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Nehora, The Light of the World Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

LIGHT:  ‘illumination’, ‘to make visible’, ‘to bring secret information to public knowledge’, ‘mental or spiritual enlightenment’

The Gospel of John, which was written primarily to the Jews, is devoted to proclaiming the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus). In doing so, John uses the commonly understood traditions about the coming Messiah to demonstrate how Yeshua fulfilled each one. The tradition concerning the WORD, i.e. the Mimra concept, was examined in a previous article. In this commentary, the tradition about LIGHT will be studied in view of the Israelite’s first century belief relating to the expected Messiah.

G-d said, “Let there be light” on the first day of creation even though the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day. The sages (Hebrew wisemen) understood that the LIGHT that was called into being on that first day alluded to the Messiah’s role in redemption. They called this LIGHT, Primordial Light, i.e. light that existed from the beginning of time. Primordial Light, the light that was separated from darkness in the beginning, is said to have been preserved by G-d for the righteous.

The Rabbis considered the Aramaic word Nehora (light), to be one of the secret names of the Messiah. In the Midrash (Hebrew Bible commentary) it asks, “Whose is this light which falls upon the congregation of the L-rd?” and answers, “It is the light of the Messiah.” An added comment to this passage says, “This is the light of the Messiah, as is written in Psalm 36:10, ‘In your light, we see light.’”

In Daniel 2:22, Daniel says of G-d, “He knows what dwells in darkness, and light dwells with him.” The Midrash [1] understands this scripture Messianically: “’And Nehora dwells with him.’ This is the Messiah-King, for it is written: ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come’” (Isaiah 60:1). In other words, the sages taught that Nehora (a secret name for the Messiah) dwells with G-d.

The prophet Isaiah also has much to say about the Messiah, often referring to Him as LIGHT. He calls the Messiah: a great LIGHT (Isaiah 9:2), the LIGHT of Israel (10:17), a LIGHT to the Gentiles (42:6; 49:6), the LIGHT of justice (51:4), the everlasting LIGHT (60:19, 20).

To address these traditions, the apostle John at the very beginning (verse 4) compares the LIGHT with life (zoe – used for eternal life). He says of Yeshua: “In Him was life (zoe), and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). This LIGHT metonymically (an attribute that stands for the person himself) is the author or dispenser of moral and spiritual light. Therefore, John was saying to them and is still saying, “Yeshua is eternal life and the author of spiritual understanding.” He adds, “And the LIGHT shines in the darkness (those living without discernment), and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5)

In keeping with the tradition that G-d would send the prophet Elijah to announce the coming of the L-rd, John proclaimed that John (the baptizer) was born to be the witness of the LIGHT so that all might believe through Him (John 1:6-7). Jesus Himself declared that John was the Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:14).

John further elucidates the nature of the LIGHT in his gospel:

“There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (1:9).

“And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in G-d.” (3:19-21)

Yeshua, in declaring openly His Messiahship to the Pharisees by addressing this tradition said:

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

With this proclamation, the Pharisees accused Him of bearing witness of His own (Messiahship), saying His witness was not valid. To His disciples He said:

“For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.” (John 12:35-36)

“I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)

In John’s final words, under the power of the Holy Spirit, described the New Jerusalem:

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of G-d has illumined it and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.” (Revelation 21:23, 24)

Barukh HaShem (Blessed is the Name)

[1]The Midrash is an early Jewish interpretation of or commentary on a Biblical text



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