Bat Kol at the Transfiguration

In our days it is even exceedingly rare to hear a voice speak from heaven, but it seems to have been more common in the days of the Apostles. Talmudic literature offers several anecdotes of “a voice from heaven” speaking during the late Second Temple Era.

The Hebrew term for the heavenly voice, bat kol, literally means “daughter of a voice,” a way to describe an echo or reverberation. The Talmud uses the term to refer to a voice heard from an unseen speaker. The Apostle Paul heard a voice from heaven speak to him as did the writer of the book of Revelation. The Gospels record three incidents involving a voice speaking from heaven: the voice at the Jordan, the voice at the triumphal entry (John 12:29), and the voice on the mount of the Transfiguration.

The voice from heaven that spoke at the Transfiguration repeated the same message which the Master heard at the time of His immersion in the Jordan. In that instance, the voice addressed Yeshua directly, saying, “You are my Son …” On the high mountain, the voice addressed the disciples, “This is My beloved son …”, and the message came with the addition imperative, “Listen to Him!”

This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him! (Matthew 17:5)

The mysterious declaration “This is my beloved son” alludes directly to Psalm 2 where the LORD tells His anointed one (messiah), “You are my Son; today I have begotten You” (Psalm 2:7). The sages regarded Psalm 2 as a psalm about the Messiah, and they frequently employed the psalm to provide proof texts regarding the Messiah.

The words “with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17) directly allude to the messianic servant song of Isaiah 42:1: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him …” (Isaiah 42:1). “With whom I am well-pleased” is a Greek equivalent for the Hebrew idiom, “In whom My soul delights.” By alluding to Isaiah 42:1, the first of the servant songs, the voice from heaven identifies Yeshua of Nazareth as the subject of all of Isaiah’s “Servant of the LORD” prophecies which culminate in the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.

The voice directed the disciples to “listen to Him,” alluding to the prophecy of the prophet like Moses. In Deuteronomy 18 Moses told the children of Israel that the LORD would one day raise a prophet like him from among the Jewish people. The Torah says, “You shall listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15). The heavenly voice identified Yeshua as the prophet like unto Moses to whom the people must listen. (Click to Source)

The Metamorphosis

Yeshua’s disciples saw him undergo a metamorphosis before their eyes, but into what did he transfigure and what did it mean?

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As Yeshua prayed, “He was transfigured before them” (Mark 9:2). The Greek text of Matthew and Mark uses the word metamorfoo from which we derive the English word “metamorphosis.” A metamorphosis is the process of substantially changing (or transfiguring) from one physical state to another. In what manner did Yeshua change from one state to another?

From the description in the Gospels, it appears that he became like a luminous being, clothed in light: “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2) and “His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mark 9:3). What’s the significance?

We find a clue in Matthew 16:27. Shortly before the story of the transfiguration, Yeshua told his disciples that some of them would not taste death before they had seen the Son of Man coming “in the glory of his Father” (Matthew 16:27). The Bible often depicts the glory of God as visible light. For example, Isaiah 60:1 compares God’s glory to the light of the sun: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” Likewise, when the angels announced the birth of the Messiah, “glory shone around” (Luke 2:9). The mystics called the light of God’s glory “the radiance of the Divine Presence.” (Click to Site)

Where did the Transfiguration Occur?

Where is the high mountain of the transfiguration? Church tradition places the event on Mount Tabor, but the Gospels point to another location.

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The story of the transfiguration began when Yeshua “brought them up alone with him on a high mountain” (Mark 9:2). Mountains are a common place to seek divine revelation. The Master enjoyed heights, often praying on hilltops and teaching on hilltops. He slipped off for prayer by Himself. He was accustomed to praying alone on a hilltop through the night. At other times, He rose early in the morning to pray at some remote location where He could pour His heart out before the Father in privacy. On that particular evening, He wanted to spend the night in prayer, but He did not go alone. He decided to take His closest disciples with Him. “He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray” (Luke 9:28).

The gospels do not indicate the location of the high mountain that the Master chose. Early church tradition places the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, a prominent hill at the eastern end of the Jezreel valley, not far from Nazareth. During the Byzantine period, Christians began to make pilgrimage to Mount Tabor to remember the miracle. Byzantine Christians erected churches and monasteries atop the hill. (Click to Site)