Did you know when Jesus / Yeshua read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday), which we can read about in Luke 4:16-30, He was reading from that specific week’s “Haftarah” portion? For thousands of years, those of the Judaism faith have read from the Torah and Haftarah. A major part of the Jewish worship service since the days of escaping Babylonian captivity (see books of Ezra & Nehemiah), is the public reading of the Torah.For the Jewish people learned the hard way while under Babylonian captivity to forsake God’s instructions will inevitably lead to physical and spiritual bondage. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Law, or God’s instructions for life on HOW to love, HOW to live, and HOW to worship.
Each week, in today’s congregations of Judaism, Messianic Judaism, and many Hebrew Roots’ congregations read a certain portion of the Torah in their services. So the whole world (of those groups) is studying the same portions in unity.
However, many years ago, circa 175 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the temple, he outlawed the public reading of the Torah, replaced the holy artifacts with pagan gods within the temple, slaughtered pig, an unclean and abomination according to Leviticus 11, Deut 14, and Isaiah 65-66, as a means to mock God’s ordained sacrificial system, and even tormented and killed Jews for holding to their belief in the one true God and their desire to adhere to His laws. All of this was an “abomination of desolation”, which will happen again according to prophecies found in the Books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation. Consequently, the rabbis of those days researched and prescribed related passages of the Torah found in the Prophets to be read each week instead of the Torah during that tumultuous time. This became known as “Haftarah”, which means “conclude”.
After that horrific time, the practice of reading from the Prophets stuck so today, passages called portions from the Torah and the Haftarah, which are related are read. In Messianic Judaism (and possibly Hebrew Roots too), related portions from the Gospels are read as well. This photo captures this week’s. The Torah portion’s title is selected from the first few words of the passage. Shabbat Shalom!