident in a precept from the Torah. It begins, “If a man makes a vow to Yahweh, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth….” So far, this is just what we’d expect: Yahweh expects us as responsible “sons” to keep our word.
But there’s a loophole of sorts when it comes to daughters. “If a woman makes a vow to Yahweh, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and Yahweh will release her, because her father overruled her.” (Numbers 30:2-5) Because his daughter is under his protection, a father has the option of nullifying a rash promise she has made. But it’s not as if the daughter has no voice, no right to speak and make her own decisions (as in Islam). If the father doesn’t immediately object (in his daughter’s best interests), her vow will stand—she will be expected before God to fulfill it.
Yahweh therefore makes a distinction between sons and daughters. By now, we should have learned to look for a spiritual principle lurking within the symbol He is employing—sons vs. daughters, and their relationships with their Father. God is not saying that females are irrational, stupid, and don’t deserve to have an opinion. He is merely making a statement about whatever it is that “daughters” (in contrast to “sons”) symbolically represent—the same thing we’ve been trying to determine in this study.
Another passage may shed further light on this. At this point in the saga of the patriarchs, Jacob had just taken his two wives, his two concubines, his many children, and his flocks, and fled the exploitative situation under which they had all lived for so long: the service of Laban, his father-in-law. Laban, feeling wronged, pursued Jacob, catching up with him in Gilead—halfway between Laban’s home in Syria and Jacob’s own inheritance in the Promised Land. “And Laban answered and said to Jacob, ‘These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and this flock is my flock; all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne? Now therefore, come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me….’”
I get it: a man’s daughter is his daughter forever. But her marriage (a subject we shall study separately, as we shall husbands and wives) changes who is responsible for protecting and providing for her, transferring that role to her husband. Fathers can’t have it both ways: if life is to continue, there is a point at which we have to let go.
At the same time, note that Jacob would not inherit any of Laban’s wealth (though he had been instrumental in building it), for Laban’s own sons were his rightful heirs. Jacob was Isaac’s son and heir, not Laban’s. Thus upon their marriage, Rachel’s and Leah’s familial identity and possessions were no longer Laban’s, but had become those of Jacob their husband, for better or worse, richer or poorer. It was time to clarify the situation, to place a boundary marker, so to speak, between Laban’s sons (his heirs) and his daughters (his heartfelt treasure).
“So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. Then Jacob said to his brethren [i.e., his brothers in-law, Laban’s sons], ‘Gather stones.’ And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha [literally, “heap of gathered stones”], but Jacob called it Galeed [literally: “witness pile” or “heap of testimony”]. And Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me this day.’ Therefore its name was called Galeed, also Mizpah [“watch tower”], because he said, ‘May Yahweh watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us—see, God is witness between you and me!’…” An adversarial relationship, an atmosphere of mistrust, had developed over the years, separating Laban (and his sons) from Jacob (and his wives, Laban’s daughters). It was Yahweh’s purpose to move Jacob back to the Land of Promise, of course (see verse 3), but I think there may also be a subtle lesson embedded in the story designed to teach us about the symbolic role of daughters.
Laban may have been a paranoid control freak, but he was finally forced to come to terms with the fact that Leah and Rachel, though his “special treasure,” were no longer his to control. Jacob had married them—with Laban’s blessing—making them Jacob’s responsibility as their husband. “Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us.’” (Genesis 31:43-43) These structures symbolized the dichotomy between sons and daughters—between being the family’s “representative and heir” and being the parents’ “special treasure.” They are there to shed light on how our heavenly Father deals with us His children.
Although the whole idea is so “politically incorrect” it drives liberals crazy, God maintains a strict distinction between males and females. He never even hints that one gender is “better” than the other, you understand, but He does insist that we recognize the obvious: men are different from women. Humanity is comprised, by God’s design, of both males and females: we are not a race of self-replicating hermaphrodites (though I have no doubt that Yahweh could have created us as such had He chosen to do so).
So we are faced with the perennial question: why. Why did God design us as He did, males and females, the same and yet different? Why did He assign us different roles in the family structure—based not on ability and aptitude (except as He provided and ordained these things) but on seeming biological serendipity? As with so many things we encounter in scripture, the whole issue turns out to be a parable, a spiritual lesson with multiple moving parts:
1. Sons are characterized in scripture as fulfilling the roles of both heir and family representative, while daughters are seen as the family’s special treasure, who are under the protection and supervision of their fathers until marriage, and after that, under their husbands.
2. According to the symbol, daughters receive no direct inheritance. Rather, they “own” everything their father owns; they eat his food and spend his money. And after marriage, they similarly possess whatever their husbands have. Thus they are not second-class citizens, but rather functional co-heirs.
3. A daughter’s identity is thus (by God’s design) inextricably linked to either that of her father or her husband. They are not separate, but are one entity, one flesh, with one destiny and one agenda. Symbolically, daughters do not live independent lives.
4. Metaphorically, a son’s role is based on that of Yahshua, the “only begotten Son” of our heavenly Father. Being His representative, He looks outward as the family’s provider, protector, and authority.
5. Meanwhile, a daughter’s role reflects that of the Holy Spirit. She focuses her attention inward as the comforter, the confronter, the one who stands beside her father or husband (and children) in love and support. So God “wired” the sexes differently to teach us about His own multi-faceted character.
6. Participation of both sexes is required to move from one generation to the next—which, if you’ll recall, is the very first commandment in the whole Bible. If marriage (i.e., heterosexual union) suddenly disappeared from the earth, the human race would be extinct in one generation. Sons therefore can’t pretend that daughters are irrelevant or inferior. And daughters must not attempt to usurp the place of sons in the family structure. Both errors are disastrous (which explains why Satan expends so much energy pushing them).
What, then, do these metaphorical attributes reveal about our relationships with God? How do they translate into spiritual insight?
7. Our actual gender—biological serendipity—has nothing to do with our salvation. Both men and women must come to the throne of grace as individuals, exercising by free will our privilege to reciprocate Yahweh’s love toward us. One cannot “believe” on behalf of his or her parents, children, or spouse. Our faith is a matter of personal choice.
8. One’s personal relationship with God, then, is analogous to that of the son’s role, whether we’re male or female. Any individual believer finds himself (or herself) an heir of God and co-heir with Christ, representing our heavenly Father before the whole world.
9. On the other hand, our collective relationships with our Creator are analogous to the daughter’s role. We as groups (whether Israel or the ekklesia, the called-out assembly of Christ) are, as we have seen, God’s special treasure. Together we are, and will remain, under His protection, enjoying His provision, and submitting to His authority and discipline. It is no coincidence that Israel is characterized in the Tanakh as Yahweh’s “wife” (whether unfaithful or restored), and the church is characterized as the “bride of Christ.”
Just as a man can’t produce offspring by himself, neither can an individual believer operate independently of the matrix of fellowship God has created—the household of faith, whether Israel or the church. Every believer today (whether Jew or gentile, man or woman) is part of the “body of Christ,” performing different functions while together contributing to the health of the body at large. Nor can a woman bear children without the participation of a man. This teaches us that the church (or Israel) cannot operate independently of the individual believers within it—though it sometimes tries to take on a life of its own.
So metaphorically, we believers corporately fulfill the daughter’s role, while separately we are symbolic stand-ins for the “son of God” character. The fact that we are biologically men or women has absolutely nothing to do with the fact or reality of our redemption, any more than being Jew or gentile, slave or free, has any bearing on the matter. The point is that the church, as a collective entity, cannot inherit eternal life. Only individual souls can do that.
But just as a man is incomplete and unproductive without his wife, individual believers (“sons” in this metaphor) need to realize that they’re part of something bigger—the daughter of Zion or the bride of Christ. Jeremiah described the daughter’s role: “Set up signposts, make landmarks. Set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities. How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For Yahweh has created a new thing in the earth—a woman shall encompass a man.” (Jeremiah 31:21-22) That is, a woman (Israel in this case) shall incorporate a man (the individual Hebrew believer), just as the church (the bride of Christ) embraces the sons of God. But be very clear on one point: Neither Israel nor the church can fulfill its proper role (encompassing God’s “sons”) until and unless she has “turned back” to the truth—repented of her collective sins.
Furthermore, we should become very suspicious when a “daughter” (in the sense of a corporate entity before God) begins to wield power and accumulate wealth in the world, while the “sons” suffer abuse and poverty at her hands. Remember the metaphor: the “daughter’s” wealth is supposed to be a measure of what her father or husband owns—not what she has inherited (or stolen) herself. When you consider the opulence of the Vatican, for example, or witness the immense wealth being accumulated by a plethora of cult-like high-profile religious organizations today, take it as a sure sign that the “daughter” has rebelled against her father or cheated on her husband.
Also, bear in mind that just because God has chosen to use the differences He built into men and women as a spiritual metaphor, it must not be assumed that these differences may be used with His blessing as a tool for the repression or disrespect of the symbol’s object—in this case, the “daughter.” Quite the opposite, in fact. The ultimate example is Christ Himself, who, though exercising undisputed authority over the church, does not exploit her, but rather loves her to the point of laying down His own life; He serves her as the lowliest slave would—as the servant of all, without a hint of arrogance or pride.
In order to establish the fact that literal daughters are not intrinsically inferior to sons (even though for symbolic reasons they normally receive no direct inheritance) Yahweh was careful to note a few “exceptions to the rule.” I should note that the “rule” wasn’t actually Yahweh’s law in the first place—it was merely tradition: the inheritance had fallen to a man’s sons since the dawn of time. The reason, of course, was that as far back as the Garden of Eden, “a man shall…be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) In other words, what a man owned, his wife owned as well. There was no “yours” and “mine.” There was only “ours.”
Anyway, two exceptions come readily to mind. The first is pre-Torah. After Job’s trials, Yahweh restored to him everything that had been taken—including his children. So at the end of the story we read, “In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.” (Job 42:15) If daughters normally received inheritances as sons did, there would have been no point in mentioning this.
The second instance concerned “inheritances” of property within the Promised Land. A certain man had died leaving daughters but no sons. What then? “Then came the daughters of Zelophehad…from the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph. And these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses, before Eleazar the priest, and before the leaders and all the congregation, by the doorway of the tabernacle of meeting, saying: ‘Our father died in the wilderness; but he was not in the company of those who gathered together against Yahweh, in company with Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers….’” These ladies were not feminists, out to secure “equal rights for women.” They understood that under the Torah, women already had equal rights.
But every family in Israel was to be given a plot of land to call their own. Was Zelophehad to be posthumously punished simply because none of his five children had a Y chromosome? It was a question of fairness, of justice. “So Moses brought their case before Yahweh. And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: ‘The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father’s brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them. If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the relative closest to him in his family, and he shall possess it.’” (Numbers 27:1-11)
So far, so good. But there was still a problem, potentially. What if Mahlah married a Benjamite? Her land in Manasseh would then pass to another tribe. Or what if Tirzah married a Levite? They weren’t supposed to have any inheritance in the Land except for Yahweh Himself (though they were given walled cities to live in).
Yahweh had a fair solution to that one, too. “This is what Yahweh commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, ‘Let them marry whom they think best, but they may marry only within the family of their father’s tribe.’ So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers….” This wasn’t a terrible hardship on the daughters of Zelophehad: there were 52,700 able-bodied men in Manasseh when they entered the Land. For that matter, if Joseph is considered the patriarch, then the 32,500 men of Ephraim would be “fair game” as well. It was a target-rich environment. One might further surmise that, as descendants of Joseph (who was known for his handsome appearance—Genesis 39:6) some of them were even passably good looking.
This became the basis of inheritance law in Israel from that time forward: “And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel shall be the wife of one of the family of her father’s tribe, so that the children of Israel each may possess the inheritance of his fathers. Thus no inheritance shall change hands from one tribe to another, but every tribe of the children of Israel shall keep its own inheritance. Just as the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad; for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to the sons of their father’s brothers. They were married into the families of the children of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s family.” (Numbers 36:6-12; cf. Joshua 17:3-6)
And why was it important to “keep” things in the family? At the very least, it was because of the vastly varying deathbed blessings Israel had pronounced upon his twelve sons. Joseph (the father of both Manasseh and Ephraim) was promised the very blessings of God (see Genesis 49:22-26). Reuben and some others, not so much. For us, it would appear that the lesson is linked to the wise prohibition against being “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. A husband and wife who have inherited entirely different spiritual destinies cannot easily live in the same house.
Generally speaking, Israel is God’s symbolic microcosm of humanity at large: what He commands concerning the nation is applicable (one way or another) to all of us. But within Israel, the set-apart community of faith is represented by the tribe of Levi—who, you’ll recall was given no inheritance in the Land other than Yahweh Himself. Within Levi, the priests (one sub-clan, the sons of Aaron) are chosen to be the “focus group” through which certain truths are revealed concerning believers and their relationship with God. And within this group, the High Priest represents Yahshua, and we believers are the “priests” who serve under Him—those who have access to the imagery-rich tabernacle or temple, and who intercede with Yahweh on behalf of the people.
Since our purpose here is primarily to explore the symbolic ramifications of what it means to be a daughter, let us review a few passages that speak of “daughters” within the priest’s households. “This also is yours [i.e., the priest’s]: the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel; I have given them to you, and your sons and daughters with you, as an ordinance forever. Everyone who is clean [i.e., ceremonially undefiled] in your house may eat it….” Many (though not all) of the offerings that were made by the people were to be eaten, often shared between the priests and those bringing the offering. At issue here is who in the priest’s household is eligible to share his portion.
The priest’s wife was “one flesh” with him, so she’s automatically included; and his sons, being male descendants of Aaron like their father, are technically priests in their own right. But what about daughters? This precept makes it clear that they too may eat the offerings brought to the tabernacle in homage and obedience to Yahweh. Daughters are not “second-class citizens” (as they are in Islam), though they are understood to be under the protection of their fathers—just as believers (whether corporately or individually) are under Father Yahweh’s supervision. What is offered to Yahweh is owned by the priest, and what is owned by the priest is subsequently owned by his daughter, his wife, and his son.
Restated a few verses later, “All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to Yahweh, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before Yahweh with you and your descendants with you.” (Numbers 18:11, 19) The procedure was that a representative portion of what was offered to God was “heaved,” symbolically lifted up before Him (“waved” in some translations). This publically acknowledged that the gift was intended for the glory of Yahweh—it belonged to Him—even though it was to be eaten by the priest and his family. So it was literally the thought that counts. (See my chapter on “Salt” in Volume 3 for a discussion of the significance of “a covenant of salt.”) The ordinance providing for daughters is everlasting: God will provide for His special treasure (us) as long as we remain under His roof.
That being said, becoming “unequally yoked” destroys the picture of Yahweh’s constant care for His children. So we read: “If the priest’s daughter is married to an outsider, she may not eat of the holy offerings. But if the priest’s daughter is a widow or divorced, and has no child, and has returned to her father’s house as in her youth, she may eat her father’s food; but no outsider shall eat it.” (Numbers 22:12-13) It is essential that we distinguish the literal from the symbolic here. There was no prohibition against a priest’s daughter marrying a man from another tribe—an “outsider.” But she would “eat the food” of whatever man she was joined to. Marriage transferred the daughter’s destiny (and inheritance) from that of her father to that of her husband. It’s all a picture, a symbol, of being spiritually joined to Yahweh through birth, or to Yahshua through marriage—or, of course, to some other “god.” And remember: the “daughter” is symbolic of institutional belief. The “daughter of Babylon” (see Isaiah 47) cannot expect to receive sustenance from Yahweh; nor can the “daughter of Zion” benefit from a relationship with Mammon, Mithras, or Molech.
It’s all a warning against apostasy. But note that if the priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced, she may rejoin her father’s household. That’s a picture of repentance—being separated from the “outsider,” one way or another. But there’s a caveat: if the “outsider” relationship has borne fruit (a child of the marriage, in this metaphor), then returning to her father’s house cannot be accomplished, for the child of an outsider is by definition an outsider. The lesson: you can’t blend one relationship with another, any more than you can crossbreed a viper with a sheep. You can leave Islam (for example) and embrace Christ, but you can’t bring Sharia law or the teachings of the Qur’an with you. “Chrislam” (yes, as appalling as it is, this particular perversion actually has its own name) is an abomination, so Yahweh’s Torah has declared it invalid. The same goes for any attempt to blend a foreign faith with a relationship with Father Yahweh. Alas, the religion of Christianity (something I’ve been calling “Pagan Christianity”) is positively crawling with this sort of compromise.
I know it’s hard to believe, but Yahweh found it necessary to prohibit this: “Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness.” (Leviticus 19:29) Harlotry or prostitution is a consistent Torah symbol representing purposeful idolatry—giving (or selling) to a “foreign” god what rightfully belonged to Yahweh: our love, faithfulness, and devotion. (That’s not to say literal prostitution, whether or not it was forced upon a daughter by her parents, was acceptable. But as happens so often, Yahweh was using an obvious principle to illuminate a subtle one.) Drilling down through the symbols here, it would appear that we are being warned not to allow our treasured “religious institutions,” our collective modes of worship, to be compromised with the world’s values or methods.
I’ll offer a couple of examples, but the potential list is endless. The Roman Emperor Constantine “converted” to Christianity early in the 4th century. This, of course, was welcomed throughout the empire by Christians who were tired of having to endure a mini-holocaust every twenty or thirty years. But it soon became apparent that the church under Constantine would be “caused to be a harlot.” She would henceforth be the “daughter of Rome,” not the “daughter of Zion.” In order to pacify and attract the sun-worshiping pagans (the state-sponsored religion up to this time), Constantine blended in many features and traditions of Mithras worship (a Babylonian derivative) into his “official” brand of Christianity. Alas, many of these compromises plague the Roman Catholic Church to this very day—making it something very different from the simple “called-out assembly” of believers in Christ the ekklesia was intended to be.
Or consider this. In a misguided effort to appear more “relevant” or “seeker-friendly” to modern Americans, many ostensibly evangelical churches have compromised with the world’s values—apparently unaware that such things violate God’s law. Rather than being the “daughter of Jerusalem,” they have become the “daughter of Hollywood.” Their “Jesus” is something between a rock star, a celestial Santa Claus, and a drug dealer selling false hope and quick fixes. Salvation from our sins, not so much: sin, it seems, has gone out of style as a concept, replaced with political correctness and new-age fuzzy thinking.
Any “Christianesque” belief system that is not Bible-based, Christ-centered, and Spirit-driven is thus in danger of running afoul of this sobering precept: “The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire.” (Leviticus 21:9) I like listening to a gifted preacher as much as the next guy, but if your worship experience is based on the oratory or personality of the man in the pulpit, there’s something wrong.
Slavery was a fact of life in the ancient world, but in Israel, God used (and regulated) the concept to teach us about His plan for our redemption. You couldn’t really “enslave” an Israelite, for after six years, he was to be set free. In practice, it was more like indentured servitude: a man could lease his services (or his children’s) to a “master” in return for a sum of money—to pay off a debt or support his family, etc. But with someone’s daughter entering into this sort of arrangement, it was a given that, potentially at least, there was a sexual component—a man could “buy” a daughter as a wife for himself or his son.
Thus God tells Moses to write: “And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.” That is, the daughter is under the protection of the master forever—not just until her six years are complete. “If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her….” The master has bought the daughter with a price: she belongs to Him, and he therefore has the right to expect her obedience. Note, however, that the master’s stated intention is to marry her—he has betrothed her to himself. She is more than just a slave: she has the potential to become a wife—and she knows it.
Thus we can begin to see what Yahweh is talking about here: the “daughter” is Israel—symbolically, a representative of the whole lost world. He has bought her (redeemed her from bondage in Egypt, so to speak), intending to make her His wife. But along the way, she displeased Him through her idolatries. Remarkably, however, God (the master) has placed limits on His own response here: the daughter may not be “sold” to foreigners—forever abandoned to her fate as Satan’s conquest, even if she deserved it. (Note that although any human master might be rightfully charged with “deceit” in this case, Yahweh cannot—although He admittedly “bought her” out of slavery in Egypt without asking her permission, or giving notice up front that she might be “divorced” if she turned to false gods.) The bottom line: Israel is Yahweh’s possession forever, whether He likes it or not. She may not be forsaken. But she may be redeemed.
This is where it gets interesting (if a little confusing). Who did Yahweh assign to “redeem” Israel after she had “failed to please Him”? It was His own Son, Yahshua, who, having been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, bought her freedom with the most precious substance in existence—His own life-blood. But remember, Israel is the symbolic microcosm representing the entire lost world. So the one being redeemed was not only Israel—the literal biological progeny of Abraham—but also the rest of mankind, in the figurative sense.
Thus the Torah’s precept concerning slave-daughters expands to explain God’s grand plan: “And if he has betrothed her to his son [i.e., Yahshua], he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.” That is, the daughter remains under the protection of her father until she has married, at which time she becomes one with her husband. “If he [the son who has married her] takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.” (Exodus 21:7-11) Yahshua, having redeemed Israel, did indeed “take another wife”—the largely gentile church—known as the bride of Christ. But according to God’s law, Israel cannot be “replaced” by the church: she does not become a second-class spouse. Rather, though a different person, she enjoys all the rights and privileges of being God’s “wife” that the church does. Or at least, she will.
Thus replacement theology—the theory that insists God is through with Israel, replaced by the church—is destroyed by these verses. Also destroyed is the odd idea that the church is somehow absorbed into Israel—magically becoming the “ten lost tribes.” No, the church and Israel are two distinct personalities, both loved by God and redeemed by Christ, both saved by grace through faith, and both destined to dwell in peace and harmony with their Creator, God, and King throughout all eternity—but in different ways. Okay, so Israel is still playing hard-to-get. Solomon will have more to say on that subject in a moment.
It’s worth noting that spiritual gifts (the only ones that count, in the long run) are inherited by both sons and daughters equally. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh,” all flesh in whom the Spirit of God dwells, that is. In context, He’s talking about mortal kingdom-age believers. “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29) The filling of the Spirit will be experienced equally among men and women during the Millennium. And if my observation is valid about “sons” symbolically indicating individual believers, while “daughters” represent institutional manifestations of faith, it would appear that during the Millennial kingdom of Christ, the Holy Spirit will be in evidence as never before in the history of man—manifested among all believers, alone and in their assemblies. It would appear that the Spirit will neither be grieved nor quenched from that time forward, and the human race will finally come to perceive what a personal relationship with our Creator was intended to look like.
Our best glimpse into what the “pouring out of the Spirit” might look like is Yahshua’s walk and works in the earth during His first advent. Two stories related in all three synoptic Gospels are forever related, because one of them interrupts the other. They both involve “daughters.” Here’s the scene: we’re in Galilee, and Yahshua has just cleansed two demon-possessed gentlemen on the gentile side of the lake. “Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side [apparently to Capernaum], a great multitude gathered to Him; and He was by the sea. And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.’ So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him….” This is where the second story gets interposed into the narrative, but let’s stay with Jairus for now.
This is the portrait of a desperate man. He had most certainly heard of Yahshua’s healing exploits, for He had miraculously healed many people here, including a paralytic—but had raised eyebrows by first declaring the man’s sins forgiven. Furthermore, some of these people had been healed on the Sabbath, and Jairus, as a respected elder in the local synagogue, may have been asked how such a thing could possibly square with the plain reading of the Torah. The question would have been framed, “Is healing the sick in the power of God considered ‘work,’ or is it not?”
All of that became rather beside the point to Jairus as his beloved daughter lay dying. All he knew for sure is that this rabbi had healed other people, and He was here, now. The theological arguments would have to wait. The pleasantries and protocol would take more time than he could afford to waste. So Jairus rushed up to Yahshua and begged to come, and in His compassion, He came. But “while He was still speaking [to the daughter in the second story, who had momentarily interrupted the journey] some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’…” This wasn’t the age of instant communication. Jairus didn’t have a cell phone. He had left his daughter’s bedside the instant he heard that Yahshua was back in town, and she had likely died before he had even reached the Healer. Only now, when “all hope was lost,” did the bad news catch up with him.
Jairus’ desperation turned to despair, but “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’ And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. When He came in, He said to them, ‘Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.’ And they ridiculed Him….” These folks (some of them) were professional mourners. They knew “dead” when they saw it. But this meddling rabbi hadn’t even viewed the corpse yet. How could He possibly know the truth of the matter?
Evidence is one thing; hope is something else entirely. All of the empirical evidence told Jairus that his daughter was dead. But the Man who had worked miracles in their midst was telling him to ignore what he could see with his own two eyes, and have faith. Not faith in nothing, mind you; that would have been stupid. No, faith in the same awesome power source that had healed the paralytic down the street, restored a man’s withered hand in his own synagogue, and—only minutes before—had cured a woman’s chronic illness on the road—without even trying!
I can’t help but reflect that Christ is asking no less of us today. We see our world collapsing around our ears, and all the evidence tells us that our civilization is doomed to dystopia, despair, and death because Satan has grown strong and men have chosen to follow him to hell rather than admit their need for a Savior. And yet, Yahweh has assured us that what we see is not the end of the matter: His Messiah, Yahshua, will return as promised to right the wrongs, separate the sheep from the goats, and breathe life back into a dead planet. There’s a reason they call us “believers,” and not “observers.”
Meanwhile, back in Capernaum, “But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.” This wasn’t “health care.” It was a simple demonstration of Christ’s absolute authority over life and death. That being said, Jairus’ daughter was not only brought back to life, she was also cured of the disease that had taken her in the first place. Note what He said next: “But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.” (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43) She was going to be hungry because she was now a perfectly healthy young lady, though exhausted from her ordeal. Yahshua knew her restored condition—and her ongoing needs—even before she or her parents did.
And what was that about keeping the whole thing a secret? Even the three “inner circle” disciples were forbidden to spread the news of Christ’s miracle—for the time being. This happened very early in Yahshua’s ministry. Anybody with their eyes open knew that raising someone from the dead was something only God could do—whether through an anointed prophet like Elijah or a physical manifestation of Yahweh Himself: Immanuel, “God with us.” Yahshua was the latter, of course, and He knew that this fact would get Him crucified in the end—just as required in prophetic scripture. But Yahweh’s schedule, as revealed in Daniel 9:26, meant that it was about three years too soon for His deity to become common knowledge. So for the moment, Yahshua tried to keep a lid on the good news.
Don’t look now, but the secret’s out. Yahshua is God.
As we noted, there was a second “daughter” story embedded in the first one, and it’s just as amazing, in its own way. As Yahshua followed Jairus back to where his daughter was, something happened along the way. “Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.” (Mark 5:25-26) The medical arts have come a long way since the first century. But I would submit to you that even today, there is a vast difference between using medicine and trusting it. God designed the human body to repair itself, up to a point. Yes, we’re mortal—we’re susceptible to accidents, disease, and old age. But remember what God said to Israel, for it’s still true: “If you diligently heed the voice of Yahweh your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am Yahweh who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26) Of course, in order to “give ear to His commandments,” you have to know what they are. Don’t confuse “Yahweh’s statutes” with Christian traditions. They aren’t remotely the same thing.
Anyway, “When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’” (Mark 5:27-28) To some, this might seem nothing more than superstitious hysteria, like getting yourself sprinkled with “holy water,” or contributing a “generous gift” to some famous TV preacher so he’ll send you one of his magical prayer hankies. But in this case, it was nothing of the sort. Like Jairus, this woman was quite familiar with Yahshua’s healing miracles in her own town, and she knew such things were possible only if the healer were empowered by Yahweh. We aren’t told if she was familiar with Malachi’s prophecy: “To you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” (Malachi 4:2) But by touching the hem of Yahshua’s garment—perhaps His tsitzit (see Numbers 15:38), she was exercising faith that Yahshua’s power would heal her—even though by touching Him she could theoretically render Him as ceremonially defiled as she was.
On the other hand, if Yahshua was God, He couldn’t be defiled. So this happened instead: “Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My clothes?’ But His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” It might have made more sense to ask “Who didn’t touch Me?” “And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.’” (Mark 5:29-34)
This is fascinating. Yahshua didn’t have to do anything for healing to occur, although He sometimes did so for dramatic effect. He didn’t have to say anything, ask the woman what she wanted from Him, lay hands on her, or utter a flowery prayer on her behalf. All He had to do was be the “Sun of Righteousness” in order to have “healing in His wings.” Of course, one could have bumped and jostled Him all day long, and nothing would have happened, necessarily. In order for the healing to flow from Him (according to Malachi) one had to “Fear His name”—to revere and honor the Creator, to trust Him to provide what you needed: exercise faith. And this one certainly did.
So in this “tale of two daughters,” we have one theme—healing—accomplished in two radically different ways. Comparing them, we can discern some important principles about approaching God with our problems:
(1) In the case of Jairus’ daughter, someone—her father—interceded for her. Since Yahshua was God in flesh, this was actually prayer, though Jairus in his distress probably didn’t realize it. But no overt prayer was made by the woman, other than to conclude in her desperation that Yahshua was her last and only hope. God hears our hearts, not just our lips.
(2) The two daughters’ “problems” were both dealt with in a manner consistent with their pleas for help. That is, the expectations of the plaintiffs had some bearing on the mode of deliverance: God doesn’t make our “learning curve” steeper than we can handle. Jairus asked the Healer to come, and He came. The woman, meanwhile, approached Him with stealth and trepidation. The point, I think, is that God’s mercy includes letting us see the connection between our requests and His responses. It would have been easy enough for Yahshua to have healed Jairus’ daughter the moment he left his front door, but Christ wanted him to be able to perceive the connection between his own faith and his daughter’s deliverance.
(3) God is willing to meet us where we are. There is no particular “formula” or “ritual” one must perform in order for out needs to be heard; nor can we preclude our own deliverance by being clumsy or ignorant, for God is willing and able to see beyond our weakness. All He asks for is our trust—a “mustard seed” of faith is sufficient, if it’s genuine.
(4) Our need for healing can be of any degree or nature, no matter how relatively insignificant. Chronic bleeding is, if I’m not mistaken, not as serious a condition as being dead. Yahshua didn’t care: He would have cured a hangnail if it brought glory to Yahweh. Nor is our degree of desperation a measure of how God approaches our problems. It’s simply a matter of our faith and His sovereign will. Example: I contracted pleurisy in my early twenties, and for decades, any little cold I got tended to go straight to my lungs—killing my voice. But I also led worship for thirty years or so. Even though I occasionally got sick enough to sound like “a frog with a man in my throat,” my singing voice never failed on a day when I needed it to lead the congregation in praise. Not once.
(5) These two acts of mercy parallel the lessons of the wilderness tabernacle. Two separate issues are being addressed. First the life of Jairus’ daughter was restored—a picture of our redemption via the sacrifice on the altar of an innocent animal. As always, our mortal lives are there to teach us about the realities of our spiritual condition—the temporary illustrating the permanent. Second, the woman’s illness symbolized our uncleanness before God—the issue addressed at the bronze laver, where (metaphorically, a least) the priest’s works and walk were purified by the washing of his hands and feet before he was allowed to enter the sanctuary of God. Our faith in Christ makes us both alive and clean.
(6) Lest you conclude that I’m seeing spiritual parallels where none exist, note that the two daughters are linked by chronology (and as both time factors are mentioned in the story, I sincerely doubt it’s coincidental). The daughter of Jairus was given her mortal life twelve years before it was taken from her—at the same time the poor woman’s debilitating (and defiling) flow of blood began. Yahshua would have been in His late teens at the time. The overarching point is that all of our moral conditions—good and bad—are temporary. We need to learn to see our mortality, our human condition, in terms of its relationship to that which it was designed to illustrate: our spiritual potential. No one should mind taking five steps with a pebble in his shoe if those steps get him into to a vehicle that will take him the next five thousand miles on his journey.
(7) I realize that we haven’t studied the symbology of numbers yet, but “twelve” seems to be the number of divine government or organization (as in twelve tribes of Israel, or twelve disciples representing the church, etc.). This observation seems to dovetail with what I observed (or at least hypothesized) a few pages back: that whereas sons symbolically represent individual believers, a daughter plays the role of collective or institutional faith. Thus the story of Jairus’ daughter reminds me of Christ’s letter to the “dead” church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6—an organization that, having repented, miraculously revived and transitioned into the faithful church of Philadelphia—who had only a little strength, was hungry for the Word of God, and was so loved by the Father, He resolved to do anything to keep her out of the hour of trial.
And the woman with the issue of blood? She is equally reminiscent of what Yahweh says concerning Israel—so many times we can’t begin to count them all: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.” (Ezekiel 36:24-29)
Another “tale of two daughters” is a recurring theme in Solomon’s torrid allegory, the Song of Songs. In highly poetic language, Solomon is heard expressing his passion for a young woman identified only by her home town: she is identified (in 6:13) as “the Shulamite” (equivalent to “Shunammite”), that is, a daughter of a town called Shunem, in Issachar’s territory on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, overlooking the Plain of Jezreel. The name of the place probably means “quiet,” or “rest.” It’s worth noting that Jacob’s deathbed blessing said this about Issachar: “Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens. He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant. He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves.” (Genesis 49:14-15) In retrospect, I’d call that a perfect (if rather depressing) description of the church through the ages. The donkey is an unclean though useful beast. The two “burdens” are the errors of Judaism and paganism, conspiring to steal the joy from the ekklesia’s experience, enslaving him in the end. If that assessment seems like a stretch, read on….
In our chapter on “Frankincense,” if you’ll recall, I presented a theory (one widely held among Bible scholars) that Solomon’s “Shulamite” was actually Abishag the Shunammite, the young lady who had been recruited to lie with the aging King David to keep him warm (I Kings 1:3). As the story goes, Abishag (who remained a virgin throughout her service) was noticed for her beauty, purity, and faithfulness by Solomon (symbolic of King Yahshua), who fell in love with her after he inherited his father’s kingdom—recording their subsequent courtship in the Song of Songs. That makes the Shulamite the symbolic equivalent of the church—the called out assembly of Christ—we who (as both the place-name and the Issachar prophecy imply), “rest” in Christ.
The second “daughter” in the story is identified as “the daughters of Jerusalem,” who represent (obviously enough) Israel, specifically as they relate to what’s going on between Solomon and the Shulamite—that is, between Yahshua and His church. In what may come as a surprise (considering the historical animosity between Israel and the church after they were forcibly separated by the likes of Rabbi Akiba and Emperor Constantine) Israel is seen as an enthusiastic supporter of the love match between Solomon (Yahshua) and the Shulamite (the ekklesia). This is one clue that the Song is actually prophetic of the Last Days. It speaks of the kingdom relationship, the long awaited consummation of the union between the Messiah and His bride after having been separated for so long, and how Israel fits into it all.
If we isolate what each daughter says to the other, a fascinating picture emerges explaining the ultimate relationship between the Shulamite and the daughters of Jerusalem (i.e., between the church and Israel). In other words, let us (for this focused exercise) ignore the dialog between Solomon (a.k.a. the Beloved) and anybody else, skip over the Song’s soliloquies, and look only at what the two daughters have to say to each other.
First, the Shulamite says to the daughters of Jerusalem: “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me….” I’ll admit, some of this is pretty esoteric. I looked it up in a dozen different commentaries—none of which really agreed with the others. Everybody seems to recognize that the Shulamite represents the church, and that Solomon represents Christ. But nobody paid any attention to the fact that we, the bride, are speaking directly to Israel here. What does the church want Israel to know, and why? First, we wish to tell the daughter of Jerusalem about Yahshua’s visceral and passionate love for us: His care and sustenance are so lavish, His mercies so tender, and His embrace so adoring, we are overcome with love for Him. It is important to us that you, our beloved sister Israel, understand this: there is nothing distant or forced about our love—ours is not an “arranged marriage,” but true, spontaneous, mutual, and ardent love.
“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” (Song of Solomon 2:4-7) I’d like to be able to gloss over this unusual request (like ’most everybody else), but I can’t: the Song repeats it three times—always spoken by the Shulamite to the daughters of Jerusalem. “Love” is personified here. (Some translations make it sound as if she’s speaking about Solomon, but Ellicott notes that it should actually read “until she pleases.”) A doe or gazelle is a clean animal, though wild. She is shy and easily startled, as is this love shared between the King and His bride. The NLT renders this, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.” The pulpit commentary suggests, “By the purity and blessedness of a simple country life, I adjure you not to interfere with the course of true love.”
I would venture that this means the church wants Israel to know that although they do not yet understand the love we share with Yahshua, they eventually will—when the time is right. That day, in fact, is memorialized in Levitical law: the appointed day is Yom Kippurim, the Day of Atonement. On that day (see Zechariah 12:10) the daughter of Jerusalem will witness for herself the awakening of love—mourning (at first) for her long-standing blindness to the fact that our Messiah is her Messiah. But until then, don’t interfere with our love: the church will worship Yahshua despite Israel’s blindness. Christ speaks of this very thing in His letter to the church at Philadelphia: “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:9)
The Shulamite virgin continues explaining her plight to Israel: “By night on my bed I sought the one I love. I sought him, but I did not find him. ‘I will rise now,’ I said, ‘and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.’ I sought him, but I did not find him….” Yes, we are in distress because our beloved Messiah has departed from us—He’s away on a long journey. Though our Lord told us plainly where He was going (see John 14:2), the church over the years has wasted a great deal of energy and emotion searching for Him where He was not—in religion, tradition, and our own feeble imaginations.
“The watchmen who go about the city found me. I said, ‘Have you seen the one I love?’…” The “watchmen” are those whose job it is to “keep, watch, or preserve” (Hebrew: shamar)—the same concept we see in Christ’s glowing description of the saints at Philadelphia, who have “kept (literally: guarded) My word, and have not denied my name.” Alas, not all of the church’s “watchmen” have guarded the flock as well as they might have. Read the profiles of the churches of Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis in Revelation 2 and 3. They prophetically record a long history of lovelessness, compromise, corruption, and abuse leading to virtual ecclesiastical death in the church’s profile—something the Shulamite herself will reveal a bit later.
The Shulamite reports: “Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love.” The timing is significant. “I held him and would not let him go, until I had brought him to the house of my mother [read: the Holy Spirit], and into the chamber of her who conceived me.” (See John 3:5-7.) So, immediately after the watchmen of Philadelphia “keep Christ’s command to persevere,” the church (having been “kept out of the hour of trial”—Revelation 3:10) will be caught up to join her Lover at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (see Revelation 19:7-9). So we hear her say again, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” (Song of Solomon 3:1-5) If you can follow the admittedly subtle timeline presented here, it appears that Israel will experience the “awakening of love” only after the church is raptured. (This is one Old Testament confirmation of a pre-tribulation rapture that I totally missed in my prophecy study, The End of the Beginning, elsewhere on this website.)
We Christians aren’t ashamed to admit it: we long for—we crave—to be in the physical presence of Yahshua our King. It’s something Israel doesn’t understand, yet. We want Him here with us, as a bride ardently desires to be with her husband. But until He returns, we must content ourselves with words and pictures—beautiful but insufficient, like seeing our Messiah in a clouded mirror (“through a glass, darkly,” as Paul put it). So the Shulamite says, “I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him. I called him, but he gave me no answer….” Since His ascension, Christ has been absent from the earth, though He still speaks to us when we open the doors of our hearts to Him. Yes, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, but it’s not quite the same. It’s like talking to your fiancée on the telephone—wonderful, but not as satisfying as sharing a warm embrace.
Remember what I said about the “watchmen” of the church age failing in their mission? The Shulamite now reveals that she has been mistreated and abused by the very people whose job it was to guard and protect her—the self-appointed “leaders” of the church. “The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me. The keepers of the walls took my veil away from me.” That is, they robbed her of her innocence and introduced her to idolatry. Compare this to the disturbing profile of the church of Thyatira, in Revelation 2:20-23. “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick!” (Song of Solomon 5:6-8) If I’m seeing this correctly, the church at one point is so oppressed—by her own leaders—she begins to hope that Israel will follow the trail of their own scriptures to the cross of Christ—so she can come and rescue her from her own abusive “watchmen.” But as we have seen, when the watchmen of Philadelphia guard the flock, they will “keep His word” and “keep His command to persevere,” honoring the Messiah by assisting His bride in her ardent search for her Beloved.
Through it all, the real church—the true believers—never give up hope that Israel will discover who her Messiah is, and what He’s like. So the Shulamite tells them, “His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (Song of Solomon 5:16) But alas, Israel still can’t see it. Though the church’s own watchmen led her astray, the rabbis of Israel were even worse: they kept the daughter of Jerusalem chained in darkness for the better part of two thousand years. Yet we plead with Israel to open her eyes and see Yahshua for who He really is: God’s precious gift to humanity. If Israel could see Yahshua through our eyes, she would finally understand why we are so head-over-heels in love with Him.
The Shulamite then explains where her Lover has gone: “My beloved has gone to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” (Song of Solomon 6:2-3) We are told (no fewer than eleven times in the New Testament—fulfilling a promise made in Psalm 110:1) that Yahshua now sits in heaven at the right hand of God, i.e., the place of authority and power. But the Shulamite speaks of her beloved as sojourning in “His garden.” There is really no contradiction here. The word for “garden” is the Hebrew gan—used fourteen times in the early chapters of Genesis to describe the Garden of Eden. It’s a walled garden (from the verb ganan: to cover, surround, or defend) in short, it’s a synonym for “paradise.”
If the garden is paradise—the place to which Yahshua promised to take the repentant thief on the cross (a.k.a. Abraham’s bosom, a.k.a. heaven)—then His “flock” doubtless refers to those who died trusting Yahweh for redemption prior to the church age, which began at Pentecost. This conclusion is supported by the reference (twice) to lilies—the Hebrew shushan, derived from the verb sus, meaning to exult or rejoice, as in “My soul shall be joyful in Yahweh. It shall rejoice [sus] in His salvation.” (Psalm 35:9)
So one last time, the Shulamite—the Bride of Christ—rejoices in her Messiah’s love, and tells Israel that His love for her will become apparent in due time as well: “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” (Song of Solomon 8:3-4) Love between Christ and Israel will blossom, but only in His own perfect timing.
And when will “love awaken” for Israel? The prophet Hosea revealed precisely when the daughters of Jerusalem would “stir up” the love of Yahweh through their long overdue repentance: “Come, and let us return to Yahweh; for He has torn, but He will heal us. He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days [read: two thousand years] He will revive us. On the third day [i.e., during the third millennium after the impetus for God’s “tearing” and “striking”] He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight….” The inciting event, it will transpire, was the Jews’ rejection of Yahshua as their Messiah in 33 AD. Two thousand years from that is—well, you do the math.
“Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of Yahweh. His going forth is established as the morning.” That’s a poetic way of saying God is on a schedule—one He won’t break any more than He would delay the rising of the sun at dawn. In what should be even more of an epiphany to Israel, Yahweh promised to come in two separate advents: “He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3) The second of those advents is when, in Solomon’s parlance, it “will please love to awaken.”
And what do the daughters of Jerusalem (Israel) say to the Shulamite (the Church)? First, “We will run after you. We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.” (Song of Solomon 1:4) We should never forget that initially, the church was comprised entirely of Jews. For its first century, Christianity (known then as “the Way”) was considered a Jewish sect—as well it should have been, and should still be. As many as one third of the population of Judea had placed their faith in the risen Christ by the time the Romans sacked Jerusalem and tore down the temple in 70 AD. As more and more gentiles joined the Way (thanks to the efforts of Paul and others), the Jewish establishment grew more and more desperate to pollute Christianity with Rabbinic tradition, or failing that, divorce Judaism from Christianity altogether—something that was finally achieved through the machinations of Rabbi Akiba early in the second century, as the Pharisees wrested control of the Jewish religion out of the hands of the Levitical priesthood.
Next, the daughters of Jerusalem tell the Shulamite, “We will make you ornaments of gold, with studs of silver.” (Song of Solomon 1:11) I would take this to mean that Israel’s scriptures formed the foundation of Christian theology. The “New Testament” makes very little sense without reference to the Hebrew Scriptures. If I may speculate, the “ornaments of gold” are the precepts of the Torah, and the “studs of silver” are the Psalms and writings of the prophets that hold the whole thing together.
So-called “Christian” denominations today who seek to undermine Israel through the “BDS” (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movement have made a disastrous miscalculation, and God will hold them accountable. Christ’s parable warns us not to throw the “baby” of God’s truth out with the “bath water” of Jewish thought: “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52) The daughters of Jerusalem don’t get everything right. But they still have something to teach us, and for that I am grateful.
Their question to the Shulamite reveals their fundamental misunderstanding of who her lover actually is. “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us [to tell Him that I—the Shulamite—am lovesick (v.8)]? (Song of Solomon 5:9) The daughters of Jerusalem ask, “What’s the big deal? What’s so special about your beloved? Yahshua was just a prophet, wasn’t He? A great moral innovator, maybe the founder of a nice, new religion. But what makes you think He’s “more” than Abraham, Moses, or Elijah?”
The Shulamite would reply, “You don’t understand my Beloved at all. He’s none of those things, not really, but rather the very incarnation of the God you serve—Yahweh Almighty. Yahshua is God in flesh, the One who gave His life so that I might live. He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And you ask me why I’m lovesick? If you knew Him as I do, you’d be smitten too!”
The only real issue separating Judaism from Christianity is who they perceive Yahshua of Nazareth to be. (I’m speaking, of course, in theological terms—core beliefs, not tacked-on traditions, corruptions, or misinterpretations.) Christians worship Him as the Messiah—God’s Anointed One. It’s what “Christ” (Greek: Christos) means, after all. We receive Him as God in flesh, though nobody really understands how that works. And for those of us who dig deep enough, we realize that the Jewish scriptures—the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets—reveal and prophesy Yahshua between every line.
Jews meanwhile say, no, that can’t be right. Yahweh (they’d never used His actual name, of course, but refer to Him as HaShem—“the Name”) is incorporeal—He’s Spirit. Thus Yahshua showing up in the form of a mortal man demonstrates that He can’t be God. To their minds, they proved Yahshua wasn’t deity when they had Him crucified. And they seemed to have a point—until He rose from the dead on the third day. They willfully forgot all those instances (mostly before the time of Moses) when God revealed Himself in human form—as theophanies.
And they misconstrue the nature of the Levitical sacrifices—rites they’re commanded to do throughout their generations but haven’t been able to do for almost two thousand years now—by God’s design. In other words, they fail to recognize that the Torah’s sacrifices were prophetic and symbolic. If they’d open their eyes, they’d see that the Messiah was supposed to fulfill the promise of scripture by sacrificing Himself. He was their burnt offering, their peace offering, their sin offering, their trespass offering, their grain offering, their drink offering, and their firstborn offering. He was, in short, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” just as John the Baptist had told them.
So as we approach the end of the age—something Jews and Christians alike seem to be able to perceive—we are all anticipating the coming of the Messiah. The Jews are longing for His appearing, and Christians are breathlessly awaiting His return. Back in the Song, then, the daughters of Jerusalem enquire of the Shulamite, “Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women? Where has your beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with you?” (Song of Solomon 6:1) This is the question that elicited the Shulamite’s answer we saw above: “My beloved has gone to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” (Song of Solomon 6:2) The Beloved Messiah is sojourning in paradise, preparing an eternal home for His bride, the Shulamite.
But seek Him you should, O daughters of Jerusalem, for you have never left His thoughts: He has a wonderful future planned for you as well.
(First published 2016)