EPISODE SEVEN. Philip’s response is that two hundred denarii is not a sufficient amount to purchase enough bread to adequately feed all the people, so Messiah orders the disciples to search throughout the crowd to discover how many loaves of bread they can find.
- When the best we have is not good enough
- The Flock of One Hundred hidden in Philip’s reference to 200 denarii
- Messiah’s narrative that refers to the redemption of the soul tax
- Messiah’s use of the Fish as a symbol for the human soul
- Search for and discover the Unlimited Resources of heaven
- Only the love of the heavenly Father is Good Enough!
- Ahavah HaRishonah
- Mitvah Ahavah
When the best we have is not good enough:
After these things the Messiah Yeshua went away to the other side of the Sea of Kinneret.
A large crowd (of our people) followed Him, because they saw the signs (attesting miracle) which He was performing on those who were sick. Then Yeshua went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now Pesach, the feast of the Yehudim, was near. Therefore Yeshua, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii (The denarius was equivalent to a day’s wages) worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”
The Flock of One Hundred hidden in Philip’s reference to 200 denarii:
“Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”
The figure of 200 denarii, quoted by Philip as an estimated amount of what it would cost to feed all of the people, is a very interesting amount. It is quite strange that Philip would quote an amount that is so incredibly inadequate.
Question: Why refer to such a small amount of money that was insufficient to feed the five thousand men (plus women and children)?
A CLUE: In ancient rabbinical thought anything that sticks out as particularly odd is meant to be given great attention. Any peculiar statement or circumstance in the scriptures is Adonai’s way of saying, “pay attention to this!”
Answer: The sum of *200 denarii is equal to the exact amount necessary to redeem the souls of a group of one hundred Jewish men!
*The Roman silver coinage amount of 200 denarri is equal in exchange rate to the Greek silver coinage amount of 200 drachma. This amount in silver coins is the exact amount required to pay the half-shekel temple tax, the redemption of the soul money, for a group of one hundred men. The figure of “one hundred” is highly symbolic:
וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בְּבֹאֹו מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם וַיִּחַן אֶת־פְּנֵי הָעִֽיר׃ וַיִּקֶן אֶת־חֶלְקַת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר נָֽטָה־שָׁם אָהֳלֹו מִיַּד בְּנֵֽי־חֲמֹור אֲבִי שְׁכֶם בְּמֵאָה קְשִׂיטָֽה׃
“And Jacob came to Shalem (שָׁלֵם), a city of Shechem (שְׁכֶם), which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of silver (קְשִׂיטָֽה).”
There are only three places in the Tanakh that refer to a *kesitah.
Reference #1. We learn in Genesis that when Jacob first ‘returned’ to the Land of Israel he purchased a parcel of land in the ancient City of Shalem (שָׁלֵם), a city of Shechem (שְׁכֶם). This highly symbolic parcel of land was located in the territory of Shechem that was located at the foot of the two mountains of Mount Gerazim (the Mount of Blessings) and Mount Ebal (the Mount of Curses).
The other two references to a *kesita are located in Joshua and the Book of Job. When Jacob returned to Israel he came to the City of Shalem in Shechem. Shalem means “Peace.” This sacred location is the first place where Abraham camped when he originally arrived in the promised land of Canaan (Genesis 12:6).
*A kesitah silver coin (קְשִׂיטָֽה) is equal to the value of an entire flock of one hundred sheep or lambs.
The site of the City of Shalem in Shechem was marked by an Oak Tree at Moreh. The name Shechem is also prophetic. It literally means “Shoulder” and it speaks of “Governance.” In this word picture we see prophecy. The prophecy is that one day the governance of the (International) Kingdom of Adonai will rest upon the Shoulders of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6):
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the Government shall be upon His Shoulder: and his Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty All-powerful One, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
The Messiah purchased our peace (Shalem) through the voluntary sacrifice of His own life.
Redemption comes through the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11): “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls (לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם); for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (כָּפַר-kafer, atonement).
This shedding of blood for the redemption of the souls of the people and land of Israel is indicated in the symbols of the silver kesitah and shekel (and drachma and denarii) coins. In the Tanakh silver is the metal that is symbolic of redemption.
Reference #2. In the time of Job (a contemporary to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) the kesitah—the silver coin stamped with the likeness of a Lamb that was worth one hundred pieces of silver—was used as a means to convey the restoration of and doubling of Job’s previous (lost) fortune. This restoration occurred right after Job “prayed for all of his friends” (Job 42:10-12):
“Adonai restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and Adonai increased all that Job had twofold. Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that Adonai had brought on him. And each one gave him one kesitah of silver coin, and each a ring of gold. And Adonai blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.”
Reference #3. Much later, in the time of Joshua, it is on the plot of land that Jacob purchased (the City of Shalem at Shechem) that the remains of Joseph and his brothers (the twelve patriarchs) were put to rest (Joshua 24:32):
“Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one kesitah (hundred pieces of silver); and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons.”
The kesitah is an ancient form of silver coinage that was stamped with the likeness of a Lamb.
Therefore, in an act of prophetic role play this plot of land was purchased by Jacob for one hundred pieces of silver called a “kesitah.” The kesitah is an ancient form of silver coinage that was stamped with the likeness of a Lamb. It represented the value of a flock of a hundred sheep. Since this symbolic act of Jacob’s redemption of the Land of Israel the entire family and nation of Israel has been depicted as a single flock of one hundred sheep.
Elijah fed a group of a hundred men with twenty loaves of bread.
Elijah fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves (2 Kings 4:42-44). A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of G-d twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. Then Elijah’s servant asked:
“How can I set this [twenty loaves of bread] before a hundred men?”
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what Adonai says:
“They will eat and have some left over.”
Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the Word of Adonai. Read Messiah’s mashal regarding the flock of one hundred sheep (cf. Messiah in HaBikkurim, Chapter 49).
Messiah’s narrative that refers to the redemption of the soul tax:
When they came to Capernaum (the City of Comfort and Consolation), those who collected the (Greek) *two-drachma (or Roman two denarii) tax came to Peter and said:
“Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”
He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, (the Messiah) Yeshua spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” (Rabbi) Yeshua said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel (tax enough for two). Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”
The Torah passage that refers to the half shekel (one drachma) redemption of the soul tax states (Exodus 30:11-16):
Adonai also spoke to Moses, saying, “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to Adonai, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: a half shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to Adonai. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to Adonai. The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to Adonai to make atonement for yourselves. You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before Adonai to make atonement for yourselves.”
Observation #1. Quite interestingly in the Septuagint Torah passage of Exodus 30:11-16 the members of the Great Synagogue, who translated the Hebrew text into Greek, set an equivalent value to the half shekel of one drachma (lit. one half of a double drachma). However, by the time of the Messiah’s first century ministry on earth, the customary Greek exchange rate for a half shekel was two drachmas (one double drachma).
Observation #2. This large variance is accounted for by the historical fact that the dominance of the Greek culture and currency had significantly declined from the time of the second century BCE when the Septuagint was written, to the time of the Messiah’s first appearance in Israel in the first century CE.
Observation #3. This providentially imbedded witness of scriptural decline in the value of the Greek coinage, between the time of the completion of the writing of the Tanakh and that of the writing of the Brit Chadashah may be a very subtle prophetic prediction of the eventual decline of the global rule of the Gentiles and the inevitable rise of the rule of Israel and the International Commonwealth of Israel.
In this telescopic way we can see, on the one side, an end to the ‘times of the gentiles’ and on the other side, the beginning of the long awaited Messianic Kingdom. We can see that the continuous (unchanging) redemptive ministry of the Messiah is always and forever of a Hebrew denomination (the half-shekel).
Therefore, for those of us who are Hebrews (Jews) by birth it is not necessary for us to ‘convert’ to the Hebrew shekel from the Greek drachma or the Roman denarius. This is so because we were conceived Hebrew, we were born with the half-shekel coin inside of us. We were born with the half shekel redemption of the soul money already inside ‘our’ Hebrew soul. All that we need do is believe in our heart and confess with our mouth.
הֲרֵי בְּלִבּוֹ מַאֲמִין אִישׁ וְיֻצְדַּק, וּבְפִיו יוֹדֶה וְיִוָּשַׁע.
For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness [the cleansing that brings us to righteousness], and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Messiah’s use of the Fish as a symbol for the human soul:
What do all of these Hebrew biblical numbers and symbols mean?
In the Hebrew Scriptures the symbol of a fish (in and out of the water) is most often a symbol of the life of the human “soul.” So the fact that Shimon Peter (cf. next chapter for the spiritual meaning of his name) miraculously acquired the one shekel the way he did underscores the truth that the temple (building) that was being “supported” financially (the symbol) was not the temple that Messiah came to seek and to save (redeem). The permanent Temple in reality is the lives of redeemed humanity. Redeemed humanity is the reality that the symbol of the Temple building points to. The specific mission in view here is the redemption of our “souls.”
The real temple that the Messiah and the Holy Spirit are constructing and maintaining is the Temple of redeemed humanity.
Insight #1. The floor of the tabernacle of Moses was made out of blocks of silver that were derived from the original redemption of the soul money. This tabernacle foundation made out of silver is a symbol of “redemption” (silver-blood-redemption). This means that the foundation of the entire tabernacle (temple) structure was spiritually supported by the redemption of our souls. Our souls are redeemed, therefore, by the blood sacrifice (silver redemption) of Messiah!
Insight #2. For Messiah did not limit Himself to paying for the redemption (tax) of Shimon Peter alone. In reality Messiah our Korban Pesach also paid for all of the redemption of the soul money (the silver half shekel) for you and me. Those paying the temple tax were required to do so as a prophetic sign that the spiritual significance of the real redemptive sacrifice would one day be ritually acknowledged, respected and fully understood in Israel and in the Commonwealth of Israel to come.
Search for and discover the Unlimited Resources of Heaven:
The amount needed of two hundred denarii was a large sum of money.
As just referenced one denarius was equal in amount to the wage of an entire day’s work. Two hundred denarii would have been seven month’s wages. However, this amount of money greatly insufficient to feed 5,000 men and an additional equivalent number of women and children. Even if the bread had been available for purchase and delivery, and it was not, the disciples would have lacked sufficient funds to buy it. This leads us to the question:
What are we to do when our best attempt to do the will of our Father in heaven is just not good enough?
The answer is ask for the Help of the Messiah who is Bread of Heaven. Then through the Messiah ask for the help of our heavenly Father. And keep on continuously asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking until the door of heaven opens wide. This continuous request for help to our Father in heaven must apply to every aspect of our lives. Not just our redemption.
Therefore, the Messiah has said: “I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking, receives; and he who keeps on seeking, finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
What the Messiah is about to teach His disciples and us, in His miracle of the loaves and fishes, is that our natural reliance solely upon ourselves is never going to be good enough to deliver us from sin unto righteousness.
Yes, we are saying that our best without the help of the Messiah will never be good enough for Abba Avinu!
According to the Scriptures we have to bring to our Father in heaven our best offering. But this never means that the “process” of doing the will of the Father ends there. We must wait for His gracious Presence to complete us. We must wait for the hep of the Messiah and of the Spirit of the Holy One to deliver us from evil, to cleanse us of our sins, and to fill us with His righteousness. We must always factor in Abba Avinu’s unlimited resources into “all” of the daily challenges of our lives; both spiritual and physical (everything).
Only the Love of the heavenly Father is Good Enough:
Messiah is asking His disciple Philip (cf. next chapter for meaning of his name) what is his honest interpretation of the situation.
Philip responded well by being painfully truthful about his (and the other disciples) inadequacy to feed the people. It is only in our humble confession of our weaknesses and shortcomings that we discover the abundant goodness of Adonai. What is in view here is not our loving Adonai with ‘our love.’
Our best in and of ourselves alone is not good enough.
Do you remember what the Messiah just said? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” It is hurtful but necessary to notice that the Messiah called His own chosen talmadin “evil.”
The disciples are not evil in their essence, in their inner life; otherwise they would not be following the M’shicho of Adonai.
So how are they evil and how are we evil? We are insufficient in our gifts. We are insufficient in our works. We are incapable of supernaturally loving our children and each other as we should (with a perfect eternal love). Therefore, what is in view here is our allowing Abba Avinu (El Shaddai) to love us with His All-Sufficient Love. And our allowing Abba Avinui to love our children (and children’s children) with His Eternal Love; and our neighbor; and even our enemies.
Only the all-sufficient love of Abba Avinu is good enough!
Look how far we children of Israel have fallen into our worldly bad habit of relying on our own shrewdness and ingenuity! If we are to receive the Unlimited Resources of Abba Avinu we must turn back to Him (do teshuvah) and do the works Adonai taught us at the first, the works of the Ahavah HaRishonah:
“You shall love Adonai Elohekha with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
If we don’t repent and return to our original created state of continual dependence on Adonai as our First Love, He will continue to remove us from the privileged place He has reserved for us in this world (and the world to come).
In the modern era it is so normal and easy for us to fall away from our abiding in the life of the Divine Love, our First Love. It is easy to slip back into the destructive habit of basing our lives on self-dependence; instead of dependence on Abba Avinu. This is why Adonai sent the Messiah into the world so that we might live through Him. This is the Ahavah HaRishonah (First Love): Not that we loved Abba Avinu, but that He loves us!
Point #1. Our love does not forgive sins. The love of Avi HaRachamim (the Father of Mercies) does.
Point #2. Our love does not raise people from the dead. The power of Adonai’s love raised the Messiah from the dead. And we will know the joy of of His resurrection too if we put our trust, hope and faith in Him.
Point #3. Our love does not eternally transform people’s lives. Adonai’s love does. We know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us the Gift of the indwelling Presence of His Spirit.
Point #4. Our works cannot save us. Our personal righteousness cannot bring forgiveness. We cannot remove our own or anyone else’s sins. We do not possess the power to transform imperfect persons into perfect ones. We are unable to resurrect anyone from the dead. We cannot give to others the gift of eternal life. Yet, unlike us, Adonai has given to the Messiah the right and the power to do all these things. Therefore, there is now (and forever shall be) only One work of Adonai, “Believe in the Messiah who our heavenly Father has sent.”
Point #5. If we abide in the love that Abba Avinu has for each of us then in time we will mature and we will begin to love one another with His supernatural love. If the love of Adonai abides in us (His Spirit of Grace and Truth), then His love can be matured in us. Therefore, by this Indwelling Presence of the Love of Adonai (not our own love) love is perfected. It is matured like aged wine within us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment. Because as He is, so also are we in this world. We are Messengers of His Perfect Love. We are not messengers of our own ‘imperfect’ love. The besorah of the Grace of Adonai is not that we love Adonai first but that Adonai loved us first. He is the Ahavah HaRishonah. We must always abide in Him first and then…He will abide in us. Not the other way around.
The foundation of our life must be this: “We love, because He first loved us.” Not, Adonai loves us because we first loved Him. What is in view here is the Mitzvah Ahavah, the “Law of Love.”
We need to abide in a steady state of constant dependence on Avinu Shebashamayim.
This is always true whether we are doing something as simple as taking out the garbage or as complex as finding a cure for cancer. We must learn to constantly abide in the Presence of the heavenly Father first. We love, because He first loved us. In baseball (I am a San Francisco Giants fan) you have to go to first base, then you can go to second base. First base is He first loved us. Second base is: “We love because He first loved us.” Messiah’s following teaching on the “Loaves and the Fishes” instructs us in how to abide in our First Love (Ahavah HaRishonah), for then and only then will we be able to do the first works that are completely sourced in His All-Sufficiency!