The Hebrew word Choter, or rod, is only found twice in the ancient prophetic text. Netzer, or branch, is only found four times. To what do they both refer? What is their significance? What mystery is hidden in the pictographic letters that would help us to understand them better? Is there anything here that would point us to the Messiah? Let’s find out.
The first place in scripture that both the word Choter and Netzer are found is in Chapter 11 verse 1 of the book of the Prophet Isaiah where he predicts something that will take place in a future time:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The word rod is Choter (kho’-ter) and is defined as a branch, a twig or a rod. The word translated branch or Netzer (na’-tser) is defined as a sprout or a shoot. But before we carefully investigate these words, we need to ask where did the roots come from? Who was Jesse?
The genealogy recorded in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew provides the birth record of Jesus Christ. It shows us that Jesse was a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and was the father of King David. Jesse is in the line of Messiah.
The last two verses of the previous chapter provide revealing context. In Chapter 10 verses 33 and 34 Isaiah describes the judgment of the proud by YHWH:
Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled. And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
The prideful will be judged by YHWH, and this is pictured by Isaiah as a forest that will be leveled to nothing more than stumps. History records this as the destruction of Judah who had become proud and had forgotten YHWH Elohim. This judgment came at the hand of the Assyrians. But in the very next verse, a shoot begins to grow out of the remains of one of the stumps. That stump is Jesse who is a part of the faithful remnant.
But who is the one that Isaiah predicts will come? Who is the rod and the branch, the Choter and the Netzer?
Isaiah gives us another clue in verse 4 of this same chapter when he writes:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
This is a clear reference to the coming Messiah. Why were Choter and Netzer used to describe Him? Let’s begin with the word Choter to see what mystery can be found hidden in the pictographs and numbers.
Choter is spelled Chet Tet Reysh.
Chet is the picture of the fence and means private, to separate, a sanctuary, or an inner room.
Tet is the picture of the coiled snake and means to surround, to encircle, or to ensnare.
Reysh is the picture of the head and means a person, the highest, or the prince.
The first hidden mystery we can discover is that this rod is a picture of a prince who is coming who will surround someone with a hedge of protection. The context of the passage tells us this prince is Messiah. But who will be surrounded and protected? For that let’s look at the numbers these letters represent.
Chet is the number 8 and signifies a new beginning. Tet is the number 9 and tells of an evaluation of man resulting in judgment and the conclusion of a matter. Reysh is the number 200 and compares the sufficiency of God with the insufficiency of man.
The pictographs combined with the numbers let us see that the coming Prince, the Messiah, is going to surround and protect fallen and insufficient man who will be given a new beginning. The conclusion of the matter is that any man who comes under the protection of Messiah will be surrounded and protected from judgment.
What will be different about Messiah in this rod, or Choter, that’s different from what’s in the sprout, the Netzer?
Netzer is spelled Noon Tsade Reysh.
Noon is the picture of the fish and means life or activity.
Tsade is the picture of the fish hook and means to catch, to have a strong desire or a need, and can mean just or righteous.
Again, Reysh is the picture of the head and means a person, the highest, or the prince.
The first thing we discover in the sprout or Netzer is that there is a coming prince who has a strong desire to catch someone and give him life. We know the prince is Messiah, but who is he going to catch, and how will he accomplish this? The numbers will tell us.
Noon is the number 50 and stands for the Holy Spirit and deliverance followed by rest. Tsade is the number 90 and is a combination of ordinal perfection and the judgment of man. Reysh again is the number 200 and compares the insufficiency of man with the sufficiency of God.
It has been ordained in heaven that by the power of the Holy Spirit the Prince that will come is sufficient to catch and preserve man from judgment.
Rabbi Paul described this work of grace for us in his letter to the Galatians in Chapter 4 verses 3 through 5:
Even so we when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
There is a final picture in Choter for us to consider; these three pictographs also point us to a time when at His first coming the Prince Himself will be surrounded and separated. He will be cut off to satisfy judgment just like the forest Isaiah wrote about. The really good news is the remaining picture in Netzer. The word sprout is from a root which literally means greenness as a striking color. It pictures Noon or new life from the old stump just like the resurrection of the coming Messiah; the one who was the sprout Himself will grow to become the root.
And how do we know that the prince in the pictographs in Choter and Netzer was Yeshua Ha-Meshiach, Jesus the Christ?
There is a much more common word Isaiah could have used for branch than Netzer, but when the letter Tav, which is the picture of the crossed sticks, is added to the word Netzer it forms the word Natzeret which we know today as Nazareth. The cross is the key to linking Messiah to come with Jesus the Nazarene. The scripture tells us in Matthew Chapter 2 verse 23 where Jesus the Messiah made His early home:
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
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