Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Yehovah's Shekinah Glory in History - Part 1
John D. Keyser
YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory is defined as the visible manifestation of the presence of YEHOVAH God -- often showing up in the form of a cloud, light, fire or combinations of these. It is the majestic presence or manifestation of YEHOVAH in which He descends from Heaven to dwell (shakan) among men.
The Jewish rabbis coined this extrabiblical expression. Shekinah is a form of a Hebrew word that literally means "he caused to dwell," and comes from the root shakan, meaning "dwelling" and signifying that when YEHOVAH's glory appeared in this way it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of YEHOVAH God the Father. The Greek word Skeinei, which is derived from the Hebrew "Shekinah" (Greek has no "sh" sound), means to tabernacle.
The usual title found in the Bible for the Shekinah Glory is the glory of the LORD (YEHOVAH, YHVH). The Hebrew form is Kvod Adonai, which means "the glory of the LORD" and describes what the Shekinah Glory is. The Greek title, Doxa Kurion, is also translated as "the glory of the LORD." However, doxa means brightness, brilliance or splendor -- and it depicts how the Shekinah Glory appears.
To repeat, the Shekinah Glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God the Father -- YEHOVAH or YHVH. In the Old Testament most of these visible manifestations took the form of light, fire, cloud or combinations of these, while in the New Testament a new form appears. At times it is closely associated with one or more of four elements: (1) the angel of YEHOVAH, (2) the holy spirit, (3) the cherubim, and (4) the motif of thick darkness.
When we study the Bible, the following events are believed to be manifestations of the Shekinah Glory in history:
The Primeval Light
In Genesis 1:3-4, the word or utterance of YEHOVAH God is as magnificent as it is simple in expressing how God the Father began to form our world. The moment YEHOVAH spoke, a metamorphosis of universal proportions was set into motion. However, as you read and examine the entire account of Creation, an undeniable question arises. Genesis 1:3 states that YEHOVAH created light on the First Day of creation, yet the sun, moon and stars (which provide light to our planet) were not created until the Fourth Day (Genesis 1:14-19). The question is: How could there be light before the sun existed?
Many feel that the answer is simply a mystery beyond the comprehension of mankind, and will be left a mystery until YEHOVAH decides to reveal it. This is a mystery that has baffled both Christian and Jewish scholars alike. For the believer, it is one of those mysteries accepted as truth, yet remaining incomprehensible.
The light that was revealed on Day One of creation was completely unlike any other light in its brilliance and qualities. Rabbi Michael L. Munk in The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet (p.174), refers to it as the "Primeval Light" -- and that it was spiritual in nature. One opinion states that the intensity of the Primeval Light was seven times brighter than the sun. In this regard, it is interesting to note that Isaiah 30:26 refers to a light seven times brighter than that of the sun that will illuminate the world when YEHOVAH God returns:
Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun
And the light of the sun will be SEVENFOLD,
As the light of seven days,
In the day that YEHOVAH binds up the bruise of His people
And heals the stroke of their wound.
It is certain that this "light" was spectacular in its illuminating qualities -- vastly exceeding any other source of light in the universe. What was the nature of this light? Let us delve into the Hebrew language for a deeper insight. First, let us consider the light spoken of in verses 3-5 of Genesis 1:
Verse 3: Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was
Verse 4: And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
Verse 5: God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and morning were the first day.
The Hebrew word, or, is translated "light" in the above verses. However, the literal meaning of this word is "illumination" or luminary." Its root means "to be, cause, or make luminous and enlighten" -- and may be used literally and/or metaphorically.
In the metaphorical sense, it refers to light of a SPIRITUAL NATURE. Just as the true believer is referred to in Matthew 5:14 and Phillipians 2:15 as a "light" in the world, so too YEHOVAH God is referred to as "The Light" of creation. Therefore, the light referred to in verses 3-5 is a direct reference to YEHOVAH God the Father's Shekinah Glory -- which He calls "good" and sets apart from the "darkness."
The darkness referred to is not merely the absence of physical light, but is also used in the metaphorical sense to mean SPIRITUAL darkness, According to The Torah Anthology, the Hebrew word translated "darkness" in this passage also alludes to the "Death Angel," implying a SPIRITUAL significance. In essence, this conveys a picture of a spiritual void and darkness enveloping the world at this time.
Interestingly, YEHOVAH God formed the light out of the darkness, meaning that on account of the darkness, light had to be revealed. As light overcame darkness in the spiritual realm, so too this pattern became mirrored in the physical realm. That is why day follows night and why night and day are considered "one day." The Jewish timetable embodies this concept with each new day beginning at sunset -- followed by daylight -- and ending just before the following sunset.
In Genesis 1:16 an entirely different Hebrew word, meorah, is also translated as "light." It refers to a "luminous body" or "luminary," and is derived from the same Hebrew root word -- or -- discussed above. In this case, however, it refers to the sun and the moon.
Verse 16: Then God made two great lights: the greater light
to rule the day, and the
lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
As a result, a CLEAR DISTINCTION can be made between the nature of the light in verse 16, as compared to the light referred to in verses 3-5. One of the most brilliant Jewish sages -- Rabbenu Mallin -- raised a profound question when he said: "Why is light of day one called 'or' -- and of day four: 'meoroth'?" (Mallin: Beginning and Upheaval, p. 52). Translated by Zvi Faier). The answer is to be found in the realization that the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God the Father on Day One preceded the light of the sun, and the reflected light of the moon, on Day Four!
In Psalm 104 David wrote of the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God when he described YEHOVAH as the Creator --
Verse 1: Bless YEHOVAH, O my soul! O YEHOVAH my God,
Thou art very great; Thou art CLOTHED WITH SPLENDOR AND MAJESTY,
COVERING THYSELF WITH LIGHT AS WITH A CLOAK,
stretching out the heavens like a tent curtain.
If we delve deeper into the Hebrew of Genesis 1:3, we will find that there are two Hebrew words translated "let there be light." The word meaning "light" has already been discussed. The other Hebrew word literally means "let be." The word "there" does not appear in the original Hebrew but has been added by the translators for clarification. In fact, the Hebrew word that means "let be" is a masculine form and therefore refers to "him" rather than "it." Therefore, the Hebrew can be validly translated as "Let Him be Light." In this way, YEHOVAH God the Father is revealed in the original Hebrew words!
An expanded translation of Genesis 1:3-5, including its metaphorical meaning, is as follows --
Verse 3: Then God said, "Let Him be light"; and He was light
Verse 4: And God saw the Light [Shekinah Glory] that He was good; and God
divided the Light from the darkness [spiritual darkness, spiritual ignorance,
Verse 5: God called the Light [Shekinah Glory], Day, and the darkness He called
Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
YEHOVAH God expressed Himself through this Primeval Light when He commanded His Shekinah Glory to be revealed. By His word (utterance), YEHOVAH God the Father's knowledge, wisdom and purpose for this world burst forth across the chaotic waters in a BLINDING REVELATION of His Shekinah Glory.
In the first verses of the gospel of John in the New Testament we can find confirmation of this revelation. Since the publication of the KJV of the Bible in 1611 this, and almost all versions that have stemmed from it, refer to a masculine "word" as being present at the Creation. As a result most Christians, due to an abysmal lack of understanding of the idiom of John's day, think that the "word" refers to a pre-existence of Yeshua the Messiah -- when in fact it refers to no such thing!
Any one of the eight English translations of the Bible prior to 1611 (the Tyndale Bible (1535), the Matthew Bible (1535), the Taverner Bible (1539), the Great (Cranmer's) Bible (1539), the Whittingham Bible (1557), the Geneva Bible (1560) and Bishop's Bible (1568)) assign no gender to the "word" and simply call it "it," such as in John 1:3: "By IT all things were made. Without IT nothing was made." The Coverdale Bible (1550) has "the same" rather than "it." This seems like a strange way of referring to Yeshua the Messiah!
Not only that, but if you read the Aramaic version of the Bible you will discover an even clearer rendition of these critical verses. Notice!
Verse 1: In the beginning [of creation] there was the MANIFESTATION; And that MANIFESTATION was with God [YEHOVAH]; and God [YEHOVAH] was [the embodiment of] that MANIFESTATION.
Verse 2: This [the MANIFESTATION] was in the beginning with God [YEHOVAH].
Verse 3: Everything was within his [more correctly, IT'S] power, [otherwise] nothing would ever exist.
Verse 4: Through him [it, the MANIFESTATION] was life and life became the spark of humanity.
Verse 5: And that [ensuing] fire [the MANIFESTATION] lights the darkness and darkness does not overshadow it [the MANIFESTATION].
We have just learned, at the beginning of this article, that the Shekinah Glory was the manifestation of YEHOVAH God the Father. If we replace the word "Manifestation" with the words "Shekinah Glory" in these verses of John, then the first few verses of Genesis agree perfectly with the first few verses of John in revealing the Shekinah Glory of God at work at Creation -- NOT some pre-existent form of Yeshua the Messiah!
Verse 1: In the beginning [of creation] there was the SHEKINAH GLORY; And that SHEKINAH GLORY was with God [YEHOVAH]; and God [YEHOVAH] was [the embodiment of] that SHEKINAH GLORY.
Verse 2: This [the SHEKINAH GLORY] was in the beginning with God [YEHOVAH].
Verse 3: Everything was within his [the SHEKINAH GLORY'S] power, [otherwise] nothing would ever exist.
Verse 4: Through him [it, the SHEKINAH GLORY] was life and life became the spark of humanity.
Verse 5: And that [ensuing] fire [the SHEKINAH GLORY] lights the darkness and darkness does not overshadow it [the SHEKINAH GLORY].
This is not to say that the translation of the book of John in the King James Version of the Bible, and those that are based on it, are wrong -- it just means that we don't understand the idiom of John's day and we get all confused with the Greek concept of the Logos that John uses to get his point across. John nowhere indicates that this "Logos" is the Messiah when you fully understand his use of this concept.
The Garden of Eden
The next appearance of the Shekinah Glory is found in Genesis 3:8:
And they heard the sound of YEHOVAH God walking in the garden in the
the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the PRESENCE OF
YEHOVAH GOD among the trees of the garden.
According to this verse Adam and Eve experienced the personal presence of YEHOVAH God. This was a daily manifestation of YEHOVAH's presence or Shekinah fellowshipping with them. No details are given, but the indication is that this was a manifestation of the glory of YEHOVAH God. Later, in Genesis 3:23-24, YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory appears again --
Therefore YEHOVAH God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the
which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the
garden of Eden, and A FLAMING SWORD which turned every way, to guard the way to
the tree of life.
The phrase "and He placed" reads in Hebrew vayashkhein, which has the same root as "Shekinah," and literally means "and He caused to dwell." This was a visible dwelling of the presence of YEHOVAH God, and the visible form it took was the flame of a sword. The definite article makes it specific -- "the flame" of the sword. Here was a visible manifestation of the glory of YEHOVAH God where the Shekinah appeared as fire.
We should also note that in this passage the Shekinah is associated with the cherubim, one of four such associations.
The Abrahamic Covenant
While the context of the Abrahamic Covenant is found in several parts of Genesis, the actual sealing and signing of the covenant is recorded in 15:12-18:
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and GREAT DARKNESS fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there was A SMOKING OVEN AND A BURNING TORCH that passed between those pieces. On that same day YEHOVAH made a covenant with Abram saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates --
In verse 12 we find the motif of an unusual darkness in association with the Shekinah Glory appears for the first time. After summarizing the context of the Abrahamic Covenant in verses 13-16, it was signed in verse 17. YEHOVAH then appeared in a visible form: that of a smoking oven (furnace) and a burning (flaming) torch. Thus, it was by means of the Shekinah Glory that YEHOVAH signed the Abrahamic Covenant, which in turn became the basis of the three other unconditional covenants YEHOVAH made with Israel: the Palestinian, the Davidic, and the New Covenant.
As well as in Genesis, the Shekinah Glory is also found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. In the book of Exodus the Shekinah Glory resided with Israel and authenticated the Aaronic priesthood. In Numbers the Shekinah Glory rendered judgment for sin and disobedience.
YEHOVAH and Sarah
In Genesis 18 we read about YEHOVAH God the Father appearing to Abraham and Sarah in a human form -- along with two angels. Notice --
Then YEHOVAH appeared to him [Abraham] by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, THREE MEN were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground (verses 1-2).
After talking to Abraham's wife Sarah, YEHOVAH blesses Abraham in verses 18 and 19 and then says that He is going down to Sodom and Gomorrah. "Then the MEN turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before YEHOVAH" (verse 22). Abraham argues with YEHOVAH about the number of righteous people, and finally "YEHOVAH went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place" (verse 33).
In the next chapter (19) we read: "Now the TWO ANGELS came to Sodom in the evening...(19:1). At this point YEHOVAH (in His Shekinah form) is no longer with the two angels and has probably, in all likelihood, returned to His place in heaven. The two angels accompanying YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory in this instance were probably the archangels Gabriel and Michael.
The Burning Bush
YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory is found next in Exodus 3:1-5 --
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of YEHOVAH appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, THE BUSH BURNED WITH FIRE, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." So when YEHOVAH saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him FROM THE MIDST OF THE [BURNING] BUSH and said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Do not draw near [to] this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."
In this passage YEHOVAH God the Father manifested Himself to Moses in a very visible way. Verses 2-3 state what was visible -- a flame of fire and a bush burning with fire. Once again, the fire motif is found in relationship to the visibility of the Shekinah Glory. Also note that the Shekinah Glory is here associated with the angel of YEHOVAH.
That the burning bush was a manifestation of YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory becomes evident from Deuteronomy 3:16 --
And for the precious things of the earth and the fullness thereof, and the good will OF HIM THAT DWELT IN THE BUSH: Let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
The phrase "of him that dwelt in the bush," found in the above passage, reads in Hebrew shochni sneh, with the first word meaning "dwelling." This word is from the same root that is found in the word "Shekinah." It is, therefore, the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God that commissioned Moses to bring Israel from the land of Egypt.
During the Exodus YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory appeared as the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night. In Exodus 13:21-22 we read how the Shekinah led Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness --
And YEHOVAH went before them by day in a PILLAR OF CLOUD to lead the way, and by night in a PILLAR OF FIRE to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the PILLAR OF CLOUD by day or the PILLAR OF FIRE by night from before the people.
Exodus 14:19-20 adds that the angel of YEHOVAH was also present at the Exodus, along with the Shekinah Glory --
And the ANGEL OF GOD, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the PILLAR OF CLOUD went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a CLOUD and DARKNESS to the one, and it gave LIGHT by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
In this passage we clearly see that the Shekinah Glory protected the Israelite camp from the Egyptians all night, because it separated the Egyptian army from the Israelites. Once again, as we have seen before, the Shekinah Glory is associated with the angel of YEHOVAH. Furthermore, it is associated with THICK DARKNESS -- yet giving light within the thick darkness for the Israelites.
Dropping down a few verses we see where the Shekinah Glory destroyed the Egyptian army:
Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that YEHOVAH looked down upon the army of the Egyptians THROUGH THE PILLAR OF FIRE AND CLOUD, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians (Exodus 14:24).
After bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness, the Shekinah Glory provided them with the quail and the manna --
Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening you shall know that YEHOVAH has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the GLORY OF YEHOVAH; for He hears your murmurings against YEHOVAH. But what are we, that you murmur against us?" Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when YEHOVAH gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for YEHOVAH hears your murmurings which you make against Him. And what are we? Your murmurings are not against us but against YEHOVAH." Then Moses spoke to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before YEHOVAH, for He has heard your murmurings.'" Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold the GLORY OF YEHOVAH appeared in the cloud. And YEHOVAH spoke to Moses, saying, "I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am YEHOVAH your God.'"
In verse seven of this passage the first occurrence of the actual title for the Shekinah Glory appears as it is found in the scriptures -- "the glory of YEHOVAH." In verse ten the Glory appeared and was revealed in the cloud, and this is yet another form of the visible Shekinah Glory.
Without a doubt, the greatest manifestation of the Shekinah Glory during the time of the Exodus was at Mount Sinai itself in Midian (Saudi Arabia). Its initial appearance is in Exodus 19:16-20 -- at the time of the giving of the Ten Words or Commandments:
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a THICK CLOUD on the mountain; and THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in SMOKE, because YEHOVAH DESCENDED UPON IT IN FIRE. Its smoke ascended like the SMOKE OF A FURNACE, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the BLAST OF THE TRUMPET sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then YEHOVAH CAME DOWN UPON MOUNT SINAI, on the top of the mountain. And YEHOVAH called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
In verse 16 we find the appearance of thunderings, lightnings and a thick cloud. Then, in verse 18, YEHOVAH descended upon Mount Sinai in fire, and verse 20 shows that this was a visible manifestation of YEHOVAH's presence, for it clearly states that YEHOVAH God came down on Mount Sinai. However, such a manifestation of YEHOVAH's glory put fear into the hearts of the people -- they saw the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH and requested to hear the voice of YEHOVAH God no more:
Now all the people witnessed the THUNDERINGS, the LIGHTNING FLASHES, the SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin. So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the THICK DARKNESS where God was (Exodus 20:18-21).
To Be Continued...
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