As you have most likely surmised, if you’ve visited this site previously, my heart intent is to write articles expressing the view of "the way it was" in the First Century Church. In this article, I’d ask you to bear with me, as I color outside of the lines a bit, and begin from a traditional Jewish thought pattern, then enfold it around to show how it is in harmony with Scriptures we are all familiar with.
Beloved, I’d like us to take some time to ponder the usage of the words "mountains" and "hills" in traditional Jewish thought. As we all know, God’s word is the exact representation of manifold wisdom, and there are countless ways that God conveys His thoughts, wisdom, knowledge, and direction, through these various usages of words.
Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Concerning this particular Scripture, and taken from a website, the following explanation is given:
In explanation of these words, our Chazal [authoritative opinion of the Talmud] in Yalkut Shimoni (477) [a compilation of midrashim] share with us a beautiful perspective. They explain that the mountains mentioned here refer to the firm and sound merits of the Patriarchs and the hills refer to those of the Matriarchs.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines "patriarch" in the following manner:
1 a : one of the scriptural fathers of the human race or of the Hebrew people b : a man who is father or founder c (1) : the oldest member or representative of a group (2) : a venerable old man d : a man who is head of a patriarchy
I would ask you, the reader, to give me the liberty to release God from the box that we have kept Him in for centuries. By doing this, I think we can come to yet another wonderful insight into the Scriptures that He has given us for our benefit [2Timothy 3:16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:].
In this article I would like to suggest that there are many Scriptures that will confirm the Jewish thought quoted above. Please keep in mind that if we are going to "see" mountains and hills as people and their doctrine, then they will not all be good. As you know from Scripture, there are good patriarchs, and there are evil patriarchs. They ARE patriarchs, and matriarchs, nonetheless. (See Titus 1:12, referring to Epimenides, born at Gnossus in Crete.)
Have you ever wondered about the God-breathed meaning for verses such as these below? I will voluntarily acknowledge that I have!
Isa 41:15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.[Beat the mountains small, and make the hills as chaff?]
Isa 55:12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.[Mountains and hills singing?]
Jer 3:23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.[Hoping for "salvation" from the hills and mountains? Also see The Revelation 6:16 regarding this verse.]
Jer 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.[The shepherds have turned the sheep away to wander from mountain to hill, and to cause them to forget their resting place?]
Eze 6:1 Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD:[The mountains have ears?]
2 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:[Remember, Beloved, the "enemy" has spoken against Ezekiel, God’s prophet, in this Scripture.]
3 Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;[Again, the mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys are commanded to "hear" what God is speaking through the prophet Ezekiel.]
Ho 10:8 The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.
Because of the abuse that I’ve seen throughout the Body of Messiah, I would like to address Hosea 10:8 on an individual basis, due to the mention of the mountains and hills. If we perceive the mountains as being patriarchs, and the hills as being matriarchs [whether they be good or bad], doesn’t this verse strike a chord with you as to the profane "shepherding" that manifests within the Body of Messiah? These high places in this verse refer to places of idols, and their idol worship. Once again, this meaning can be worship of God, or idol worship, by the definition of the words. [See Strong’s word #01116 for the definition.] Observe that those who have performed idol worship in this verse are asking the mountains and hills to COVER them! It seems they’ve come to the realization of the Holy One of Israel, and they think the false teachings of the patriarchs and matriarchs will "cover" them from His fury. When they seek to be covered, they are asking to be veiled, hidden, or to hinder the knowledge of a thing to them. Selah.
Note also the meaning of Aven in this verse:
1) a name used contemptuously for the following places of idolatrous worship
1a) a city in Egypt, possibly On (Eze 30:17)
1b) Bethel with its calf worship (Ho 10:8)
1c) A town or region in Syria (Am 1:5)
There is also a parallel to be made with this verse, when you read the parable of The Sower and The Seed: Luke 8: 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. [Please read the complete parable in context in Luke 8:4-8 and Mark 4:2-9.] In Mark 4:7 This word choked is explained as they "choked together" by Robertson’s Word Pictures.
The Revelation 6: 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Dear Reader, can you possibly ignore the picture that is painted for us within these verses? People will be crying out to the mountains and hills and hoping they will fall upon them, to keep them from the wrath of the Lamb! But, there will be no power on this earth to protect them if they have aligned themselves with the evil patriarchs/matriarchs, and their teachings. This ought to present itself as quite a sobering picture to all of us.
In plain English: This is when the Lord returns and the people who are in false churches and/or religions cry to their leaders to save them with what they have been taught and had perceived to be the correct word because they did not do their own study and knew not the truth from error!
Mic 6:1 Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. [The word contend means to strive, either physically, or with words. Would a human being contend with a mountain or a hill?]
Lu 3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;[Reference Isaiah 40:4. Could this be when Yeshua returns to take us Home?]
Lu 23:30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.[A cross-reference to Hosea 10:8]
As you can see from the above, I’ve endeavored to orchestrate the foundation so that we may continue studying the Scripture from an invigorating perspective. May Ruach HaKodesh [Spirit of the Holy One] breathe life into His emet [truth], and make it alive within all of us.
To continue in this manner, I would also like to introduce yet another verse that I would ask you to read with the patriarch/matriarch thought in mind. The Scripture I’m referring to is:
Ex 19:3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
In my assessment, this particular verse is the crowning glory to substantiate the Jewish thought regarding the patriarchs and matriarchs being alluded to as mountains and hills, respectively! Think about it, Beloved! Moses went to THE mountain, and returned with the Torah!!! In my way of thinking, there could be no greater illustration of a Mountain, than the Creator of all mountains, who then handed down His instructions [Torah] to Moses. How rich are the depths of HaShem Adonai [the Name of the Lord].
To finish off this topic, I’d like to make one final reference, as the culmination of my study on this concept:
Mt 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
This verse is a Hebrew proverb, and "to remove mountains" was commonly referred to as speaking of a great teacher, who was "a rooter up of mountains." (E.W. Bullinger, Figures Of Speech, Baker Book House Company, p. 760.)
"The Jews used to set out those teachers among them, that were more eminent for the profoundness of their learning, or the splendour of their virtues, by such expressions as this; He is a rooter up (or a remover) of mountains. ‘Rabh Joseph is Sinai, and Rabbah is a rooter up of mountains.’ The Gloss: ‘They called Rabh Joseph Sinai, because he was very skilful in clearing of difficulties; and Rabbah Bar Nachmani, A rooter up of mountains, because he had a piercing judgement’ " (John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Volume 2, p. 283.)
Alfred Edersheim concurs with this Jewish thought when he says: "He then told his disciples, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it shall happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive" (Matthew 21:21-22). Was Jesus being flippant? Did He really expect His disciples to go around praying about moving literal mountains? Of course not. More importantly, Jesus was not changing the subject. He was still giving them a lesson about the fall of Israel. What was the lesson? Jesus was instructing His disciples to pray imprecatory prayers, beseeching God to destroy Israel, to wither the fig tree, to cast the apostate mountain into the sea."
After hearing this verse being quoted as a mantra, while involved with the hyper-faith cult, it was as if a light bulb finally clicked on, when I thought of this verse in light of the study of mountains and hills. Dear Reader, I cannot even begin to communicate to you what a freedom burst inside of me, as I thought of this verse, with my newfound insight. Baruch HaShem Adonai! Yes, with all thanks and glory to the Giver of Light, I can now say to these "mountains" to be removed, and God will honor His Word, when spoken with emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust).
As a final note, this article would not be complete without my endless gratitude to a wonderful Brother, and study partner, for sharing this bit of Hebrew Honey with me. Without him, I would have never grasped this emet [truth] with such enthusiasm, if ever. My heartfelt appreciation, and thanks, to you, Haver.
My prayer for this article is that I’ve made a cogent presentation, as food for thought and study, for you, my mishpocha [family].
Ps 86:11 Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
Humbly submitted for the edification of the Saints
by Anna L. Schwery – © Yad b’Yad Ministries