The Eleventh Month

John Plunkett

February 8, 2016

This is the beginning of the eleventh month of God's sacred year. 

Let’s do as we have done for the past couple of New Moon Bible studies, and let’s go through the scriptures that are relevant to the eleventh month.

We will go in time order as per our recent tradition.  There are only three "eleventh month" scriptures that I could find.

1. Moses and the Israelites

We find the first mention of the eleventh ‘kodesh’ – or new moon – of the year at the time just before Moses said his sad farewells to his Israelite brethren, and just before they went into the Promised Land. 

We will go step-by-step and phrase- by-phrase through this, because it contains some interesting points:

Deuteronomy 1:1a:  These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel… 

All Israel?  If you think about it, there were likely multiple millions of Israelites by the time mentioned here.  We have no idea exactly how many there were; but, if it really was spoken to the whole body of the Israelite people, it must have been done by a miracle.  If not, Moses probably spoke these words to the tribal leaders and representatives who would have been convened to hear the important words he had to say, and they would have relayed it to the people of the tribes and sub-tribes they were responsible for.

1b: … on this side {of the} Jordan…

What does it mean “on this side Jordan”?  

They were not yet west of the River Jordan at that time.  When these words were spoken and recorded by Moses, they were on its east bank.  They had not yet gone into the Promised Land.  So this was before the passage of the Israelites over the Jordan into the Land of Canaan.  

Please remember that the LORD did not allow Moses to pass over the Jordan with his Israelite brothers and sisters, because of his transgression when he struck the rock back at the waters of Meribah. We read all about that in Numbers Chapter 20.  

Today, we might refer to it as the area beyond the River Jordan. I believe that at one time the area was called Trans-Jordan.

1c: … in the wilderness, in the plain…

This was likely part of, or at least on the edge of, the same wilderness where the Israelites had been wandering for the previous forty years.  Later in the verse it mentions some boundaries from which we learn that the plain mentioned here refers to the Plains of Moab, where the children had been camped for quite some time.  They had not as yet left that area. (See Numbers 33:49).

1d: … over against the Red Sea opposite Suph…

This mention of the Red Sea here is evidently a mistranslation in the King James Version.  They were nowhere near the Red Sea at that time.  If you look up the Hebrew, the phrase should be rendered "opposite Suph" as it is rendered in other translations.

Suph was apparently the name of a place in the area of Moab, actually in the Plains of Moab.  It is possibly – even probably – the same place as Supha (Hebrew cuwphah) that is mentioned in some versions of Numbers 21:14.  However, the King James Version also mistranslates this word as "Red Sea."

1e: … between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab.

These are names of places which apparently were the boundaries and the limits of the Plains of Moab.  The ‘Paran’ mentioned here cannot be the same one as we read of in earlier scriptures (in Genesis and Numbers) about the Wilderness of Paran, because that one was much too far away from this particular place.  The Paran mentioned here was perhaps a local city or town of that name, on the edge of the Plains of Moab.

2:  (There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir unto Kadesh Barnea.)

There is absolutely no way that they could have come to this place from Horeb in only eleven days.  We can be sure of this because chapters 11 and 33 of Numbers tell us that en route to this place from Horeb, they had stayed a whole month, at least, at a place called Kibroth-Hattaavah, and another seven days at a place called Hazeroth. 

I believe  that this eleven days’ journey was likely a computed distance, reckoned that one man could walk in eleven days. 

The distances involved are not remarkable; but they did not have the cars and trains that we have now.  The best they could do was if they had a donkey, a mule or a camel.  

If we reckon a day’s journey for a man on foot and on his own could probably cover twenty miles in a day, then the distance covered in eleven days would be 220 miles.  But if we allow for the much slower movement of such a large group, as Moses had here, they would be doing well if they could complete ten miles per day.  That would work out as only about 110 miles. What seems to be intended, almost positively here, is that this is referring to a computed eleven days’ journey of one man and not of the whole camp of Israel.

Now on to our first "eleventh month" verse:

3:  And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;

On this very day that we are beginning right now this evening, on this first day of this eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites, repeating to them lots of instructions which the LORD had delivered to him at different times, and perhaps some “new” ones that were unique to the Deuteronomy account.  There is quite a lot in Deuteronomy that is repetition; but there is also a lot of Deuteronomy that we don’t read anywhere else.

4:  After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:

Astaroth was likely named after a heathen goddess with a similar name. The beginning reads "After he had slain Sihon..."

Who was the “he” who slew these people?  Was it Moses?  Technically, yes.  If it was Moses who wrote the book of Deuteronomy and if it was him and his Israelite soldiers who slew Sihon and the others (Numbers 21), he would have been speaking about himself in the third person here.  But, of course, Moses ascribed all of Israel's victories to the LORD. 

After this introduction to the book of Deuteronomy, before continuing, Moses repeats one of the details from verse 1 by reusing the phrase “on this side of Jordan.” 

5:  On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying...

So it was on the east side of Jordan, in the land of Moab, where Moses began to declare this Law.  On this very day, this first day of this eleventh month, Moses repeated these words that the LORD had given him, and the words which constitute the whole Book of Deuteronomy, in lots of detail which we don't have time for this evening; so we will leave the book of Deuteronomy right there for tonight.

2. David's Royal Guard

We now go back to David’s Royal Guard, which we have mentioned in a couple of previous New Moon Bible studies.  In Chronicles 27, we find a listing of David’s Royal Guard.  Each "course" or "shift" of it was a whopping 24,000 men.  Here is the eleventh course:

I Chronicles 27:14:
The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.

As we have done in previous New Moon Bible studies, let’s look and see what we can learn from the three key names mentioned here: Benaiah, Pirathonite, and one which I'm sure you are all very familiar with – Ephraim.

Let’s start with Benaiah – Hebrew B’Nayah (Strong’s 1141) – a name which is very common and appears forty-two times in the Old Testament.  The meaning of it is Yah has built or YHVH has built up.  

It stems from two Hebrew words: Banah and Yah.  The verb Banah is Strong’s 1129 and it means to build, to build up, builder, made, repair, set up, rebuild, establish, to build a house, to establish a family and to make permanent.  These are all very positive terms. 

The other word making up the name Benaiah is the very well known proper noun: Yah (Strong’s 3050) which is a contraction of the name YHVH (Strong's 3068), which has the same meaning: The Existing One or The Self-Existent One

If we take the time to drill down into the meanings, both Yah and YHVH stem from the verb Hayah (Strong's 1961), which means to be, to become, came, has been, happen, exist, occur, take place, to come about, to come to pass, to come into being, to arise, to appear, to be instituted, or established, to be in existence, to abide, remain, continue or to be in, and to bring about.  We could have a wonderful Bible study just on this one word – Hayah

When the LORD spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, and Moses asked what His name was, He answered “HAYAH-HAYAH.” (Exodus 3:13-14)

Let’s go back to Benaiah.  The name was quite popular in Old Testament times. 
There were seven or eight other Benaiahs, some of them quite interesting.

This Benaiah the subject of our second "eleventh month" scripture was, according to I Chronicles 11:31, one of David’s thirty mighty warriors as well being a leading member – perhaps the equivalent of a general – of David’s Royal Guard. 

Let's move on to the next key word of this verse: Pirathonite, which comes from the Hebrew word Pirathoniy (Strong’s 6553).  There are five appearances of this word in the King James Version.  Three verses that refer to Benaiah and two to another Pirathonite by the name of Hillel.

A Pirathonite was an inhabitant of Pirathon which was a town in the tribal territory of Ephraim.  According to Judges 12:15, it was located at a place called "the Mount of the Amalakite."

There are all kinds of different opinions as to its modern location; but none of them is impartially corroborated to give us any confidence of where it really was, other than that it was in the province of Ephraim.

The town's name, Pirathon, has an interesting meaning.  It is Strong’s 6552 and it means princely and it stems from three more interesting words: 

1. The noun parah (Strong’s 6546) which means beginning, leader, commander, revenge and avenge.

2. The root verb para (Strong’s 6544) which means to set at naught, to lead, to act as a leader and to be loosened of restraint. I find that last one really interesting, and if we apply it to a great warrior like Benaiah was supposed to be, then to be loosened of a restraint would remind me of an arrow being let loose from a bow.  Perhaps Benaiah was known for his speedy responses in wartime.
3. Pera (Strong’s 6545) which has an intriguing additional meaning which doesn’t seem to bear any relationship to any of the other two source words, except for one tiny point - a relationship to David.  The meaning of pera is is hair, especially long hair or long locks. Who do we normally think of when we think of somebody who lives in David’s kingdom and has long hair.  It is obvious for us to think of David’s rebellious – but beloved – son, Absalom. Perhaps Benaiah also wore his hair long.

The third key-word in I Chronicles 24:14 is very well known to us all: Ephraim (Strong’s 669) which is rendered in the scriptures both as Ephraim and Ephraimite

The word itself has two meanings, both of which I believe to be really interesting when we dig into them:

The first meaning of the word Ephraim is an obviously positive one, and the second one is not so positive; at least not on the first reading of it.  The first and positive meaning is: I shall be doubly fruitful.  The second meaning, the one that might be questionable to us, is double ash-heap.  We will come back to this in a minute; but first let’s just list the six uses of the name Ephraim.

1.  Its first mentions are as the second son of Joseph, who was blessed by Jacob and who was given preference over Joseph’s firstborn son, Manasseh (Genesis 48:14-19).

2.  It refers to the Israelite tribe of Ephraim, whose people descended from Joseph's son, Ephraim (Numbers 1:33).

3.  It refers to the tribal territory of the tribe of Ephraim, especially including its mountain country.

4.  Sometimes, particularly in the prophetic books of Hosea and Isaiah, the name Ephraim is used as a name for all of the northern kingdom – the House of Israel.

5.  There was also a cit of Ephraim, located near to the city of Baal-Hazor.

6.  Finally, one of the chief gates of the city of Jerusalem was called the Ephraim Gate. 

Many members of God's church would add to these six the common belief that the modern descendants of Ephraim are the peoples of the British Commonwealth – as prophesied by Jacob in Genesis 48:19.  Is this true?  I personally believe that it is.  Does a person’s salvation depend on believing that it is true?  Probably not.  However, with the belief that the modern descendants of Ephraim are the peoples of the British Commonwealth, it really does shed a lot of light on many of the biblical prophecies.  The identities of the various tribes of Israel can be a real help in knowing what the prophecies are referring to.

Let’s continue with our word study of this name, Ephraim.  My lexicons tell me that Ephraim is the plural or dual of the noun Ephraath (Strong’s 672) or the rendition which might be more familiar to most brethren, Ephrathah or Ephratah.   Both of these words mean: a place of fruitfulness or an ash-heap.  These words, Ephraath and Ephrathah, appear nine times in the scriptures.  It would be an interesting Bible study to go through them all; but we don’t have time tonight.  I will just sum them up and let you know what they are:

1.  A place near Bethel, where Jacob’s wife Rachel died, and was buried.

2.  A joint name with Bethlehem.

3. The name of Caleb’s wife.

The names Ephraath and Ephrathah stem from the root verb Parah (Strong’s 6509) which has very significant meanings – fruitful, increase, grow, bear fruit, bring forth fruit, make fruitful and branch off.  If we were doing a Bible study or a sermon on the subject of Bearing Fruit, we would find a lot of information in those words to dig into.

What about the reference to an ash-heap?  The lexicons don’t really tell us what the relevance of it is.  

The spiritual relevance of the ash-heap is that Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, which as well as being called "a place of the skull," it is also believed to have been "the place of ashes" (Leviticus 1:16; 4:12; 6:11; Numbers 19:9) where the Miphkad Altar was likely located.

3. Zechariah

Let’s go forward a few hundred years now, to the prophecies of Zechariah:

Zechariah 1:7:
Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying...

One of the main things that we can learn from our third and final "eleventh month" verse is that Zechariah mentions a name for the eleventh month.  Although acceptable because of its inclusion in the holy scriptures, it is not necessarily the correct name from God's point of view. 

But it was the name given to the eleventh month at some point in time.  That name is rendered here in the King James Version as ‘Sebat’ and, although it is believed to have been to be of foreign perhaps Babylonian origin, but is given in the Hebrew as ‘Shebat’ (Strong’s 7627). 

It is interesting that Shebat sounds a little like the word Shabbath.  I don’t believe that there is a great deal of connection between the two words other than that they sound somewhat similar.  But when we consider that Shabbath or Shabath always deals with the number seven, whereas this Sebat or Shebat’ is a name given to the eleventh month.

When I was looking for a possible connection between the two words, I found that Sebat or Shebat the eleventh month name means a rod.  And the root verb shabath (Strong’s 7673), as well as its main meanings to rest and to celebrate, can also have more aggressive meanings, such as to cause to cease, to put an end to, and even some very aggressive words, to exterminate and to destroy.  But perhaps it is a bit of a stretch to link the two words in this way.

Let’s go back to Zechariah 1, where he says that the Word of the LORD came to him on this twentieth day of the eleventh month.  What did the Word of the LORD say to him on that day? 

8:  I saw by night, and behold a man (actually an angel; see verse 11) riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.
9: Then said I, "O my lord, what are these?"  And the angel that talked with me said unto me, "I will show you what these be."
10:  And the man
(angel) that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are they whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro through the earth."

That jumps out at me when I read that phrase about walking to and from through the earth.  I think of angelic beings going to and fro in the earth, and I think of Satan.  Let’s take a quick look there at:

Job 1:7 and 2:2:
And the LORD said unto Satan, "Whence comest thou?"
{From where have you come?} Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

Even though Satan might have been being disrespectfully hard-faced to the LORD, it was probably true that he had been doing this.

But the LORD also has some amazing, fantastic, righteous angelic beings who have been created with many, many eyes through which the LORD is able to see what is going on everywhere throughout the whole world.  Perhaps throughout the whole universe!  Can you imagine that?

II Chronicles 16:9:
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.

That is you and me!  We know that our hearts are not fully perfect yet; but our hearts should be becoming more perfect day by day.

We could spend quite a bit of time going through these incredible descriptions of these spirit beings.  For now, I will just home in on these two verses that talk about their  multiple eyes:

Ezekiel 1:18:
As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.

Ezekiel 10:12:
And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.

I don’t know whether we get the translation right on some of these things; but the idea given here is beyond human comprehension!

If you want a good exercise, sit down with pencil and paper and see if you can draw one of these astonishing spirit beings.  Even if you were a good artist, how successful could you be trying to put a picture of the attributes of these spirit beings together?

Just to think, brethren, that angelic beings like these are looking after God's people right now; and that, one day, we will actually be able to see and communicate with them!  It sends shivers up my spine just to think about that!

Let's go back to Zechariah 1 and repeat verse 10:

Zechariah 1:
10:  And the man
{angel} that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are they whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro through the earth."

So the LORD sent these red and white speckled "horses" (or perhaps "horsemen"; but in either case, no doubt angelic) to do this job of walking to and fro throughout the world.  Not only walking; but beholding conditions (perhaps with multiple eyes similar to those mentioned by Ezekiel) on God's behalf in order to report back to Him.

Did they fulfil their God-given commission?  Yes, they did:

11: And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sits still, and is at rest."

Note that these red and white speckled "horses" had the ability to speak and to report on what they beheld.  Their words initially sound pleasantly peaceful; but continue almost like a kind of lament or plea (which reminds me somewhat of Jesus' lamentation in Matthew 23:37).  Continuing in Zechariah 1:

12:  Then the angel of the LORD {likely the one on the red horse -- perhaps an archangel} answered and said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you have had indignation these threescore and ten years?"

Likely referring to the Jews' seventy-year exile and captivity in Babylon.

13:  And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.
14:  So the angel that communed with me said unto me, "Cry you, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts; "I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy...

In the Old King James English, the words "jealous" and "jealousy" may be read as "zealous" and "zeal."  Yes, the LORD of hosts was and is jealous for Jerusalem, for Zion and for His temple there.  He has a great zeal for them as well -- for their restoration.  And He wants us to adopt that same godly zeal too.  Ultimately, we are part of it and it is part of us.  It belongs to us and we belong to it (Revelation 3:12).

Continuing, with the LORD still speaking:

15:  And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction."'"

This may have been a reference to the Gentile residents of Jerusalem who had been influencing (perhaps partially by their example of lethargy and idleness) the returned Jews to defer their rebuilding of the temple and/or the city wall.

There is lots more information in here that we don’t have time to go into tonight. I can only brush over it quite quickly; but I'm sure you'll find it interesting if you study it in your own time.

16:  Therefore thus says the LORD, "I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it," says the LORD of hosts, "and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem."

That line was a plumb line.  A plumb line was -- and still is today -- a common sign that construction work is in progress -- in that case, rebuilding work.  And that is what was happening back then in Jerusalem.

17:  Cry yet, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts; 'My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.'"

The angel gave Zechariah a command from God right there.  In a nutshell, the LORD appears to have been expressing His displeasure -- to some extent on the Jews who had returned from their seventy-year exile in Babylon; but also on the Gentile heathen who were using craftiness, bad examples of laziness to lure the Jews into apathy and lethargy.  The LORD wanted them to get busy rebuilding the temple, Jerusalem, its city wall and the other cities of Judah.

That is a good lesson for us to learn as we go through this and through other related scriptures in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Satan, working through those Gentile heathen, did not want the Jews to rebuild the temple, which was a high priority for the LORD.  By their craftiness and all of the wiles that they could pull out of their bag, they had been luring the Jews into this apathy which resulted in slow progress and, at times, even a full stop on the rebuilding of His temple.

I'll paraphrase what I believe the LORD to be saying here to the angel: "OK, I agree, I did give them a tough time in Babylon; but they brought it on themselves, because I repeatedly warned them."

Then He appears to be saying, "OK.  I will give them a break; but I don’t want them to have too easy a time of it.  No.  They're going to have to work for it.  They're going to have to light fires under themselves and they're going to have to get moving on the rebuilding project for my temple."

Again, there is so much more in there!  I believe that it has dual fulfillments.  Even treble.  Perhaps even quadruple!  There are so many applications!

There is the application of the actual rebuilding of the temple and of Jerusalem.  As a results, the Jews enjoyed a certain level of prosperity, followed by their many ups and downs that they brought upon themselves throughout the years.  We might also consider how "greater Israel" (in addition to the House of Judah) was blessed, especially in the 18th, 19th, 20th centuries, and how it is prophesied to be blessed on into the future.

At that time, as a result of the LORD's warnings through His prophets, the Jews did get serious; they did light those fires under themselves; they did silence their Gentile detractors; and they did eventually complete the work on the temple.  We know, however, that the finished product was not a patch on the original one that was built by Solomon.

The rebuilt temple was later beautified by Herod; but the very fact that the evil Herod had a part and an involvement in it to a certain extent tainted the holiness of the temple.  Even before Herod’s beautification project on the Temple could be completed, it was torn apart by the Romans in 70 AD.

Once again, it is likely that this prophecy has multiple fulfillments.  If we sit down and take the time to meditate on that one short prophecy, I'm sure we could think of many, if not all, of its fulfillments. 

The first fulfillment would have been the rebuilding of the temple at that time.  There are some scriptural indications that a temple will be rebuilt prior to Christ's return (e.g. the multiple mentions of the removal of the daily sacrifice in chapters 8, 9, 11 and 12 of Daniel).  In another fulfillment, the prophet foresaw the temple during the Millennium.  And, in its ultimate fulfillment, there is going to be the incomparable temple that we read about in Revelation 21.

So let’s conclude on this first day of the 11th month with just a few verses from that wonderfully inspiring vision:

Revelation 21:
21:  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
22:  And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

These, I believe, are good words to say "Goodnight" on.