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RECOGNITION. THE MESSIANIC PROPHECY BIBLE PROJECT http://www.messianicbible.com HEAR O ISRAEL www.hearoisrael.org SHEEPFOLD GLEANINGS WRITTEN BY JULIE PARKER www.sheepfoldgleanings.com MESSIANIC ISRAEL ALLIANCE http://www.messianicisrael.com

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recognition
RECOGNITION

THE MESSIANIC PROPHECY BIBLE PROJECT

http://www.messianicbible.com

HEAR O ISRAEL

www.hearoisrael.org

SHEEPFOLD GLEANINGS WRITTEN BY JULIE PARKER

www.sheepfoldgleanings.com

MESSIANIC ISRAEL ALLIANCE

http://www.messianicisrael.com

AZAMRA TORAH FOR OUR TIME – RABBI AVRAHAM GREENBAUM

http://www.azamra.org

lech lecha go you go

LECH LECHA “GO, YOU GO”

Torah: Genesis 12:1-17:27

Haftorah: Isaiah 40;27–41:16

B’ritChadashah: Acts 7:1–8, Romans 4:1–25; Galatians 3:1–29, Hebrews 7:1–19, Hebrews 11:8–12

All references: The Scripture 1998+ unless otherwise noted

father of a multitude
FATHER OF A MULTITUDE

Abraham is the father of “a multitude of nations” and represents not only Judaism, but also believers in יהושע, and Moslems (through Ishmael).

“And no longer is your name called Aḇram, but your name shall be Aḇraham, because I shall make you a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:5)

On account of this it is of belief, that it be according to favour, for the promise to be made certain to all the seed, not only to those who are of the Torah, but also to those who are of the belief of Aḇraham, who is father of us all – (Romans 4:16 )

Abraham was born in the year 1948 following creation. That seems very appropriate as we recognize the reestablishment of Israel as a nation to be in the year 1948. Noah was still alive until Abraham was about 60, and Shem (Noah’s son) outlived Abraham and also would have known Isaac and Jacob. Shem, in fact, would have been able to meet 11 generations of his descendents! Shem shared with Jacob first hand information about the world before the flood.

two opposing stories
TWO OPPOSING STORIES

This week we look at two opposing people Abraham (the good seed) and Nimrod (the bad seed), two individuals walking in opposite directions. Abraham’s following will grow into the mighty nation of Israel. In our Torah parasha, Abraham is the example of how to manoeuvre through choices. Even through bad choices, he shows us how to get back on our feet. His adversary, namely Nimrod is a picture of the first anti-Messiah.

And Kush brought forth Nimroḏ, he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before יהוה, therefore it is said, “Like Nimroḏ the mighty hunter before יהוה.” (Genesis 10:8-9)

The word “mighty” (gibbor) has more to do with being a warrior, or a soldier. Nimrod did not just hunt animals. He was a cruel hunter of men. “Before יהוה” literally means “in the face of יהוה” and in this context, has the connotation of raising oneself up in arrogance and standing in His face. Nimrod did things in defiance of the Almighty, actively working against His plan.

tower of babel
TOWER OF BABEL

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens, and make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over all the face of the earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

According to the historian Josephus, Nimrod proposed to build this tower so high that if the Almighty ever chose to flood the world again, he and his followers would not drown.

In his article on Babel, Merrill Unger says the Tower of Babel was very much like a Mesopotamian building called the ziggurat. Ziggurats were very tall and made of sun-dried bricks. The word “zigguratu” denotes a sacred temple tower, and it also means “pinnacle” or “mountaintop”. The tower of Babel was the first structure of this type every built. Other ziggurats that were built were considered to be copies of the tower of Babel. They were consecrated to the guardian deity of the city and consequently a temple could be found on the very top!

nimrod
NIMROD

His name is the exact Hebrew verb form for “we will rebel”. In addition to being a hunter and a warrior of men, Nimrod was a king. Despite his brutality, he was held up like an idol. The saying of the day was “like Nimrod”. His kingdom began with Babel:

And the beginning of his reign was Baḇel, and Ereḵ, and Akkaḏ, and Kalnĕh, in the land of Shinʽar. From that land he went to Ashshur and built Ninewĕh, and ReḥoḇothIr, and Kelaḥ, and Resen between Ninewĕh and Kelaḥ, the great city. (Genesis 10:10-12)

From Babylon, he went to Assyria and built the city of Nineveh. Therefore he laid the foundation of both the Assyrian empire and the Babylonian empire – those empires that would conquer Israel many centuries later. Are you beginning to see a clear picture of Nimrod? He was the first king of Babylon. He was a powerful leader who led people to rebel against יהוהElohim.

great mother of whores
GREAT MOTHER OF WHORES

and upon her forehead a name written, a secret: BAḆEL THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE WHORES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5)

After Nimrod died, his wife (Semiramis) continued on with this heathen form of worship. She declared her husband to be the sun god, who was to be worshipped. After a time, through an adulterous relationship, Semiramis conceived and gave birth to a son whom she named Tammuz. Tammuz, she declared, was actually Nimrod reborn. The worship of Nimrod’s wife, Semiramis, as the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-25) and her god-son spread throughout the world. It exists today in many forms, even within Christianity in the form of the mother/child imagery and the worship of Mary in Roman Catholicism.

A tradition exists that when Nimrod died, his body was cut into pieces, cremated, and the ashes were spread over the earth. His entire body was scattered with the exception of his reproductive organs. It was from this ancient Babylonian tradition that the worship of the “phallus” began.

obelisk
OBELISK

The next great king of Babylon was Hammurabi, his name signifying that he was a descendant of Nimrod. The laws of the Hammurabi were engraved on a large black stone in the shape of a phallus.

The Encyclopedia of Religions (Vol. 3, p. 264) states that Queen Semiramis in Babylon erected an obelisk 130 feet high in memory of Nimrod. These monuments became common and could be found in all nations. The Bible refers to these monuments as part of Baal (one of the names for Nimrod) worship:

and brought out the pillars of the house of Baʽal and burned them, (2 Kings 10:26)

A common practice in Egypt, Greece, and other nations of the Middle East was to erect an obelisk in front of a temple. This symbolism for the phallus associated the religion with the fertility cult of Nimrod. According to the book, Babylon Mystery Religion, Caligula transported an obelisk from Egypt to the section of Rome where the Vatican was later built. The obelisk remained there until 1586 when Pope Sixtus V had it moved in front of St. Peter’s church where it is today.

judgement of bavel
JUDGEMENT OF BAVEL

Today we find the obelisk all over the world. In China, the entire land is punctuated with Buddhist shrines called pagodas. Throughout the Moslem world we see mosques surrounding by minarets, slender spires with an enlarged section at the top. Churches are not without their spires and steeples. The largest obelisk in the world is in front of the capital building in Washington, D.C., the Washington Monument.

People are simply following tradition without any realization of their meaning or relationship to the mystery religion of Babylon.

The tribulation ends with judgment on all idols of Babylon:

therefore see, the days are coming that I shall bring punishment on the carved images of Baḇel, and all her land shall be put to shame, and all her slain fall in her midst. “And the heavens and the earth and all that is in them shall shout for joy over Baḇel, for the ravagers shall come to her from the north,” declares יהוה. As Baḇel is to fall for the slain of Yisra’ĕl, so for Baḇel the slain of all the earth shall fall.

(Jeremiah 51:47-49)

ma aseh avot siman le vanim
“Ma‟asehavotsimanle‟vanim

In English, it states, “The deeds of the fathers (our ancestors) are signposts to the children”. There are three different ways that this concept helps us interpret Scripture:

“plain sense explanation”, What the “fathers” did, and the choices they made, should be examples to us, the children.

“deeper explanation”, is one of historical precedent. What happened to the “fathers” will happen to the children.

“deepest level” of explanation; each of the main, or more noteworthy, “forefathers” is identified with a particular “midah”, or “attribute” or “quality” of יהוה’s nature and character, that we should seek to adopt into our own character, examples of this:

Avraham his life exemplifies the attribute of “Chesed” or “Loving-kindness”.

Yitzaq walked in “Gevurah” or “Discipline” and “Strictness”.

Ya’aqob is associated with “Tiferet” or “Beauty in Emet (Truth)”, a combination of “Loving-kindness” and “Discipline”.

nimrod legends of the jews
NIMROD (Legends of the Jews)

The first among the leaders of the corrupt men was Nimrod. His father Cush had married his mother at an advanced age, and Nimrod, the offspring of this belated union, was particularly dear to him as the son of his old age. He gave him the clothes made of skins with which God had furnished Adam and Eve at the time of their leaving Paradise. Cush himself had gained possession of them through Ham. Ham stole the garments and kept them concealed, finally passing them on to his first-born son Cush.

These garments had a wonderful property. He who wore them was both invincible and irresistible. The beasts and birds of the woods fell down before Nimrod as soon as they caught sight of him arrayed in them, and he was equally victorious in his combats with men. The source of his unconquerable strength was not known to them. They attributed it to his personal prowess, and therefore they appointed him king over themselves.

He set himself up as a god, and made a seat for himself in imitation of the seat of God.

killing of baby boys legends of the jews
KILLING OF BABY BOYS(Legends of the Jews)

Terah married Emtelai, the daughter of Karnabo, and the offspring of their union was Abraham. His birth had been read in the stars by Nimrod, for this impious king was a cunning astrologer, and it was manifest to him that a man would be born in his day who would rise up against him and triumphantly give the lie to his religion.

Advice from the princes and governers: "Our unanimous advice is that thou shouldst build a great house, station a guard at the entrance thereof, and make known in the whole of thy realm that all pregnant women shall repair thither together with their midwives, who are to remain with them when they are delivered. When the days of a woman to be delivered are fulfilled, and the child is born, it shall be the duty of the midwife to kill it, if it be a boy. But if the child be a girl, it shall be kept alive” No less than seventy thousand children were slaughtered thus.

Then the angels appeared before God, and spoke, "Seest Thou not what he doth, yon sinner and blasphemer, Nimrod son of Canaarl, who slays so many innocent babes that have done no harm?"

birth of abraham legends of the jews
BIRTH OF ABRAHAM(Legends of the Jews)

When Abraham’s mothers body grew large at the end of three months of pregnancy. Terah insisted: "Show me thy body. It seems to me thou art big with child. If that be so, it behooves us not to violate the command of our god Nimrod." When he passed his hand over her body, there happened a miracle. The child rose until it lay beneath her breasts, and Terah could feel nothing with his hands. He said to his wife, "Thou didst speak truly," and naught became visible until the day of her delivery.

When her time approached, she left the city and wandered until she happened across a cave. There she gave birth and the whole cave was filled with the light of the child's countenance as with the splendor of the sun, and the mother rejoiced exceedingly.

"Alas that I bore thee at a time when Nimrod is king. For thy sake seventy thousand men children were slaughtered, and I am seized with terror on account of thee, that he hear of thy existence, and slay thee. Better thou shouldst perish here in this cave.“ Then she abandoned him in the cave, saying, "May the Lord be with thee, may He not fail thee nor forsake thee."

babe proclaims god legends of the jews
BABE PROCLAIMS GOD (Legends of the Jews)

Thus Abraham was deserted in the cave. God sent Gabriel down to give him milk to drink, and the angel made it to flow from the little finger of the baby's right hand, and he sucked at it until he was ten days old. Then he arose and walked about, and he left the cave.

When the sun sank, and the stars came forth, he said, "These are the gods!" But the dawn came, and the stars could be seen no longer, and then he said, "I will not pay worship to these, for they are no gods." Thereupon the sun came forth, and he spoke, "This is my god, him will I extol." But again the sun set, and he said, "He is no god," and beholding the moon, he called her his god to whom he would pay Divine homage. Then the moon was obscured, and he cried out: "This, too, is no god! There is One who sets them all in motion.“

The angel Gabriel approached him and met him with the greeting, "Peace be with thee," and Abraham returned, "With thee be peace," and asked, "Who art thou?" And Gabriel answered, and said, "I am the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God," and he led Abraham to a spring of water, and Abraham washed his face and his hands and feet, and he prayed to God, bowing down and prostrating himself.

20 day old man legends of the jews
20 DAY OLD MAN(Legends of the Jews)

Meantime the mother of Abraham thought of him in sorrow and tears, and she went forth from the city to seek him in the cave. She went to the edge of the valley, and there she found her son. But she did not recognize him, for he had grown very large.

Abraham then spoke, "As to this child thou tellest of, how old was it?"

The mother: "It was about twenty days old.“

Abraham: "I am the son whom thou hast come to seek in this valley!“

Abraham: "So it is, and thus, O my mother, it is made known unto thee that there is in the world a great, terrible, living, and ever-existing God, who doth see, but who cannot be seen. He is in the heavens above, and the whole earth is full of His glory."

The mother: "My son, is there a God beside Nimrod?"

Abraham: "Yes, mother, the God of the heavens and the God of the earth, He is also the God of Nimrod son of Canaan. Go, therefore, and carry this message unto Nimrod."

nimrod moves to babylon legends of the jews
NIMROD MOVES TO BABYLON(Legends of the Jews)

Terah, who was a prince and a magnate in the house of the king, related all that had happened with his wife and his son. Nimrod heard his tale, abject fear seized upon him, and and the assembled princes were horror struck at these words.

At this time Satan in human form appeared and asked the king: "Why art thou terrified, and why are ye all in fear on account of a little lad? I will counsel thee what thou shalt do: Open thy arsenal and give weapons unto all the princes, chiefs, and governors, and unto all the warriors, and send them to fetch him unto thy service and to be under thy dominion."

When the army approached Abraham, God sent the angel Gabriel to him, and he said: "Be not afraid and disquieted, for God is with thee. Gabriel put thick, dark clouds between Abraham and his assailants. Dismayed by the heavy clouds, they fled, returning to Nimrod, their king, and they said to him, "Let us depart and leave this realm," and the king gave money unto all his princes and his servants, and together with the king they departed and journeyed to Babylon.

other exploids legends of the jews
OTHER EXPLOIDS(Legends of the Jews)

Transported in one day to Babylon 40 days away:

Abraham, sat angel Gabriel’s shoulder and was transported to Babylon.

Declared the existence of God to Nimrod:

"The Eternal, He is the One Only God, and there is none beside. He is the God of the heavens, and the God of the gods, and the God of Nimrod. Acknowledge this as the truth, all ye men, women, and children. Acknowledge also that I am Abraham His servant, the trusted steward of His house.“ While Abraham proclaimed God’s existance, the idols fell upon their faces, and with them also King Nimrod." Thereupon Nimrod said, "Verily, the God of Abraham is a great and powerful God, the King of all kings," and he commanded Terah to take his son and remove him, and return again unto his own city, and father and son did as the king had ordered.

other exploids legends of the jews1
OTHER EXPLOIDS(Legends of the Jews)

Destroyed his father’s entire idol making business:

Alone with the idols made by his father, and while he repeated the words, "The Eternal He is God, the Eternal He is God!" he struck the king's idols from their thrones, and began to belabor them with an axe. After all were mutilated, he went away, having first put the axe into the hand of the largest idol. On enquiry Abraham replied: "I did not do it; it was the largest of the idols who shattered all the rest. Seest thou not that he still has the axe in his hand? And if thou wilt not believe my words, ask him and he will tell thee."

Cast in a dungeon for one year without food and water:

Now the king was exceedingly wroth at Abraham, and ordered him to be cast into prison, where he commanded the warden not to give him bread or water. But God hearkened unto the prayer of Abraham, and sent Gabriel to him in his dungeon. For a year the angel dwelt with him, and provided him with all sorts of food, and a spring of fresh water welled up before him, and he drank of it.

other exploids legends of the jews2
OTHER EXPLOIDS(Legends of the Jews)

Miraculously saved from the furnace:

Nimrod wanted to make Abraham suffer death by fire. One of the princes was dispatched to fetch him forth. But scarcely did the messenger set about the task of throwing him into the fire, when the flame leapt forth from the furnace and consumed him. Many more attempts were made to cast Abraham into the furnace, but always with the same success- whoever seized him to pitch him in was himself burnt, and a large number lost their lives. Satan appeared in human shape, and advised the king to place Abraham in a catapult and sling him into the fire. Satan himself constructed the catapult. … Gabriel approached him, and asked, "Abraham, shall I save thee from the fire?" he replied, "God in whom I trust, the God of heaven and earth, will rescue me," and God, seeing the submissive spirit of Abraham, commanded the fire, "Cool off and bring tranquillity to my servant Abraham.“ ..No water was needed to extinguish the fire. The logs burst into buds, and all the different kinds of wood put forth fruit, each tree bearing its own kind. The furnace was transformed into a royal pleasance, and the angels sat therein with Abraham.

other exploids legends of the jews3
OTHER EXPLOIDS(Legends of the Jews)

Abraham the superior leadAbraham was the superior, not only of the impious king Nimrod and his attendants, but also of the pious men of his time, Noah, Shem, Eber, and Asshur. Noah gave himself no concern whatsoever in the matter of spreading the pure faith in God. He took an interest in planting his vineyard, and was immersed in material pleasures. Shem and Eber kept in hiding, and as for Asshur, he said, "How can I live among such sinners?" and departed out of the land. The only one who remained unshaken was Abraham. "I will not forsake God," he said, and therefore God did not forsake him, who had hearkened neither unto his father nor unto his mother.

er:

abraham s request book of jubilee
ABRAHAM’S REQUESTBook of Jubilee

Chapter 12:19-20 And he prayed that night and said, 'My God, God Most High, Thou alone art my God, And Thee and Thy dominion have I chosen. And Thou hast created all things, And all things that are the work of thy hands. Deliver me from the hands of evil spirits who have dominion over the thoughts of men's hearts, And let them not lead me astray from Thee, my God. And stablish Thou me and my seed for ever That we go not astray from henceforth and for evermore.'

Chapter 12:25-28 And the Lord God said: 'Open his mouth and his ears, that he may hear and speak with his mouth, with the language which has been revealed'; for it had ceased from the mouths of all the children of men from the day of the overthrow (of Babel). And I opened his mouth, and his ears and his lips, and I began to speak with him in Hebrew in the tongue of the creation. And he took the books of his fathers, and these were written in Hebrew, and he transcribed them, and he began from henceforth to study them, and I made known to him that which he could not (understand), and he studied them during the six rainy months.

get yourself out
GET YOURSELF OUT

And יהוה said to Aḇram, “Go yourself out of your land, from your relatives and from your father’s house, to a land which I show you. (Genesis 12:1)

“his birthplace” (moledeth). The fact is he had already left we read that Terah’s intended destination was the “land of Kena’an”. (Genesis 11:31-32). Avram’s father stopped and dwelt in Haran. Terah likely named that place Haran as that was the name of one of Avram’s brothers, who fathered Lot. Haran died while they still lived in Ur, according to Chapter 11. Next, Elohim tells Avram to leave his “fathers house”.

יהוה was telling Avram to “come out” not only from Babylon, as Haran was still in the Babylonian empire along with Ur; but, also to leave his past, and who he was, behind. יהוה chose Avram, just as He has chosen us. In order for Yah to use Avram and work through him, Avram had to leave his former estate and walk in his calling. This was the very foundation of Hebrew understanding of “halacha” (walking out Torah). Avram had to leave all the worldly security he had known and trust completely in El Shaddai (El Sufficient), in order to fulfil his calling, his destiny.

terach
TERACH

And Teraḥ took his son Aḇram and his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Aḇram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Kenaʽan. And they came to Ḥaran and dwelt there. And the days of Teraḥ came to be two hundred and five years, and Teraḥ died in Ḥaran. And יהוה said to Aḇram, “Go yourself out of your land, from your relatives and from your father’s house, .. (Genesis 11:31-12:1)

“Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Ḥaran. And from there, after the death of his father, He removed him to this land in which you now dwell. (Acts 7:4)

Problem: Terah was 70 years old when Abram was born (Genesis 11:26), and 205 when he died (Genesis 11:32). Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran (Genesis 12:4). Thus Terah was 70 + 75, or 145 years old when Abram departed from Haran. Why then does the Torah and the book of Acts say that Abram’s father died before his departure from Haran? The ancient sage, Rashi provides an answer: “… the text refers to Terah as dead, for wicked people are called dead even during their lifetime…”

slide25
UR

The journey begins from Ur of the Chaldeans or from the country of Babylon. Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary on Ur:

Ur – light, or the moon city, the birthplace of Haran…the principal commercial center of the country as well as the centre of political power. It stood near the mouth of the Euphrates, and is represented by the mounds (of bricks cemented by bitumen)….Ur was the port of Babylon, whence trade was carried on with distant countries…It was home to the famous temple of the moon-god Sin…It shared this honor, however, with another city, and this city was Haran…..Indeed, the temple of the moon-god at Haran was perhaps even more famous in the Assyrian and Babylonian world than the temple of the moon-god at Ur….at any rate, the two cities were bound together by the worship of the same deity, the closest and most enduring bond of union that existed in the ancient world. That Terah should have migrated from Ur to Haran, therefore, ceases to be extraordinary. If he left Ur at all, it was the most natural place to go. It was like passing from one court of a temple into another.

Ziggurat of Ur

love for god
LOVE FOR GOD

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

(Matthew 10:37)

Tradition tells us that Abram’s father, Terah was a maker of idols and that he worshipped the moon god. Note that in Genesis 12:1, Abram is specifically told to leave his Father’s house. What a test for Abram. To leave his father’s house while he was still alive, would give the appearance of disrespect in those days.

Now we can understand why Abram, who rejected these gods, left his father and continued on to Canaan. Extra-Biblical references provide us with additional information about Abram. From his earliest childhood and throughout his life, Abram was said to be a revolutionary and a rebel against the sophisticated yet often barbaric culture of the ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Canaanites (these are all from the line of Ham). He travelled extensively and had an unquenchable passion to discover the mystery of the Almighty.

passion
PASSION

Abram’s passion was to introduce יהוהto the whole world. It is written that when Abram would come to a town, he would stand in the town square and start calling for everyone to come and listen to him. He would ask, “What is the point of squandering your life on the pursuit of this world? Think about your purpose in life. The purpose is to find the one true Elohim.”

Abram set the young people on fire with his ideas, and they would come running after him. According to Midrashic literature, Abram called people together in public meetings in Haran to proclaim the truth about the one Creator and to encourage the people to serve Him. After these public meetings he was willing to debate his claims with anyone that questioned him. In this way he won thousands of followers who confessed the existence of the Creator Elohim.

haran
HARAN

It’s Hebrew name “Charan” (chet-reish-nun) means “crossroads”. It’s the place of “decision”. The numeric value of the letters is 258 and this equates too “ha gee’ran” or “the threshing floor”, where the grain is loosened from the chaff; and “ha ger’ im” or “the sojourners” and also “a’charam” meaning “to be utterly destroyed”, as well as “v’eelbarach” meaning, “and to bless”. So, here Abram was “called” and he had a choice to make. יהוה does the same with each of us. When He “calls” us out, we have the same choice He gave to Abraham. As He said in:

“I have called the heavens and the earth as witnesses today against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. .. to dwell in the land which יהוה swore to your fathers, to Aḇraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Yaʽaqoḇ, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Haran is located in what is now Syria. In addition to Abram and Sarai, Yitzaq's wife Rebecca was from Haran. Jacob lived there with Laban for 22 years after fleeing from his brother Esau (Genesis 29). In Haran, he married Leah and Rachel, and all of his children, except Benjamin, were born there.

lech lecha
LECH LECHA

It was said by the prominent hassidic rabbi, LubavitcherRebbe, that Lech Lecha ("Go, to you")--"...are the most important words ever spoken in history. With these words, God set Abraham on the course that would reverse the process of degeneration that humanity had been locked into ever since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a course that would eventually lead it to the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai."

Several characteristics of the faith of our father Abraham are worthy of [a selah] pause and our consideration. 

First, Abraham's faith was obedient and produced works.

Secondly, as was Noah before him, Abraham was prompt, and responded without handwringing or hesitation to the heavenly directive.

Thirdly, his faith demonstrated intelligence and good reasoning.

Finally, Abraham's faith was persevering. Abraham was patient

the first promise
THE FIRST PROMISE

“And I shall make you a great nation, and bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing! “And I shall bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you. And in you all the clans of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3)

In Genesis 12:2, יהוה promises Abraham that he would become a great nation –a ‘goy gadol’ in Hebrew.  The word goy is used for nation, but can also mean a Gentile (non-Jew), and gadol means either big or great. Abraham was, in fact not a Jew.  The important part of the equation is the covenant, not our lineage. (Acts 3:25)

The Hebrew word for blessing may be changed to ‘spring of water’ with just one minor vowel change.  God is the source of all blessing, and יהושע is the fountain of springs of living water.

This promise, which was extended to Isaac and then Jacob (Israel)and his descendants, was proven true throughout history and still holds true today. European history throughout the centuries teaches one lesson: those nations which have dealt fairly and mercifully with the Jews have prospered.  However the nations which have oppressed and mistreated the Jewish people have written out their own curse.

be blessed
BE BLESSED

..And in you all the clans of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

While this is an accurate mechanical translation, the Hebrew says much more. From the Hebrew Torah, we read it as; "V’anibrakubekahkolmishpachot ha-adamah.“

“braku”, which most translations say is “be blessed”, and is a niphal (stem) conjugated form of the root verb “barak”, meaning “to bless”.

According to the Rabbinic Sages this word “braku” is specifically related to another niphal conjugation, namely “m’bareek” found in the Talmud (cfKelaim 7:1, Sotah 43a.), which means to “intermingle” or to “graft”. As Dr. Heidenheim explains it, “This interpretation is inspired by the fact that nowhere else besides here (in Genesis 12:3) do we find barak in the sense of blessing in the niphal conjugation, while also in the sense of "grafting" in its common form”. The meaning of Verse 3 is perhaps better understood when translated as; “And in you all the clans of the earth shall be intermingled (or grafted).”

75 years old
75 YEARS OLD

So Aḇram left, as יהוה had commanded him, and Lot went with him. And Aḇram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Ḥaran. And Aḇram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the beings whom they had acquired in Ḥaran, and they set out for the land of Kenaʽan. And they came to the land of Kenaʽan. And Aḇram passed through the land to the place of Sheḵem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. At that time the Kenaʽanites were in the land. And יהוה appeared to Aḇram and said, “To your seed I give this land.” And he built there an altar to יהוה, who had appeared to him. (Genesis 12:4-7)

75 is the numeric value of the letters “kaf-hey-nun” in “kohen” or “priest”. 75 also equals “batach” or “trust” as well as “chokmah” or “wisdom”.

[Note: the building of an altar or a religious structure in ancient times was a form of taking possession of a land. The message of the custom remains the same today. It is a statement of dominance]

the journey
THE JOURNEY

Abraham in obedience sets out (from “The Crossroads”) for a new life. They came to the “Land of Kena’an”. Kena’an literally means “lowland” or “humble”. The implication here is that of being a “humble” land; or of learning humility in that place. And Aḇram passed through the land to the place of Sheḵem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh

“Shekem”, Strong’s #7926/27, means “upper back” or “shoulder” and implies the carrying of a burden or the area that receives the lashing (punishment).

The terebinth tree is actually the Hebrew word “Elon”, Strong’s #0436 and means “great tree” or “mighty man” and is a symbol of “righteousness”.

“Moreh” is Strong’s word #4176 meaning “teacher”. So, the place near, or opposite, the “Shoulder” (Shekem), the place of the “burden” and “punishment” (remember Ephraim’s burden and punishment), the place of “The Mighty Teacher”, is the first place Abraham builds an altar to יהוה. Today, this place, now a community, is called “ElonMoreh”.

shechem
SHECHEM

Shekem is the city kingdom which did nothing when Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Judgment) was kidnapped and defiled (raped) by the king’s son, Shekem. It was Shekem that became the capital of the Northern Kingdom (House of Israel) after the breakup of the House of Jacob into two kingdoms. King of Israel, Yarob’am would defile (rape) the Torah (Instructions, Right-rulings and Judgments) from Shekem by erecting false idols and building the first of two temples for the House of Israel to worship in, in order to keep them out of Jerusalem.

Shekem has indeed been a “mighty teacher” to the House of Israel. It was also from this city, after he led the children of Israel into the “Land”, that Joshua read the Torah (the blessings and curses) between the “Mt. of Blessings” and the “Mt. of Curses” as Elohim commanded Moshe to direct him to do.

Upon their return from Mitzrayim, the children of Israel would lay Ephraim’s patriarch father, Josef, to rest in Shekem. It would be to our benefit to study more on Shekem. When יהושע leads us back to Israel to begin His millennial reign; He will likely take us by, or through, Shekem and ElonMoreh.

beth el and ai
BETH EL AND AI

And from there he moved to the mountain east of Bĕyth Ěl, and he pitched his tent, with Bĕyth Ěl on the west and Ai on the east. And he built there an altar to יהוה, and called on the Name of יהוה. (Genesis 12:8)

This altar in a very strategic location and remains so even today.

Now, most English translations read that here he “called on the Name of יהוה.” But, according to the Stone Edition TaNaK and Gesenius’ Hebrew - Chaldee Lexicon, the better translation of the Hebrew would read, “and invoked the Name יהוה”. “invoke” means; “to call forth”, “summon”, “petition” or “appeal to”. So, Abraham worshipped there and “called forth” and “petitioned” יהוה.

Beyth El was later to be named so by Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. Beth El means literally, “House of Elohim”.

Now, Ai was a city of the Ammonites, one of the Kena’anite tribes. The name “Ai” literally means “to twist”, “distort”, “pervert”, “commit iniquity” and “a heap of ruins”.

Abraham literally camped between a rock (יהושע) and a hard place (the world).

abraham s sister
ABRAHAM’S SISTER

And Aḇram set out, continuing toward the South. And a scarcity of food came to be in the land, and Aḇram went down to Mitsrayim to dwell there, for the scarcity of food was severe in the land. And it came to be, when he was close to entering Mitsrayim, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See, I know that you are a fair woman to look at. “And it shall be, when the Mitsrites see you, that they shall say, ‘This is his wife.’ And they shall kill me, but let you live. “Please say you are my sister, so that it shall be well with me for your sake, and my life be spared because of you.” (Genesis 12:9-13)

“And yet, she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. (Genesis 20:12)

The Talmud teaches that, since Egypt was a lawless and sinful society, this plan was the best way to insure favourable treatment for both of them. Abraham knew that the Egyptians would find her to be an exotic beauty and would leave her alone if they were married. But, if he died by accidentally falling on someone’s sword or spear, the woman would no longer be married and thus “fair game”.

leaving egypt
LEAVING EGYPT

And it came to be, when Aḇram came into Mitsrayim, that the Mitsrites saw the woman, that she was very fair. And Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her before Pharaoh, and the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house. And he treated Aḇram well for her sake, and he had sheep, and cattle, and male donkeys, and male and female servants, and female donkeys, and camels. But יהוה plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Aḇram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Aḇram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not inform me that she was your wife? “Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? And so I was going to take her for my wife. Look, here is your wife, take her and go.” And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him, and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. (Genesis 12:14-20)

Sarah must have been exceptionally beautiful for Pharaoh to be attracted to a sixty-five year old woman!

Abraham returned home a very wealthy man, as Pharaoh allowed him to keep all the possessions he had acquired while in Egypt.

back with resources
BACK WITH RESOURCES

And Aḇram went up from Mitsrayim into the South, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him. And Aḇram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bĕyth Ěl, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bĕyth Ěl and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Aḇram called on the Name of יהוה. (Genesis 13:1-4)

יהוה blessed Abraham’s plan. He goes into Egypt (meaning “constriction” and “bondage”) to escape the famine and comes out with even greater wealth.

This was repeated when Jacob went down into Egypt to be delivered from the famine. At first, his family chose to stay there and then bondage came upon them. But, when יהוה sent Moshe to deliver them, they came out with great wealth. So, Abraham returns to the place and the altar he previously built between Beth El and Ai; which today is called HarAvraham (Mt. Abraham). Here again, Abraham invokes, or petitions the Name of יהוה.

slide39
LOT

And Aḇram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the beings whom they had acquired in Ḥaran, and they set out for the land of Kenaʽan. And they came to the land of Kenaʽan. (Genesis 12:5)

Was it Abram’s idea that Lot should accompany him? As the name of our Torah portion implies, “go for yourself”, it seems that Abram was commanded to leave his father’s household by himself. As the story continues, we shall see how Lot becomes separated from Abram’s camp anyway.

And Aḇram went up from Mitsrayim into the South, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him. (Genesis 13:1)

In Genesis 13:1 we note a change in the order of the words as on their return from Egypt, and there appears to be a separation between Abram and Lot (13:1). Lot is seen more as someone who joins the group and journeys with them. We see more proof of this a few verses later when we see Lot’s property referred to separately: Now Lot, who went with Aḇram, also had flocks and herds and tents. (Genesis 13:5)

inheritance
INHERITANCE

Since we know that Sarai was barren (11:9), and Lot was Abram’s nephew, it would have been natural for Lot to have been considered as Abram’s son and heir. Therefore, when יהוהgave the following promise, Abram probably associated it with his descendent, Lot:

And יהוה appeared to Aḇram and said, “To your seed I give this land.” And he built there an altar to יהוה, who had appeared to him. (Genesis 12:7)

Then came the famine, and Abram and Lot ended up in Egypt. In the wealthy and prospering Egypt, Lot became aware of the disappointing dream of Canaan. In Egypt, a shepherd would not have to be constantly wandering with his flocks, helpless in the face of an unstable climate. Lot probably would have preferred to stay in Egypt. So Lot returns to Canaan and conflict arises.

Then Aḇram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. .. Please separate from me. ..(Genesis 13:8-9)

blessed are the peacemakers
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

And there was strife between the herdsmen of Aḇram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. (Genesis 13:7)

Because Abraham understood that strife would destroy the blessing of יהוה  on his life, as lover of peace, he sought for a solution. Abraham was willing to give up anything Lot asked for, just to have peace (shalom) restored in his life.

Better is a dry piece of bread and rest with it, Than a house filled with the offerings of strife. (Proverbs 17:1)

In order to restore peace, however, like Abraham, we may need to sacrifice something important to us and even be willing to accept an unjust situation, trusting God to make it up to us in His way and time.

lot separates
LOT SEPARATES

And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of the Yardĕn, that it was well watered everywhere – before יהוה destroyed Seḏom and Amorah – like the garden of יהוה, like the land of Mitsrayim as you go toward Tsoʽar. So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Yardĕn, and Lot moved east. Thus they separated from each other, (Genesis 13:10-11)

“Lot lifts his eyes” and looks for land that is similar to Egypt. He determines that the well irrigated plain of the Jordan is as close as he can come to Egypt. So Lot chooses what looks like Egypt to him. By doing this, he chooses a life independent of יהוה. Whilst the land given to Abraham is exactly the opposite:

“For the land which you are going in to possess is not like the land of Mitsrayim from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden, (Deuteronomy 11:10)

sodom and gomorrah
SODOM AND GOMORRAH

The location where Sodom and Gomorrah were situated (before they were destroyed) was indeed “watered everywhere” by the Jordan River. The Jordan plain was very similar to the land of Egypt which also enjoyed the abundance of water from a river.

The contradiction lies at the spiritual level. In the book of Deuteronomy, it is implied that the land of Israel, which “drinks water from the rain of heaven”, is superior to Egypt, which is watered “as a vegetable garden”. The verse in Genesis, however, praises the land that is watered in the latter manner (that is by a river, not heaven). It even compares the “Garden of יהוה” with the “land of Egypt”! This is Lot’s assessment!

the promised land
THE PROMISED LAND

And after Lot had separated from him, יהוה said to Aḇram, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land which you see I shall give to you and your seed forever. .. “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

Abraham gave Lot first pick of the land and accepted whatever was left over.  Lot did not inquire after יהוה for direction, nor did he seek council from Abraham; he relied on his own personal pleasure and preference, and was drawn to that which attracted his eye (lust). The land he chose looked lush and green and fertile.  He gave Abraham the leftover brown, barren, dry land.

Abraham, however, walked by faith and not by sight.  He was unmoved by the appearance of the land leftover because he trusted in God.

The land that Lot chose ended up completely destroyed due to its depravity (Sodom), but Abraham prospered in the Land because he believed יהוה’s promises.

someone who escaped
SOMEONE WHO ESCAPED

And the sovereign of Seḏom, and the sovereign of Amorah, and the sovereign of Aḏmah, and the sovereign of Tseḇoyim, and the sovereign of Bela, that is Tsoʽar, went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim, against Keḏorlaʽomer sovereign of Ěylam, and Tiḏʽal sovereign of Goyim, and Amraphel sovereign of Shinʽar, and Aryoḵ sovereign of Ellasar – four sovereigns against five. .. And they took all the goods of Seḏom and Amorah, and all their food, and went away. And they took Lot, Aḇram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Seḏom, and his goods, and left. And one who had escaped came and informed Aḇram the Heḇrew..(Genesis 14:8-13)

Legends of the Jews:

It was on the first evening of the Passover, and Abraham was eating of the unleavened bread, when the archangel Michael brought him the report of Lot's captivity. This angel bears another name besides, Palit, the escaped, because when God threw Samael and his host from their holy place in heaven, the rebellious leader held on to Michael and tried to drag him along downward, and Michael escaped falling from heaven only through the help of God.

victory against 800 000
VICTORY AGAINST 800 000

And when Aḇram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, .... he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. ..(Genesis 14:14-26)

Legends of the Jews:

The united forces of these kings, numbering eight hundred thousand, marched upon the five cities, subduing whatever they encountered in their course. …The battle fought with the mighty hosts of the kings, from which Abraham emerged victorious, happened on the fifteenth of Nisan, the night appointed for miraculous deeds. His victory was possible only because the celestial powers espoused his side. The planet Jupiter made the night bright for him, and an angel, Lailah by name, fought for him. In a true sense, it was a victory of God.

rabbi avraham greenbaum
RABBI AVRAHAM GREENBAUM

“In geopolitical terms, the war of the Four Kings against the Five (Genesis ch. 14) was a war for control over the blessed strip of land on the East Coast of the Mediterranean that is G-d's chosen, Promised Land. ‘Amraphel King of Shin'ar’ is Nimrod -- Ham's grandson and Abraham's implacable adversary. Ham is fighting Shem. What spurs Abraham into action is the capture of Lot -- a mortal threat to Lot's destined progeny, including Ruth the Moabite, grandmother of Mashiach. Abraham rouses his followers -- those he has educated -- namely Eliezer, Nimrod's own son, the rectified slave (Genesis 14:14, see Rashi there), and miraculously rescues Lot. In this way Noah's prophesy is fulfilled and Eliezer, the descendant of Ham, serves Abraham, descendant of Shem, in helping pave the way to Mashiach.”

rabbi yossi serebryanski
RABBI YOSSI SEREBRYANSKI

“The land that later became known as Israel was given to Shem (son of Noah). That is why he lived there and is called the (Genesis 14:18) ‘King of Shalem’. The original wall of Jerusalem was built by Shem son of Noah (Seder Hadorot). According to Jewish tradition Malki-Tzedek was Shem. He established a school there known as the school of Shem and Eber. (Genesis 10:22) Eylam was a son of Shem. (Genesis 14:1) Kedorla’omer, who was a descendant of Shem, was the King of Eylam. (Genesis 12:1) Abraham (a descendant of Shem) is promised land. Yet he is not told which land. Abraham travels and ends up in the land taken over by Kena’an. (Genesis chapter 14) Kedorla’omer and the other kings aligned with him fight a war against the people who were occupying their land. They win and take Abraham’s nephew Lot, into captivity. From this, Abraham understands that he is supposed to acquire part of this land by war. Abraham releases his nephew by waging war against Kedorla’omer and the other Kings”.

melchizedek legends of the jews
MELCHIZEDEKLegends of the Jews

In spite of his great success, Abraham nevertheless was concerned about the issue of the war. He feared that the prohibition against shedding the blood of man had been transgressed, and he also dreaded the resentment of Shem, whose descendants had perished in the encounter. But God reassured him, and said: "Be not afraid! Thou hast but extirpated the thorns, and as to Shem, he will bless thee rather than curse thee." So it was. When Abraham returned from the war, Shem, or, as he is sometimes called, Melchizedek, the king of righteousness, priest of God Most High, and king of Jerusalem, came forth to meet him with bread and wine. And this high priest instructed Abraham in the laws of the priesthood and in the Torah, and to prove his friendship for him he blessed him, and called him the partner of God in the possession of the world, seeing that through him the Name of God had first been made known among men. But Melchizedek arranged the words of his blessing in an unseemly way. He named Abraham first and then God. As a punishment, he was deposed by God from the priestly dignity, and instead it was passed over to Abraham, with whose descendants it remained forever.

promises and heir
PROMISES AND HEIR

After these events the word of יהוה came to Aḇram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Aḇram. I am your shield, your reward is exceedingly great.” And Aḇram said, “Master יהוה, what would You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliʽezer of Damascus?” And Aḇram said, “See, You have given me no seed, and see, one born in my house is my heir!” And see, the word of יהוה came to him, saying, “This one is not your heir, but he who comes from your own body is your heir.” And He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward the heavens, and count the stars if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So are your seed.” And he believed in יהוה, and He reckoned it to him for righteousness.(Genesis 15:1-6)

To enlarge Abraham's vision [and give a hint of a future name change], Elohim "brought him forth abroad" and had him gaze intently into heaven, into the clear starry sky.

The literal Hebrew translation is: but one who will go out of your own bowels (Genesis 15:4). Whenever scripture starts with behold, it means pay attention, you are about to hear a prophetic utterance.

covenant
COVENANT

And he said, “Master יהוה, whereby do I know that I possess it?” And He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, and a three-year-old female goat, and a three-year-old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he took all these to Him and cut them in the middle, and placed each half opposite the other, but he did not cut the birds. And the birds of prey came down on the carcasses, and Aḇram drove them away. And it came to be, when the sun was going down, and a deep sleep fell upon Aḇram, that see, a frightening great darkness fell upon him. (Genesis 15:8-12)

A covenant is not a contract that can be broken. A covenant stands in eternity, held by the guarantor, in this case, יהוה. He alone walked between the pieces.

For Elohim, having promised Aḇraham, since He could swear by no one greater, swore by Himself, (Hebrews 6:13)

sarai and hagar
SARAI AND HAGAR

And Sarai, Aḇram’s wife, had borne him no child. And she had a Mitsrite female servant whose name was Haḡar. And Sarai said to Aḇram, “See, יהוה has kept me from bearing children. Please, go in to my female servant. It might be that I am built up by her.” And Aḇram listened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai, Aḇram’s wife, took Haḡar her female servant, the Mitsrite, and gave her to her husband Aḇram to be his wife, after Aḇram had dwelt ten years in the land of Kenaʽan. And he went in to Haḡar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said to Aḇram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my female servant into your bosom. And when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes. Let יהוה judge between you and me.” (Genesis 16:1-5)

Abram listened to Sarai and walked open-eyed into a second marriage. Conniving, self-excusing Sarah became humiliated, acquiescing Abram garnered his own assorted miseries, and insubordinate, proud Hagar was oppressed and eventually sent away (with her son, Ishmael) thirteen years later, after Isaac was born.

a son
A SON

And Haḡar bore Aḇram a son, and Aḇram called the name of his son, whom Haḡar bore, Yishmaʽĕl. And Aḇram was eighty-six years old when Haḡar bore Yishmaʽĕl to Aḇram. (Genesis 16:15-16)

We who believe in יהושעare not sons of Hagar. We are not sons of a concubine but sons of Abraham and Sarah, the promised seed. Through disobedience we brought on our own bondage. Many people in the Covenant of Abraham still live as if they are in bondage even though they have been set free by the Messiah’s atoning blood. Harboring wrong attitudes, judgments, poor thoughts and associations can keep us in bondage. The only barrier we have is the one we put up ourselves.

May we be a people who live as the son of a free woman and not the son of a maidservant. (Galatians 3:29; 4:21- 5:1)

change of names
CHANGE OF NAMES

And it came to be when Aḇram was ninety-nine years old, that יהוה appeared to Aḇram and said to him, “I am Ěl Shaddai – walk before Me and be perfect1. Footnote: 1Messiah gives the same command in Mt. 5:48. “And I give My covenant between Me and you, and shall greatly increase you.” And Aḇram fell on his face, and Elohim spoke with him, saying, “As for Me, look, My covenant is with you, and you shall become a father of many nations. “And no longer is your name called Aḇram, but your name shall be Aḇraham, because I shall make you a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:1-5)

And Elohim said to Aḇraham, “As for Sarai your wife, do not call her name Sarai, for Sarah is her name. “And I shall bless her and also give you a son by her. And I shall bless her, and she shall become nations – sovereigns of peoples are to be from her.” (Genesis 17:15-16)

Abraham and Sarah both received a portion of יהוה. The Hebrew letter ה/Hei represents יהוה’s Breath of Life; Abraham and Sarah were infused with the Spirit of יהוה.

sign of covenant
SIGN OF COVENANT

“And I shall establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be Elohim to you and your seed after you. “And I shall give to you and your seed after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Kenaʽan, as an everlasting possession. And I shall be their Elohim.” And Elohim said to Aḇraham, “As for you, guard My covenant, you and your seed after you throughout their generations. “This is My covenant which you guard between Me and you, and your seed after you: Every male child among you is to be circumcised. “And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall become a sign of the covenant between Me and you. “And a son of eight days is circumcised by you, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with silver from any foreigner who is not of your seed. “He who is born in your house, and he who is bought with your silver, has to be circumcised. So shall My covenant be in your flesh, for an everlasting covenant. “And an uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, his life shall be cut off from his people – he has broken My covenant.” (Genesis 17:7-14)

mitzvah
MITZVAH

Rabbi Greenbaum, “The commandment of circumcision is not one of the universal commandments of the Torah, but rather the exclusive mark and sign of the Children of Israel. The descendants of Yishma’el consider themselves bound by the commandment of circumcision, but they do not perform the P'RIYAH (peeling of the membrane) as practiced by the descendants of Jacob”.

Circumcision: This mitzvah is comprised of two procedures called in Hebrew “milah” and “priyah” where the first refers to the actual cutting of the external layer of skin, and the second refers to the tearing of the finer, inner membrane. This is symbolic of a Israelite's responsibility to both cut away extraneous physicality while also tearing the more subtle barriers inhibiting spirituality as well. This is intended to reveal Godliness into the world.

The connection between the Israelite and the Land is similar. When an Israelite keeps the covenant, a potentially solely physical relationship with the Land is peeled away. They are able to penetrate the more sublime, spiritual dimension of the Promised Land, and Godliness is thereby revealed.

ishmael
ISHMAEL

Ishmael, the father of the Arab/Muslim people, also has a role in this unique covenant connection. He was a son of Abraham and was circumcised at the age of thirteen, on the very day Abraham was commanded to circumcise:

And Aḇraham took Yishmaʽĕl his son, ... and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that same day, as Elohim told him. And Aḇraham was ninety-nine years old ... And Yishmaʽĕl his son was thirteen years old ..(Genesis 17:23-26)

However, יהוהrevealed to Abraham that his true spiritual successor and the rightful inheritor of the covenant to the Land would be Isaac:

And Elohim said, “No, Sarah your wife is truly bearing a son to you, and you shall call his name Yitsḥaq. And I shall establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. ..(Genesis 17:19-21)

Since Ishmael is nevertheless connected to the covenant, what is his role in and relationship to the Land?

right to the land
RIGHT TO THE LAND

The right to the land is based on the way to perform the covenant. Isaac who performs both the external “milah” and internal “priyah”, Ishmael performs only the external “milah”. Thus Ishmael’s connection to the covenant is only superficial and secondary — entitling him to custodianship (not ownership) over the Land only during Israel’s absence. This secondary claim must give way to the Jewish People’s primary and inner bond to the Land of Israel. The Zoharstates: “In the future, the children of Ishmael, whose circumcision is empty and incomplete, will rule over the Land of Israel when it is desolate and uninhabited. And they will hinder the Jews’ return to Israel until Ishmael’s merit runs out and the Jews will return” (ParshatVa’era 32a).

A story is told regarding the acquisition of the first tracts of land upon which the modern city of Netanya was founded. The Jewish pioneers approached an Arab landowner proposing to buy his stretch of barren, undeveloped coastal sand dunes. The Arab replied, “G-d forbid I should sell you what is rightfully yours by the word of G-d. I do not own this land, but rather my father and my father’s fathers were merely custodians over it during your absence. I am entitled to compensation for keeping the land, but I cannot sell you what is already yours.”

free choice
FREE CHOICE

An amazing facet of the connection between the covenant and the Land was foreseen long ago by the great Chasidic master and scholar Rabbi Chaim of Sanz and is unfolding before our very eyes today. Noting the teaching of the Zohar quoted above, a certain scholar asked the Rebbe, “Even if the covenant of Ishmael is superficial and secondary to that of Isaac, nevertheless Ishmael was circumcised of his own volition at the age of thirteen, while Isaac and his progeny are circumcised as infants with no element of conscious self-sacrifice on their part.” The Rebbe replied, “This portends that in the future, when the Jewish People will return to the Land of Israel, there will be Jewish adults who, not circumcised as children, will bravely and proudly enter the covenant of their own free choice. It will be in the merit of these Jews that Ishmael’s connection to the Land finally will be severed.”

FOR US:

So, if an uncircumcised one watches over the righteousnesses of the Torah, shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned as circumcision? (Romans 2:26)

AS IT IS NOW FROM THE HEART