Five Important Signs and Symbols of Judaism
(The Shema)

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Law Laws Written On Stone Ink and Pen Law Laws Written In The Heart
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SHEMA Tefillin Mezuzah Tallit Tzitzit Christ Holy Spirit Tzitzit Tallit Mezuzah Tefillin SHEMA Promised Land
Reminders Written Externally Join Covenant Reminders Written Internally On Hearts And Minds
Spiritually Uncircumcised Children Circumcision Spiritually Circumcised Adults
Physically Circumcised First Generation Exodus Physically Uncircumcised Second Generation Circumcised

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Five traditional practices that are distinctive about Judaism point to their Messiah. The first is circumcision and the other four are contained in their statement of faith called the SH'MA (SHEMA). This instituted physical reminders to keep the covenant. The statements of the SHMA come from three texts. Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, Deuteronomy 11: 13-31 and Numbers 15: 37-41.

  1. Circumcision (Brit Milah). This ceremony is performed on every male Jew at the age of eight days so that he becomes a part of the covenant people. The foreskin is stretched, cut off, then blood is drawn and the foreskin is buried.
    This was in anticipation of the one child who would be promised child of the covenant. Christ is the seed who was promised to Eve who would be stretched out on a cross, cut off and buried for the sins of the world.
    » Foreskin. It is a perfect representation of the carnal human nature. Since it covers the source through which the seeds of life come, it is a symbol of the human nature covering the seeds of life.
    » Castration. Why does castration not represent a better symbol of cutting off the seed?
    The symbol must represent two actions of Christ. He must die and He must have life within Himself so that He can be resurrected and bear fruit. A castrated male is dead. He can have no seed. But circumcision captures both symbols.
    The foreskin is the outer covering that is His human body. It was cut off just as Daniel predicted would happen to the Prince of the covenant (Daniel 9: 26).
    His body was hiding His divinity which has the seeds of life. When His body was cut off, it spilled His blood and He died. His body was buried, but divinity, His fertile seed, lived on to bring Him back to life.
    Jesus "Cut off". He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. (Isaiah 53: 8)
    Circumcision appears to occur after God delivers His promises. It is the response of the people who have received the promise. Before circumcision, God always renews the covenant personally with each generation. After they entered the Promised Land and the nation grew, each new generation entered the covenant by circumcision.
    Law The Uncircumcised Second Generation. Many people believe that Paul banned circumcision as unnecessary. Since God never changes, how do we reconcile this? The second generation of the exodus were not circumcised while they were wandering through the desert for forty years. However, they were circumcised when they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 6: 7-9). This is how it will be with those after Christ. We will circumcise our hearts, cutting away the lusts of the flesh (Romans 2: 28-29) before we are cut off from the earth.
    Law The Law of The Covenant and Ordinances. Jesus fulfilled all the laws contained in ordinances and sacrifices when He was cut off on the cross. He also fulfilled the covenant with His death when He uncovered the source of life with the giving of the Holy Spirit so that we were justified and sanctified for eternal life.

    » The Purpose Of Circumcision.
    Symbols of God Hidden in Human Flesh and Killed
    SystemHuman BodyDeath
    4 Wounds
    Hidden Divinity
    Or Life
    CircumcisionForeskin Cut off, buriedSeed (Sperm)
    Most Holy PlaceVeilVeil on 4 hooks rippedArk
    ArkBox Mercy Seat
    4 horns
    Manna, rod, commandments
    Incense AltarMade of Gold (Perfection) Blood on the 4 hornsPrayer
    Altar of SacrificeMade of earth (Imperfect)Tied to 4 horns
    Blood on the 4 horns
    Eternal fire.
    The Continual
    Ezekiel's TempleTempleBoiling places (4 corners)River from the throne
    Animal SacrificeClean animal4 split hoovesSeed regurgitated
    GrainUnleavened BreadEaten, HolesSeed sprouts
    SederMiddle MatzahBroken Matzah
    4 cups of wine
    (Hidden Matzah)
    PassoverLambBlood on the doorpostDeath passed over
    TefillinBox Nails, thorns, strapsScroll with the words of the SHMA
    MezuzahBox Nailed to the doorpost
    TzitzitTallit (Shawl) Hole in 4 cornersBlue strand
    Law gives life
    Luke 19: 23
    Outer GarmetTallit Torn in 4 Seamless tunic Not cut
    MessiahJesus (made of earth)Crucified on 4 Nails on a crossHe is God
    The body is a covering that hides a source of perfect law and life that can regenerate itself. God is hidden in human flesh.
  2. Tzitzit. These were four tassels wrapped with a cord of blue that were attached to the four corners (or wings) of a garment or the shawl. The shawl (tallit) was a large rectangle, covering the tunic, that was draped over the shoulders and fell to the ankles. It may have fringes along the shorter edges.
    "Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. (Numbers 15: 38).

    » The Downward View. While on the cross He looked down at the fringes, the bells and pomegranates and remembered He was their continual. It was meant to remind Jesus of His continual ministry. He must follow the will of God and remain on the cross. The key phrase is verse 39.
    It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot. So that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. (Numbers 15: 39).
    When you looked down at the fringes you will remember to do the will of God instead of following your natural inclination. As Jesus was suffering on the cross, He looked down at the people surrounding Him like the fringes on the hem of a garment. The world had broken the law and this was why His death was necessary. That law bound Him to the cross. The blue color was a reminder of the law. In reality, the fringes around him were missing their blue color. He would be the blue in the fringe if He stayed on the cross. They were the noise of the bells and pomegranates on the robe of the high priest as He made atonement for them.
    So He was literally wounded, but not for Himself because He did not follow His human heart. He had submitted to the will of God in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    » 39 Coils and 10 Knots. The popular meaning of the number of these knots is based on gematria. I am rejecting the theories that are based on gematria for two basic reasons. First, signs and symbols are useless if they are not universal and cannot cross the boundaries of language. The gematria is based on knowing the Hebrew language and that was not spoken by many Jews after years of captivity.

    Second, the gematria is based on adding unrelated items such as the values of the letters in the name of the word and the number of knots and strands. Why use five instead of ten for the number of knots. And why not add the 39 coils?
    My belief is that the tzitzit represented the continual ministry of Christ. And my theory is justified because the number of coils correspond to another group of related items. And this same pattern can be demonstrated in the coverings of the sanctuary that also symbolize time. Remember the purpose is to always remember the commandments for the duration of the covenant and not to follow your desires. So the symbols must be related to the commandments and to time. Let us look at the items in each tzitzit.
    » The Hands And Feet. They do the will (commandments).
    The Coils And The Knots
    Item # Total (4) Time Cover
    Coil 7 28 Lunar month Linen
    Coil 8 32 Solar month Goat's
    Coil 11 44 Wicked
    Coil 13 52 One year
    Total39 156 Total
    The tzitzit was eight threads that were tied with a specific number of knots and coils of the blue thread. Three white threads and one longer cord of blue (the shamash) were doubled over, passing through the hole in the corners of the tallit making eight threads which tied the knot.
    The prevailing theory about their meaning is based on gematria (the numeric value of letters).
    Gematria (613). The Hebrew word for tzitzit (ציצית) has a numeric value of 600. When this is added to eight threads and five double knots the result is 613. This is the number of laws written in the Torah. I reject this arbitrary and convoluted logic.
    » Knots (The Commandments or Mitzvot).
    » 39 Coils (The Continual). The coils appear to represent time. They must remember the covenant continually. Compare these to the fabric coverings over the sanctuary they also represent time. The number of coils for all four tassels corresponds exactly to the length of the sanctuary and its coverings! The components of time can be seen in each tzitzit and all four combined. There were four groups of coils interspersed between the five groups of knots. Each had a different number of coils. According to "Ask the Rabbi" at chabad.org the basic composition (4 corners, 4 string folded to 8, and 5 knots) is the same across the board among different groups of Jews, and was handed down from Moses. All the numbers point to time.
    1. 7 Coils. Total 28 (Linen Cover). Seven days in one week and twenty eight days in one lunar month.
    2. 8 Coils. Total 32 (Sanctuary Length). Eight represents a new beginning, but 32 is not a common unit of time. It is the closest whole number to 1/4 of a solar month (31 days). It is the length needed to cover the sanctuary. What does it mean?
      Age of the Prince of the Covenant. He joined the covenant through circumcision at eight days by this time He had taken His human body or foreskin for 40 weeks. 32 years after His incarnation He began to fulfill the covenant after His baptism.
      Jewish Symbols

      Kept the Covenant While Abandoned. Based on Hosea 6: 1-2, in another lesson we show that Jesus was abandoned for about thirty two hours in which He was forsaken and unsure of His fate. After He was raised to life, He was now sure but He still had to submit to God. He had to wait in the tomb another twelve hours before He was resurrected. His divinity kept the covenant for 32 hours, not submitting to His own desires. God remained entombed by choice. He did not use His divine powers.
    3. 11 Coils. Total 44 (Goat's Hair Cover). The 44 coils remind us of the 44 cubit length of the 11 panels of the goat's hair curtain. That represented the time given to the wicked.
    4. 13 Coils. Total 52 (Sanctuary Length and Height Approx). 13 weeks in each season and 52 weeks in one year.

    » Add One. The numbers can also be calculated by adding one to a significant number to represent either a new beginning or what belongs to God (6, 7, 10 and 12). So the tzitzit might represent the time in which all these important issues will be resolved.
    1. Rest. 6 + 1. (7). Six days belong to man who was made on the sixth day but the seventh day is for man and God to know each other.
    2. New Beginning. 7 + 1. (8). After seven cycles, time begins again. A jubilee of rest and perfection.
    3. Law. 10 + 1. (11). The ten commandments are based on the one law of love.
    4. Priests. 12 + 1. (13). There were twelve tribes of Israel but the priests of God are the thirteenth tribe.

    » The Blue Cord (Shamash). This cord bound the seven strands together, like the blue cord which bound the two sections of the linen coverings to fifty loops. This is the law being reconciled to all. Therefore the strands represent all people.
    » The Tallit (Shawl). The shawl is a covering whose only purpose was to hold the tzitzit. This covering, like the veil and the coverings over the sanctuary, also represented His human body whose only purpose was to fulfill the covenant.
    » 4 Corners. This is the universal nature, all directions or everywhere.
    » 4 Wings. The tzitzit in the corners were called wings. This represented His four limbs held to the cross.
    » 4 Holes in the Corners. These represented the holes left by the nails that held Him on the cross.
    » Cloth. His body is our robe of righteouness.
    Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. (John 19: 23)

    Law The Law of Curses and Judgments. The symbol of the law in the mezuzah and tfellin are the copies of the SHEMA, but in the tzitzit this symbol is a blue cord. This symbol is a reminder of the curses and judgments to which Jesus must submit in order to keep the covenant. He would be bound to the altar by the cords of the law until all the curses, wrath and judgments were poured out on Him for us.
    ... bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. (Psalm 118: 27)

    Law The Law of Righteousness. The reason that the tzitzit is attached to the tallit or our garments is because this requirement of the law demonstrates righteousness more than any other keeping of the law. All heaven and all righteous people keep the moral law. However, it takes a person of a higher form of righteousness to keep a law that requires him or her to submit to unjust suffering without retaliation or guarantee of reward. Righteousness can be worn like a garment with holes in the four corners. Since such suffering and sacrifice was never experienced in heaven before Satan, this demonstration of righteousness by submission is a new witness in the universe.

  3. Mezuzah. This is a box that contains a hand written scroll with the words of the SHMA. It was attached at an angle (leaning left) on the right doorpost of every door in the house except the bathroom. Both the Mezuzah and the doorpost together represented Christ nailed to the cross with the law within His heart so that God could fulfill the covenant.
    And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6: 9).
    The Five Signs On The Cross
    Tallit (Body)
    Tzitzit (Nailed Hands and Feet)
    Mezuzah (Nailed to the Cross)
    Tefillin (Remember and Do Laws)
    Circumcision (Death)

    On the cross there was a mezuzah with a title was written above His head on the titulus. He was the king obeying the SHMA.
    And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Luke 23: 38)
    Law The Law is The Heritage of Our Children. The moral law must be kept in our homes and they must be given to our children like treasures.

  4. Tefillin (Phylactery). It is a word which is related to the word for prayer (tefilah) and the root word for judgment. It is a small black leather cube box that contains a piece of parchment with the words of the SHMA. It is a symbol of the cube of the most holy place covered in the leather of the porpoise skin. The covenant is contained in both objects. It is attached by leather straps in two places, on the hand and forehead.
    You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. (Deuteronomy 6: 8)
    The straps which are bound on the upper arm and the hand are a symbol of the ropes that the Romans tied to the upper arms of the person on the cross to support the body so that the nails do not rip through the wrist.
    They are a reminder to love the covenant and to do them. On the cross they were also a symbol of the effect of the curse and so served as a prophecy of where He would be wounded. He would be wounded on the hand and forehead for the broken covenant.
    1. Tefillah On The Hand (Arm). Jesus was strapped to the cross by His hands. The spikes of the nails also bound Him to the cross. The mark on his hand was a sign of His deliverance with the outstretched hand.
    2. Tefillah On The Forehead. A crown of thorns was placed on His forehead with the spikes between His eyes. The forehead holds the name of God so above Him, like a Mezuzah, was His title, "King of the Jews".
    The mark of the beast is on the hand and forehead, representing total allegiance to the laws and government of the beast.

Making The Tefillin
We thought it was pure legalism, abolished at the cross. But look at the testimony of the pituitary gland. The maligned tefillin is a living symbol of the promise of the new covenant and it now serves as proof of Bible science.
The instructions were given to them by Moses since Mount Sinai. The process may take a year to make one pair of tefillin. These steps in manufacturing the pair of tefillin are so amazing that they are worth studying in detail to grasp the symbolism of how Jesus conquered. It is as if God gave all the essentials in the written law, yet He held back these precious secrets in the oral tradition as a mystery - like the secret ingredient in a recipe. Separated from their true meaning and purpose, the people could only blindly follow these rules which seemed to have no purpose or reason. Only the commandment from God gave them a reason. Thank God they did obey in faith because if Satan had realized how essential this knowledge was he would have been more diligent in stamping out or corrupting the practice.

The Cord And The Nails
Three forces held Jesus to the cross. Nails. The spikes of the nails split his hands and feet because of the curse.

Cords. Straps also bound His hands and feet and these were a result of the law. He had to stay on the cross of His own free will to satisfy the law. These cords are symbolized by the straps of the Tefillin and the cords of the Tzitzit.

Love. Since He loved us, He obeyed.
SHMA means "hear or listen". It is the statement of faith by the Jews which comes from the first sentence in verse 4. It used to be the custom to read the Ten Commandments before reading th SHEMA.
"Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad." (Deuteronomy 6: 4)
The words of the Shema were said to the second generation who were about to possess the Promised Land. It included a reminder of the faithfulness of God, His mighty acts and the covenant that bound Him to Israel.
This reminds us of the New Testament emphasis on faith and the Torah.
So faith comes by hearing. And hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10: 17)
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11: 6)
Now let us combine the Jewish and Christian statements of faith which comes from the same Lord.
Now the duties of the faithful child of the covenant is expressed in the shema and shema makes us listen to the word of G-d (Torah). And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to G-d must believe that He is the One to love and that He blesses those who fall madly in love with Him and obey Him with all their heart.

The warnings and appeal of the words of the three statements of the Shema to the generation who were about to cross over into the Promised Land remind us of another warning message by the three angels to the last generation who will cross over to the Promised Land at the end of time.

Signs Of The Covenant
The process of salvation is an exodus from the land of sin under a covenant from God which follows these signs.

Repetition and Enlargement
Five Signs of Salvation
SignExodus From EgyptChristRemnantBeast
1CircumcisionLeave EgyptKilled and buriedThe BodyLeave BabylonDeath Penalty
2TorahReceive LawsObedientRemember LawsDisobey Laws
Tzitzit and TallitCamp Site (4 Corners)Body with 4 nailsTemple on EarthThe Earth
3MezuzahStandards and BannersTitulusThe CrossName of GodName of the Beast
4Tefillin (Hand)Blood on the doorposts PatibulumDo His WillMark of the Beast
5Tefillin (Forehead)Blood on the lintelStipesLove His Laws

The Importance of Symbols
Why did God use so many symbols and why was the penalty of sin attached to keeping these rituals when God expressed His displeasure with them? After all, morality should be based on absolute values, not an arbitrary system.
Shall I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of male goats? (Psalm 50: 13)
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. (Hebrews 10: 4)
God set up the language of symbols and rituals to preserve the accuracy of certain messages for thousands of years. Because the spoken and written language are highly susceptible to changes in content and meaning, God added these visual communication systems to back up the written.
The blood of bulls and goats cannot save and did not save any human beings. However, 4000 years into the future God would appear in the form of Jesus Christ and Jesus and the nation must be able to recognize Him from the symbols or they will commit a grave sin. So although the ritual is of limited benefit to previous generations, they will cause a future generation to sin if they do not faithfully perform them. So that is their sin. Failure to instruct the future generation.
So, even if we do not understand baptism and communion. And even if they are not necessary for your salvation, they may be necessary instruction for the action of a future generation.
In the lesson on the feasts you will read about the Passover seder and you will realize that although the Jews missed and rejected the first appearance of the Messiah, it is their persistent devotion to these rituals for 2000 years after His death that will help them to recognize Him at the end of time. In fact, it is the orthodox and faithful Jew who will recognize Him before the secular Jew because they have an intimate knowledge of the rituals that they have been performing for 4000 years. Therefore, we should do these things because God says so and He has a very good reason.

Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2: 15 Time: 40 minutes
Print: 11 pages
Copyright   Updated : 2 October 2008
Author: Laverna Patterson. Editor: Patterson (January 2008)
Many original insights came because of the gift of knowledge. The gift appears to be centered around teaching me about Christ.
All images and page design created by Laverna Patterson and are the property of teachinghearts.
How to make the Tefillin. URL: http://www.templesanjose.org/JudaismInfo/faq/tefillin.pdf.
Gerizim and Ebal. Holman Bible Dictionary. Meaning of the names.