Baptism was a tradition, and not found anywhere in Torah. It was a sign to Yehovah’s set-apart men that another man was expatriating from the kingdom of his birth, and a joining himself to Yehovah’s kingdom, true Israel. They are now to treat him as one of them. What was the naturalization, or assimilation process that a man had to go through to become a citizen of Israel and now serve only their Elohim (their law-maker and judge)?
Let’s say there is a Midianite man who has had business dealings with Israel; over a period of time he has seen that Israel’s laws are very just. He has decided that Israel would be a far better place for him to raise his family than where he now lives; so he moves himself and his family there.
In the first century, and well before, the Scribes and the Pharisees would oversee the process of this Midianite man being naturalized into Israel.
This Midianite man would be considered a Toshav or “sojourner” before he was assimilated into Israel; and a Ger or “stranger” afterwards.
H8453 תּשׁב toshav
A masculine noun meaning a sojourner, a foreigner. This word implies temporary visitors who were dependent in some way on the nation in which they were residing. (WordStudy)
I call this toshav, or sojourner, an “involved alien” with respect to Israel.
- He has regular or semi-regular contact with True Israel
- He still maintains his citizenship in another kingdom
- He does not keep all of True Israel’s laws
In contrast to the Toshab is the Ger or stranger is a citizen of true Israel.
H1616 גּר ger
A masculine noun. The word indicates in general anyone who is not native to a given land or among a given people. But who has joined himself to such land and people. (WordStudy)
The Ger is a very special man to the Creator. He has repented, left the kingdom of his birth, joined himself Yehovah’s called out people and now obeys only Yehovah’s ways given through Moses.
- He is a citizen of True Israel and keeps all True Israel’s laws, no matter where he is at.
- He has no citizenship in any other kingdom
So What Is Baptism All About?
“Baptism” was the process by which a man expatriated from a foreign kingdom into Israel; but the Jews (especially the Scribes and Pharisees) were taking Yehovah’s law, and adding even more of their own doctrines and traditions to it.
Depending on who one was working with in the Jewish community at the time, there were varying opinions on what a man must do to become a Ger (stranger) with them.
Hillel [a Jewish sage 110 BCE -10 CE] made their reception easy, but the sterner school of Shammai [another sage 50 BCE–30 CE] required a testing of their motives. Only after preparatory instruction imparted by three scribes [$$$] did the threefold ceremony of reception take place: circumcision, immersion, and sacrifice. The instruction was continued until the baptism [or immersion], which occurred when the wound was healed. The three teachers were witnesses at the ceremony, and only with this bath of purification was the rite of admission completed. (http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc09/htm/iv.v.xlii.htm)
“The Jews required three things of strangers [Gerim, plural of Ger] who declared themselves to be converts to the Law of Moses: circumcision, baptism, and to offer sacrifice. (“Baptism,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).
While circumcision was the first thing the Jews required of a Ger (proselytes or strangers), Yehovah had no such requirement in His instructions given by Moses. Even baptism was just a tradition for those coming out of their “Egypt.” There is no baptism requirement in Yehovah’s Torah, His instructions given to Israel’s seed through Moses, for a Gentile who wants to join himself to Yehovah’s people.
G907 Βαπτίζω – Baptizo
1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
This reminds me of the man who wishes to save his life, but to do so he must lose it first; and the seed that must fall to the ground and die before it can produce fruit. A man is going to be completely immersed in Yehovah’s jurisdictional authority. There is no room for two masters. Please remember the 1st commandment.
A Related Word G907 is a root word G911
G911 βάπτω bapto
1) to dip, dip in, immerse
2) to dip into dye, to dye, colour
The word “baptize” (from the Greek baptizo) means “to identify” or “to be made one with“. In early Greek, the word had both religious and secular meanings. In general, it refers to the act of identifying one thing (the man being baptized), with another thing (the True kingdom of Israel and the law of Moses), in such a way that its very nature or character is changed (a new man has emerged). It represents the idea that a real change has already taken place.
As a reference to identification, “baptize” means to place a person into a new environment, or into union with someone or something else, so as to alter his condition or relationship to the previous environment.
In this context, baptism is a public declaration, an expatriation, expressing an inward change of repentance and an announcement of one’s commitment to leave the kingdom of his birth and join himself to Yehovah’s holy kingdom. A desire to be part of a group of a people (True Israel) who have also made the same decision to turn to Yehovah’s ways given through Moses.
In Yeshua’s time baptism (complete immersion – remember, it is not about getting wet) was necessary for Toshab, the sojourner, to undergo in order that he might be joined with the nation of Israel in her exodus experience. The meaning of baptism in Hebraic thought was that the Gentile convert is following Moses, with the rest of the Israelites, through the Red Sea; thus leaving his own Egypt (i.e. the bondage of his Gentile ways and country) behind and agreeing to be led by Moses.
Please note: There are no “Gentile followers of Yehovah“; the very idea is an oxymoron! Even Paul says.
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and alien from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:11-12)
As a Ger or citizen of Israel we, those who have repented, left the kingdom of our first birth and joined ourselves to Yehovah’s set-apart people are now included in the commonwealth of Israel, but we are not yet Israel. The Ger is the man who dwells within Israel’s gates.
While the Rabbis had 3 requirements (circumcision, baptism, and to offer sacrifice) for the man who was joining himself to Yehovah and His people; we will see next time that Yehovah had no such requirements.
Continue to Repentance