Two Types of Watchmen…

Currently, I am reading Christians & Jews, The Two Faces of Israel, by Stephen J. Spykerman.  A broader review of this book will be forthcoming, however, I wanted to share a little nugget from pages 25-28.

51inNowprDL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Spykerman points out that there are two types of ‘watchmen.’  Now, like me, you are probably familiar with the watchman who stands upon the walls of Jerusalem and watches, prays, etc.  We would look to Isaiah 62:6-7,

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes, And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

And, indeed, today there are continual prayer vigils and vocal watchmen concerning Israel and more specifically, Jerusalem.  Interestingly, Spykerman points out another type of watchman that paints a fascinating picture in our time!

Our common understanding of ‘watchman’ comes from the Hebrew word שׁמר  (shamar, H8104, 469 uses) from which we get the more familiar ‘shema,’ meaning to ‘keep, guard, protect, hedge about.’  Isaiah uses the much more common shamar in the verses above which is precisely why our subject is interesting. Let me explain beginning with Jeremiah 31:6!

“For there will be a day when watchmen
On the hills of Ephraim call out,
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the Lord our God.’”

The word here is not ‘shamar.’  Rather, Jeremiah reaches to a much less common word, נצר  (natzar, H5341, 69 uses) to make his point.  Generally, translated as ‘keep, preserve,’ the word is only once translated as ‘watchmen’ in the sense of those who ‘keep, guard, protect.’  (Twice it is translated as ‘watchman’ in the phrase ‘tower of the watchmen’ referring to a physical point in the wall of Jerusalem.)

There are a couple intriguing connections.

The Jeremiah passage uses the Hebrew word ‘notzrim.’

First, נצר / נצר (natsar / netser ) are very closely related and we know that netser means ‘branch’ or ‘shoot,’ as in ‘…there shall come a rod out of Jesse and a branch from his roots…’ in Isaiah 11.

Interestingly, in modern Hebrew, Christians are referred to as ‘Notzrim’ because of the association with Yeshua, of Natsreth, who is the fulfillment of the ‘branch’ out of Jesse.  (See ‘fruit’ in Isaiah 11:1 and John 15..)

The next piece of the puzzle, for those not familiar with the term/title/descriptor ‘Ephraim,’ is to understand the division of Israel into two houses that remain divided to this day.  Over and over through the prophets, Yehovah addresses the ‘house of Judah’ and/or the ‘house of Israel.’  The House of Israel is also called ‘Ephraim’ because that was the ruling tribe and the largest of the 10 tribes that separated themselves from Judah.  Sometimes we also see the Northern Kingdom of Israel referred to as the ‘house of Joseph’ or the ‘stick of Joseph.’

Jeremiah 31:6, by using a word that has a totally different meaning in modern Hebrew, says something very interesting:

“For there will be a day when watchmen (Christians?) On the hills of Ephraim call out,
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the Lord our God.’”

Isn’t this precisely what we see happening at an ever accelerating rate?  Christians, learning the Hebrew roots of their faith, are turning toward Zion and crying out to those around them, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’

Spykerman fleshes this whole thought out even more as he establishes the foundation for his book and the connections between the parables of Yeshua and the two houses He came to regather.  (I’ll review the book later to give overall impressions and thoughts.)  Increasingly, there are those, both in Judaism and in the ‘Hebrew roots movement,’ that recognize those in Christendom coming to Torah as being ‘Ephraim’ or the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

The immediate thought I wanted to share, related to ‘notzrim’ is that there are two types of watchmen, and those of us called to this Hebraic awakening are called to be notzrim, watchmen, who cry out from Ephraim to those around that we need to turn Zion and the Lord our God.  We may have differing platforms and visibility, but we are all voices to someone!

Tangential, is the wonder of going back and re-reading closely Jeremiah 30 and 31 for deeper context surrounding the New Covenant.  What terrific bubblegum for the brain!!


About Pete Rambo

Details in 'About' page @ Basically, husband of one, father of four. Pastor x 11 years, former business and military background. Micro-farmer. Messianic believer in Yeshua haMashiach!
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8 Responses to Two Types of Watchmen…

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    So thrilled you are reading Stephen’s book…hope someday you can meet him…he is a prince of Ephraim and a dear brother! 😊


  2. loammi says:

    Just reading this morning in my OJB in jer 4 and ‘Notzrim’ came up as besieger. Considered the blog post with watchman as it does mean both but quite a contranym that we see play out daily-either for (as watchmen) or against (as those who besiege)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loammi says:

    As I continued in the OJB in Jeremiah 6 the word tzofim is also used as watchman. Just throwing that out.


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