There at the Tav (the cross) was a time and place in history when the Lord gave a plethora of signs and wonders which today still call on all men and women to consider. These powerful signs used that which was in heaven, on earth and even under the earth. These were indeed given an a very special day; it was on the day the Messiah died.
And what makes these signs so significant is that they are not only recorded in the Bible, but also in secular history books. In Roman history we have men such as Tacitus who mentioned some of these signs while in Jewish history we have Josephus who himself recorded no less than seven of these signs.
But we also find much information from an unexpected and unusual source. We see many of these signs mentioned in the Jewish holy books of the time, such as both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmuds. Other Jewish sources include the Midrash Rabbah and the Pesiktas.
The odd thing is that while rabbinical Judaism is not interested in promoting or announcing anything about Jesus, they outdid themselves by actually giving us no less than 9 wonderful and extraordinary signs which occurred around the time period when Yeshua gave His life on the Tav.
Today, these signs are still speaking to all people; whether religious, atheist, or agnostics. Although many people come from such diverse backgrounds, we see that the many different historical resources appeal to many.
Here is a summary of the signs from the New Testament. We can count 6 signs.
- Darkness over all the earth.
- The veil of the temple was torn.
- There was an earthquake.
- The rocks split.
- The graves were opened.
- The dead rose on the third day.
The following are several other signs which were written in the Talmud and other Jewish resources. There is a phrase that reoccurs some 7 times; the words forty years before the destruction of the Temple. This brings us right to the time period of the resurrection, that is approximately 30 ad. The Temple was destroyed in 70ad.
In this list of amazing events are included some ten signs. We will address 7 of them here.
The first four signs are reported in Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma 39:
Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine and the doors of the Hekal (Temple) would open by themselves.
Let us begin with the Menorah in the Holy of Holies. Its middle light, the Ner Tamid (eternal light), was always lit, but had just turned off. (Ref. Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 4:1 & Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 6:3). This menorah is also called the western lights for they were located in the west part of the Holy Place. The light of the candlestick was very significant for them because we are told in the Babylonian Talmud in the Tractate Shabbat 22b that it represented God’s presence – it was seen as a testimony to mankind that the Divine Presence rests in Israel. And here it just shuts off around this critical period when Yeshua was on the Tav.
Consider another sign, the sudden opening up of the gates of the Temple. We read that on this day, the gate of the Temple opened by themselves and stayed opened. These are very heavy doors which require 20 men to manipulate. Apparently, they could not close them again. (Ref. Bab.Yoma 4:1 & Jeru.Yoma 6:3).
We also have the sign of the ribbon: they used to tie a red ribbon on the goat on Yom Kippur. They said that as the goat went to Azazel, the ribbon turned white, indicating that God forgave their sins. However, from around the time the Messiah died and resurrected, the ribbon stopped turning white. (Ref. Bab. Yoma 4:1 & Jeru. Yoma 6:3).
Another sign tells us of an additional event on Yom Kippur, when the lots were cast between the two goats as to which would be sacrificed for the Lord and which would be let go to Azazel. This rabbinic tradition reports that up to 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, the lot for the Lord always came up in the right, showing God’s favor, but that did not happen anymore. (Ref. Bab. Yoma 4:1 & Jeru. Yoma 6:3)
This information comes from their own Jewish sources and while they had no interest in publicizing Yeshua in any way, it is nevertheless recorded, pointing to some change and even loss that they suffered even 40 years before the Temple’s destruction.
Other books give us even more signs. We read in the Tosefta, a compilation of Jewish laws from around this period that every Shabbat the 12 loaves of bread in the Holy Place were changed and every Shabbat they witnessed a miracle; even after being there for a whole week, these loaves were as fresh as if they were just baked. Though this continued for some 1500 years, the freshness of the Sabbath loaves stopped around this very period when the Messiah died. (Ref. Tosefta 13:7 & Babylonian Yoma 4:1)
Another sign was seen in the wood for the altar. Since the Law was given, they noticed that the altar did not require much wood for the fire, however, at this time, 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, they said sometimes the fire even stopped burning throughout the day, and the priests did not stop from having to bring wood from the pile to the altar. (Ref. Bab. Yoma 39a)
And here is the final sign of today’s list. It is written that after 30 ad the pronunciation of the name of God, had been lost. (Ref. Bab. Talmud Yoma 39b / Jewish Encycl.) This is why today we don’t know how to pronounce the name whose Hebrew letters are YUD-HE-VAV-HE. This is often pronounced as Yahweh or Jehovah but these names are fairly new articulations. We lost the original, and it was lost then, at that point in time. The last time the very name of God was pronounced was around the crucifixion of the Messiah. However, speaking of Yeshua, Peter says in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The God of the Bible has come down to become our salvation, so let it be known that there is no other name under heaven. This covers all space, time and all history and excludes all the pretenders.
To briefly sum up, we can see nine signs from rabbinical writings:
- The Light of the Menorah Went Off
- The Gates of the Temple opened by themselves
- The Red Ribbon did not Turn White
- The Lot for the Lord did not come on the Right
- The Showbread did not keep their Freshness
- The Altar required more Wood
- The Sanhedrin Moved to the Market Place
- The Sanhedrin Lost its Right for Execution
- The pronunciation of the Name of God was lost