Updated: Jan 14, 2022
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The expression “Son of Man” is a pointed reference to the person and work of Yeshua, occurring 88 times in the Brit Chadasha (the New Testament). My question is this: Hebraically, how should we seek to understand this rather curious statement, the Son of Man? What exactly does it mean? We will explore a number of scriptural passages including the often quoted Messianic Psalm 2:12 - "Kiss the Son!"
SON OF MAN – THE PERSONA
When reading through the narratives of the New Testament and coming across the expression, the “Son of Man,” one fact that certainly does not escape my notice is that it regularly seems to appear as if Yeshua is speaking about a third person. In other words, when he often used the term Son of Man, he was speaking about THE Son of Man as if to speak about a persona lodged inside of himself. Here are some examples:
Matthew 8:20. And Yeshua said to him (a certain scribe), “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Matthew 12:40. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew 18:11. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
Mark 9:31. For he (Yeshua) taught his disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And after he is killed, he will rise the third day.”
Mark 14:62. Yeshua said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven.”
John 5:26-27. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the son to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man.
Acts 7:55-56. But he (Stephen), being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the Heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Revelation 14:14. Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
SON OF MAN IN CONTEMPORARY HEBREW
In everyday Israeli Hebrew, the “Son of Man” is actually a very common expression for the Hebrew phrase “ben adam.” The idea in Hebrew is that of a human being; a person, a man. So, for example, one person might say to another person in everyday Hebrew, “Tiheyeh ben adam!” – “Be a man!” – and within the local context of a conversation, the hearer would understand the point. If and when you should travel to Israel, you will often hear Israeli’s make references about everyday people using the expression, “ben adam.” However, in biblical Hebrew, “ben adam” is used quite differently with a very specific meaning. This is what we will now explore.
SON OF MAN IN BIBLICAL HEBREW
Why does Yeshua regularly refer to the Son of Man as a kind of third person persona within himself? I think it is because, in Aramaic, the “street language” of the Jews in the Second Temple period, it had a special Messianic meaning. Among the religious (and perhaps even the not-so-religious) men of his time, they would have heard Yeshua say the words, “bar eynash.”
BAR – בר – SON AND GRAIN
The word BAR in Aramaic, a sister language to Hebrew, means “son.” If you are familiar with today’s Judaism, you likely will be familiar with the term bar mitzvah. This means a son of the commandment, which is a coming-of-age event for a Jewish boy when he reaches the age of 13. For girls, their event is called a bat mitzvah – a daughter of the commandment. So, in Aramaic, BAR means a son. However, in Hebrew, BAR takes on a different idea; that of wheat grain. You can see this in passages such as:
Genesis 41:49. Joseph gathered very much grain (bar) as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable.
Genesis 42:3. So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain (bar) in Egypt.
Jeremiah 23:28. "And he who has my Word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat (bar)?” says Yehovah.
Amos 8:5. When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain (bar)?
Psalm 65:14. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain (bar).
EYNASH – אנש – A MAN OF WEAKNESS AND SICKNESS
“EYNASH” – אנש is an Aramaic word that means a man or a person. Today, in Israeli Hebrew, you might hear someone use the plural term anashim, from the singular word eynash, which is understood to mean a man or perhaps “people.” So, for example, in a room crowded with people, you might hear someone say, “harbeh anashim!” meaning that there’s a lot of people or perhaps “men” in the room. So, in Aramaic, eynash is a word that refers to a person, a man. You can see instances of this from the Aramaic portions of the narratives written in the books of Ezra and Daniel. For example:
Daniel 2:10. The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man (aynash) on earth who can tell the king’s matter.
Ezra 6:11. Also I issue a decree that a man (eynash) who alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected, and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this.
In biblical Hebrew, the same word EYNASH carries a different meaning when compared to Aramaic, namely, the idea of weakness and sickness. For example:
Job 34:6. Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable (ahnush: comes from eynash), though I am without transgression.
Micha 1:9. For her wounds are incurable (anusha: comes from eynash). For it has come to Judah.
2 Samuel 12:15 (after Bathsheba gave birth to a child fathered by King David). And Yehovah struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick (eynash).
EYNASH AND EENSHAH – אנש – A WOMAN
Eynash – אנש in biblical Hebrew, which means a man of weakness or a sickly man, is also quite likely the root for the word “woman,” which regular appears in scripture as eeshah – אשה. For example, see Genesis 2:23. However, in Hebrew grammar, the letter נ – nun (as if to speak about the middle of the afternoon) is a letter of weakness meaning it can drop out of a word. Therefore, a woman – אשה as eeshah, comes from the spelled word eenshah – אנשה. This follows grammatically because in Hebrew, the plural word “women” is nashim – נשים. My point is this: a woman is described in biblical Hebrew as a vessel of weakness.
Interestingly, this is understood in 1 Peter 3:7 –
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them (women) with understanding, giving honor to the woman (wife), as to the weaker vessel.”
From the very beginning (from Genesis), I think our Creator Yehovah meant to show a man – eesh (איש) why he is supposed to love and take are of a woman because a woman, which sounds like eeshah in Hebrew is actually eenshah with a dropped נ nun sound. Therefore, a woman is the weaker vessel when compared to a man. This would explain all those New Testament passages about the body of Messiah in that the gender of the collective Messianic body is feminine in the same way that we are to function as a bride and a queen that relies on the strength of the Man, who is our husband and king. For example, there are statements like these in the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 12:9. And he (Yehovah) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly (as the woman of Messiah) I will rather boast in my infirmities (my sickness or weakness), that the power of Messiah (the strength and spiritual health of my husband) may rest upon me.
Revelation 21:2. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a woman (bride) adorned for her man (husband).
So, whenever you see all those Greek New Testament references to weakness or perhaps sickness, seriously consider that these might be direct metaphorical links back to the idea of how a woman – eenshah is expressed in the Hebrew Bible. She is designed and created to be weak and dependent on her man, exactly how Genesis 3:16 and Ephesians 5:24 explains it. This teaching requires that a man should love his wife as Messiah loves us. In this, our womanly weakness is made strong when we run into our manly strong tower of Heaven. In this, Yehovah becomes our strength and health for the weak ones and the sick ones, as scripture attests saying:
Proverbs 18:10. The Name of Yehovah is a strong tower; the righteous run to him and are safe.
SUMMARY OF EYNASH AS A MAN AND A WOMAN OF WEAKNESS AND SICKNESS
When Nachash (the Serpent) launched his attack against the created weaker one, the woman and tempted her to eat from the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden, her weakness gave way to sickness. When her man also ate from the forbidden fruit, I believe that this is when the word eynash – אנש took on more of an extended meaning, a connotation that would come to describe the sickness of the fallen human condition. Thus, eynash meant a man or a woman of weakness and sickness.
As for the Hebrew phrase “ben adam,” its meaning is much greater than simply translating it as the phrase, the Son of Man. It is the Hebrew expression for a weak and sickly man or woman. Yet, it does not stop here.
BEN ADAM – THE SON OF MAN AS A GRAIN OF WHEAT
To remedy the spiritual corruption that happened in the Garden of Eden, Yehovah appears to have spoken about himself as the one who would come to heal man’s sickness. How so? By presenting himself as the fulfillment of the Messianic Psalm 2:12 –
Psalm 2:12. Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.
In the passage quoted from Psalm 2:12, the Hebrew phrase “kiss the son” is nashku bar, which more accurately means “kiss the wheat grain.” Quite often, nashku bar is usually translated as “kiss the son.” Why? Again, because BAR is Aramaic for a son and also BAR is Hebrew for wheat grain. I believe the Hebrew meaning of nashku bar means both “kiss the son" and "kiss the grain of wheat.” If I am correct that this is also the likely intended understanding, it certainly brings tremendous clarity to Yeshua’s prophetic word from John 12:24-25 –
John 12:24-25. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat (bar) falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if he dies, he produces much grain (bar). He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
With this thought, we can all understand the full implications of the idea for the term “gospel;” that is, Yeshua’s Death, Burial, and Resurrection as Heaven’s Son and Heaven’s wheat grain that falls to the ground, dies, and is raised up into new life – eternal. Therefore, Psalm 2:12 and John 12:24-25 form a kind of collective prophetic bond to teach us about the Messianic redemption in Yeshua HaMashiach, the Wonderful, the Holy, and the Divine Wheat grain of Heaven and Earth – the SON OF YHVH who came to be for us the SON OF MAN, the One who would bear the sin sickliness of the woman – the eenshah, which I believe is the original biblical word for a woman – eeshah; derived from the Hebrew root eynash meaning a man or a woman of weakness and sickliness. This surely fulfils the prophetic word of Isaiah 53 –
Isaiah 53:5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.
When we tie together the two words from Aramaic and Hebrew; that of BAR בר + EYNASH אנש, this gives us great clarity to understand Yeshua’s expression the “Son of Man” as he shows us several aspects of his character:
1) In Aramaic: Bar Eynash – Earth’s Son of Mankind and Son of Weakness.
2) In Hebrew: Bar Eynash – Heaven’s Wheat Grain of Sickness and Wheat Grain of Weakness.
3) In Hebrew: Ben Adam – The Son of Man of Heaven and Earth.
YESHUA: THE SON OF MAN
Uniquely, Yeshua’s moniker “SON OF MAN” was his divine signature or “nickname” given to him by our Father in Heaven. Yeshua was a Son from Adam’s downline. He was also like a Grain of Wheat that was weak and sickly. Both signatures apply to Yeshua and to all mankind, one meaning from Aramaic and one meaning from Hebrew. Through Yeshua, the work of the Word made flesh (see John 1:14) fulfilled all biblical prophecy so that all of mankind could be made spiritually healthy and strong and would no longer be sick and weak showing us the character of Yehovah’s compassion and mercy towards us, leading each of us to receive his work of redemption and salvation (see John 1:12-13). Therefore, we remember Yeshua’s bold statement:
Matthew 18:11. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
Through the Ben Adam and Bar Eynash (THE SON OF MANKIND) we also learn about the SON OF MAN who is the Bar Eynash (THE WHEAT GRAIN OF WEAKNESS AND SICKLINESS). In this, each of us can confidently declare the prophetic words of scripture as referenced in Joel 3:10 –
“Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”
And, from Philippians 4:13:
“I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me.”
Go well and be in shalom (wholeness)
Avi ben Mordechai