Odd Oklahoma draws attention to a video posted in November 2012 by “Rabbi” Ralph Messer, showing Messer in conversation with Jim Barfield (misspelt “Jim Berfield in the accompanying blurb). The two men have a lot of common: both are known for their eccentric appropriations of Jewish tradition, which they have fashioned into weird idiosyncratic forms of religion that depart from both Judaism and Christianity and which go under the name of “Hebrew Roots”.
Messer (background here) achieved notoriety last year, when he involved scandal-hit evangelist Eddie Long in a bizarre ritual that involved Long (the “fresh sperm” preacher) being wrapped in a Torah scroll – the incident included a commentary by Messer in which he claimed that a Torah scroll cover is a “foreskin” (it’s not).
Barfield, meanwhile, is a retired fire marshal who came to attention in 2009 when he claimed to have solved the secret of the “Copper Scroll”, a document found among the Dead Sea Scrolls which purports to record the burial place of some treasure. Barfield believes that it points the way to ritual items from ancient Israel’s First Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant; as I noted at the time, credulous hacks lapped the story up, with puff pieces on local media and in the Jerusalem Post. Barfield also reportedly gave a presentation to a group of Oklahoma state senators, who agreed to support his efforts with funding and letters to Israeli officials.
In Israel, Barfield made links with the late Vendyl Jones and the self-styled “Sanhedrin“; however, interest waned when he failed to deliver the goods. Barfield’s explanation for his failure was that Israeli archaeologists had failed to dig deep enough at the correct spot, although the archaeologist Robert Cargill visited the site and found “virgin rock”.
It’s not clear how old the newly-posted video is; Barfield appears with short hair and a goatee, but in 2009 he had long white hair and a generous beard, both reflecting supposed “Nazarite” vows. The video itself has little that is new: Barfield imagines the treasure being found, and Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians attacking Israel in order to get a hold of it; this unlikely casus belli moves Messer’s audience to righteous anger as Barfield explains the need to support Israel. The segment ends with Messer and his followers contemplating “a new Empire and a Temple which the Messiah throughout eternity on earth will rule and reign with kings and priests”.
Odd Oklahoma also notes that in 2012 Barfield spoke at a Sukkot event called “TabernaclesTx“, where he revealed the “unusual and even miraculous events that have made it possible for him to have reached the level of success that he has enjoyed”. Here he was joined by speakers including Carl Baugh, who looks for Noah’s Ark and who runs the “Creation Evidence Museum”, and Richard Rives, who runs Wyatt Archaeological Research.
Wyatt Archaeological Research is named for the late Ron Wyatt, who claimed to claimed to have seen the Ark of the Covenant, and to have found pre-flood wood without tree rings, sulphur balls from Sodom and Gomorrrah, and a sample of Jesus’ blood, which contained 23 chromosomes from Mary and one from God; Rives himself makes videos for WorldNetDaily, in which he slams Christian traditions as pagan and exhorts Christians to follow Jewish cultural forms.
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah also promotes “Hebrew Roots” teachers such as Michael Rood and Jonathan Cahn; Cahn, with Farah’s assistance, has come to wider attention due to a best-selling apocalyptic paperback called The Harbinger, and he presents himself as being an expert in “Hebrew Mysteries”.
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