Beshelach

Torah – Exodus 13:17-17:16  Haftarah – Judges 4:5-31   Brit Chadashah – John 6:15-71

Beshelach “when he let go” is this week’s parasha (portion.)  There is a lot that you will read and learn in the above listed verses.  I encourage you to read for yourself and dig deep!

Much of this portion revolves around water.  There is the dramatic account of the parting of the Red Sea.  The children of Israel find themselves without water and thirsty in the wilderness before being lead to twelve wells.  There is also the striking of the rock later, which sent forth water to satisfy the people and animals.

Let’s zero in on a single concept which is centered on a single Hebrew word, yotsab.  

Exodus 14:13-14, “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the L-RD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 “The L-RD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (NKJV)

You can see from reading the verses of this parasha that there is a lot going on.  After more than 400 years of slavery and bondage in Mitzreim (Egypt), the Hebrew people finally were let go after ten plagues and all of the signs and amazing wonders that were displayed for all to see and experience.  Now the people find themselves cornered…trapped as it seemed in another mitzreim.  Remember that the Hebrew word for Egypt translates as a narrow place, a closed in place and even as a prison.  This is surely how they must have felt being trapped with nowhere to run or hide as the mighty armies of Pharaoh closed in!

The people cried out in fear and dread for what was coming upon them.  It might be easy for someone who was just casually familiar with this story to ask why G-d did this.  Why did G-d allow this to happen?  Why not just get them where they had to go.  Clearly, we know there was an easier, shorter route.  So why?

The answer to this question is found in the very first verse of this study.

Exodus 13:17, “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that G-d did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines, although that [was] near; for G-d said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”

G-d knew the people were not ready to fight.  He knew that the shorter route was going to have the people face war.  So the way of the wilderness and the Red Sea was indeed the more merciful and loving way to take His children.  Also, no doubt part of the plan was to reassure the people once again that despite their lack of emunah (trust or faith) that HaShem (YHVH) was indeed with them and more than able to do whatever was necessary to protect His people and preserve His plan.

So back to verse 13 and this Hebrew word yotsab.  It is translated, depending on your version as “be still” or “stand.”  Moshe (Moses) instructed the people to yotsab…be still – and see the salvation of YHVH.  He prefaced this by telling them also to not be afraid.

Yotsab also has a meaning of present, as in present yourself.  The message Moshe was giving the people at that place at that time, and to us here today is that no matter how things look, no matter how stacked against you the deck looks, our Father is indeed ultimately in control.  The Father will always act on our behalf for our best outcome.  This applies to the here and now, but as you might imagine, ultimately for our eternal state.

At no time did the people hear the instruction from Moshe or G-d to run around and act crazy.  At no time were the people instructed to do anything at all.  They were simply instructed to stifle fear and not be afraid.  They were told to stand, be still or in other words do nothing.  Simply present yourself and see with your own eyes the salvation out of what threatens you by your G-d!

Take this message to heart and put it into practice the next time the enemy roars.  This is perhaps the ultimate display of emunah (trust).  When our trust in Him is so complete that we are able to refrain from giving into fear and doing nothing but trust.  Our tendencies is to think we have to “do something”.  Somehow we have to get involved and help G-d out, right?  While it is right that this is what we tend to do, it is wrong that we do it.  Trust and obey!

Shabbat Shalom!

Bo

Torah – Exodus 10:1-13:16   Haftarah – Jeremiah 46:13-28  Brit Chadashah – Luke 22:7-39

This week’s parasha (portion), Bo (enter) gives the account of the final 3 plagues against Mitzreim (Egypt) and the initiation of Pesac or Passover.  I am going to keep this teaching short and sweet, looking at only one idea.  Hopefully, this serves as great food for thought for you as we find ourselves living in perilous times as we approach the soon coming return of Yeshua (Jesus)!

Exodus 11:6-7, “Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it [before], nor shall be like it again. 7 ‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the L-RD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”

The Word is clear that as we approach the tribulation that the world would find itself in dangerous times to say the least.  Natural disasters, war, and even the love of many towards Messiah waxing cold!  The above verses remind me of our hope and security in Messiah if we remain in Him.

The devastation that was experienced in Egypt at the time was unprecedented to that time and we are told that it would never be equalled in time to come.  One could argue that this applied to Egypt and not the United States today or anyplace else.  While that may be true, this is no guarantee that we will not experience tragic days before the Shofar sounds and we are all called home to glory!  But I do still find comfort in the overriding principle contained in these two verses.

Here is the message I take away from this.  If we do not assimilate into the godless culture in which we find ourselves today, and if we remain Holy, set apart and in the L-RD then we are partakers in this principle.  When tragedy, disaster, plague comes, we who are set apart in Him will be spared that His name be Glorified and that we  and others may know that He alone is   G-d!

This is a fantastic time to check your spiritual barometer.  Are you all the way in?  Are you standing firm with both feet on the narrow road that leads to the narrow gate?  Or, are you one foot in the world, chasing after the idols that it bows to?  It is time to get right, and stay right!  Let us all persevere in sharing the Good News as often as possible.

Shalom!

Va’era

Torah – Exodus 6:2-9:35  Haftarah – Ezekiel 28:25-29:21  Brit Chadashah – Romans 9:14-33

Parasha (portion) Va’dera (and I appeared) is an epic portion of Torah.  There is so much to examine here, including the first 7 of the ten plagues on Egypt, but we will look very briefly at just two points found in four verses.

Exodus 7:1-4, “So the L-RD said to Moses: “See, I have made you [as] God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. 2 “You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 “But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies [and] My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments..” (NKJV)

It is often pointed out by many that Moshe (Moses) was an archetype, or “type” of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).  Typically, when most of us think about this fact we think of the Exodus itself.  We tend to equate the redemption of G-d’s people out of bondage with Yeshua’s redemption of all His people from the bondage to death and sin.  Rightly so, this is a good and logical connection to make.  In the reading of this week’s parasha, something else jumps out that also connects the two.

Moshe was made “as g-d to Pharaoh and Ahron (Aaron) as his prophet.  Much like Yeshua would come and do, Moshe did.  When Moshe commanded, his words did not fall to the ground.  All nature obeyed his voice and command.  At Moshe’s command, the water of the Nile and all their water in the land turned to blood.  At Moshe’s command, the fire and ice hail fell from the heavens and destroyed crops and herds, frogs, lice and on and on the picture was painted not only for Pharaoh but all the world.  Not only was G-d revealed through Moshe to Pharaoh, but HaShem (YHVH) revealed Himself to his people, Yisra’El (Israel.)

Next, we have the issue we have dealt with in years past.  I’m talking about the issue of G-d “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart.  Many who don’t have understanding look at these accounts as somehow an indictment of G-d.  They ask how G-d could punish Pharaoh for doing what G-d made him do in the first place.  It seems a logical conclusion.

The reality we discussed in years past was that the Hebrew language and context suggest that Pharaoh was “strengthened,” not “hardened.”  In other words, in the midst of such pagan idolatrous world Pharaoh was strengthened through what was demonstrated to him that G-d was indeed the One True G-d!  Instead Pharaoh defaulted to defiance.

As you know, there are many layers to the opinion, so to speak.  Let’s, therefore, look at another interpretation, which is just as valid as the one I just gave you here again.

Pharaoh had already demonstrated defiance towards G-d.  His heart had already been demonstrated to be defiant, rebellious and, indeed hard towards truth of HaShem’s existence and power.  Each plague that was brought upon Pharaoh and his people and land were not punishment as much as they were demonstrations to them of the reality and truth of His existence and Almighty power!  At any time Pharaoh could have sincerely repented and chosen to follow after G-d, but instead, Pharaoh followed the pre-existing condition of heart.

Shalom! 

Shemot

Torah – Exodus 1:1-6:1  Haftarah – Isaiah 27:6-28:13  Brit Chadashah – Acts 7:27-35

This week we are embarking upon the book of Exodus (Shemot), which is the Hebrew book “Names.”    This is in reference to the names of the sons of Israel that came into the land of Egypt.

There is an extremely cool link in this parasha (portion) to the birth of Messiah.  It is not at all obvious and unless you are reading in the Hebrew or, at least doing a pretty extensive search in a concordance, you would likely miss it altogether.  In fact, this idea is something I studied a few weeks ago and was wanting to share, but did not feel it was time.  I had forgotten about it until I began preparing for this week’s study and can’t wait to share so let’s jump right in.

Before we get to the specific verse in this portion’s verses in Torah, I have to take you to a couple places outside of the above listed verses.  

Isaiah 7:13-14, “Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! [Is it] a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 “Therefore the L-rd Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel..” (NKJV)

Seeing that we are only a few days past much of the world celebrating Christmas, I thought it pretty appropriate to address what scoffers call “impossible”, the virgin birth.  In fact, they dispute that the word “virgin” is not accurate or appropriate translation of the Hebrew word, “alma.”  The claim is that it simply means young girl.

A few points of contention with this claim.  First, it should be noted that every time it is used it is in reference to a virgin.  The above verse in Isaiah puts context to this matter.  You see the birth itself was to be a sign!  How is something completely ordinary, common and unremarkable considered a sign?  If a young woman gave birth…so what?  Young women give birth all the time.  If that was the case, then if G-d intended anything other than that she would be a virgin He would have mentioned that.  He would have likely pointed out that she was divorced, unmarried, widowed or a harlot.  One such modifier would have been attached to young girl, but none was used.

Genesis 24:43, “behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin comes out to draw [water], and I say to her, “Please give me a little water from your pitcher to drink,”

This is the very first time that the word “almah” (virgin) is used in Torah.  It is used in reference to Rebecca, the young, unmarried virgin daughter of Laben.  

It should be noted that this is not only the first time in Torah that the word “almah” is used, but it is only one of two times it is used.  Let’s look a at the other time which appears in this week’s parashah.

Exodus 2:7-8, “Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother..”

Are you picking up on the message that is forming here yet?  If you include the use of the word “almah” in Isaiah and the only two times it appears in Torah we have three verses that seem to me to paint a pretty awesome picture.

A sign shall be given, a virgin shall conceive and have a male child…a virgin…a virgin named Miriam (Mary)! and He shall be called Emmanuel ( G-d with us.)

I find this beautiful as this portion always comes near not only Christmas, but Chanukah.  If you are reading this in 2018 you are likely saying what are you talking about?  Chanukah was weeks ago!  Not so!  Yes, it was celebrated according to the modern calendar, but remember this current calendar is off by about a month.  You will recall that the “Fall Feasts” began weeks before the autumnal equinox, therefore we celebrated the Fall Feasts in Summer!  It is likely truly to be celebrated about this time!

So this prophecy of Isaiah which connects the story of Rebecca with the first mention of Miriam, the sister of Moshe, the almah is connected not only when most of the world recognizes the acknowledgement of Messiah Yeshuah.  We know He was likely born in the Fall Feast of Sukot, but proper study will reveal that the December 25th date to be associated not with His birth, but with the arrival in Bethlehem of the wise men who came to give gifts and worship Him!  Also we know Yeshua is the light of the world and the Festival of Lights we know as Chanukah is again a beautiful picture of our Messiah at this awesome time of year!

Shalom!

Vayigash

Torah – Genesis 44:18-47:27  Haftarah – Ezekiel 37:15-38  Brit Chadashah – Ephesians 2:1-10

Vayigash is Hebrew for “hand he drew near.”  This refers to the opening verse where Judah drew near to Joseph as he plead for his younger brother Benjamin to be allowed to return to his father Jacob.  The parasha (portion) has many memorable events including Joseph “revealing” himself to his brothers, which lead to a rather emotional reunion.  We read of the revelation that Joseph was indeed still alive and a ruler in Egypt to his father Jacob.  Also, we see other relocation of Jacob and his family to the land of Goshen.

While all of this is packed with many deep and valuable lessons, I am going to depart from my usual teaching style, at least for this one lesson.  I will share a couple verses here in a moment, actually from last week’s parasha, but the main thrust of what we will look at is extra-Biblical references to an overriding back drop to this whole unfolding drama.  

I will link at the bottom of this lesson to a couple sources for the historical references you can look at for yourself.  The two main ideas we will look at are the worldwide famine and the chariot given to Joseph.

Science is a great thing, however, it is all too often used as a tool to attempt to disprove the veracity of the Bible.  In fact, as science progresses and makes more discoveries it is satisfying to see it actually confirm Biblical accounts.  So when I read last week’s parasha and the mention of the famine being for seven years worldwide, I immediately thought that if this was true, and of course it was, that there would have to be historical evidence of this event.

First, let’s look at a verse from last week’s portion Miketz.

Genesis 41:53-54, “Then the seven years of plenty which were in the land of Egypt ended, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.”

There is clear and abundant evidence that the famine during the time of Joseph was indeed worldwide!  A simple search of the internet reveals plenty of sources.  Again, a few will be listed below.

Sources seem to generally agree that a seven year famine or drought happened about 1704 B.C.E. through 1697 B.C.E.  This week’s parasha takes place during the second year of the famine, with five years remaining.  This would have been in 1702 B.C.E.  With the world providentially coming to Egypt for food, this could be one possible explanation for the appearance of similar structures in many cultures around that world that are the local interpretation of the Egyptian pyramids.  There are accounts of the famine coinciding with the listed dates of famine above that were in such varied places as Europe, Yemen, South Africa, China and even North American Indians.  There are recordings of a famine that lasted seven years at the beginning of Emperor Cheng Tang.  Chariots were said to have been invented around 1749 B.C.E. and were part of China at the time of the famine.  It is speculated that the Chinese gave some chariots to the Pharaoh of Egypt as a gift or some part of payment for food.  This is one possible explanation of the following verse which states that Joseph was the “second” chariot.  

Genesis 41:42-43, “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt.”

Here are a few links for you to explore.

http://truthwatchers.com/evidence-joseph-egypt/ 

www.thenaturalhistorian.com

Miketz 

Torah – Genesis 41:1-44:17  Haftarah – 1 Kings 3:15-4:1  Brit Chadashah – Romans 10:1-13:6

Parasha (portion) Miketz (at the end of) is the tenth portion of study.  This parasha always comes at the time of Chanukah.  In keeping with past teachings about how the division of Torah into the parasha system is divinely inspired and are linked with certain “windows of Heaven” that are open at these times, I will share just a little about how this portion links up with the Festival of Lights.

This is a familiar story of Yosef (Joseph) being brought before Pharaoh to interpret his two dreams.  Neither of which could be interpreted by any of Egypts finest magicians and interpreters.  Only after they failed to give adequate interpretation does G-d arrange for Yosef to be brought before Pharaoh.  

Before Yosef gives interpretation, he points out that it is not him, but rather G-d that was giving the interpretation through him.  Furthermore, after giving the interpretation Yosef immediately gives the solution to the problem presented in the interpretation.  The rest as they say is history.

There are several links the sages make with Chanukah, I will point to only two of them, but first let’s look at a couple verses.

Genesis 41:17-25, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. 18 “Suddenly seven cows came up out of the river, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. 19 “Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such ugliness as I have never seen in all the land of Egypt. 20 “And the gaunt and ugly cows ate up the first seven, the fat cows. 21 “When they had eaten them up, no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they [were] just as ugly as at the beginning. So I awoke. 22 “Also I saw in my dream, and suddenly seven heads came up on one stalk, full and good. 23 “Then behold, seven heads, withered, thin, [and] blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. 24 “And the thin heads devoured the seven good heads. So I told [this] to the magicians, but [there was] no one who could explain [it] to me.” 25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh [are] one; G-d has shown Pharaoh what He [is] about to do.” (NKJV)

The first link I’ll share is that in both dreams the weak, contrary to nature, overtake and devour the strong.  This is seen played out in the Jewish rebellion of a few Jews who were under the thumb of an enormous and powerful military force.  Despite being overwhelmed by numbers, force, strength and training, the Jewish people were victorious.

The sages also draw out that the seven stalks of grain is a reference to the seven branches of the Menorah in the Holy Temple.  The light of which was the light of the world.  As a result of the dream, its interpretation and the wisdom given in the form of advice following the interpretation, the world was saved from a famine.  This famine did indeed envelope the entire world and the storehouses of Egypt under charge of Yosef literally brought forth salvation from the famine.

Shabbot Shalom!

  Vayashev

Torah – Genesis 37:1-40:23  Haftarah – Amos 2:6-3:8  Brit Chadashah – Matthew 1-6;16-25

Vayashev, “and he settled,” is this week’s parasha (portion).  

This parasha always falls around the start of Chanukah, also known as the Feast of Dedication, which Yeshua (Jesus) Himself observed as shown in John chapter 10.  In keeping with this idea, I’ll point out a connection between this parasha, Chanukah and even the celebration of the birth of Messiah.  Even the non-Messianic Jews recognize this portion’s connection to the lineage of Melech David (King David) and the Messianic lineage.

Genesis 38:6-29, “Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name [was] Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the L-RD, and the L-RD killed him. 8 And Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the L-RD; therefore He killed him also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house till my son Shelah is grown.” For he said, “Lest he also die like his brothers.” And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house. 12 Now in the process of time the daughter of Shua, Judah’s wife, died; and Judah was comforted, and went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 So she took off her widow’s garments, covered [herself] with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which [was] on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she [was] a harlot, because she had covered her face. 16 Then he turned to her by the way, and said, “Please let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she [was] his daughter-in-law. So she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.” So she said, “Will you give [me] a pledge till you send [it]?” 18 Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?” So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that [is] in your hand.” Then he gave [them] to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 So she arose and went away, and laid aside her veil and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20 And Judah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive [his] pledge from the woman’s hand, but he did not find her. 21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, “Where is the harlot who [was] openly by the roadside?” And they said, “There was no harlot in this [place].” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I cannot find her. Also, the men of the place said there was no harlot in this [place].” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her take [them] for herself, lest we be shamed; for I sent this young goat and you have not found her.” 24 And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she [is] with child by harlotry.” So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” 25 When she [was] brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I [am] with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these [are]–the signet and cord, and staff.” 26 So Judah acknowledged [them] and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again. 27 Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins [were] in her womb. 28 And so it was, when she was giving birth, that [the one] put out [his] hand; and the midwife took a scarlet [thread] and bound it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? [This] breach [be] upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez..” (NKJV)

To the casual reader of Scripture, this account could easily be dismissed as a seemingly random or salacious story.  Why is this story placed here?  What is the significance of its placement as we must understand that nothing in Torah, or the entire Word of G-d for that matter is random or accidental.

Again, I’ll point out the fact that this parasha always falls in very close proximity to Chanukah, the Feast of Dedication.  

Tamar the apparent immoral woman who played the prostitute with Judah is key here.  The sages point out that she knew that this supremely important lineage would pass through her and the bloodline of Judah.  After being pledged to his two eldest sons, who were taken before they could conceive and pass on the chosen lineage, she was yet promised to a third, and youngest son.  Only after it became clear that Judah would not keep his promise to give him to her she then came up with her plan, determined to fulfill the destiny appointed to her and this family.  

Even Judah admits that her righteousness, in the end, surpassed his own!  

Indeed her first born, Peretz is named in the lineage which brought about not only King David, but ultimately Messiah Yeshua!

Just to name a couple connections to Chanukah we can see that Yeshua was indeed the Menorah itself and in particular we can see Him in the Shumash or servant candle.  He also declared that He is the light of the World, a reference to the light given from the Menorah at the Holy Temple.

Let’s take a quick look at that lineage again in Matthew 1:1-25, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her [who had been the wife] of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David [are] fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon [are] fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ [are] fourteen generations. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.”

Chag Semeach Chanukah!  Shalom!

Vayishlach Week ending November 24, 2018
Torah – Genesis 32:3-36:43 Haftarah – Obediah 1:1-21

Brit Chadashah – Hebrews 11:11-20; Matthew 26:36-45
Vayishlach is Hebrew for he sent. I highly encourage you to read and study all of the above
listed verses as this portion is packed with a lot of great lessons just waiting to be found. For
the purposes of this study, we will look at one topic found in the following verses.
Genesis 32:24-31, “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking
of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his
hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said,
“Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So
He said to him, “What [is] your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no
longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with G-d and with men, and have
prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell [me] Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why [is] it
[that] you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the
place Peniel: “For I have seen G-d face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he
crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.” (NKJV)
This is quite possibly the most famous wrestling match of all time! In fact, it may very well be
the most intriguing match of all time as a result of the deliberate masking of the persons
identity whom Jacob wrestled through the night.
As always, it is important for me to mention at the outset here that the plain meaning of the text
is indeed exactly what was meant, and is exactly what happened during this encounter. That
being said there are always deeper layers of the onion, so to speak. So let’s peel back a few
layers and see some of the ideas about who this mysterious person is.
The ideas presented come from the sages and other scholars and are not original thinking on
my part. Some say the stranger was an angel. This is a reasonable possibility in that in the
past we have seen where angels, or malech appear as men. All you have to do is recall
Abraham’s encounter with the three strangers that approached his tent. The Messianic
perspective is that the pre-incarnate Messiah was accompanied by two angels. The same two
angels who went on to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
There are those who believe the stranger was Esau, Jacob’s estranged brother who came
during the night. They cite that when we look into the faces of those we have wronged, it is
like looking into the face of G-d. Hence, Jacob’s statement above where he says he has seen
the face of G-d and survived! While this is not my favorite explanation, it at least explains why
the stranger had to leave before the sun rose. In the daylight, it would have revealed Esau’s
identity.
There are those who believe this entire encounter is nothing more than a metaphor for Jacob
wrestling with his conscience. On some levels, this is a good lesson and we could make good
application from this. While this may be good food for thought and contemplation, it seems to
diminish the actual event.
My personal favorite way of looking at this section is as follows. Could it be that the preincarnate
Messiah appeared to Jacob? Again this would not have been the first time He
appeared to man. We know Jacob was afraid of his brother and was likely crying out to G-d.
Jacob certainly understood and demonstrated one thing for certain. He absolutely believed
that this person who showed up had great power and authority. This is demonstrated by the
fact that he refused to let Him go until He blessed Jacob. Jacob also allowed Him to change
his name and had the power to with one touch place Jacob in a state of permanent disability of
sorts. Once again, I’ll point out that Jacob declared that he had seen the face of G-d. Instead
of the metaphorical way that some say it was said, could it have been literal? Perhaps this is
why the stranger was veiled by night so that His face could not been seen so that Jacob may
live!
Whatever you take away from this lesson I hope you at least grab onto the concept of wrestling
with G-d. Sometimes the circumstances of life leave us in a place where perhaps a little
desperation sets in and we finally become convinced that nobody but G-d can save us! It is in
this place that we can learn from Jacob. In those times, we need to reach out, grab a firm hold
and refuse to let go until we receive that which we need.
May we all learn to lay a firm hold upon G-d an never let go. Shalom!

Parasha Vayetze  Week ending November 17, 2018
Torah – Genesis 28:10-32:3          Haftarah – Hosea 12:13-14:10

Brit Chadashah – John 1:19-51

Vayetze (and he went out) is our focus for this week as we study parasha (portion.)
We will be staying in chapter 28 of Genesis and looking at a few things you will likely find
interesting. Hopefully, this study will whet your appetite to dig a little deeper on your own as
you study G-d’s Word.
Genesis 28:11-22, “So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun
had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in
that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder [was] set up on the earth, and
its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of G-d were ascending and descending on it.
13 And behold, the L-RD stood above it and said: “I [am] the L-RD G-d of Abraham your father
and the G-d of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14
“Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west
and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the
earth shall be blessed. 15 “Behold, I [am] with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will
bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the L-RD is in this place, and I did not
know [it].” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome [is] this place! This [is] none other
than the house of G-d, and this [is] the gate of heaven!” 18 Then Jacob rose early in the
morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on
top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been
Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If G-d will be with me, and keep me in this
way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 “so that I come back
to my father’s house in peace, then the L-RD shall be my G-d. 22 “And this stone which I have
set as a pillar shall be G-d’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Beginning in verse 11 “place” or “the place” is mentioned a total of four times in the above
listed verses. This repetition draws our attention to investigate deeper what is going on, as G-d
is trying to get our attention and show us something important.
Ha Macom (The Place) has more than one meaning. On the pashot, or surface level, it is
indicating location. On a deeper level, it is a reference to G-d Himself. The sages teach that
the Creator, Elohim is “The Place” of the world, but the world is not His “place.” In other
words, it shows that the world as we know it exists within a place, “The Place” which is in G-d.
This space, if you will, is here and dependent upon G-d whereas G-d is not dependent upon
this world for His existence. Hopefully, that is as clear in writing as it is in my head at the
moment!
Note the lead in to “”Place” in verse 11. Depending on the version you read, it is translated in
English as “He came to”, “He came upon”, He lighted upon” and so forth. These various
translations come from the Hebrew word “Paga.” Paga is translated more accurately as, “to
encounter, meet, entreat, make intercession, join, fall upon, touch, among some other
definitions.
I especially like the following definitions and think they are particularly important in context of
what is written and what occurred there. Encounter, intercession and touch make a whole lot
more sense to me. Instead of he came to the place it could read, “he made intercession with
G-d (The Place.). He touched G-d (The Place). He encountered G-d (The Place.) Regardless
of which one you like the best, I think you’ll see that there is more going on here than meets the
eye when reading only the English translation.
I also especially like when Ya’akov (Jacob) names the place at Bethel, or the House of G-d. We
are told that the name of the place formerly was Luz, or light. In keeping with the teaching of
the sages, this place is not only the location G-d selected for the Holy Temple, but they teach
that this is literally the place where Heaven and Earth are connected. The stone where upon
the Holy of Holies would rest was the very stone that was first created when creating the Eretz
(Earth.)
Now that your appetite has been stirred, explore the Scriptures for yourself and see what you can discover ! Shalom 

Parasha Chayei Sarah         Week ending November 3, 2018
Torah – Genesis 23:1-25:18          Haftarah – 1 Kings 1:1-31                 Brit Chadashah – Matthew 1:1-17
Chayei Sarah (the life of Sarah) is a fairly short portion of Torah, but it contains some extremely
important lessons. This year we are going to look at one small portion and draw out of it two
lessons for you to consider as you study for yourself this great parasha (portion.)
Genesis 24:14-19, “Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your
pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’–[let] her
[be the one] You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have
shown kindness to my master.” 15 And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that
behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s
brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. 16 Now the young woman [was] very
beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her
pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little
water from your pitcher.” 18 So she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher
down to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19 And when she had finished giving him a drink, she
said, “I will draw [water] for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” (NKJV)
First, notice in verse 14 the prayer that the servant offers up. The sign included that the girl
would give him a drink and give drinks to his camels. I bring this up to point out that G-d did
not answer him exactly the way he prayed. Because he was seeking His will and because this
indeed was the woman G-d had chosen that the woman responded above and beyond the
request. She did not just give the camels drink, but she went well beyond. She offered, and
HURRIED to give the camels enough to satisfy their desire to drink.
It would have been enough and technically an answer to prayer if she gave the servant water
and then put out some water for the thirsty animals. But again she went above and beyond on
this one.
Have you ever thought to consider how much water that had to have been? According to
National Geographic, a thirsty camel can drink 30 (thirty) gallons of water in as short a time
period as 13 minutes! That’s a lot of water! But we are not talking about a single camel,
Scripture tells us the servant had ten camels with him. That is quite possibly 300 (three
hundred) gallons of water! No wonder she hurried!
Let’s do a little more math here. Water weighs approximately 8.3 pounds per gallon. If the girl
had a five gallon container, it would have weighed 41.5 pounds! Are you seeing where I’m
going with this? She would have had to run to the well and draw out about forty-one and a half
pounds of water up to sixty times! It would have taken sixty trips to provide the 300 gallons of
water weighing a total of 2,490 pounds!!!
This is extraordinary to say the least. I wonder how many of us would be willing to go through
so much trouble to meet the needs of a single stranger and his animals. I especially wonder if
we would do it even if we had no idea that there would be any immediate blessing attached to
our act of kindness. I further wonder if we would be so inclined if we would do so with
enthusiasm so that others would look at us and say that we were quick to perform such an act
of kindness?
How much of yourself are you willing to give for the Kingdom of G-d without expectation of
some tangible, immediate return? Are you willing to give all to the Messiah Yeshua? Will you
do so quickly and whole-heartedly? Let us all examine our hearts this Shabbat and coming
week of study. Shalom!