Who's In The Temple?
Most all of us have heard the old Abbott and Costello vaudeville routine, "Who's on First." Things got so mixed up it was almost impossible to keep up with who was what, where, and when.
Could it be possible this also happened with at least some of the priests and the Temple service in Yeshua’s day or even before? One major example being Caiaphus. He was appointed as High Priest and he was not of the house of Aaron; and then there were those who were truely Levites such as
Zacharias, who was a son of Aaron and the father of John the baptist.
Certainly motive and opportunity were necessary factors present for this to happen allowing strangers in the Temple. God Himself confirms this in Ezekiel 44:7, where He says they have brought strangers into His Sanctuary. All that was needed was a people who were familiar with the Temple duties and who could blend in over time or even through captivitly becoming accepted by the general population.
Was there such a people who could have decieved Israel in this manner? Is it possible? It is written that Israel was decieved once before by a people called the Hivites who came with old shoes and molded bread tricking Israel into making peace with them in the days of Joshua..
We do know that Yeshua spoke very blunt to the Scribes and the Pharisees of those days, never once calling any them the sons of Aaron or the sons of Levi but rather addressing some of them as, "those who say they are Jews but are not."
This study does not intend to affirm or deny this as a fact, however, due to scripture references alluding to the possibility and even probability of imposters in the Temple, it is certainly a subject that is worthy of a closer look. This study is only intended to bring attention to those sciptures.
The Bondage Issue
So, lets start with the bondage issue. In John 8 Yeshua was speaking to some of the Scribes, and Pharisees of the Temple, and others present about bondage. They didn’t understand that Yeshua was talking about bondage to sin, but rather assumed He meant bondage as in captivity to others.
Then said Jesus unto them, [The scribes and the Pharisees in the Temple] When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
First of all, if they are descendents of Israel, how can they say they have never been in bondage? (1.) All of Israel was in bondage to Egypt, (2.) later the Assyrians captured Northern tribes, called Israel, (3.) the remaining Southern tribes, called Jews, fell captive to the Babylonians, and (4.) During Yeshua’s ministry, Jerusalem and Israel was under the control and authority of the Roman Empire (Edomites-Esau). So, if those to whom Yeshua was speaking were of the house of Israel, how can they say they have never been in bondage. Are they not in bondage to the Romans even as they speak?
As we examine the facts, notice previously in verse 33, they only claimed to be Abraham’s seed. Have their own words betrayed them? True, some of Abraham’s seed (descendants), namely the Edomites [Esau] and the Ishmaelites [associated with Midianites], may not have ever been in bondage. However, we are talking about the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and most certainly the children of Israel, the children of the promise, had been in bondage and still were in bondage at this time to the Romans, paying tribute to Ceasar.
Yeshua challenged these Scribes and Pharasees about even being of Abraham’s seed. He refers to them as serpents, sons of the devil, and Jews who say they are Jews and are not. Please take notice of the conversation in the following verses.
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Yeshua saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Yeshua said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech ? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, [Cain killed Abel] and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it [“Ye shall not surely die”]. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. [Yeshua attaches them all the way back to the beginning. Even Abel’s blood will come on them. ]
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Surely there has been enough conflicting dialogue back and forth, in a literal context (not just spiritual meanings), which merits further explanation. If they are not Jews, nor have they ever been in bondage, then just who are they? So, we will start our scripture search to see if we find any referrences explaining just who they could be, if anybody other than Israel.
The Scribes Were Called Kenites
In Daniel we are warned of those who will come thinking to change times and laws trying to wear out the saints. So, lets first take a look at the Sribes who were called Kenites. We know the duty of the scribes was to copy the writings of the Torah and such, but why were they called Kenites? Are the Kenites even of the house of Israel, and if not, just who are they anyway? Also we read that Ashur will carry the Kenites away captive.
1 Chronicles 2:55
And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab.
How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock. Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive. And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!
The Kenites were the scribes but they were descendents of Midian, not of the house of Israel at all.
The Kenites was name of a tribe inhabiting the desert lying between southern Palestine and the mountains of Sinai. Jethro was of this tribe (Judg. 1:16). He is called a "Midianite" (Num. 10:29), and hence it is concluded that the Midianites and the Kenites were the same tribe. They showed kindness to Israel in their journey through the wilderness. They accompanied them in their march as far as Jericho (Judg. 1:16), and then returned to their old haunts among the Amalekites, in the desert to the south of Judah. They sustained afterwards friendly relations with the Israelites when settled in Canaan (Judg. 4:11, 17-21; 1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29). The Rechabites belonged to this tribe (1 Chr. 2:55) and in the days of Jeremiah (35:7-10) are referred to as following their nomad habits. Saul bade them depart out from the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:6) when, in obedience to the divine commission, he was about to "smite Amalek." And his reason is, "for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt."
The Kenites became the scribes. The Kenites, the Midianites, and the Rechabites are of the same tribe and not of the house of Israel.
Lets look now at the Rechabites. They were commanded of their father not to plant vineyards, nor sow seed, nor build houses, nor even to have any. This is just the opposite of what God told the children of Israel to do. Also we find the Rechabites dwelt in Jerusalem for fear of the Caldeans. God told Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites and the following account is recorded for us.
1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
2 Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.
3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;
4 And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:
5 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.
6 But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:
7 Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.
8 Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;
9 Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed:
10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.
The above scriptures are as though God wants to reveal to Jeremiah or to us who the Rechabites are, or maybe to make sure it was recorded for us to understand. Never the less, the Rechabites were not of the house of Israel. They dwelt in the Jerusalem area because they feared Nebuchadrezzar and thought they would be safe in the midst of Israel.
The descendants of Rechab through Jonadab or Jehonadab. They belonged to the Kenites, who accompanied the children of Israel into Palestine, and dwelt among them. Moses married a Kenite wife (Judg. 1:16), and Jael was the wife of "Heber the Kenite" (Judg 4:17). Saul also showed kindness to the Kenites (1 Sam. 15:6). The main body of the Kenites dwelt in cities, and adopted settled habits of life (1 Sam 30:29); but Jehonadab forbade his descendants to drink wine or to live in cities. They were commanded to lead always a nomad life. They adhered to the law laid down by Jonadab, and were noted for their fidelity to the old-established custom of their family in the days of Jeremiah (35).
Neither the Kenites (the scribes) nor the Rechabites were of the house of Israel, and now come the Nethinims. The Nethinims are actually descendants of Ham. In the days of Saul, the Nethinims (meaning the given ones), were originally called Gibeonites. (See lineage chart at the end of this study. The Nethinims are none other than a blend of the HIVITES and the Amorites. )
After David began to reign, he gave the Nethinims to the Levites as Temple servants (Ezra 8:20). The Nethinims did the menial work for the Levites for several years. Being the Temple servants of the Levites, put the Nethinims in a very unique position. Their duties would enable them to become very knowledgeable with everything concerning the entire Temple and Altar service.
It would have been extremely commonplace for Israel to see the Nethinims coming and going every day at the Temple. Compounding the situation, when the Jews (Southern Israel) were carried away captive to Babylon, the Nethinims were carried away with them and are believed to have merged into the general body of the Jewish people.
Now it becomes critically obvious why God commanded that tribal lineage only comes through the father's seed to the son, NEVER through the woman. Otherwise a Levite woman, married to a Nethinim, could lay claim that her son, who was fatherd by the Nethinim husband, is of the Levite tribe though her seed, which absolutely contradicts the Law, and sewing confusion.
1 Chr 9:1-2
So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies: and behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for the transgression. Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims.
Also of the Nethinims, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinims: all of the were expressed by name
And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance. But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.
Nethinim (formally Gibeonites)
the name given to the hereditary temple servants in all the post-Exilian books of Scripture. The word means given, i.e., "those set apart", viz., to the menial work of the sanctuary for the Levites. The tradition is that the Gibeonites (Josh. 9:27) were the original caste, afterwards called Nethinim. Their numbers were added to afterwards from captives taken in battle; and they were formally given by David to the Levites (Ezra 8:20), and so were called Nethinim, i.e., the given ones, given to the Levites to be their servants. 612 Nethinim returned from Babylon (Ezra 2:58; 8:20). They were under the control of a chief from among themselves (2:43; Neh. 7:46). No reference to them appears in the New Testament, because it is probable that they became merged in the general body of the Jewish people.
Since the Nethinims were also carried away to Babylon, it is very probable many became assimilated in with the general body of Southern Israel (mostly Judah, Benjamin, and some of Levi). This would easily explain Ezra’s actions below when the Jews were permitted to return to Jerusalem.
15 And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.
16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding.
17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren the Nethinims, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God.
18 And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man [one man] of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;
Strangers In The Temple Sanctuary!
Things get worse. In Ezekiel, we are told that Israel either hired or assigned strangers (not of Israel) to be keepers of the sanctuary and God’s holy things! God considers this to be an abomination.
6 And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations,
7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.
8 And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.
The Nethinims, it seems, would be the strangers who were set as keepers in charge of God's sanctuary, especially since they were already there trained as Temple servants to Levites' and would know how the service of the sanctuary was to be done. Who else could have been the uncircumcised keepers so easily accepted by the people. The Nethinims were seen there every day anyway performing their menial duties as servants to the Levites. The Nethinims would surely jump at the chance to be exalted and set in as keepers of God's sanctuary.
All The Bases Are Covered
The Kenites and Rechabites (both Midianites) along with the Nethinims and Gibeonites (both Hamites) are all involved and seem to have even taken over most all of the Temple service. Only to make matters worse, Herod and the Romans (both Edomites) now control Jerusalem and Israel. The Romans even appointed Caiaphus (one of their own) as High Priest, which was reserved for Aaron’s sons only.
The courage of our Lord becomes very clear as we see what He was up against. He was all but surrounded by treachery. With a better understanding of just whom Yeshua was dealing with, His confrontation with the religious leaders in His day takes on a whole new literal meaning as we read the closing verses.
If this scenario is correct and certainly it is very possible, it is no wonder they hated Yeshua and wanted Him dead, He knew who they were.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.