May 18, 2013 Shabbat Bible Study
©2013 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
May 18, 2013 – Year 1 Sabbath 10
Genesis 12:1-13:18 – Joshua 24:3-18 – Psalm 9 – Hebrews 11:1-10
B’reishith 12:1-20 – This Sidrah marks a SEA CHANGE. What went before was a history of mankind in general as the descendants of Adam after his fall and their general descent over 10 generations into greater and greater sin until Elohim had to destroy all air breathing flesh due to the deliberate debasing of the original creation by man’s genetic manipulation; and then the foolish attempt of Nimrod and his ilk to build a sort of siege-works for the purpose of conquering and dethroning Elohim and the rest of the 10 generations until the birth of a man who would agree to trust Y’hovah Elohenu and obey him. The name of the man of that 10th generation from Noach was Avram ben Terakh. Here’s what Chumash says in the prefatory paragraphs of this Sidrah (pp.60-61). In a spiritual sense, Avram was already Avraham – in much the same way that Yeshua was already ‘slain from the foundation of the world’.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (anti-Messiah), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation of John 13:8)
In V.1 Y’hovah told Avram to leave everything he knows behind; his country, his kin and his father’s house – his LIFE; and to follow Y’hovah to a land that would belong to him and his seed in perpetuity. If Avram would do this, Y’hovah would bless him by making him a great nation, a man of righteous renown and a blessing to his seed and to those around him. Avram’s leaving everything he held dear in this life; his brother Nachor and his kin, his father, his very self; behind and trusting Y’hovah to deliver on his promise before he saw any of the fruits of that promise, Y’hovah was able to bless every step Avram took in obedience to him. Lot was Avram’s nephew, the son of Haran who died in Terach’s face in our portion last week. In 14.14, Lot is referred to as Avram’s brother. I think that Avram was raising Lot in Haran’s stead as if he were his kinsman-redeemer. As such, Lot might be seen as Avram’s first or perhaps his favored talmid in the faith of Y’hovah, like Sha’ul was to Gamaliel or Kefa was to Yeshua. It COULD be that the “‘souls’ they had gotten” in Haran were Avram’s talmidim [I think they were] and some of the 318 “‘trained’ servants” Avram took to rescue Lot in 14.14 [that word ‘trained’ is H2593, chaniyk, literally ‘initiated’, from the root H2596 chanak, to discipline or initiate].
Avram took all his stuff, Lot and all his talmidim with him to go to Canaan, and they all came into Canaan. It was at this time that Avram became the Ivri, he who crossed over from trusting his ‘self’ to trusting Y’hovah and worked out that faith by crossing out of his past life in Shinar/Kasdim (Chaldea), crossing Euphrates, which was the physical boundary between Canaan and Kasdim [as it would be in future between David and early Assyria (2Sam.8.1-15) and Rome and Parthia], and crossed into his inheritance from Y’hovah.
Vv.6-20 – Avram crossed Yarden and came to Shechem (Sichem – KJV), the same place that Ya’acov came to first in the land when he returned with his family from Laban’s home near Haran. I was of the impression that Shechem’s father had named the place after his son, like Ca’in had named Chanok for his son. As it turns out it was called Shechem over 100 years before Ya’acov purchased a piece of ground there (ch.33). Moreh means rain, so when Avram came into the land, the plain was ‘well watered’, which explains why Ya’acov would want to own some land there to graze his sheep. If you’ll remember, when Jake sent Joe to find his brothers, Joe went to Shechem. I assume it was the family’s summer pastureland and perhaps had been for a century by then. Canaanites were the inhabitants when Avram came into town, and the Hivites (a clan of Canaanites) were there when Jake came home from Haran.
In v.7 Y’hovah appeared to Avram and gave him the land. Chumash’s note says that Y’hovah is incorporeal and the word ‘appear’ is metaphorical. As you already know, I think that every place in scripture where Y’hovah speaks face to face with a patriarch or other significant actor it is actually a post-resurrection appearance of Y’hovah Yeshua in time. Avram built an altar to Y’hovah in gratitude that he would have a seed to whom to give the land. Isn’t it interesting, if my thinking is correct, that the one who spoke to Avram and to whom Avram made offering was the very seed that was promised and for which promise Avram made the offering.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Moshiach. (Galatians 3:16)
He moved southward and pitched his camp between Bethel and Ai and built a 2nd altar to Y’hovah and called on his name there. Chumash’s translation says that he ‘called out in the Name of Y’hovah’ (on pg.63). From there Avram began a descent into self that nearly cost him everything. Avram was a human being, not much different from you and me. He had foibles and imperfections of character that he had to overcome. He was pretty new at this whole ‘trust explicitly in Y’hovah’ kind of faith and had bouts of doubt and unbelief, even as we do. His descent into Egypt is one of those bouts that Y’hovah had to win for him and which began to build that implicit and explicit trust.
As he went down to Egypt, he asked Sarai to tell people that they were brother and sister, not husband and wife, because he knew the wickedness of Egypt and that, being that she was more beautiful than Wayne’s World’s model of “Babus Majoris”, they might kill him to get to her without delay. What he didn’t count on was that she was SUCH a major babe [I infer that at age 65 she was the most beautiful woman any one of them had ever seen] that they thought, “What a QUEEN she’d make!” and they took her for Paroh’s harem. NOW what is Avram going to do?!
Well Paroh decided to ask the bride price for her from her ‘brother’ and offered all the ducks and pigs and chickens he could find for her (for some reason, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Marakesh Express came to mind). Avram had to be beside himself with worry about how he was going to tell Paroh that Sarai was his WIFE and that he could not have her. Here was a guy who could actually do what Avram had feared without worry of any legal reprisal! But Y’hovah had other plans.
Y’hovah laid various and sundry plagues on all of Paroh’s house and belongings, including the ducks, pigs and chickens (to carry on the metaphor) and then somehow showed Paroh WHY the plagues were visited on his house [do you think Y’hovah Yeshua appeared to Paroh?] – he’d dared to attempt to purchase Avram’s wife from him as if she was a common slave and not the budding TRUE princess she was. In about 24 years, when Avraham and Sarah try this again with Abimelech, the plagues are made more explicitly known, but I assume they were of the same type and severity. So Paroh forbad anyone to molest Avram and Sarai in any way and sent them off towards home with everything and everyone they’d brought with them AND all the ducks, pigs and chickens (to complete the metaphor) that Paroh had offered for Sarai. Q&C
B’reishith 13 – So Avram began an ‘aliyah’ from Egypt back toward haAretz along with Lot. No matter where on earth you are; even if it’s the pinnacle of Mt. Everest; you always go up toward Yerushalayim, which is the holiest place on earth, regardless the political situation there (Chumash note to v.1, pg.65). Why wasn’t Lot mentioned in “The Egyptian Affair”? I haven’t the slightest, except that he had nothing to do with the narrative. Perhaps Lot had made Sarai’s true identity known to Paroh behind the scenes? What scripture tells us is that Lot came out of Egypt a very well-to-do man, like his uncle Avram; so much so that quarrels arose between Lot’s and Avram’s herdsmen. Avram tried to calm the disputes, but it looks as though Lot’s herdsmen wanted to have Avram’s stuff, too. So in v.9 Avram gives Lot the choice of the land [none of it was scrub land] and the choice was probably really hard to take; the beautiful hills or the beautiful plains and river valley. At this point, there is nothing to indicate the future of these plains and the towns that controlled them (we’ll discuss these towns and their kings next week, Y’hovah willing and the creek don’t rise). I think there MAY be a copyist error in v.10, because Zoar is one of the cities of the plain, the one to which Lot will escape in ch.19, while there was a city in Egypt called Zoan that bordered the eastern frontier of Egypt proper. It was the northern capital of Rameses on the eastern, or Tanitic (Zoan was where Tanis is), branch of the Nile Delta and was undoubtedly very fertile and ‘well watered’. The reference to Lot and the copyists change of a nun to a resh based on the knowledge of the destruction of the cities of the plain is a simple mistake to make and understandable. I am not saying there IS a mistake, only that one of this sort would understandably be an easy one to make.
V.10 begins the outward sign of Lot’s descent to what ended up being condoning and almost approval of the sinful lifestyles in the cities of the plain. Kefa speaks of the vexation of just Lot’ in 2Pe.2
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (II Peter 2:7)
Vexation is an uncommon word these days, so let me give you Noah Webster’s 1828 definition [I love W1828, because it uses scripture to illustrate when it can]:
1. The act of irritating; or of troubling, disquieting and harassing;
5. Afflictions, great troubles, severe judgments;
Y’hovah shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. (Deuteronomy 28:20)
WOW! Does that not describe what happened to Lot over the 23+ years of his vexation? The first step we see is that he looked at the land. Now, Lot had a large entourage of both livestock and servants, so he could leave the livestock in the servant’s hands and live where he chose to live, whether on his property away from town or in town. Lot took his choice of the plains of Yarden in v.11 and moved eastward [towards Kasdim/Shinar – backsliding]. Chumash has an interesting note on this choice on pg.67. That is an interesting application of the word kedem, the Ancient One. The sages are saying that Lot deliberately chose to leave the protection of Y’hovah and actively moved to the cities of the plain, particularly ‘pitching his tent toward’ Sodom, which was the next step in his vexation. When it says ‘pitched his tent toward’ in v.12, I infer that it means that his tent’s door opened toward Sodom; metaphorically welcoming Sodom into his tent; and it had to be the first thing of the world that he saw every morning. V.13 tells us how wicked were the men of cities of the plain. We’ll have to keep that in mind for next week’s study.
But v.12 also tells us that Avram dwelt in Canaan, as Y’hovah had commanded him. Y’hovah gave that command again in v.17, but in between, in v.14-16, he reiterated the blessing he’d given Avram in
1 Now Y’hovah had said unto Avram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’ house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 7 And Y’hovah appeared unto Avram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto Y’hovah, who appeared unto him. (B’reishith 12.1-3, 7)
Except NOW, Lot was not with him and there could be no question that Avram’s seed did NOT include Lot, even if Avram WAS his kinsman-redeemer, as we inferred earlier. Lot was NOT Avram’s heir, as the sages think Lot’s servants thought and as they think was possibly the source of the troubles between Avram’s and Lot’s servants in v.7. Chumash has a comment that makes sense to me on the phrase, ‘as the dust of the earth/land’ in v.16 (pp.67-68). Then, Chumash’s last comment in this parsha, on the promise/command of Y’hovah in v.17, is also quite good (pg.68).
In v.18, Avram builds his 3rd altar to Y’hovah in this parsha. It seems to me that Avram wants a good altar wherever he resides on which to offer thanksgiving offerings to Y’hovah. Avram had a character that was thankful for everything he received from Y’hovah, and he acknowledged that everything he had was a gift from Y’hovah. Perhaps the major difference between Avram and Lot was Avram’s acknowledgment of whence all his blessings came. Q&C
Joshua 24:3-18 – Vv.1-2 has Yehoshua telling Yisrael, by Y’hovah’s command, that their fathers dwelt on ‘the other side of the flood’ and then he defined what that meant; to the east of Euphrates in the land of Shinar and the Chaldees. And then he went into a brief history of Avraham’s family, including how he’d ‘led Avraham’ as he fulfilled the commandment of Y’hovah to walk the entire land of Canaan and received Y’hovah’s promise of a multiplied seed in Yitzhak. Then Yitzhak received the same blessing as Avraham, when he multiplied his ‘spiritual’ seed in Ya’acov, and his physical seed in both Ya’acov and Esav. Then Ya’acov received the same blessing in his multiplied seed through his 12 sons and his one named daughter, Dinah (whose child by Shechem may have been Asenath, Yoseph’s wife). Every succeeding generation of Ya’acov has proven Y’hovah’s blessing of Avraham and his seed until now they ARE almost as the stars of the heavens in number. But the time is coming that we will fully be even more numerous that the grains of dust on the earth, sand of the sea, or the stars of the heavens – in the olam haba, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Y’hovah gave Esav Mount Seir as a possession and then sent Ya’acov down to Egypt to become a nation. Then he brought them out of Egypt, delivered them through the Red Sea where he destroyed Paroh and his armored cavalry, brought Israel through the Wilderness Adventure and wiped out the Amorites (giants) and the Midianites, would not allow Balaam to curse Yisrael at Balak, king of Moav’s, instigation, but blessed them through Balaam’s mouth.
Then he brought Yisrael into Canaan through the Yarden dry, as he had the Red Sea, and delivered Yericho, all the fighting from Egypt to Yericho without a casualty. Then he delivered the 7 nations of the Canaanites into Yisrael’s hands and gave them the land and the cities that had been built by the nations that had been driven out before Yisrael and all the produce of that land the previous inhabitants had sown.
And then, in v.14 Y’hovah gets to the payoff. After he’d done all this for Yisrael, he wanted basically ONE thing in return from them; their undivided loyalty and obedience. Y’hovah wants us to forget the gods our fathers had served in Shinar and Egypt and to serve only him. Then Yehoshua leaves off with thus saith Y’hovah and speaks for himself (Mark paraphrase); If you think it evil to serve Y’hovah then YOU choose whom you will serve, but as for me and MY HOUSE, WE will serve Y’hovah!
The people came back with one voice, saying (another Mark paraphrase), “Elohim forbid that we should serve any other Elohim than Y’hovah, for it is Y’hovah who brought us up out the Egyptian house of bondage, performed all those signs before our eyes and gave us this land. We will serve Y’hovah, as well, for HE is our Elohim.”
How about us? Is Y’hovah our Elohim? Do we serve any other gods that are no god? On what do we spend our wealth? On what do we spend our health? Do we study to show ourselves approved of Y’hovah, or do we strive for the approbation of mortal men? Q&C
Psalm 9 – This is a psalm of praise after the death of one of David’s adversaries. I think it may be after the death of Absalom, because the meaning of the Hebrew words muth labayn is ‘death of the son’, and Absolom was David’s most favored son – THE son whom David may have been hoping would be Melech Moshiach. If this were true, David’s piteous wailing over Absalom death would be MUCH more understandable than if he’d just put down an insurrection by one of his less favored sons or an usurper. If all the foregoing were true, this psalm would have been offered after David had recovered his wits about him and understood the vileness of his son, Absalom.
Vv.1-5 show David’s thanks for Y’hovah’s protection in the troubles he and his kingdom had suffered at the hands of the enemy; how Y’hovah had delivered David once again out the hands of those who would do him dirt because Y’hovah’s judgment is always according to his righteousness and not men’s desires. In vv.6-8, David addresses his enemy directly, telling him that, even though he destroyed whole cities in his rebellion against Y’hovah’s anointed king, Y’hovah would be the one to bring him to naught by his righteous judgment.
In vv.9-10, those who take their refuge in Y’hovah know his name and trust him because they know that he will not forsake any who seek him. Do you see that if you are seeking him, you will trust in his Name and take refuge in it? That Name is Y’hovah, אֶֽהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶֽהְיֶה, Eh’yeh asher eh’yeh, I am THAT I am, which is a profound statement of eternity. In vv.11-12, those who have humbly placed their trust in Y’hovah’s Name have also become partakers in his eternity, because he has chosen to remember them and when he does that he has made them so that they will continue with him. Only when he chooses to forget something does it cease to be – like all your sins (Jer.31.34).
In vv.13-14, David rejoices in Y’hovah’s salvation by lifting him up from the gates of death to the gates of the daughters of Zion;
Roni, Roni, bat Tzion! Rejoice! Rejoice! Daughter of Zion!
Hareu, Yisrael! Shout aloud, Yisrael!
Simchi! Valtzi! Sing! Rejoice!
B’chol lev, With ALL your heart,
Bat Yerushalayim! Daughter of Jerusalem! [Zecharyah 10.7]
Vv.15-17 show what the unfaithful to Y’hovah can expect. The gins that the wicked set against Y’hovah’s people will be their own undoing. The will fall into their own traps at Y’hovah’s direction and instigation; he will actually ‘put hooks in their jaws’ and spring their own traps on them (Ez.38-39 – Gog uMagog). The word Higgaion means ‘to murmur’ with the implication of a low whisper or to speak under the breath. It is used as a musical notation here, according to Strong’s. It is used, according to the Artscroll rabbis, to emphasize the ‘Selah’, stop and think about the statement in v.16 squared [think about what you are thinking about – REALLY chew on it], ‘the wicked is snared by the work of his own hands. May it be so, soon and eternally, for the Bush/Obamanistas.
The oppressed by the wicked; in our day, the poor and afflicted who unwittingly support those wicked who take advantage of the lack of wits and understanding of the oppressed poor, who like what they hear from the wicked rulers; fail to see that the outcomes never equate to the promises made. But Y’hovah always delivers those who place their trust in him and HIS promises. The implication here is that those who fear Y’hovah and not men will see Y’hovah’s deliverance/salvation, but those who trust to men will soon see that even the greatest of nations are nothing more than men who are out for their own ends, while Y’hovah is out for the best and most proper end of those who fear him. Q&C
Hebrews 11:1-10 – Faith is most definitely NOT a mere mental assent to a statement of truth, but the life lived in compliance with that belief. Faith is the actual outworking of that to which a person has mentally assented – the actual evidence in our lives of what noone can see and the thing on which we base our earnest expectations. That thing on which we base our earnest expectations may not have physical substance, but it more substantial spiritually than anything around which we wrap our grimy mitts. Did the elders obtain a good report for those things to which they’d mentally assented, or for the actions they took based upon them? Next week’s Torah parsha will be on Avram’s rescue of Lot from the 4 kings of the east. I’m here to tell you that no matter how strongly Avram believed that Y’hovah could deliver Lot from those wicked kings, his waiting for Y’hovah to deliver him by someone else’s actions would NOT have been a good report for Avram. It was Avram’s actions that produced the good report about Avram, so faith is NOT mere belief; it must be SHOWN to be real.
Vv.3-4 – If anyone ever tells you that his position on the origins of the universe and life are based in science, tell them they are full of hooey! There is no scientific basis for either creationism or evolutionism; both systems are based on belief. There is some fossil evidence that exists, but HOW it got there or ever came to be in the first place is absolutely without evidence of any kind, and true science is based on observation. No human being, save Y’hovah Yeshua, was there to witness the event. At least creationists are honest about the religious and faith-based nature of their position. V.3 tells us outright that Y’hovah created all that exists out of nothing by the power of his Word. Abel received the good report because his offering was more perfect – not that Ca’in’s was not acceptable, but that it was not what Y’hovah required; contrition. It was ultimately a heart problem that Ca’in had, not the thing he offered. Ca’in brought what HE desired to bring, not what Y’hovah desired he bring.
In v.5, Chanok was changed over the last 3 centuries of his life to the point that he didn’t even have to die, but was just changed to a body that could survive close proximity to Y’hovah. He obtained that good report from none other than the Y’hovah with whom Chanok communed for all those years. 3 different times in that one verse, Y’hovah changed Chanok; twice, he was translated and once he experienced translation. The word is a compound of meta, ‘with’ and tithemi, to set, put or place. In its context Sha’ul says that Y’hovah placed Chanok with himself, changed him so that Chanok could be in the very presence of Y’hovah. When one walks with the Almighty for 300 years one cannot help but to change. Before he was translated from ‘the body of this death’ (Rom.7.29) to a body of life, he was known to all to have pleased Elohim. The only higher testimony I know of in scripture is
1 And after six days Yeshua taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Yeshua, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. [Matt.17.1-5]
If we don’t have our faith testifying about us in v.6, we can never please Y’hovah. Your mental assent to truth is a great thing, but it is NOT biblical faith, which works out your mental assent before Y’hovah and men.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18)
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
If you have biblical faith, it will show forth in your godly character, which is, by definition, your actions appertaining to that biblical truth you say you believe.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)
If you have only a ‘said faith’, you have a dead faith. Those who ‘diligently seek’ Y’hovah are those who trust him enough to obey him, to look to do those things that he commands; to have the same testimony as Chanok had.
Noach, in v.7, believed what Y’hovah told him and started acting on it. For 120 years; while he was felling the trees, milling them into keel, ribs, joists, rafters, studs, planking and perhaps dowels; he testified by his eccentricities [building a barge on a plain hundreds of miles from an ocean, along a river down which the barge could not float or make more than a few hundred yards of travel before encountering a bend that it could not navigate – ASSUMING it had a shallow enough draft to actually float in said river] that he believed the judgment of Elohim was coming on the earth. I am sure he got in a word or 2 about what was coming when his neighbors took a breath in between the insulting barbs they fired his way over the eccentricity he displayed. Were he alive today, he wouldn’t be free to build his barge for more than a couple of weeks before they’d put him in a looney bin. And, you may take my word for this; in the very near future YOU will be in danger of the booby-hatch because you believe Y’hovah and throughly distrust the men in power. Just read the news. Nary a week goes by that people who profess faith in Y’hovah and his Word are not excoriated in the mainstream press by television and radio programmers and personalities, educators, lawyers, judges and government officials; in other words, by public opinion shapers.
And then, in vv.8-10, we see our Torah parsha for today summarized and we are brought full circle. V.10 says that Avraham was looking for an inheritance of a city made without hands [as Noach’s ark had been] whose builder and maker is Elohim; he looked for New Yerushalayim, as I hope we all do who are participating today! Avraham did not live in a city, as Lot did, but testified to his belief in the Word of Y’hovah to him that wherever he laid the soles of his feet would one day belong to his seed by living only in Sukkot, for he was but a sojourner in this world, not a permanent resident. He was looking for the olam haba, the world to come, and testified to that fact by his life. His faith was REAL! Is mine? Or YOURS? Q&C
End of Shabbat Bible Study.