Before I get into the continuing saga of Miriam, the newly released TZADE, and how it informs us about the deeper realities of Messiah’s ministry, lets look at one more crucial (that’s a pun you’ll get later) Hebrew letter.
In the original picture-graphic language our Bibles were first derived from, ayin is a picture of an eye. The english word “eye” actually derives from ayin. To me, this letter condenses the phrase, “Let he who has eyes to see, let him see” into one single letter. Just like shema doesn’t only mean “listen” it means “hear and do”—’ayin‘ means to see and “real-eyes” (Realize. See what I did there?) When something is truly realized it changes us. It’s the true vehicle for transformation.
To digress slightly, my reference to shema needs to be explained a little more. Shema (Strongs H8085) is often translated into English as ‘hear’:
Deut 6:4-5, “Hear O Israel, YHWH our God—YHWH is one! You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
Messiah confirmed this as the “greatest command” in Matthew. Hears why: (see what I did there?) OK. I’ll stop.
The word shema itself is made of two parts: shem which means “name”, with an ‘ayin’ added to it. So…when you REALIZE the name of YHWH, you should also REALIZE that His Name isn’t about how we pronounce it—it’s about how hearing Yah’s voice and then obeying Yah’s voice, is how we truly REALIZE who He is, who we are in Him, and how our prime-directive is to encourage the world to REALIZE those same truths through our ‘hearing and doing’. This is why all the rest of ‘the Law’ hangs upon this concept, as Messiah himself taught.
Yeshua was the absolute best at both shema and ayin–so much so that he and his Father are often mistaken for one another.
Back to tzade and ayin.
It turns out that when these two letters are added together, the word that’s produced is crucial and profound to our lives as well as the story we are slowly trying to return to.
Spiritual speaking, The two combined concepts create: RIGHTEOUSNESS REALIZED.
Grammatically speaking, we get the word etz (Strongs H6086), often translated simply as “tree”.
From end to end the Bible is the story of trees. In the beginning, there were the two trees. One produces everlasting life, the other confusion and death. If Adam and Eve had truly REALIZED RIGHTEOUSNESS the Bible would be a much shorter book. In Revelation, redeemed humanity is back to centering all life around the ‘Etz of Life’, as every last human REALIZES RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the center of the story of the Book (which for chiastic-structure nerds is the crux of everything) is the etz on which Messiah died on Pesach. The Prophets literally proclaimed that he’d be hung on an etz. (The word ‘cross’ is a traditional infusion from Latin into English. Thanks for confusing the imagery, Pope.) When Messiah instructs us to “take up his tree and follow him”, he’s essentially saying the same exact thing as “Shema Israel”, except that by his highest example he’s adding the highest level of obedience… “even unto death.” Messiah himself is RIGHTEOUSNESS REALIZED. He is the Word made flesh. He is the TZADE.
Back to Miriam in Exodus 15:22-27. When we last left off (please read the article before this if you haven’t already) the Israelites, our ancestors, had finally become free from bondage and they instantly find themselves distressed, thirsty, and discouraged. The name Miriam actually means “rebellious”, but the location of this micro-lesson is called “Marah”–a related word which means “bitterness”. AFTER THREE DAYS, the people freak out, and complain to Moses and he (being a new-hire himself) takes that complaint to directly to Yah.
In verse 25, it simply says “YHWH showed him an log [an ETZ!] and he put it in the water, and the water became sweet.” And without any further explanation, the narrative continues “If you will diligently listen [SHEMA] to the voice of YHWH, your God, and do that which is right in his eyes [AYIN], and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am YHWH RAPHA (your healer).”
REALIZING HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS is the primary tool we are given as His people. He wants us to prayerfully meditate not on the empty tomb, not on the fact that the TZADE is missing, but on the mission of the TZADE.
Miriam and the Israelites weren’t the last Hebrews to wonder in distress where the TZADE went after THREE DAYS:
John 20:11-15 “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Yeshua standing, but she did not know it was Yeshua. Yeshua said to her “Woman, why are you weeping?”
AYIN-TZADE is the first tool in the tool box for reborn Israel, and teaching AYIN TZADE to Mary was the first lesson of our risen Messiah.
It’s the key to overcoming bitterness, unforgiveness, and sin.
Miriam’s name is only mentioned these two times in all of Exodus. I believe that was to explain, at a deeper level, the revelation of the missing Tzade in the word MITZRIAM and it’s resulting transformative power. However, the next time she appears in the biblical narrative, it’s to teach us about the nature of backsliding—and what it means to FORGET the TZADE. In that story, I’ll look at the connection between two more TZADE words: TZIT-TZIT (a tassel with a cord of blue) and Tzara (a “Leper”). That might be a few weeks off—this is only day 5 of Shavuot!