Parashah Studies

Vayera

Parashah 4: Vayera “He appeared”

B'reisheet “in the beginning” (Genesis) 18:1-22:24 M'lakhim Bet (2 Kings) 4:1-37 Luke 1:26-38; 24:36-53

by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley

Genesis 18 1 Adonai appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance to the tent during the heat of the day. 2 He raised his eyes and looked, and there in front of him stood three men. On seeing them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, prostrated himself on the ground, 3 and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, please don't leave your servant. 4 Please let me send for some water, so that you can wash your feet; then rest under the tree, 5 and I will bring a piece of bread. Now that you have come to your servant, refresh yourselves before going on.” “Very well,” they replied, “do what you have said.”  In this narrative there is no indication that Avraham knew he was hosting the LORD and two angles, though there may have been something special in their bearing, or something stirring in Avraham's spirit.  יהוה appears as a man (along with two angles): a theophany many believe to be the pre-incarnate Messiah  More specifically  a theophany is a visible manifestation of God in human form to mankind;  a Christophany is a similar appearance of Christ in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament); and  an angelophany is a like appearance of an angel.  It might simply be that he was showing hospitality according to the custom of the day.  Wearing sandals in a dry, dusty, dirty environment gets your feet hot and dirty. A simple act of kindness and hospitality would be to offer water to wash the heat and grime away.  A job for the lowest ranking servant, Yeshua took it upon Himself to serve His talmidim in this way (John 13:1-5)  Though this is culturally relevant in that time and place, foot washing is not necessarily the best way to humbly serve one another in our culture, time, and place. 6 Avraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, three measures of the best flour! Knead it and make cakes.” 7 Avraham ran to the herd, took a good, tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 Then he took curds, milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it all before the men; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.  Interesting that “ a piece of bread” quickly turns into such a meal.  We see glimpses of this attitude in Ps. 23:5 where we read “my cup overflows,” indicating an abundance of provision to meet every need.  Orthodox Jews say the dairy products (curds and milk) were offered as the other food was being prepared so there was ample time for the stomach to empty before the meat was eaten, thus the prohibition against eating meat and dairy together was avoided.  The meat / dairy prohibition is extrapolated from Ex. 34:26 “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk” (also Dt. 14:21).  There are different views on the “why” behind this prohibition, e.g.  This was part of a pagan fertility ritual the Jews were not to imitate. Discussing the archeological discoveries at Ras Shamra Wayne Jackson writes: “Study of the Ras Shamra texts has thrown a floodlight on numerous passages of Old Testament scripture. Many verses that formerly were unclear have been illustrated by these remarkable documents. (1) For years scholars were puzzled by the Mosaic prohibition: 'Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother's milk' (Exodus 23:19; cf. 34:36; Deuteronomy 14:21). Adam Clarke felt that the design of the commandment was basically to prevent blunting moral sensitivity and developing hardness of heard (n.d., 1:422). It now is know, however, that boiling a kid in milk to appease certain deities was a common Canaanite ritual. A Ugaritic text says: 'Over the fire seven times the sacrificers cook a kid in milk...' (Driver, 1956, p. 121). The Mosaic regulation, therefore, was to prevent mimicry of heathenism.” [see The Ras Shamra Discovery, page 5 at www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/ras-shamra.pdf accessed 26 Oct 15]  This was another example of not mixing, confusing, or blurring the lines between good and evil, light and dark, holy and profane, e.g.:  The life-giving process of the mother bird hatching or feeding her young should not be the occasion of their death (Dt. 22:6)  The sacrifice of the newborn may be inevitable, but not for the first week while it is constantly at the mother's breast (Lev.22:27)  The mother and its young never be slain at the same time (Lev. 22:28) [from http://www.keithhunt.com/Kidmilk.html accessed 06 Nov 14]  Another thought is that the phrase “in his mother's milk” might be rendered “in his mother's fat” since both “milk” and “fat” are spelled חלב in the unpointed Hebrew [חָלָב = milk, חֶלֶב = fat], which would go along with the prohibition of killing mother and young together (Lev. 22:28). [see the discussion at http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14477/do-not-boil-a-goat-in-its-mothers-milk accessed 06 Nov 14]  Tim Hegg of the Torah Resource Institute writes on this: “If we take all of the data available to us, we are left with this conclusion: there simply is not sufficient evidence to suggest that the separation of meat and milk as a widely accepted standard of kashrut [Jewish religious dietary laws] existed in the pre-destruction era. Nor is the mention of the Houses of Hillel and Shammai [the two predominant rabbinic schools of the last second Temple era] debating the issue sufficient evidence to substantiate a pre-destruction halakhah [Jewish law] which placed the separation of meat and milk as a central aspect of kashrut cannot be derived from exegesis of the biblical texts but is the sole product of rabbinic midrash [early Jewish interpretation of or commentary on a Biblical text]. Though the precise application of the biblical prohibition of boiling kid in its mother's milk is illusive, we can say with some confidence, based upon the extant historical data, that the later rabbinic halakhah which demands the strict separation of meat and milk, is not a Torah commandment and was not a recognized law of kashrut as practiced among pre-destruction Jewish sects. The strict halakhic separation of meat and milk which came to characterize kashrut within rabbinic Judaism is a halakhah entirely borne of rabbinic innovation.” [for the entire paper see http://www.torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/Meat&Milk_ETS_2013_Final.pdf accessed 06 Nov 14] 9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He said, “There, in the tent.” 10 He said, “I will certainly return to you around this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah heard him from the entrance of the tent, behind him. 11 Avraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “I am old, and so is my lord; am I to have pleasure again?”  the phrase “am I to have pleasure again” here may be more literally rendered “shall I [have] pleasure”  “pleasure” here is עֶדְנָה [ed-nah], the feminine form of עֵדֶן [ay-dehn] meaning, luxury, dainty, delight, finery; delight, from  עָדַן [ah-dahn] meaning  Strong's: to be soft or pleasant; figuratively and reflexively, to live voluptuously  BDB: (Hithpael verb form) to luxuriate, to delight oneself  Rashi defines ednah as 'smoothness' of flesh (as in youth). (The Soncino Chumash, p. 88.)  Abraham Ibn Ezra's interpretation is: How can the pleasure of youth be renewed in me? (ibid.)  In its masculine form, עֵדֶן may be more familiar with the word “garden” in front of it, as in the Garden of Eden.  By God's design, the marital intimacy of husband and wife is to be pleasurable for both 13 Adonai said to Avraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and ask, 'Am I really going to bear a child when I am so old?' 14 Is anything too hard for Adonai? At the time set for it, at this season next year, I will return to you; and Sarah will have a son.”  יהוה, the Self-Existent, Ever-Existent, Sovereign LORD God, Creator of time and eternity, the universe and the atom, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Master of All asks His creation, made of the dust of the dust He created, infused with life that emanates from Him alone, asks the rhetorical question, “Is anything too hard for יהוה?”  At the time set for it …  יהוה is so concerned with everything that touches our lives that He holds our very atoms together – yes, He answers every prayer; in His way and in His timeframe (not ours)  Sometimes the answer is “yes”  Sometimes the answer is “no”  Sometimes the answer is “wait,” as He alone knows the beginning from the end, knows what is best for us, and what other operations are in play that have to come together to ultimately accomplish His will (see the last part of verse 19). 15 Sarah denied it, saying, “I didn't either laugh,” because she was afraid. He said, “Not so – you did laugh.”  when convicted of our shortcomings or sins, our first inclination is denial or to try and rationalize, but  those futile attempts will not stand before the LORD 17 Adonai said, “Should I hide from Avraham what I am about to do, 18 inasmuch as Avraham is sure to become a great and strong nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by him? 19 For I have made Myself known to him, so that he will give orders to his children and to his household after him to keep the way of Adonai and to do what is right and just, so that Adonai may bring about for Avraham what He has promised him.”  the promises of God are as sure and steadfast as He is, as these verses (and many others) indicate (emphasis added):  Not one good thing that Adonai had spoken of to the household of Isra'el failed to happen; it all took place (Josh 21:45)  For I say that the Messiah became a Servant of the Jewish people in order to show God's truthfulness by making good His promises to the Patriarchs (Rom 15:8)  For the word of Adonai is true, and all His work is trustworthy (Ps 33:4)  Here is what Adonai, the Redeemer of Isra'el, his Holy One, says to the one despised, whom the nations detest, to the servant of tyrants: “When kings see you, they will stand up; princes too will prostrate themselves, because of Adonai, Who is faithful, the Holy One of Isra'el, Who has chosen you” (Isa 49:7)  “For I have made Myself known to him” here is more literally, “For I [have] known him,” (כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו [ki yeh-dah-tiyv]), the root word here being יָדַע [yah-dah] meaning  Strong's: to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); use in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment, etc.)  BDB: (here Qal, perfect)  to know: to know, to learn to know; to perceive; to perceive and to see, to find out and to discern; to discriminate, to distinguish; to know by experience; to recognize, to admit, to acknowledge, to confess; to consider  to know, to be acquainted with  to know (a person carnally)  to know how, to be skillful in  to have knowledge, to be wise  knowledge and acquaintance are aspects of יָדַע , but it goes beyond that to experientially and intimately knowing something or someone: knowing and being known  this type of “knowing” indicates mutuality and a reciprocality, which is further indicated by the next words in Hebrew: לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר [leh-mah-ahn ah-sher]  לְמַעַן  לְ־ is an inseparable prefix meaning “to,” “for,” “in regard to”  מַעַן  Strong's: properly, heed, i.e. purpose; used only adverbially, on account of (as a motive or an aim), teleologically, in order that  BDB: purpose, intent (here as a preposition): for the sake of; in view of, on account of; for the purpose of, to the intent that, in order to  אֲשֶׁר  Strong's: who, which, what, that; also (as an adverb and a conjunction) when, where, how, because, in order that, etc  BDB: (relative pronoun): which, who; that which (=what)  (as a conjunction, as in this verse): that (in an objective clause); when; since; as; if (conditional)  the LORD has known Avraham, and allowed him to intimately and experientially know Him, in order that, and with it in view that, Avraham “will give orders to his children and to his household after him to keep the way of Adonai and to do what is right and just, so that Adonai may bring about for Avraham what He has promised him.”  While it is true that the gifts and the calling of the LORD are irrevocable (Rom 11:29),  His promises are conditional upon our walking with and living for Him: if – then.  And so we see here a familiar “tension” in Scripture between the concepts of man's “free will” and the “irresistible grace” of God 20 Adonai said, “The outcry against S'dom and 'Amora is so great and their sin so serious 21 that I will now go down and see whether their deeds warrant the outcry that has reached me; if not, I will know.  “outcry against” is זַעֲקַת [zah-ah-kaht] in Hebrew, the feminine, singular, construct form of זַעַק [zah-ahk] which means  Strong's: a shriek or outcry  BDB: a cry, an outcry: an outcry; a cry of distress; an outcry, clamor  from זָעַק [zah-ahk] which means  Strong's: to shriek (from anguish or danger); by analogy, (as a herald) to announce or convene publicly  BDB: to cry, to cry out, to call, to call for help  Qal: to call (to one's aid); to cry, to cry out (in need)  Niphal: to be assembled, to be called together, to be joined together  Hiphil: to call, to call out, to call together, to summon; to make a crying, to proclaim; to have a proclamation made; to call out to, to call out at  The immediate context tells us, not only that this outcry was negative, but along with the sin of the people in general, was so great that divine judgement was forthcoming.  Could this shriek from anguish or danger, this cry of distress, have been from the victims of their debauchery and sacrifice?  The cities of the oases were notoriously evil. Worshiping the fertility gods of the Canaanites, the people of these cities practiced all forms of sexual perversion. Their lack of respect for God's law concerning sexuality resulted in widespread disregard for others. The sin of Sodom, declared God's prophet, was that "she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy" (Ezek. 16:49). [Verse 50, “They were haughty and did detestable things before Me....”] [Although described as a righteous man (2 Pet 2:7-8), it appears, in the end,] Lot was unable to resist the lure of the profane practices around him. He soon "sat in the gate of Sodom," becoming an important person in his pagan environment. Only God's mercy and the loyalty of his uncle Abraham allowed Lot and his daughters to escape, but he lost everything else dear to him, including his wife. Then, in his grief, Lot discovered that even his daughters had become like the people of Sodom. As the result of their sin, his grandchildren became the people of Moab and Ammon, infamous in the Bible for their idolatry and evil ways. What a contemporary story! So much in modern culture appears desirable and healthful, making it easy for us to get caught up in our secular society's values and practices. We choose our entertainment, music, jobs, food, and even wardrobes according to what the world considers attractive. But as Lot learned, appearances can be deceiving. The only sure way to be free of today's "Sodoms" is to make our choices according to God's standards. It's a lesson Abraham knew well. (Raynard Vander Laan, That The World May Know, “Appearances Can Be Deceiving,” from www.followtherabbi.com, accessed 11 Feb 07.) 23-33 Avraham appears to convince Adonai to save S'dom and 'Amora for the sake of fewer and fewer righteous people; down to ten righteous.  Of course the All-Knowing LORD knows Avraham is going to do this.  Of course the All-Knowing LORD knows how many righteous people there are in these cities.  But Avraham does not know these things, and is pleading with God for the lives of the people, understanding that the LORD has determined that certain expressions of His power will only be exercised in response to prayer.  Some have speculated that, in his pleading with God, Avraham's goal was ten righteous people all along, but went incrementally either to “feel things out” as he went, or possibly thinking that arguing from his endpoint was too big of a request all at once.  Some have wondered how Avraham arrived at ten righteous. One possibility is: Lot + his wife = 2 daughters still living with them = 2 daughters fiancees = 2 fiancees parents = 4 Another possibility is: Lot + his wife = 2 daughters still living with them = 2 plus any other children they may have had and their spouses, along with a in-law or two 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Shouldn't the judge of all the earth do what is just?  Yes, far be it from Him to treat the righteous and wicked alike, and He doesn't. He does do what is just!  This may sound like a good question on the surface, but looks only on the outward and temporal, not the real and eternal.  The creator of any thing is by logic and necessity, both greater than, and outside of, the thing created. The LORD has created both time and space as we currently know them; so we know He is outside of, and greater than both.  God's Word tells us that this life is not all there is. We shall live on in eternity, in either “heaven” or “hell,” and our decisions in this life will determine where our eternal souls will dwell. As a car bumper sticker I once saw succinctly put it, “Eternity: smoking or non-smoking?”  Once a person's body dies (our outer “shell”), the next conscience awareness is that we are in eternity facing a righteous judgement by the Holy Judge. But for the grace of God and the blood of Yeshua, we are all in for hell.  There are times when the righteous are allowed to die (physically) so they are released from pain and suffering in this life, and / or saved from some tragedy they would have otherwise experienced.  We should bear in mind, most people that have ever lived, (both righteous and unrighteous,) have already tasted death. Genesis 19 1 The two angels came to S'dom that evening, when Lot was sitting at the gate of S'dom. Lot saw them, got up to greet them and prostrated himself on the ground.  The two angels who appeared as men in Gen. 18:16  Lot was sitting at the gate of S'dom  The defensive wall around cities had gates for access in and out. These weaker points of defense had extra soldiers there to help guard and protect the city. With people coming and going, many of whom may not of been city residents, the king, officials, and judges would set up shop at the gate. That way people could seek justice, and proceedings could be protected by the larger delegation of soldiers on watch. Because of the other people there, the gate also became a good place to set up market stalls.  Ex. 32:26 Moses stood in the gate of the camp  1 Sam. 9:18 Saul approached Samuel in the gate  2 Sam. 19:8 David sat in the gate  Job 5:3 Job speaks of those being oppressed in the gate  Job 31:21 Job speaks of having support in the gate  Jer. 38:7 Zedekiah was sitting in the gate  That Lot was sitting in the gate of S'dom indicates he had become a person of influence in that city, perhaps hoping that he could make a godly difference.  2 Pet. 2:6-9 And He condemned the cities of S'dom and 'Amora, reducing them to ashes and ruin, as a warning to those in the future who would live ungodly lives; 7 but He rescued Lot, a righteous man who was distressed by the debauchery of those unprincipled people; 8 for the wicked deeds which that righteous man saw and heard, as he lived among them, tormented his righteous heart day after day. 9 So the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and how to hold the wicked until the Day of Judgment while continuing to punish them, 10 especially those who follow their old natures in lust for filth and who despise authority. 2 He said, “Here now, my lords, please come over to your servant's house. Spend the night, wash your feet, get up early, and go on your way.” “No,” they answered, “we'll stay in the square.” 3 But he kept pressing them; so they went home with him; and he made them a meal, baking matzah for their supper, which they ate.  Not only was this a culturally accepted show of hospitality, but Lot knew of the potential danger to these strangers if they spent the night in the open square. 4 But before they could go to bed, the men of the city surrounded the house – young and old, everyone from every neighborhood of S'dom. 5 They called Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us! We want to have sex with them!”  “We want to have sex with them,” more literally is “that we may know them,” the nuance of “know” being obvious from the context: they were not looking for a formal introduction! 6 Lot went out to them and stood in the doorway, closing the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brothers, don't do such a wicked thing.  Middle Eastern culture is that when someone enters a house as a guest, they are also under the protection of that person. Here we see Lot taking a stand between the unruly mob and his guests.  Lot also tries to relate to them as “brothers” 8 Look here, I have two daughters who are virgins. Please, let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them what seems good to you; but don't do anything to these men, since they are guests in my house.”  This is, at best, a difficult verse; especially for me since I have three daughters, none of whom I would offer up as Lot did his.  Nachmanides comments, While the narrative reveals Lot's hospitality, it also reveals his wickedness. (The Soncino Chumash, p. 94.)  Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament Lot went out to them, shut the door behind him to protect his guests, and offered to give his virgin daughters up to them. “Only to these men … do nothing, for therefore (viz., to be protected from injury) have they come under the shadow of my roof.” In his anxiety, Lot was willing to sacrifice to the sanctity of hospitality his duty as a father, which ought to have been still more sacred, “and committed the sin of seeking to avert sin by sin.” Even if he expected that his daughters would suffer no harm, as they were betrothed to Sodomites (v. 14), the offer was a grievous violation of his paternal duty. But his offer only heightened the brutality of the mob. 9 “Stand back!” they replied. “This guy came to live here, and now he's decided to play judge. For that we'll deal worse with you than with them!” Then they crowded in on Lot, in order to get close enough to break down the door.  “This guy came to live here,” is more literally, “this one came to sojourn,” the last word being לָגוּר [lah-gūr], being the Qal infinitive of גוּר with the ל prefix  ל as a prefix means “to,” “for,” or “in regard to”  גוּר means  Strong's: properly, to turn aside from the road (for a lodging or any other purpose), i.e. to sojourn (as a guest); also to shrink, fear (as in a strange place); also to gather for hostility (as afraid). (גוּר also means a cub (as still abiding in the lair), especially of a lion)  BDB:  to sojourn, to abide, to dwell in, to dwell with, to remain, to inhabit, to be a stranger, to be continuing, surely  Qal: to sojourn, to dwell for a time; to abide, to stay, to temporarily dwell  Hithpolel: to seek hospitality with; to assemble oneself  to stir up trouble, to strife, to quarrel, to gather together  Qal: to stir up strife; to quarrel  Hithpolel: to excite oneself  to dread, to fear, to stand in awe, to be afraid  (גוּר also means a cub, a whelp, young)  “and now he's decided to play judge” comes from three words in the Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁפֹּט שָׁפוֹט עַתָּה  עַתָּה [ah-tah] means “now,” “at this time”  וַיִּשְׁפֹּט [vah-yish-pōt] is the Qal imperfect, masculine, singular of שָׁפַט [shah-phaht] meaning  Strong's: to judge, i.e. pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication, to vindicate or punish; by extension, to govern; passively, to litigate (literally or figuratively)  BDB: (in the Qal) to act as law-giver or judge or governor (used of God or man), to rule, to govern, to judge; to decide controversy (used of God or man); to execute judgment (discriminating [used of man]; vindicating; condemning and punishing; at the theophanic advent for final judgment)  שָׁפוֹט [shah-phōt] is the Qal infinitive, absolute of שָׁפַט  the double use of a word in Hebrew (usually in different forms, as seen here) makes it emphatic  Although stating two facts (Lot had come as a sojourner, and was sitting in the gates along with the city's elders and judges [possibly becoming a judge himself]), we can almost hear the condescension, and vile sarcasm in this sneering statement.  As soda and vinegar, acid and water, or cola and Mentos, righteousness always brings a reaction from unrighteousness. Even the perceived possibility of righteous judgement brings a violent reaction from unrighteousness and those living in it, as we see in the rest of this verse.  It is possible that the word “now” (עַתָּה) goes with the next words, rather than with the emphatic judgement just voiced.  In either case, the crowd's judgement against Lot is that he should be treated worse than the other two “men” they desired to Sodomize: נָרַע לְךָ מֵהֶם  נָרַע [nah-rah] is the Hiphil imperfect, first person, common, plural of רָעַע [rah-ah] meaning  Strong's: properly, to spoil (literally, by breaking to pieces); figuratively, to make (or be) good for nothing, i.e. bad (physically, socially or morally)  BDB: to be bad, to be evil; to break, to shatter; (Hiphil) to do an injury or hurt, to do evil or wickedly, mischief (participle)  לְךָ [leh-khah] is a contraction of the לְ prefix (“to,” “for,” or “in regard to”) and the ךָ suffix (second person, masculine, singular) = “to you,” “for you,” or “in regard to you”  מֵהֶם [meh-hehm] is a contraction of the מ prefix (“from,” “out of,” “by,” “by reason of,” “at,” “more than”) and the הֶם suffix (third person, masculine, plural) = this emphasizes that a comparison is being made  “break down the door” is a mild rendering of the Hebrew, as it states the crowd's intention was to שָׁבַר [shah-vahr] the door (here a Qal infinitive) meaning  Strong's: to burst (literally or figuratively)  BDB: (Qal) to break, to break in (or down), to rend violently, to wreck, to crush, to quench; to break, to rupture (figurative) 10 But the men inside reached out their hands, brought Lot into the house to them and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they couldn't find the doorway.  Their stubborn spiritual blindness was now matched with a physical blindness.  Blindness is no respecter of persons, it affects “both small and great.”  Even now, spiritual blindness keeps people from finding the Door / Gate (see John 10). 12 The men said to Lot, “Do you have any people here besides yourself? Whomever you have in the city – son-in-law, your sons, your daughters – bring them out of this place; 13 because we are going to destroy it. Adonai has become aware of the great outcry against them, and Adonai has sent us to destroy it.” 14 Lot went out and spoke with his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up and leave this place, because Adonai is going to destroy the city.” But his sons-in-law didn't take him seriously.  We know Lot had two daughters living with him and his wife, but we are not told how many other sons or daughters they may have had.  “Adonai has become aware,”  This is not to to say that the Sovereign, Omniscient, LORD of all was ignorant of something.  More literally, the Hebrew says, “the great outcry of them (of their great outcry) [is] before the face of the LORD”  Why didn't Lot's sons-in-law take him seriously?  Was it that they were just too far gone?  Was it that they thought the idea of the LORD destroying the city was too far fetched?  Was it that they had never taken him seriously about anything?  Was it that Lot had rarely, or never, been serious with them before?  This is one of those questions left unanswered in Scripture. We can guess and speculate all we want, but the obvious answer is that we don't need to know (otherwise the LORD would have told us plainly). A few thoughts on B'reisheet (Genesis) 22 1 After these things, God tested Avraham. He said to him, “Avraham!” and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitz'chak; and go to the land of Moriyah. There you are to offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will point out to you.”  By this time Yishma'el had been sent away (Gen. 21)  God had said it was through Yitz'chak that He would establish His covenant (Gen. 17:19) 3 Avraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with Yitz'chak his son. He cut the wood for the burnt offering, departed and went toward the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day, Avraham raised his eyes and saw the place in the distance.  After hearing clearly from the LORD, Avraham got up early in the morning and set out.  His only son would be totally offered as a sacrifice to the LORD  On the third day after his son's “death sentence” he raised his eyes and saw the place of God's provision  On the third day after His son's death sentence, Yeshua raised, and the world could see God's provision 5 Avraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go there, worship and return to you.”  I and the boy will … return to you.  Even though Avraham knew he was to sacrifice his son to the LORD, he also believed that the LORD was able to raise him from the dead.  By trusting [faith], Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz'chak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, 18 to whom it had been said, “What is called your 'seed' will be in Yitz'chak.” 19 For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him. (Heb 11:17-19) 6 Avraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Yitz'chak his son. Then he took in his hand the fire and the knife, and they both went on together.  It takes quite a lot of wood for a burnt offering. For it to stay together so it can be carried it has to be bound. Here the bound wood is laid on Isaac, in verse 9 Isaac is bound and laid on the wood.  Yitz'chak was in his early thirties when this took place.  Not only was Abraham's faith being tested, but also Isaac's. 7 Yitz'chak spoke to Avraham his father: “My father?” He answered, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Avraham replied, “God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”; and they both went on together.  The Hebrew wording is such that Avraham's reply could also be translated, “God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt offering [of] my son,” so that Isaac knew that he was to be sacrificed. 9 They came to the place God had told him about; and Avraham built the altar there, set the wood in order, bound Yitz'chak his son and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10 Then Avraham put out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.  Even though he didn't understand all God had in mind, Abraham had set his heart, and settled it in his mind, to do what the LORD had clearly told him.  11 But the angel of Adonai called to him out of heaven: “Avraham? Avraham!” He answered, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Don't lay your hand on the boy! Don't do anything to him! For now I know that you are a man who fears God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Avraham raised his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.  Abraham had said God would provide a lamb (vs. 8), yet here it says He provided a ram.  “Lamb” is a general term referring to a type of animal (i.e. a sheep), that may be further (more specifically) identified as being either a male (a ram), or a female (a ewe).  How can a sheep / lamb be “caught in the bushes by its horns”?  Many sheep, including some indigenous to the Middle East have horns: some normally growing four horns; with some, both rams and ewes grown horns.  The Hebrew says that the ram was caught בַּסְּבַךְ  -בַּ [bah] here is the inseparable prefix meaning “in,” “on,” or “with”  סְּבַךְ [seh-vahk or seh-bahk] is a thicket, from סָבַךְ [seh-vahk] meaning “to entwine,” “to interweave” (some would say sabach: keep in mind that transliteration is more “art” than “science”)  John 8:56 Avraham, your father, was glad that he would see My day; then he saw it and was overjoyed.  When He was on the stake, “At about three, Yeshua uttered a loud cry, “Eli! Eli! L'mah sh'vaktani? (My God! My God! Why have You deserted Me?)”  Not only was Jesus experiencing the weight of the sins of the world at this time, and its resultant separation from God, but  Following Jewish custom of naming a passage, parashah, or book of Scripture by the first words in it, Jesus was quoting the first words of Psalm 22, a Messianic psalm that pointed dramatically to what He was going through at that moment  Jewish New Testament Commentary In Judaism, when a Bible verse is cited its entire context is implied, if appropriate. Thus Yeshua refers all of Psalm 22 to Himself ….  But in the first line of Psalm 22 the word is not “sabachthani” (or “sh'vaktani”) but “ah-zav-tani” (עֲזַבְתָּנִי).  Various scholars guess at the language used here, (e.g. Barnes: “Syro-Chaldaic”; Clarke: “Hebrew and Syriac”; IVP: “mainly in Hebrew”) but consider that  while Yeshua was directing our attention to Psalm 22 (which may have been part of the Scripture recitation at this time of day, IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament) which ends with the sufferer's vindication and triumph (vs 25-31)  that with the thorns of a thicket (סְּבַךְ [sabach])on His own head, He was also directing our attention back to Genesis 22, a type or foreshadowing of His sacrifice and resurrection.

Parashah Schedule

To view the current week's reading, view the schedule.

What's a Parashah?

Parashah is a Hebrew word that means portion. 

Synagogues around the world read the same parashah each Shabbat. The Torah is divided into 54 weekly portions so that the whole Torah is read annually. Selections from the Haftarah (Prophets) are also read each week, and in Messianic congregations, selections from the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) are included. Holiday selections are also listed for the Feast Days.

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