We had finished dinner at our hotel just outside the entrance to Petra, the capitol of the Nabatean Empire. Before going up to our rooms, the members of my group perused the offerings of a store specializing in antiquities. Browsing nearby, I heard Charlie ask the shop’s owner, “What is the most remarkable piece you have, not the most expensive, but the item you think is the most interesting?” Without hesitation, he opened up a nearby display and showed him this “yad.” Seeing what was in Charlies’s hand, I was immediately interested in what was being discussed. Made in 1872, we were told that the shop owner’s father had procured the Torah Pointer eleven years earlier at an estate sale in Iran.
At Yad Vashem, there is a display of items stolen from Jewish synagogues that testifies to the atrocities of Hitler’s henchmen. In one display case, three Torah Pointers like this one can be seen. They eternally point to Satan’s intentions throughout HIStory to destroy the Jewish people. Items like this were not just left behind or sold. They were prized by Jewish people as a central component of synagogue service. It would surprise me if this was actually sold as was reported.
Yad means “hand.” Throughout Scripture, God’s hand can be seen at work in many ways:
1 Chronicles 29:12 – In God’s hand there is power.
Isaiah 59:1 – His hand is able to save us.
Psalm 37:24 – With His hand, God upholds the righteous.
Most yadim are lovingly crafted from silver. They are between 10 and 12 inches long and tipped with a hand and pointing index finger. To protect a Torah Scroll, these pointers are used to guide the eyes of a reader without the need to touch it with their own finger. This could smudge the Hebrew script and leave behind oily stains following years of use. In a religious culture where the name of God is never spoken, Judaism’s reverence for the Hebrew Scriptures is behind the care taken for the very words of God.
Political correctness and religiosity can obscure what God intended. Satan is behind that too. From the very beginning of HIStory, it was always in God’s mind that there would come a time when the Word would become flesh, to invite the touch of those His only begotten Son came to redeem. The soil of your sin, and my sin, covered His body. You and I nailed God’s Son to the cross using other pointed instruments. Psalm 22:16 and John 20:27 tell us that our Savior’s hands, feet, and side were pierced through for our transgressions. It wasn’t the Jews who killed Yeshua. The Romans weren’t even responsible. Everyone is guilty. No one is innocent. Truth be known, the Father sentenced His own Son to death!
With God’s own finger, He wrote: “You shall not commit adultery.” This was just one of the 613 specific commandments of the Mosaic Law, given to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai. Breaking this commandment was grounds for death. In fact, breaking any one of the other 612 laws could cause the eternal death of an offender.
We see that same finger used to free the woman caught in adultery from her accusers.
Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming toHim; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” – John 8:2-11
I would love to know for certain where this precious item came from and hear the stories it might tell. There is no telling if what the Arab shopowner told us about the this Torah Pointer is even true. But…, isn’t it curious that a Jordanian Arab, who is likely a Muslim, would point to an antique Torah Pointer as the most remarkable item in his store?
God’s Word points us to the only way in which anyone can be saved. How has God used His own finger to write His story in your life?
P.S. – I want to thank Robert, Susie, Charlie, and Terri for making the Torah Pointer in this article a gift to commemorate our tour together in Israel and Jordan.