Prophecies of the return of the "Shekinah," which had left the
Objection is made that the word "Shekinah,", is not found in the scripture in its noun form and that it describes a concept that is not scriptural. It is said that the word is coined by Post-biblical Rabbinic scholars. While it is admitted that the Rabbinic concept of God being a hovering non-personal force is an unacceptable extension of meaning, the concept of a physical manifestation of God's localized dwelling is none-the-less scriptural. We have chosen to use the word "Shekinah," (shknh) , to name this "presence" since this meaning is in general distribution among many Christians, albeit ignorant of the origin of the word.
The word was coined from verbal cognates in the Bible which describe the "presence" of God in a locality. The verbal cognates are copiously used to describe the "Shekinah" appearances. The word "Shekinah," itself is not in the biblical text but the concept, as I have defined it, clearly is. The word most certainly is derived from "shakan," and whoever first used the word "Shekinah" coined it as a substantive (noun form) from the verbal forms used to describe the "abiding, dwelling, or habitation" of the physical manifestations of God described in Ex 24:16; Ex 40:35, Nu 9:16-18; and numerous other places where "shakan" is used. The word is also used to describe the mystical "Shekinah" presence in the tabernacle. The word "mishkan,", a derivative of "shakan,", is often translated "tabernacle." The Hebrew for tabernacle is more often simply "ohel,", or tent. "Mishkan" means "dwelling place." That is, the "dwelling place" of "Him who dwells" or "Shekinah."
"Shekinah" in Hebrew is a a feminine noun, It is interesting that Isaiah refers to the Shekinah using feminine pronouns. Especially in Isaiah 51. Particularly in Isaiah 51:9and 10 and its context the pronouns are feminine. In verse 10 the KJV uses thou and it to refer to the Shekinah. Both pronouns are feminine in Hebrew. The
Zechariah uses cognates of the word in referring to the return of, the then absent, "presence" which he supposed was imminent. We will show that Zechariah previewed an imminent restoration of what Ezekiel (seventy years previously) saw depart in his day and then predicted the return of to a restored temple. What ever noun one calls it, such physical representations of the "presence" are in the Bible. What did Ezekiel see leave the temple? It is certain that what ever name you call the "presence" it is linked with the fiery cloud of Sinai. We have chosen to use the word "Shekinah" to name the biblically described mystical thing "dwelling" or thing "abiding."
I also accept that "Cavod YHWH," (glory of the LORD) and "Shekinah" are identical in the contexts I make reference to, such as the fire enfolding cloud on Sinai, (Ex. 24:15-17) the dedication of Solomon's temple, and that which is associated with Ezekiel's vision of the departure and return.
To say that "Shekinah" is not in a text where the presence of God is described by a cognate of "shakan" may be closely akin to saying "baptism" does not appear in the great commission passages and Acts 2:38 because verbal cognates (baptized, baptizing) are used and not the noun "baptism" itself.
The Hebrew verb "shakan,", simply means to take up residence with long continuity in a neighborhood. The distinction between this word and "yashav" which is also translated "dwell" is just this: You can use the latter to mean an individual doing the dwelling without reference to others or to duration while "shakan" means a protracted dwelling in the midst of a neighborhood or a group of people or might be limited to one other person but only by extension. The primary meaning is to reside and continue as a member of the community. This is a common word used for all classes to convey this idea. However, when it refers to God it takes on an added mysticism which is obvious upon small consideration.
When verbal forms are translated as nouns the word sometimes means "habitat." It is the habitat of animals and birds as well as humans and God. (Dan. 4:21) Grammatically, when verbal forms are translated as nouns, in Hebrew, they are called "substantives." Technically, "Shekinah", therefore is a substantive rather than a noun.
God speaks of his "desire" for this relationship with his people. The "Shekinah" therefore refers to the presence of God that was, but is not now, physically manifested in the time- space continuum. It could be seen. The presence was a vehicle of the person of God in the three dimensional world. The understanding of Solomon that God can not actually be limited to
This omniscient eternal presence of the Almighty that Solomon recognized, is the heavenly, but not the earthly, "Shekinah." Although the infinite spiritual presence is and was coincident with the physically discernable "Shekinah," it was distinguished from the physical even in Mosaic times. It is only in this infinite way that the "Shekinah" is now manifested. He indwells his people as a spirit. Isa. 57:15 says as much:
"For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits ("shakan") eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell ("shakan") in the high and holy place, and with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
"Who inhabits" In this passage the word "shokeyn," translated "who inhabits," is as close to the meaning and direct use of the word "Shekinah", in the Bible, as one will find. The Hebrew letters, in the order they are pronounced, are sh = sh, = o, k = k, = ey, n = n. The unpointed original Hebrew is simply
. The form is a masculine participle and literally means "He who inhabits" or "the one who is inhabiting." This refers to God Himself. According to this verse, He is the "Inhabiter" of heaven and human hearts at one and the same time! The word "Shekinah" , which describes the physical thing which was "proof" of his "dwelling" on earth in the Mosaic dispensation, is akin to this construction. In fact, it is the identically same word, only the gender is changed. If you simply add the feminine ending to change it from a masculine to a feminine participle "shokeyn," (shkn), becomes "Shekinah" (shknh). Thus, the masculine form of the substantive "Shekinah" does appear in the Bible in Isaiah 57:15.
In the Mosaic period the added physical "Shekinah" presence was evidence of the real which is omnipresent and unseen. In the Mosaic dispensation the "Shekinah" presence was physically disturbing. The presence was not God. It was a physical manifestation of the actual presence of God among his people and is to be distinguished from the "angel of the LORD." It was first evident in the crossing of the Red Sea in the escape from
(Num. 35:34) "Defile not therefore the land which you shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: ["shakan"] for I the LORD dwell ["shakan"] among the children of
(Ex. 24:15) And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. (Ex. 24:16) And the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH"] abode ["shakan"] upon mount Sinai and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. (Ex. 24:17) And the sight of the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH"] was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of
Earlier, the seventy elders had gone up into the cloud and actually saw the "Shekinah" glory, and they were so afraid they asked Moses never to take them again. As far as they were concerned, they saw God! You can only imagine their hair on end and their wide eyed appearance as they came down from the mountain exclaiming "We saw God! It was terrible!"
(Ex. 24:10) And they saw the God of
The mixture of clarity and confusion in similar passages is evidence of the mystical nature of the experience. They were disoriented and afraid and the later writing of the event records the confusion.
The appearance a few days earlier of the physical presence of God on
(Ps. 68:16) "Why do you leap, you high hills? this is the hill [Sinai] which God desires to dwell ["shakan"] in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever. (Ps. 68:17) The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the LORD is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. (Ps. 68:18) You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell [shakan] among them."
He was on
Later the physical "Shekinah" presence of God took up residence in the completed tabernacle and was apparent to the whole nation. This is recorded in Ex. 40:34:
Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH"] filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:35) And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode [shakan] on it, and the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH,"] filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:36) And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys; (Ex. 40:37) But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. (Ex. 40:38) For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of
And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. (Num. 9:16) So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. (Num. 9:17) And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of
There are other mystical moments when the direct intervention of God was manifest in a "Shekinah" presence to Moses. At the time of the setting up of the tabernacle before it was furnished God spoke to Moses out of the cloud and Moses realized the "Shekinah" was a vehicle and not God. He asked for more -- to "see" God! God allowed him to see a larger portion of his physical presence. Thus:
(Ex. 33:18) "And he said, I beseech you, show me your glory. [He was speaking to God's voice coming from the "Shekinah."] (Ex. 33:19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you, and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will shew mercy. (Ex. 33:20) And he said, You can not see my face; for no man shall see me, and live."
After the entrance into the promised land God's presence was manifested spiritually in the tabernacle and not often in a physical way. The actual presence was always accepted as being in the tabernacle, and later in the
(1Ki. 6:11) And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, (1Ki. 6:12) Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with you, which I spoke to David your father; (1Ki. 6:13) And I will dwell ["shakan"] among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. (1Ki. 6:14) So Solomon built the house, and finished it.
Solomon then visited the tabernacle which was not in
(1Ch 16:39) And Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the Lord in the high place that was in Gibeon, (1Ch 21:29) For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.
The ark of the covenant, which had been taken from the tabernacle by the sons of Eli and was captured by Philistines, had then been sent by the Philistines back to
(1Sa 4:21) And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from
After an unhappy experience with the ark the Philistines sent it back to
(2Ch 1:4) But the ark of God had David brought up from Kiriath Jearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
(1Ch 21:29) For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon
It was from there about ten miles north, that its furniture was brought to the completed
(2Ch 5:2) Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion...(2Ch 5:5) And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up.
They brought the tabernacle and its furniture from Gibeon and the ark was brought from
(2Ch 5:13) It came to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord;
Thus the same incident is recorded in 1 Ki.8, when on the day of the dedication of Solomon's
(1Ki. 8:10) And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, (1Ki. 8:11) So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH"] had filled the house of the LORD. (1Ki. 8:12) Then spoke Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell [shakan] in the thick darkness. (1Ki. 8:13) I have surely built you an house to dwell in, a settled place for you to abide in for ever.
There are conditions connected to God's "forever" promises as is already seen since he was to indwell the tabernacle forever. Thus, at the destruction of the first
Ezekiel's description of the "Shekinah" is more detailed but is similar to what the seventy elders saw on
Ezekiel saw both the departure of the "Shekinah" and the return in two separate visions separated in time by a number of years. The "Shekinah" would later return to the
(Eze. 10:4) Then the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH"] went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD's glory ["Cavod YHWH"].
(Eze. 10:19) And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight; when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
(Eze. 11:23) And the glory of the LORD ["Cavod YHWH"] went up from the midst of the city, and stood on the mountain which is on the east side of the city.
Ezekiel, still in a vision, returned to the captives in
(Eze. 43:2) And, behold, the glory of the God of
This event which Ezekiel saw in a vision was fulfilled. It happened in the days of Zerubbabel and is recorded by Zechariah. The lives of Zechariah and Ezekiel overlapped. They were both prophets and priests. Surely they knew of each other and it is likely they met. Zechariah knew of the visions of the departure of the "Shekinah" and the return and therefore he records the predictions of the return that would fulfill the same future event which Ezekiel saw. Thus God first foretells his "Shekinah" return.
(Zec. 2:10) Sing and rejoice, O daughter of
This verse is a prediction of the return of the "Shekinah" which was imminent but had not happened yet when Zechariah wrote this in the second year of Darius. In what follows he foretells the, future but imminent, long period of continuity of the restored "Shekinah" called "that day," meaning that the period of time beginning with the restoration of the "Shekinah" would extend to the call of the Gentiles.
(Zec. 2:11) And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell ["shakan"] in the midst of you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
This verse also introduces references to a dual "Shekinah" return and presence. One is to take place at the completion of the
See also notes on Zecariah 2:8-11.
From the time that Zechariah began to prophesy in the second year of Darius it would be approximately four years before the
"Thus says the Lord; I am returned to
(See notes in the text on these verses where the tenses of the verbs are discussed. The reason for different translations of the tenses of the verbs in several different versions which say that the "Shekinah" has returned or shall return is discussed there)
Before the dedication of the Temple Darius the Persian, a non-Jewish believer, sent letters, to the neighboring Syrians in response to their attempts to stop the rebuilding then progressing under Zerubbabel, in which he spoke of the "Shekinah" as present in Jerusalem.
(Ezr. 6:12) And the God that has caused his name to dwell [shakan] there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at
Here Darius attributes to God his decision to dwell or "shakan," as being completed. Thus the return of his "Shekinah" presence in
(Ezr. 7:15) And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of
This last comment is made by Artaxerxes Longimanus who commissioned Ezra and who says the habitation ["Shekinah"] of God is in
The Golden Age to come, which Zechariah said was to follow the return of the "Shekinah," describes the city and surrounding areas being at peace in an age where people can grow old in a secure environment. To those who lived in
(Dan. 9:12) And he has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven has not been done as has been done upon Jerusalem.
But of the conditions which will follow the return of the "Shekinah" Zechariah says:
(Zec. 8:4) Thus says the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. (Zec 8:5) And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. (Zec 8:6) Thus says the Lord of hosts, If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it [not] also be marvelous in my eyes? says the Lord of hosts.
Zechariah tells in his prophecy that there will be times of trouble in the distant future after the "Golden Age" and speaks of the presence of God who would then stand on
Jesus of Nazareth, himself the embodiment of God, the manifestation of the Almighty, lived in
(Mt. 23:37) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! (Mt. 23:38) Behold, your house is left to you desolate."
When he died on the cross and his spirit left the body there were accompanying earthquakes, darkness, and that slippage between time and eternity that one would expect at such extraordinary, inexplicable moments when the finite and infinite meet. The dead bodies of many arose and walked in the city as a result of his resurrection from the dead! But when he died, at that very moment:
(Mt. 27:51) "the veil of the
That the veil of the
From thenceforth the