How Jews Understood The Bible Before Jesus Came: An Amazing Journey To Unlock Biblical Secrets That Will Blow Your Mind

By Walid Shoebat (Shoebat Sunday Special)

Prior to the advent of Christianity, Israel spoke a simple but nevertheless, a potent language: colloquial Palestinian Aramaic. That language had an amazing construct. The language of the Old Testament, (once understood from that time period) will not only take us back to the mindset and the times just before Jesus appeared on the scene, but it unlocks many meanings that are hidden to the western eye where reading the Old Testament in the ancient mindset  would read just like the New Testament. This is why the Targums (written before the advent of Christianity) cuts through the chase where today’s anti-Christian linguists and modern rabbinic Judaism fail to argue with. Having lived in Bethlehem where the culture and the local colloquial language relates, I can spot and read verses in the Old Testament and get the same message as if I am reading the New Testament. Here, I will take you on a fascinating journey before I tell this world “good bye” and shut the door (5 years from now).

I asked my Jewish friend “What is the secret of this Manna, the bread-like substance that God gave Israel in the Sinai?”

“Tell me, what is it” asks Lance.

I had lost my friend Lance 8 years ago where we had many witty and interesting discussions. He was the chairman of our nonprofit and due to the recent events in our charity, he returned and had helped rescue our situation which I am indebted to him.

So Lance is Jewish. He is not Christian, yet.

Lance by his question “what is it?” fulfilled a biblical prophecy about the Jewish people and their temporary blindness to their own scriptures. Manna means just that “what is it?”

Having been born in Bethlehem, where Hebrew, Arabic and the mix with the ancient colloquial local language becomes a blend some of which the words are borrowed from the ancient colloquial Aramaic. This makes it easy for us, Palestinians, to examine the ancient text and find the hidden meaning in many scriptural verses.

In the biblical lands, all names and even words have depth and multiple meanings, the name manna is said to derive from the question man hu, seemingly to mean “what is it,” plus “who is He,” plus “Manna [heavenly bread] is He”.

This is perhaps an Aramaic etymology God had ordained for ancient Israel, while the thirsty and hungry Israelites in the Sinai ask a double whammy regarding the Manna wafer: “what is it” plus “who is He?”

“Ma” literally means “what” and “Man” means “who” and in the case of the Manna in the Sinai, the people of Israel asked “what is it” so God called it Manna which literally means “what is it” while the “Hu” means “He”, that is: who is He whom we consume.

So what Lance was asking is in itself fulfilling prophecy where the Jewish people will keep asking “what is it” because they will not recognize “who is He” until this heavenly Manna shows. In other words, the answer to the question of the Manna (what is it) is a mystery for Israel. It will remain a mystery for them until this Bread is revealed from Heaven above, for this is where the Manna came from.

And there is more, much more, an amazing blend of translation that will blow your mind where one who understands the ancient language can see the gist of the New Testament in the Old.

For example, in Exodus 16:15, when we read the regular translations we find:

“And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: ‘What is it?’–for they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them: ‘It is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”

Yet when we (easterners of the Holy Land) read the ancient Semitic language of the Bible, it gives us a richness unparalleled  to anything a westerner can capture in the translations they have. Many who read here, while they do not comprehend the Semitic (allow me to remedy, you have 5 years to learn) they will begin to see the amazing discoveries:

טו  וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל-אָחִיו מָן הוּא–כִּי לֹא יָדְעוּ, מַה-הוּא; וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, אֲלֵהֶם, הוּא הַלֶּחֶם, אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה לָכֶם לְאָכְלָה

wa-ra֣’u Banֽi-Isra֗el wa-amar֜u A֤is Al-acheeo֙ M֣an H֔ua kai L֥a yda֖o Ma-h֑oa

“and the children of Israel saw [it the manna] and [each] said to his brother Who is He because they did not comprehend what is it“.

This is different from your regular translations. They did not just say “ma hua” (what is it) but “man hua” “who is He” for “Hua” means “he”.

And thats the beauty of this ancient language where in a sense “Man hua” means “Man[na] it is” it also mean “Who is He”.

So the essence of this manna is life, a living being.

What is even more fascinating is when Moses replies:

“וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, אֲלֵהֶם, הוּא הַלֶּחֶם, אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה לָכֶם לְאָכְלָה”.

“Wa-amar Mosheh, Elohim Hua ha-Lehem aser natun Yahweh lakum li-akleh”.

Moshe said “Your God is He, the Bread, Yahweh gave you to eat Him”.

So the text in the ancient mindset can be read in multiple ways and they are all accurate linguistically.

The last word, li-akleh is composed of “li” (so that you may) “akl” (eat) and the “eh” can either be an “it” or a “him”.

So “li-akleh” could also mean “that you may eat Him”.

Rabbinic Judaism would frown on such translation, yet they cannot deny, that such translation fits the Catholic Communion.

So reading the whole verse:

“and the children of Israel saw [it] and [each] said to his brother Who is He because they did not comprehend what is it. Moses then answered: Your God is He, the Bread, Yahweh gave you to eat Him.”

The verses here are prophetic that when the children of Israel are finally redeemed will be converted and baptized: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”(Ezekiel 36:25)

Anyone who objects on baptism by sprinkling take their complaint to God. It says “sprinkle clean [holy] water upon you [Israel]”.

The Eucharist, from the first Christians was understood to be the literal Body and Blood of Christ.  And in verse 31 in Exodus 16, it even describes the Manna:

וַיִּקְרְאוּ בֵֽית־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־שְׁמֹו מָן וְהוּא כְּזֶרַע גַּד לָבָן וְטַעְמֹו כְּצַפִּיחִת בִּדְבָֽשׁ׃

we-qara-u beit Israel et-semu Mn wa-hu-wa ka-zar’ gad laban ka-sfeehat bi-dibs

And the house of Israel called the name thereof Man[na]: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with dibs (grape molasses).

Your translations simply say “honey”, but pay close attention, its “ka-sfeeha” (like wafers) made with “dibs” (grape molasses). The word translators render as “honey” is “دبس” “dibs” which is literally grape molasses we used to buy from Hebron. You can even find scholars who agree (see #2 below). So its not just like “honey” as most translators render the word “dibs”. Its the “wafer” and the “grape” resembling the Body and the Blood of Christ. See “Arab. دبس”

See above (2) “honey of grapes” …”out of Palestine, especially out of the district of Hebron”

I just went over one verse. How would you like me to go over the entire Old Testament from Genesis? Do you have a decade or two?

Understanding some of that ancient lingo, I can practically read the jest of the New Testament in the Old.

It is just fascinating and is why the locals, when they read the Bible they spread some of that wisdom as tradition unlocking secrets.

I learned from my grandparents what took me decades to unlock from scriptures

While I can here some object, I recognize that I can never silence the ardent critics, because critics shout where the wise just plug their ears and enjoy the silence while they study. But I shall debunk the ‘educated’ critics, just keep on reading.

But before I do, I must state that todays translations are not wrong and neither are the ancient ways. It all works together where that ancient language intended multiple and accurate meanings of the same text. It is just the way that language was designed by God.

The translations tell us that “And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”

Nothing wrong with that.

However, no serious scholar can argue that the text can be read in multiple ways where God made the perfect language fit for His perfect mission.

In fact, the word “Manna” does not even occur in this verse we discussed or even in Exodus 16:31 which uses the word “Mann” alone. So where does the word Manna (with an “a” at the end) come from? It is here where I can obtain the credentials to what I am writing since it is found in the Greek Septuagint where the Hebrew word “Mann” is written in Greek as “Manna.”

And who can argue with the Septuagint which tells us how the ancients (from the 3rd century B.C to 132 B.C) understood the language of their time? Scholars barely scratch the surface where for a villager from Bethlehem, its a breeze.

Photo taken from our home in Bethlehem taken by my mother

I gave Lance a clue from Isaiah 52:7. The first two words in the Hebrew-Semitic language of this prophecy are “Mannau”

“מַה־נָּאווּ עַל־הֶהָרִים רַגְלֵי מְבַשֵּׂר מַשְׁמִיעַ  שָׁלֹום מְבַשֵּׂר טֹוב מַשְׁמִיעַ יְשׁוּעָה אֹמֵר לְצִיֹּון מָלַךְ אֱלֹהָֽיִךְ׃

“Mannau al hey harim raglei mebaser masmia’ shalom mebaser tov masmia’ Yesu’a amer L-Zion melek elahek”

“He is the Manna [and] upon the mountain His feet proclaims peace, proclaims Jesus. Tell Zion this is the King your God”

This gives a greater meaning than what you read in translations. The first two words: Manna [H]u which means “good/beautiful” plus “He is the Manna”. So when did this Manna have “feet”?

There are secrets that one can never find in any translation except by understanding how the ancients spoke the colloquial. The locals derived their interpretations from the ancient Aramaic. So here in Isaiah 52:7, “He is the Manna”. Today the translations reads another accurate way:

“How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

He proclaims “peace” and “good tidings” and “proclaims salvation”. Yeshua (Jesus) is also salvation. But when we look at the natural way we translate, the last two words “Malak Elahek” tells us that this one “the feet of Him” is a Malak/Malek which literally means this man is also “King” and “Elahek” is literally “and is your God”. This is why translators also refer to the only ancient semitic language that survived in its purist form, Arabic:

“to rule” “to make king”: to proclaim Him as King of His Kingdom.

In other words, this one “the Manna” reigns as “King God”.

And we can also silence (or perhaps anger) the ardent critics when we examine the Targums, the ancient translations of the Old Testament. Studying the Targums take us on an ancient journey where we can hang out with the people during the times before Christ came. The Targhum of Jonathan translate/interpret the verse as:

“How beautiful upon the mountains of the land of Israel are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that publisheth salvation, saying to the congregation of Zion, The kingdom of thy God is revealed.”

“The kingdom of thy God is revealed” is regarding that one whose “feet” “bringeth good tidings” (the Good News) who is also how this “kingdom of thy God is revealed”.

Even Christ agrees. He made this clear when He announced: “the Kingdom of God is upon you” (Matthew 12:28) He was speaking of Himself as this Kingdom and of His followers who are also of His body.

To the Targumist, “Shiloh” was clear. Today we read:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
As long as men come to Shiloh;
And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.

But when Targhum Onkelos interprets (in reality translates) the verse, it cuts through the chase and goes right to the point:

He who exerciseth dominion shall not pass away from the house of Jehuda, nor the saphra from his children’s children for ever, until the Meshiha come, whose is the kingdom, and unto whom shall be the obedience of the nations (or, whom the peoples shall obey).

Rabbinic Judaism only has one choice when it comes to this Targum; they must reject this one as a faulty translation. Why? If they accept it then Jesus is Messiah. Why? There is no longer a scepter in Israel. It departed from Judah so then the Messiah must have come.

Shiloh is Messiah “Meshiha” and now we know how, where, and why the Septuagint Greek translates certain words with a meaning rather than word-for-word translation. The Septuagint defies the literal word for word translation where “Alma” (young maiden) becomes “virgin” regardless that the text never used the word “betula” the word for a literal “virgin”.

Again, the pre-Christian dating of the Palestinian Targums is significant for it tells us how Israel interpreted before Jesus came to only go contrary to such translations after they rejected their King.

So a Jew has a difficult choice to make; to follow his modern rabbinic studies or to travel in the time-tunnel to when his faith was the greatest during an era where a Temple was erect and where prophets roamed the land.

The Targums disambiguate the messianic texts and clearly reveal the mindset of these ancient times, that when it comes to Messianic interpretations, modern Judaism is not on par with the way ancient Judaism understood the Messianic text, where the title “Meshiha” (Messiah) is put on what modern Judaism says it is not.

And this is not simply my private view, serious scholars would agree, Targum Jonathan was written in Palestinian Aramaic and explains the mindset of the time and is not just a translation but sets the record on how to correctly interpret the way the ancient prophets did:

In the Palestinian Targum of the Pentateuch we have in the main material coming from pre-Christian times which must be studied by everyone who wishes to understand the state of Judaism at the time of the birth of Christianity. And we possess this material in a language of which we can say that it is very similar to that spoken by the earliest Christians. It is material the importance of which can scarcely be exaggerated. (Paul Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (2d ed.; New York: Praeger, 1960) 208.

The discovery of the Targums in the Qumran caves necessitates the consideration these are the pre-Christian interpretation of the Bible. The language of the Targhum is Palestinian, the best guide to the spoken dialect of first century which was the colloquial language. The Palestinian Targum was colloquial. It is a guide to the correct understanding of a Hebrew text.

When scripture is read, the Targums go well beyond mere translation and have much in common with the New Testament whose inspired authors are much more interested in the explanation of Scripture rather than a word-for-word translation.

And unlike today’s Judaism, in these times the Targums were part of Jewish daily life that if my friend Lance travels in the time-tunnel, back when the Temple was erect, he would recognize his people to be more Christian like in their interpretation of scripture and is why when King Herod brings the interpreters, they refer to Micah 5, clearly pointing the text is about Messiah’s birth (the King of Israel) which is in Bethlehem. And what modern Rabbi would dare interpret the text as such, that Messiah, the Son of God, was born at that time in Bethlehem?

So is my translation of this issue on the Manna inaccurate? I can even start traveling with you from the beginning of the Old Testament in Genesis 1, to only find out the ancients would agree with me. Here, let us study how the Targums applied multiple meanings (just as I did) and cut through the chase. In Genesis 1:1, we read:

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

B-raaset bara elohim et ha-shamaim wa-et ha-aretz

“Under the first leader, the Son of Elohim [God] there was the heavens and the earth”.

B-raaset (Be-ra-sheth) the “b” with ra-sheth means “with/under the command” and “raaset” is “chief” and “bara” means “create” plus “son”. So the alternate meaning is that the heavens and the earth were established by the Son of Elohim (God).

Such a translation would be accepted 100% since in Targum Neofiti we read the verse as:

“In the beginning, with wisdom, the Son of Yahweh [God] created the heavens and the earth”.

Bam!!! So in Texas its: In the beginning the Son of God said “Bam!!!” and it was.

So when we read Hebrew from an Aramaic understanding during the time, just before Jesus showed up, the experts of the time understood Genesis 1:1 ‘s, “bara” (he created) in Aramaic, also “bara” as “son”.

Here watch this clip and learn:

That was the language of Christ, not the modern Hebrew. To us watching the Passion of Christ was breeze.

Listen to the first words:

“As’alak, Yeshua ensaret, amar lana in ant Mashiacha, BAR elachachai”

I ask you Jesus of Nazareth, tell us, are you the Messiah, Son of our God?

Jesus: A-Hua Ana”

“I am He”

So “Hua,” is He. Manna-Hua, is He is the Manna. In this case, it is not an “it”.

“ant Mashiacha, BAR elachachai” Bar is SON. Elah (God) and Elahachai (our God).

It was so clear for both the locals and the scholars of the day.

So to the scholars of the time, in the beginning “Bara Elohim” literally means “the Son of God” that by Him the heavens and the earth was (created).

Such ancient translation gives a richer meaning than to say God created the heavens and the earth, for many are the cults that believe this. But when we apply the way the ancients saw it, we can sum up the New Testament where 1 Corinthians 8:6, when speaking of Christ, we find: “by whom [Christ] are all things …”

Creation is implied.

This is pretty much how I see it, from the perspective of our village in Bethlehem. So He “became to us wisdom from God” (1 Cor 1:30),  the Son is “the beginning“ “the firstborn [be-re-shet] of all creation.” (Col 1:15 1:13 Col 1:18)  and “God made the world through a Son” (Hebrews 1:2) and is why Gen 1:1.41 and John 1:1-2 “in the beginning” where the Word is with God and the Word was God: the Logos.

To neglect the ancients and the targumic evidence, is not just unfortunate, but could be deadly, where one misses entirely God’s ultimate purpose.

So its not just I who invented some fanciful way to view the Bible, the disciples also see it this way.

The Targums, just as Catholics view, addresses the “seed” not strictly singular as in Christ. Protestants insist that this “seed” is strictly the Messiah. The Targums see “seed” as a corporate responsibility where its a symbiotic relationship where Christ is also the Church. Here, behold, the Targums:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.’ (Targum JPS on Genesis 3:15)

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between the seed of thy son, and the seed of her sons; and it shall be when the sons of the woman keep the commandments of the law, they will be prepared to smite thee upon thy head; but when they forsake the commandments of the law, thou wilt be ready to wound them in their heel. Nevertheless for them there shall be a medicine, but for thee there will be no medicine; and they shall make a remedy for the heel in the days of the King Meshiha. (Palestinian Targhum)

In the Targums, regarding Genesis 3:15, they would write: “in the day of King Messiah”, “beyoma” (in that day) “Melka” (King) “Masheaha” (Messiah) that the descendant/descendants of the woman strike the serpent’s head in keeping the commandments of the law, whose descendants are also keepers of the law. We find that confirmed in Revelations:

“So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children [plural], who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)

“Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. ” (Revelation 14:12)

Keeping “the commandments” (law) including “AND their faith in Jesus” is how they saw it. It is not by “faith alone” since keeping the law is the evidence of salvation by God’s Grace.

So when it comes to the controversy of “seed” being the seed of the woman (Messiah) who crushes the devil, Romans 16:20 clarifies:

“The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet with haste.”

“Your feet” are the feet of the saints (plural).

The prophecy applies to singular “seed” as well as plural “seed” and “keeping the law” where the saints will crush the devil through Christ.

Therefore, it becomes impossible to deny that God established a corporate system where the text at times refers to Messiah and also that His seed also applies to the plural “seed of the Woman”, His mother and these keep the law.

This should put an end to all the arguments over the issue of legalism. God’s true children adhere to a Mother, and to the Law as well, and they are her seed, and His seed … again, God set up a corporate system.

So when Paul wrote: “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet with haste” was Paul speaking to Christ or to the saints (plural)?

“Your feet” here are the feet of the saints. Paul here is even reflecting to Genesis 3:15 and understood the Old Testament text the way we do from an ancient eastern perspective of the local language the way we read it.

But even in the Hebrew Bible, God sets up this same standard. In Proverbs 30:4 God Himself cuts through the chase on who created the heavens and the earth declaring He has a Son:

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

So what are all these objections we always hear about how Catholics read a faulty Bible because they translated “His seed” to “Her seed”?

When it comes to understanding the Bible, if interpretations are a multiple choice question of “a” “b” or “c”, at times the best answer is all of the above.

Even Evangelicals would rely on how the ancients translated the text while many reject the Septuagint. Yet when arguing with Jews, they would instantly rely on the Septuagint when it comes to the Virgin Birth when Jews argue for an exact word for word translation insisting that “Alma” simply means “young maiden” and not virgin. The Evangelicals (all of them with no exception) rely on the Septuagint Greek where ancient scholars from Israel translated the Hebrew to read Almah (young maiden) as Parthenos: Virgin.

So why all the fuss?

The Targums, including the Septuagint, including even the New Testament, settles most matters because these were the closest to the time. So when we read “until Shiloh comes” where it is translated ” “until the one to whom it belongs to comes,” the Palestinian Targum Onkelos removes all ambiguity and renders the text “until the Messiah to whom the kingdom belongs comes.”

So beware when someone says “its only this” and “its its only that”.

At times even an opposite interpretation is correct. Take the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. It is primarily about the suffering Messiah. The Jews say it is only about the suffering of God’s chosen people (Israel).

But the Targhum gives the other side how Messiah’s seed (the saints) suffer. The Targum of Isaiah even gives an opposite meaning; instead of Messiah’s suffering its Messiah triumphs. Where others translate, “He was despised and rejected by men,” the Targum reads, “Then shall the glory of all the kingdoms be despised and come to an end,” and rather than being described as “like a lamb that is led to slaughter,” it reads: “The mighty ones of the peoples shall he deliver up like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa 53:3, 7).

The critics will scream of contradictions. But such ‘opposites’ is supported when Matthew 2:4-6 refers to Bethlehem.

Matthew (unlike the way Micah 5 describes Bethlehem), does not say that Bethlehem is “too little,” but that Bethlehem is “by no means the least”.

This is significant, since to God, the least, will be the greatest, and is how God ordained King David who was the insignificant one in his kindred’s eyes, yet was the greatest in God’s.

Examining the text from God’s perspective is not the same as man’s perspective. God is colorful, rich and works in mysterious ways and at times opposite from how man thinks.

Therefore, understanding the mind of God is key to everything from salvation to law.

God chose Bethlehem over Jerusalem, the lowly, over the proud. This is why Bethlehem, in the Bible, unlike Jerusalem, has no curses. The least shall be the greatest and the greatest shall be the least, is a biblical theme.

The “ruler will go out” of Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Micah and Matthew have two different purposes. The Targum spoke of an individual servant who would act on behalf of the people, but Messiah shall not suffer vicariously, it is not a multiple choice between one or the other but both. Isaiah 63:8 shed light:

“In all their affliction He was afflicted …”

God is afflicted as His people are. God shares in both our joy and our suffering.

Christians suffer as Christ suffers. They have Judases and are abandoned when they suffer. At times they stand alone. At times they are slandered. At times they are murdered.

He comes from Beth-lehem, (Beth: house, Lechem: Flesh) is also the house of The Bread, the very Manna from heaven. We too have a choice, to be humble, as in how God chose to be born in Bethlehem, or to be proud as in earthly Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 16). This Manna is the Bread of Life. He has Feet. He brings glad tidings, the Good News Who says to Zion “Your King-God reigns”.