It is written, “For you (the people of Israel) shall be a desirable land, says G‑d” (Malachi 3:12). Just as the greatest explorers will never uncover the limits of the great and valuable resources which the Almighty has placed within the earth, neither will anyone ever discover the limits of the great treasures which lie buried within a Jew – G‑d’s “desirable land.” – Bal Shem Tov
In our third and final installment of our analysis of the Master’s parable of the buried treasure (Matt.13:44), we will try to bring light to bear upon another interesting aspect in the passage.
In part one, we considered the debate in the Gemara concerning the dispute of claimed property. In that, we saw that merely “seeing” something, while certainly implying that one “found” it, does not mean that one thereby has legal possession. This must be established by more than just an oath. Through the man purchasing the field, we deduced that the Master is teaching us that it is not enough to merely “discover” a hidden treasure (the kingdom of God), but that we must secure it through making it our own.
In part two, we realized a deeper picture within the parable, considering Talmudic discussions of ownership and theft, and realized that the man is the Messiah, the field is the claim of the enemy upon his inheritance, the treasure is the Lord’s inheritance, and that he “purchases” us even though the Father has already given us to him as an inheritance, because he must prevent the enemy from staking a competing claim against his own, since we live in the enemy’s “field”.
Now, with this new line of reasoning in tow, we will look at the Hebrew concepts behind the parable in relation to betrothal and marriage. Let’s take one last look at the parable itself:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt.13:44)
The Hebrew word for inheritance is “nachalah”, which is a feminine noun. This is very interesting, if we consider what the Bible says concerning the inheritance of the LORD:
“For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.”(Deut.32:9)
We saw in the last essay that an inheritance is automatically bestowed to the heir, except in the case when the inheritance is in the possession and/or control of another. In this case, the item or person must be redeemed. We see this vividly portrayed in the redemption of Israel from Egypt, as God says to Moses…
“…thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is my son, My firstborn. So I said to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”‘” (Ex.4:22-23)
This act of redemption is also an act of acquisition, which is rendered in Hebrew as “kinyan”. A kinyan is commonly related to a Jewish wedding, but also has an application in Jewish law. The idea is that although the act of acquisition happens only once, by the continual renewal of the possession over time, the relationship to the owner becomes more irrefutable and concrete, and therefore, more valid. Perhaps Paul may have had this idea in mind in his epistle to the Ephesians:
“….that….you lay aside the old self…and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created…”(Eph.4:22-24)
This also relates quite readily to the bride’s betrothal period, which is the Hebrew concept of “kiddushin”, or the act of constant renewal of commitment, as opposed to a one-time feeling. A word which closely mirrors the concept of kiddushin, is “kiddush”, which literally means “sanctification”, and is typically referencing the blessing over the “kiddush” cup, or cup of wine at a Sabbath evening meal. Of course, to add further depth to where we are taking this, Shabbat itself is a picture of the blessing and abundance and rest of the Messianic Age and ultimately the World to Come.
This imagery is not a reach, since we know that the covenant made at Mt. Sinai has all the earmarks of a wedding ceremony, while the journey from the first Passover to the foot of the mountain represents a betrothal period. (If you accept the notion, as I do, that the time period between Moses first appearing before Pharaoh and the giving of the Law at Sinai is one full year, or the typical betrothal period, this aspect is even more poignant).
The covenant itself is presented in the form of a “ketubah” or marriage contract. Yet, the “bride” (Israel) could not be acquired until redeemed from the control of Pharaoh.
An interesting word in the Mishnah concerning inheritance is “yerushah”, which implies “married”, or “belonging to”. It is the idea that the inheritance is “part” of the owner (as a part of the body) and belongs to the heir in the sense that the Son is “one” with the Father.
Jesus states in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.” This is typically understood as Jesus declaring himself to be God, and yet the verse immediately preceding it betrays that interpretation, especially when combined with the understanding on inheritance we now have:
“My Father, Who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Jn.10:29)
The idea behind inheritance in Talmudic logic is that whatever belongs to the father, belongs to the son. There is no process of establishing ownership in the case of inheritance, because the heir is considered “one with”, or “indistinguishable from” the owner, legally speaking. The exception to this is when possession must be gained. This is why we see these words from the Master:
“For God (the Father) so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn.3:16)
The Calvinist idea of “total depravity” (the first letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P.), must be challenged here. This is the doctrine which declares (essentially) that man is so utterly depraved, wicked and devoid of merit, that we cannot even begin to look up and ask for forgiveness without God literally forcing our chin and eyes towards Him by force. Possibly no idea could more thoroughly profane God’s heart towards us.
One of the principles of the Laws of Proper Speech, as laid out through the Chofetz Chaim, is to not denigrate oneself or insult one’s own person, since we are all made in God’s image, and doing so is denigrating part of His creation. Human beings are, in fact, the very pinnacle of God’s creation, and so precious in His sight that language fails to express the idea adequately. The Messiah, Yeshua, has discovered a treasure in a field which is controlled by an enemy. It is his inheritance, promised to him by a loving Father, and represents his bride, Israel (and all adjoined to her through faith in the Messiah). Like Moses, the Messiah gives up everything to purchase the “field”, that he may enjoy the treasure of his inheritance for all eternity. Better said, the Father gives up his most prized possession, the son, to acquire this treasure. The son then presents the bride to the Father and they are blessed, becoming one:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent….The glory which You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in me, that they may be perfected in unity.” (Jn.17:3,22-23)
As the Bal Shem Tov stated, no one knows, but God Himself, the depth of riches He has placed within every Jew, waiting to be mined and discovered. The same could be said of all men, to whom the Jewish people have been called to be a light. This is not the picture of “total depravity” unless one is prepared to make the argument that God’s treasure nothing more than “filthy rags”. How are these riches to be discovered by us, as we wait during this “betrothal period” for the return of the Groom? Consider these words of the great apostle John:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev.19:7-8)
But there’s more. The bride analogy does not only apply to a Christian (as is often taught). We have seen that, actually, it first and foremost applies to Israel. But it applies to one more thing, a thing that relates directly to the parable of the buried treasure: The land.
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”(Rev.21:2)
Why does the man in the parable leave the treasure in the field of the enemy, and not take it immediately upon discovering it? Why does he instead go to the city clerk and give all he has in the world to purchase the field in which the treasure sits? Why did he leave us here? Because, he doesn’t want just part of the inheritance; he wants and will receive the whole thing.
And the jewel of his inheritance, the very “apple of His eye”, are His people.