Saturday 16th April 2022 15th Nisan 5782

PESACH by Herschel

Exodus 12:21-51; Joshua 3:5-7,5:2-6:1;John 19:31 -20:1

The Importance of the Number Four in Judaism

Hebrew and Greek are the only languages where each letter of the alphabet is assigned a numerical value. So, in the Hebrew alphabet, the first letter alaph = 1, the 2nd letter bet = 2, the 3rd letter gimel = 3 etc.

The study of Hebrew numerology is called Gamatria which is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself.

The number 1 (aleph) represents unity and is a prime number. Everything in creation is dependent on the number 1. The number 3 (gimmel) represents divine perfection. Therefore, 1 +3 = 4 = creation. It represents the fullness of the creative force at work in the earth. After every day in the creation account, G-d said ‘tov’; it is good. He looked at the work that His hands had made and was pleased.

By the way, do you know that only on 2 occasions did HaShem say that something was not good – ‘lo tov’. That was with Adam who was alone – ‘it is not good for man to be alone’. The 2nd account is in Exo 18 when Jethro observed Moses at work and commented ‘what you are doing is lo tov – not good’. Jethro’s advice resulted in the formation of the council of 70 wise and discerning men which later became the Sanhedrin that sat in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Now, the number 4 features prominently in Judaism:

· The 4 matriarchs of the Jewish people – Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael and Le’ah

· The Four Species taken on Sukkot

· Number of sides on the Dreidal – a spinning top used in Channukah

· Date in the Hebrew month of Iyar of Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance)

The number 4 is also prevalent in the new covenant. We see the revelation of Yeshua our Messiah revealed in 4 Gospels where each Gospel highlights or emphasizes a different aspect of Yeshua’s ministry:

  • Matthew emphasized the humanity of Yeshua

  • Mark emphasized Yeshua’s kingship

  • Luke emphasized Yeshua’s suffering

  • John emphasized Yeshua as the Son of G-d

In the Book of Revelations, we see the Four living Creatures mentioned over 12 times. Lazarus was in the tomb for four days before Yeshua restored him to life (John 11). There are many further instances of the prominence of the number 4. But, our time is limited!

However, it is in the Pesach seder that we especially see the prevalence of the number 4. During the seder

  • we consume 4 cups of wine,

  • we ask 4 questions,

  • we describe 4 types of sons

The sages further not that the phrase "cup of wine" is mentioned four times in Pharaoh's butler's dream (Genesis 40:11-13). Joseph’s accurate interpretation of the butler’s dream led to his release from prison. Therefore, according to the Midrash, these cups of wine alluded to the Israelites' liberation.

These four cups symbolize the deliverance promised by God. Exodus 6:6-7 where G-d appears to Moses and says:

Exod 6:3 - 9

4 "I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of

Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers.

5 "And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the

Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.

6 "Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am the LORD; I will bring you from

under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I

will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

7 'I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know

that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the


8 'And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and

Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.'"

So, the four cups of wine are:

  1. Kiddush – the Cup of Sanctification – vs 6 – ‘I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians’

  2. the cup that introduces the Hallel prayers - I will rescue you from their bondage

  3. the Cup of Redemption (after the meal) - I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

  4. the cup of completion that concludes the Pesach service - 'I will take you as My people, and I will be your God

Our sages instituted that we should drink a cup of wine, a toast if you will, for each one of these expressions. We recite the Kiddush over the first cup, we read the Exodus story from the Haggadah over the second cup, we recite the Grace After Meals over the third cup, and we conclude the "Hallel" - Psalms and hymns of praises to G-d, over the fourth cup.

The sages say that besides its association with the 4 verbs used in Exo 6:6-7 that speak of the deliverance from Egypt, these four cups also symbolize our response to G-d’s goodness:

1) Adoration - by which we give homage to God as Creator

2) Thanksgiving - for benefits received

3) Satisfaction - for offenses forgiven

4) Petition - for graces received

Furthermore, our sages suggest that the 4 cups also represent 4 deliverances:

1. Salvation from harsh labor—this began as soon as the plagues were introduced.

2. Salvation from servitude - or the day the Jews left Egypt geographically and arrived at Ramses.

3. The splitting of the sea - with the drowning of the pursuing Egyptian army, Israel felt completely redeemed.

4. Becoming a nation at Sinai- the giving and receiving of Torah on Mount Sinai completed the redemption. Physical redemption without its spiritual counterpart, is incomplete.

There is a 5th cup that is prepared; this is the cup of Elijah, whose coming will announce the imminent return of Messiah! While the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish nation were permanent, we have yet to be brought to Israel on a permanent basis. In Psalm 95, G-d equates entry into the Promised Land with entry into His rest!

That is why the fifth expression/cup is different than the other four, and it is reserved for Elijah. Elijah will announce the arrival of Messiah, who will regather all Jews to Israel and who will also usher His Millennial reign and His Presence in our midst! This will be the ultimate rest from our struggles in this fallen world.

And then, finally, let us refer back to the 4 cups of wine consumed during the Pesach seder. Some commentators suggest that the four cups symbolize our freedom from our four exiles:

1. The Egyptian,

2. Babylonian, and

3. Greek exiles, and

4. our current exile which will end with the return of Messiah.

We are told in scripture that we in the Messiah have also been delivered from 4 exiles:

1. the hand of the enemy

Ezra 8:31

31 And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road.

2. from the fear of death

2 Cor 1:8-10

8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,

10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

3. the power of darkness

Col 1:12-13

12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into

the kingdom of the Son of His love,

4. the power of sin

Rom 6:5-12

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death,

certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin

might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in

its lusts.

The Father has made full provision for us in and through the Son! Now, we experience momentarily the Kingdom of G-d infiltrating this fallen reality. It is here but not fully here.

Then, when Messiah returns, we will experience its fullness!

What is the significance of our Lord declaring that he would not drink wine again until he was with his disciples in the kingdom (Matt 26.29)? First, Pesachim 10.7 declares: “Over the fourth [cup] he concludes the Hallel… Between these cups [i.e., between the second and third cups] he may drink [other, non-symbolic wine].” Thus the Lord seems to be implying that he would not drink of the fourth cup until the kingdom age was begun (for had he drunk any wine after the third cup it would be interpreted as the fourth cup since the Mishnah prohibited non-symbolic wine to be drunk between these two cups). Second, when we relate these cups back to what they symbolized, i.e., the four verbs in Exod 6.6-7, we may better understand why the Lord did not now drink the fourth cup.

The third cup was drunk in connection with Exod 6.6c: “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Thus, it symbolized redemption by judgment. The fourth cup was drunk in connection with Exod 6.7: “Then I will take you for my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God…” Such language foreshadows the new covenant, particularly the words recorded in Jer 31.33-34. Ultimately its fulfillment will not be realized until the messianic era.

It seems, then, that just as the Passover as a whole prefigured or foreshadowed Messiah Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection, so even such minute portions as the third and fourth cups were symbolic of all he would accomplish in his first and second advents. He drank the third cup, then, to symbolize his death on the cross for that, too, was redemption by judgment.

And he did not yet drink the fourth cup because the redemption via the Lamb of God was not yet accomplished in reality. And since the fourth cup pictured ultimately Yeshua’s earthly reign, he postponed the symbol to correspond with his postponing the reality.

Luke 22:17-18

17 After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among


18 For I tell you that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the

kingdom of God comes

May I suggest that Yeshu will drink that final cup with us at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19).