THE resurrection of Yeshua is of fundamental importance to those of us who claim to be His followers. Rav Sha’ul (Paul) said, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even the Messiah has been raised, and if the Messiah has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain.” 
The concept of resurrection, including the resurrection of the Messiah, originally came to us from the Tanakh (O.T.). Psalm 22 gives a vivid prophetic portrayal of the Messiah crucified, centuries before crucifixion was even invented as a means of execution. “They pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me. They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”  The scene of the crucifixion of Yeshua is where HaSatan (“The Adversary”) was “judoed.” You see, in judo, the strength and weight of the opponent is used against him. This enables a rather relatively small and weak opponent to defeat a much larger opponent. HaSatan was using all of his forces to defeat and utterly crush Yeshua. Ironically, it was the satanic efforts of HaSatan that resulted in the fulfillment of YHWH’s plans for mankind’s salvation. HaSatan was therefore “judoed.”
Yeshua healed a man who had a withered hand. That same day, some of the scribes and Pharisees demanded a “sign” from Yeshua. Yeshua said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it, except for the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  Basically, Yeshua was prophesying that He would be “dead” for three days and three nights. In Matthew 16:21, He also prophesied that He would be resurrected after the third day.
Although many highly respected men in Jewish leadership were friendly to Yeshua, it must be noted that the majority of the Jewish religious establishment was not friendly to Yeshua or his claims. As Yeshua prophesied in Luke 18:31-32, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32For He (Yeshua) shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully mistreated, and spat upon. 33And they (the Gentiles) shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.” In this, Yeshua was prophesying that the Jewish leadership would betray Him into the hands of the Gentiles. The Gentiles (in this case, the Romans) would then scourge Him and put Him to death. After three days, Yeshua would then rise from the dead.
Those in the Jewish leadership who were antagonistic to Yeshua asked Pontius Pilate to post Roman guards at Yeshua’s tomb for three days, “lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead’.”  Roman guards were perfect for such a duty. They realized that if they were derelict in their duty, they would probably suffer a horrible death as punishment, as an example to the other soldiers. I don’t believe these soldiers would be likely to fall asleep while on duty. Remember the warden of the Philippian jail where Sha’ul (Paul) and Silas were kept? When Paul and Silas were miraculously freed from their chains, the jailer was getting ready to commit suicide (Acts 16:25-28) rather than suffer an excruciating death penalty at the hands of the Roman authorities. This Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” This wasn’t a spiritual question, although he got a spiritual answer. He wanted to be saved from Roman “justice.” When Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) was miraculously released from prison, the guards weren’t as fortunate, and were executed (Acts 12:19).
Jews have always believed in quick burials for the dead, often on the same day. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica (Vol. 4, p. 1517), “In Talmudic times, while the burial was not delayed, graves were ‘watched’ for a period of three days to avoid all possibility of pseudo death (Sem. 8:1).” Yeshua had to be in the tomb for three days and three nights in order to prove beyond all shadow of doubt that his death was not a ‘pseudo-death.’
Occasionally, someone fell ill with a sleeping sickness in which life signs such as breathing and heartbeat were not detectable for many hours. When such people suddenly “came back to life,” it was rightly called a ‘pseudo-death.’ For the same reason, Yeshua deliberately waited until Lazarus had been dead for over three days. If Lazarus had been resurrected after only a day or two, it would have been considered a pseudo-death. However, the fact that Lazarus was dead for over three days was evidence that he was truly dead, and had been miraculously resurrected.
Prior to Yeshua’s crucifixion, His talmidim (disciples) were very much afraid, and logically speaking, it was for good reason. The Roman occupation was very brutal. After the crucifixion of Yeshua, they were much more fearful. They felt that their cause was lost, and much like defeated revolutionaries in many countries, they sought to keep a very low profile, lest they also be arrested, tortured, and possibly crucified. However, the fact of an empty tomb gave them a new boldness. Especially after Shavuot (Pente-cost), they became incredibly bold. Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter), who had denied Yeshua three times, was now preaching of Yeshua with great authority to the many thousands of Jews who had gathered in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) for the celebration of Shavuot (Pentecost). None of these thousands of Jews had any evidence to contradict Shimon’s claim of the resurrection of Yeshua.
Gamaliel was a highly respected leader of the Sanhedrin, and is often quoted in the Talmud and in most Passover Haggadahs as well. He was willing to concede that there was the possibility that the sh’lichim (apostles) were doing the work of God in proclaiming the resurrection of Yeshua. Gamaliel would not have said this if the Sanhedrin had any knowledge of Yeshua’s dead body.
In addition, there were many good Jewish witnesses to the resurrection of Yeshua. He appeared numerous times to many people during the forty days after his resurrection. All four Gospels tell of different appearances of Yeshua after the crucifixion. Rav Sha’ul records about ten appearances of the resurrected Yeshua in 1 Corinthians 15, to as many as 500 people at one time in 1 Cor. 15:6. Interestingly, Yeshua’s first appearance was to a woman, specifically to Miriam Magdala (Luke 24:10-11; Matthew 28:1), a woman who was formerly a demon-possessed prostitute. If the talmidim (disciples) were to “invent” the story of the resurrection, I would think that they would have used someone a more acceptable reputation.
“Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep (Bible-talk for dead!). For since by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all shall be made alive.”  Yeshua is the first fruits of the resurrection. As a Torah-observant Jew, He continued observing Torah by being resurrected on Yom HaBikurim (the Feast of First Fruits – for the barley harvest) that occurs after the Shabbat (Sabbath) that occurs during the week of Passover. Biblically, the Feast of First Fruits begins on “Saturday” at sunset, which is the approximate time in which the resurrection of Yeshua occurred.
Yeshua was crucified on the eve of Passover, the first day of which is a High Holy Day Sabbath. I happen to believe that Yeshua was crucified on a Wednesday afternoon, which was before the beginning of Passover that year, and was buried before sunset. At sunset, the first day of Passover began, which happens to be a High Holy Day Sabbath. In the year 30 CE (AD), the first day of Passover was on a “Thursday,” which biblically began at sunset on Wednesday. This is the likely year in which Yeshua was crucified.
Yeshua was resurrected three days and three nights later, just as He had said when He referred to the “sign of the prophet Jonah.” Christian tradition says that He was buried on Friday afternoon and resurrected on Sunday morning. I am a fairly good student of math. However, there is no way in which I can get three days and three nights from Friday evening to Sunday morning. Can you?
An Orthodox Jewish Scholar
Accepts Yeshua’s Resurrection
Pinchas Lapide (now deceased) was an extraordinary Orthodox Jewish scholar. He taught and lectured at universities throughout Europe. He publicly denied that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. However, he strongly believed that Yeshua was, indeed, resurrected from the dead, and described this event in a book to that effect titled, quite simply, The Resurrection of Jesus. In this book, Dr. Lapide describes Yeshua’s resurrection as being an indisputable historical fact. I’m not thrilled about some of his non-Messianic Jewish terminology. However, I deeply appreciate what he has to say. Here are some quotes from the book:
· “Where better to begin than with the very Jew whom Christians call their Lord and Savior? What better strategy than to portray Jesus of Nazareth as ever a loyal son of Israel, with deep roots in the faith of his people? Jesus of Nazareth, and no one else, can serve as a bond of union between Jews and Christians.” p. 11.
· “This Jesus was utterly true to the Torah, as I myself hope to be. I suspect that Jesus was more true to the Torah than I, an Orthodox Jew.” p. 13.
· “The resurrection of Jesus can be proved or refuted only from Jewish sources, since the Nazarene, both in his lifetime and after Good Friday (sic), has ministered only within his homeland and his people Israel.” p. 46.
· “The Talmud reports (Meg 7b) that two rabbis, Rabba and Rabbi Sera, at one time got so drunk in honor of the Purim festival of joy that Rabba unintentionally killed his teaching colleague. As soon as he became sober the next morning, he asked devoutly for God’s forgiveness, and Rabbi Sera awoke to life again. When a year later he invited Rabbi Sera again to celebrate Purim, the latter declined with the words, ‘A miracle doesn’t happen every time’.” p. 50. (Dr. Lapide included this interesting story as evidence that Jews accept the fact of miraculous resurrections.)
· “Not believing in death as the final conclusion of all existence is the father of all life affirmation. How else could we explain that the Hassidim on the day of the death of their rabbi dance around his grave – out of joy that he ‘returned home,’ or that the rabbinical expression for ‘he has died’ does not speak of deceasing, but says simply, ‘he has gone into his world’? p. 64. (This is further evidence of the belief among Jews that there is spiritual life immediately beyond the grave, not simply only the expected future physical resurrection of the dead. Yeshua taught the same thing with his parable about “The Rich Man and Lazarus,” described in Luke 16:19-31. RAC)
· “The resurrection of Jesus on that Easter (sic) Sunday and his appearances on the following days were purely Jewish faith experiences. Not one Gentile saw him after Good Friday. Everything that the Gentile church heard about the resurrection came only from Jewish sources because he appeared after Easter Sunday as the Risen One exclusively to the Jews.” P. 123
· “In regard to the future resurrection of the dead, I am and remain a Pharisee. Concerning the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday (sic), I was for decades a Sadducee. I am no longer a Sadducee since deliberation has caused me to think through this anew… When this scared, frightened band of apostles was about to throw away everything in order to flee in despair to Galilee; when these peasants, shepherds, and fishermen, who betrayed and denied their master and then failed him miserably, could be changed overnight into a confident mission society, convinced of salvation and able to work with much more success after Easter than before Easter, then no vision or hallucination is sufficient to explain such a revolutionary transformation.” p. 125.
· “If the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith, based only on auto-suggestion or self-deception – without a fundamental faith experience – then this would be a greater miracle than the resurrection itself.” p. 126.
· “If God’s power which was active in Elisha is great enough to resuscitate a dead person who was thrown into the tomb of the prophet (2 Kings 13:20ff), then the bodily resurrection of a dead Jew would not be inconceivable.” p. 131.
· “J. Carmel, the Israeli teacher and author … writes, ‘If the prophet Elijah has ridden in a fiery chariot into heaven, why should not Jesus rise and go to heaven?” P. 138.
· “Without the resurrection of Jesus, after Golgotha, there would not have been any Christianity – just as Auschwitz without the successive new foundation of Israel could have meant the end of the Jewish people. For what Christian can ever know how much unfounded confidence and faith in the future is needed in order to bring Jewish children into the world since 1945? p. 149.
· Lastly, Pinchas Lapide includes a quote from Isaiah 26:19: “Thy dead shall live, their bodies rise, O dwellers of the dust, awake and sing for joy! For thy dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades thou wilt let it fall (or: the earth shall bring life to the dead).” p. 150.
As you might correctly surmise, I am enthusiastic about this book that I have been quoting from. It is curious that Pinchus Lapide was such an ardent supporter of the resurrection of Yeshua, and at the same time rejected Him as the Messiah. However, this allowed him to stay safely in the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism.
Ezekiel: Can These Bones Live?
During the Sabbath that occurs during Passover, the Haftara reading is from Ezekiel 37:1-14. This is the famous Dry Bones prophecy. Christians tend to turn this into an allegory, mere symbolism. Often Evangelic Christians will say that this passage must not be understood literally, but instead that it describes a time when Jews will be gathered again from all the nations of the world into Israel.
That is all very nice and good. However, Orthodox Jews see the re-gathering of Israel in Ezekiel 36. Traditional Judaism interprets Ezekiel 37 very literally, as a literal resurrection of Jews from these dry bones mentioned by Ezekiel. This passage from Ezekiel apparently brought great comfort to the Jewish people as they were going through some of the most painful periods of Jewish history. Regarding this passage, Pinchus Lapide writes:
“Is it just coincidence that the leading motif of this prophecy (Ezekiel 37) is the threefold opening of the graves and the four times repeated resuscitation of the dead which is addressed to the “son of man”? Is it just coincidence that in this way the festal periscope of the Passover predicts the resurrection of Israel in physical expressions as an imminent saving deed of God? Three examples may show how Jews at all times have reacted to this vision.
“The mountain fortress Masada in which more than 900 Jewish men, women, and children preferred suicide to a capitulation before the Tenth Roman Legion has become a symbol of the power of faith in all Israel. Yigael Yadin, who a few years ago was able to restore the remains of this last flare-up of Jewish resistance at the time of the Second Temple, reported that this heroic voluntary death took place on the eve of the Passover Festival in the year 73 and that the only well-preserved fragment of Scripture discovered under the floor of the destroyed house of prayer, carefully rolled up, was Ezekiel’s vision of the resurrection of the dead bones.
“Almost 1900 years later, on the eve of the Hitler catastrophe, Joseph Carlebach, the chief rabbi of Altona (Germany), preached at Passover time on the same immortal message of Jewish confidence:
Ezekiel’s vision of the resurrection belongs to the most powerful and grandiose utterances ever proclaimed by the human tongue. From this vision which we read on the Sabbath of Passover in the synagogue went out the blessed word which still today makes unnumbered hearts throb in hope and confidence. The Prophet sees a valley full of dead bones. Can they revive, these dead bones? And as the word of God rushingly goes among them and the bones rise up and sinews grow over them and flesh comes upon them, as as the Spirit of God goes into these dead bodies reviving them and every last one of them becomes alive – that, says the prophet, is a picture of the Jewish people, of these dead bones, a picture of the whole house of Israel….
“We only have to add that the most helpless struggle of despair in the history of Jewish resistance – in the rebellion in the ghetto of Warsaw – began in the late afternoon of April 18, 1943, exactly at the beginning of the first Passover evening.
 1 Corinthians 15:13-14.
 Tehilim (Psalms) 22:16-18.
 As a military policeman in 1968-70, I was required to become certified in judo.
 Matthew 12:39-40.
 Even if you are traveling to Jerusalem from Mount Everest (the highest place on this planet), when you go to Jerusalem, you are "going up" spiritually.
 It is curious that the Roman Catholic Church accused the Jewish people of being “Christ-killers,” since the ones who actually crucified Yeshua were Roman soldiers. However, just as it was wrong to blame the entire Jewish nation for the murder of Yeshua, so also it would also be wrong to blame all Gentiles (or even all Italians) for the death of Yeshua. After all, He died willingly, on our behalf, to pay the penalties for our sins – both for Jews and Gentiles.
 Matthew 27:64.
 Yochanan (John) 11:39-43.
 Acts 5:29-39.
 Acts 1:3.
 1 Corinthians 15:20-22.
 Leviticus 23:11-14.
 Yochanan (John) 19:31; Leviticus 23:7.
 Augsburg Publishing House, Box 1209, Minneapolis MN 5440, © 1983.
 Paul also remained a Pharisee. See Acts 23:8.
 Rabbi Joseph Carlebach died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942.