Sounds like: yaw’sawd
The Biblical authors were big fans of metaphors, analogies, wordplay and a vast array of literary genres. They used word pictures- some we understand from our cultural perspective, and some we don’t. The word foundation, yasad, is one word that makes sense to us. A foundation is something that you build upon, like a basement, or a set of written company policies, or yes, even makeup. Although the Bible doesn’t associate foundation with makeup, it does associate it with the physical foundation of building and the foundation of a set of beliefs:
You are near, O YHWH, and all Your commandments are truth. Of old I have known from Your testimonies that You have founded [y’sad’tam] them forever.
YHWH’s commandments were anchored in truth, always and forever. It was a solid, strong, foundational principle.
It’s important that the foundation (be it a written foundation or a physical foundation) is strong and established, otherwise the whole institution or building will come tumbling down.
Yeshua (Jesus) told the parable of the man who built the foundation of his house on rock, and compared him to the man who built his house on ground or sand, without a foundation:
Luke 6:46-49 (see also Matthew 7:24-27)
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
A solid foundation, built on rock, was an anchor. It held you in place, safe and settled. Regardless of what life threw at you, you would remain unmoved and you would remain firmly standing.
YHWH Laid the Foundation of the Earth
The most common use of yasad in the Bible was a description of creation when YHWH laid the foundations of the earth:
Bless YHWH, O my soul! O YHWH my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendour and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers. He established [founded: yasad] the earth upon its foundations place [m’koneh’ha], so that it will not totter forever and ever.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established [yasad’ta] for them.
This unidentified Psalmist said that YHWH founded (established) the earth upon its place, so that it would hold firmly (not totter) forever and ever. He also said that the mountains would rise and the valleys would sink according to the place which he had founded/planned/established for them. YHWH, the God of Life and Order had a plan. He did not create ‘on the fly’. He meticulously pre-planned a blueprint for the world and put everything in its ordered place, from the mountains to the valleys.
The Psalmist had announced that YHWH founded the world, and even YHWH, Himself, made the claim:
[YHWH:] “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded [yas’dah] the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together.”
And later in the Book of Isaiah YHWH reminded the people, who had forgotten Him, that He was the One who laid the foundations of the earth:
[YHWH:]“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that you have forgotten YHWH your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth [w-yosed artez], that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?
The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. For I am YHWH your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (YHWH of hosts is His name). I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish [plant] the heavens, to found [w-ly’sohd] the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”
The Story of the Temple and its Foundation
Of course the earth needed its Creator and YHWH’s people wanted to contain Him and put Him in a house. And so Solomon laid the foundations and built the Temple. It took Solomon seven years to build it (1 Kings 6:37-38). Chronicles gave us the measurements of the Temple’s foundation:
2 Chronicle 3:1-3
Then Solomon began to build the house of YHWH in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where YHWH had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. He began to build on the second day in the second month of the fourth year of his reign.
Now these are the foundations [h-usad] which Solomon laid for building the house of God. The length in cubits, according to the old standard was sixty cubits, and the width twenty cubits.
The Temple stood as the pinnacle of early Jewish architecture. It was as beautiful of a home for YHWH as they could make it… but it would not stand forever.
Isaiah had lived in the days when the Temple stood strongly on Mount Moriah. Centuries before it fell to the Babylonians, Isaiah made a strange prophecy about Jerusalem:
Thus says YHWH, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, YHWH, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone, causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back and turning their knowledge into foolishness, confirming the word of His servant and performing the purpose of His messengers. It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’ And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’ And I will raise up her ruins again.
It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up!’ And I will make your rivers dry. It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”
In Isaiah’s time, the foundation was already laid and the Temple stood strong. But he spoke of a time when the foundations would have to be laid again and rebuilt after Jerusalem had toppled. He also prophesied that someone named Cyrus would do the bidding of YHWH.
A few centuries after Isaiah, the Babylonians would sweep across Jerusalem, destroy the Temple and march the Jewish people out of Israel and towards Babylon.
Why would God let this happen? Well, that’s a complicated question. But we do know that the people built the Temple to house God on earth, and where God was, goodness dwelt. So when the people turned their back on God and began to worship gods of neighbouring kingdoms, YHWH allowed the events to unfold in the direction that His people went. They chose death and destruction themselves, and YHWH didn’t stop it. Like a good parent, He allowed them to learn from their mistakes. But for those mistakes they had to leave Jerusalem, much like they had to leave the Garden of Eden. They were forced out of Jerusalem and the Temple came down.
But YHWH didn’t leave them hanging. When they called out to Him for salvation, He would turn His face towards them, much like king Hezekiah said of YHWH centuries earlier:
2 Chronicles 30:9
[King Hezekiah:] “For if you return to YHWH, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For YHWH your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face [panim] away from you if you return to Him.”
The people remained in exile, in Babylon, for seventy years before returning to the land. By the grace of God, the Persians defeated the Babylonians and the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, allowed the Hebrew people to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple:
Now when the builders had laid the foundation [w-yiss’du] of the temple of YHWH, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise YHWH according to the directions of King David of Israel. They sang, praising and giving thanks to YHWH, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised YHWH because the foundation of the house of YHWH was laid [husad beit YHWH]. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation [b-yas’doh] of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.
But this second Temple would also not stand forever. In the days of Yeshua (Jesus), the Temple stood firm on the Temple mount, but during His ministry He made a startling announcement:
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”
Approximately forty years after Yeshua made this announcement, Rome sacked the city and destroyed the Temple for the last time.
The Cornerstone of the Foundation
The most important stone in the foundation was the Cornerstone. It was the first stone to be laid, and the one upon which the rest of the foundation was based.
In the Book of Job, YHWH and Job had a conversation in which YHWH spoke about the foundation and the cornerstone:
[YHWH to Job:] “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth [b-yas’di aretz]? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
In other words, YHWH was, and is, in control. Humans think they are in control, and they want to be in control, but they are not, ultimately, in control.
For example, in an effort to control their lives, humans wanted to build a house for YHWH. YHWH never asked them to build Him a house, but they built the Temple, nevertheless. After it was built Solomon gave a pray of dedication (see 1 Kings 8) for the new building, and YHWH approved the Temple. He agreed that it to be His dwelling place on earth (see 1 Kings 9:3).
But ultimately YHWH knew that dwelling in a building made by human hands wouldn’t be enough. He had to build a more permanent dwelling place for His people. But this dwelling place wouldn’t be a building, and His cornerstone wouldn’t be an ordinary rock.
YHWH, from the beginning, wanted to find a way to bring His people home, back into His presence. To do so, YHWH would send a part of Himself to dwell amongst the people. He would send His Son and make His home among us. And why would He do this?… To conquer the one thing we were enslaved to: …death.
Therefore, hear the word of YHWH, O scoffers, who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”
Therefore thus says the Lord YHWH, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation [yissad], firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level; then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place. Your covenant with death will be canceled, and your pact with Sheol will not stand…”
YHWH was the God of life, not death, and He was the God of order, not chaos, so YHWH would find a way to free and heal His people from this covenant of death that they were enslaved to.
When Yeshua conquered the grave and rose up from death, He was making a profound statement: death could not stop YHWH’s people from coming home to Him. Through the actions of the Messiah we would return as citizens in God’s household.
“Thus says YHWH of hosts, ‘Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation [yussad] of the house of YHWH of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built. For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for animal; and for him who went out or came in there was no peace because of his enemies, and I set all men one against another. But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ declares YHWH of hosts. ‘For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong.’”
The Temple would be built, but ultimately it would be the people who would become the Temple, the dwelling place of God. With Yeshua as the Cornerstone, and the prophets and the apostles as the foundation on which to stand, the people of YHWH could plant their feet firmly on the mountain of God, and become the living, breathing, Spirit-infused, Temple of God. This was why Paul wrote this to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Yeshua, our Foundation
Yeshua’s great sacrifice on the cross was the foundation laid to build the new Kingdom. This was not a kingdom of palaces and aristocrats. It wasn’t decorated with jewels but it was very costly. It cost Yeshua his life.
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts. And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things.
When Yeshua said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” He was actually quoting Psalm 31, a Psalm of His human ancestor, David:
Psalm 31:5-8, 12-16
Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O YHWH, God of truth. I hate those who regard vain idols, but I trust in YHWH. I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place…
…I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many, terror is on every side; while they took counsel [while they built a foundation: b-hiu-yas’dam] together against me, they schemed to take away my life.
But as for me, I trust in You, O YHWH, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness.
Yeshua was the foundation of God’s plan, and part of that plan was allowing humans to do what they do best: destruction. They built up a foundation of lies against Yeshua in order to end His life. He was afflicted, accused, distressed, and forgotten, and yet regardless of all that YHWH was willing to forgive. For all who loved and sought YHWH, His presence/face would shine upon them.
Through the sacrifice of Yeshua we have an everlasting foundation that will not move or crumble:
When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation [y’sohd olam].
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You. How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your countenance.
We are YHWH’s chosen ones and we were chosen from the beginning, because YHWH wanted to co-exist with His creation. We messed up, but He found a way to bring us back home. Through the blood of the Messiah we would be set free:
Ephesians 1:3-8a (see also 1 Peter 1:17-21)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus the Messiah to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.
From the foundation of the world, YHWH has prepared a Kingdom for us… a beautiful place where we will be reunited with our Creator. We’ve waited a lifetime to get there and when our time here is up, we will receive our inheritance… a Kingdom worthy of a child of God, and more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
[Jesus:] “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”.
Next week: Eat