Rabbi Jesus and His Twelve Talmidim
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray,
and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples:
and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
The Calling of the Twelve (Luke 6:12f)
By definition, a teacher requires a disciple just as a disciple requires a teacher.
They always come in pairs. In Greek, the paired words are Didaskalos (Master) and
the latter being consistently used throughout the Gospels to describe the Twelve Disciples.
In Hebrew, the pair is Rabbi and Talmid, the latter being based,
of course, on the verb lamad,
the root of the name of the Twelfth Letter. The plural form – Talmidim – is used throughout Hebrew
versions of the New Testament to describe the Twelve Disciples. Likewise, Rabbi is the Hebrew
equivalent of Didaskalos (Teacher). The Lord used these words in parallel when He said
"But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master (Didaskalos), even Christ; and all
ye are brethren" (Mat 23:8). The same parallelism is found in John 1:38, where the
equivalence of the Hebrew and Greek words is made explicit:
And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned,
and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi,
(which is to say, being interpreted, Master (Didaskalos), where dwellest thou? He saith unto them,
Come and see.
As exemplified by Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings, the idea of
following defines the
Master/Disciple relationship. We have now a second primary link between the Biblical use of the
Number 12 and the symbolic meaning of the Twelfth Letter. Just as this number marks the age of
Christ when He taught the teachers in the Temple, so it also marks the group blessed
to receive the special benefits of His personal Teachings, His Twelve Talmidim (Disciples).
We have a perfect and complete integration of the Biblical use of the Number 12 with the
meaning of the Twelfth Letter as understood by the ancient rabbinical tradition and taught by God
in the Alphabetic Verses.
pattern of the Twelve Disciples originated with the Twelve Tribes which were
represented by Twelve Loaves called shewbread, literally "bread of the face (presence)"
(lechem panim, BW book pg 313). This number and its multiples mark all who are Disciples of God,
such as the 144,000 (= 12 x 12000) sealed with the His Seal, the 24 (= 2 x 12) Elders before the
Throne, and the City of the Redeemed, the New Jerusalem, with its Twelve Gates having the names of
the Twelve Tribes and its Twelve Foundations having the names of the Twelve Apostles. Such examples could
be greatly extended.
Not surprisingly, the Number 12 also plays an extremely significant role in the structure
of Scripture which truly is the "bread from heaven" that feeds us with the full counsel of God.
The seven canonical divisions each contain 5, 12, or 22 Books (BW book pg 32). Christ joined the first
two of these structural numbers and linked them with the "bread from heaven" when He fed the
five thousand with five loaves, leaving twelve baskets remaining (John 6:10ff).
Immediately after this miracle, He compared and contrasted Himself with manna, the "bread from
heaven" that God fed the Jews in the wilderness to teach them that "man doth not live by bread only,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD" (Deut 8:3). The text therefore simultaneously
links the "bread from heaven" with both the Living Word (Christ) and the Written Word
(Scripture). This is but one example of the many analogies between Christ and the Bible. Both are an
incarnation of the Word of God, one of ink and paper, the other of human flesh, and both are animated by
God's Spirit. Each is, in its own way, "bread from heaven" that feeds Christ's Talmidim with His Wisdom,
Truth, and very Life.
Next article: Elijah and Elisha (Rabbi and Talmid)