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Today’s Parsha #5: Chayei Sarah (Life of Sarah)

STUDY QUESTIONS FROM LAST WEEK’S PORTION (Vayera)

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Why does Abba YHWH seem to need to “go down” and look upon Sodom when He already can perfectly see and understand what is going on there from His position in heaven?

Because Abba YHWH ultimately will require two or more witnesses in the Torah to condemn people to death (Deuteronomy 19:15), so the two angels perform that function, but Abba YHWH initially goes down with them as the third “angel” which counsels Abraham.

If the two angels disagreed with Him, they could have in theory prevented Sodom’s destruction. However, the other functionality of this process is to give the Sodomites more time to repent.

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There is one righteous element in the city of Sodom that has nothing to do with Lot or his family. What is it?

20 Then Yahweh said, 'The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grave, (Genesis 18:20 NJB)

If this is related to how Abel’s blood cried out from the ground in Genesis 4, it seems to indicate that Sodom’s victims, or their blood, have cried out against the city to Abba YHWH.

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If you know the answer to #2, where is this same righteous element repeated in yet another wicked city?

(Rev 18:21) And a Messenger took up a stone like a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying: "So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will no more be found: (Rev 18:22) and the voice of harpers and musicians and pipers and trumpeters will no more be heard in you; 65 and no artificer of any trade will be found any more in you. (Rev 18:23) And the light of a candle will not be seen in you; 66 and the voice of a bridegroom and bride will no more be heard in you: for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all nations were seduced by your sorceries. (Rev 18:24) And in her was found the blood of prophets and Set Apart believers, and of all those that have been slain on the earth."

Obviously here “Babylon” is Rome.

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How is one important future event predicted twice, first in last week’s parsha and second in this one?

The answer is Passover, because last week Abraham got the vision of it happening in Genesis 15 and in this parsha we have Lot performing a kind of miniature seder. It is Lot who serves unleavened bread and whose family is delivered out of a mass pestilence that kills the natives but preserves the obedient in Lot’s family. You might even refer to these Messengers as “angels of death” because that is ultimately what they deliver to Sodom.

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There is a man who is mentioned in this parsha who may have become more famous under another name. Who is he?

UTZ (22:21) = Some rabbis think this another name for Job, probably because the same word is used to name the place Job was from. This is Edomite territory in Saudi Arabia, where the prophet Job was from. Another possibility is that this is the person for whom Uz was named after, and Job then is born in this same land some time later.

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Meaning of this week’s Torah portion and summary of contents:

Chayei Sarah means “life of Sarah” but ironically it begins with her death! The full meaning actually is “the Life of Sarah WAS”. In the wake of her death, Abraham must find an appropriate place to bury his wife. Ephron the Hittite first offers some land to Abraham for free, but Abraham insists on paying (actually OVERPAYING according to the rabbis) and signing a contract for the land to avoid future strife. Chapter 24 then gives us the beautiful love story between Isaac and Rebecca. It becomes clear that while Isaac himself gets relatively little attention in Torah compared to his ancestors and descendants, he certainly did very well in the marriage departmentRebecca is in a way his inheritance and treasure. The portion ends with Abraham’s death and a reunion at his funeral with Isaac and Ishmael.

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Parsha (English-Genesis 23:1-25:18). This week we will read the entire portion.

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“Play by Play commentary” where appropriate.

Vayihyu chayey Sarah me'ah shanah ve'esrim shanah vesheva shanim shney chayey Sarah.

Vatamot Sarah beKiryat Arebah hi Chevron be'erets Kena'an vayavo Avraham lispod le-Sarah velivekotah.

Vayakom Avraham me'al peney meto vayedaber el-bney-Chet lemor.

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Point out key Hebrew words/terms. “Color Commentary”:

VAYIHYU CHAYEH SARAH MEAH SHANAH VE’ESRIM SHANAH VESHEVA SHANIM SHNEY CHAYEY SARAH (23:1) = And Sarah lived 127 years. These were the years of Sarah’s life.

Genesis 17:17 puts Sarah at 90 years old, 10 years younger than Abraham, at the time of Isaac’s birth. This means that 37 years had passed from the events in Genesis 17 until Sarah’s death (127-90 = 37). It is also 25 years into the 430 year prophecy Abraham had at age 75.

During this 37 year period (Abraham is from 100-137 years old), Isaac is born, Ishmael is driven away and Isaac is later nearly sacrificed on an altar by his father Abraham. With this information, we can figure out precisely the years these things happened.

One of the ways we do this is to pay close attention to the details. In Genesis 17:17 Abraham is 99 years old, and talking about that IF Sarah gets pregnant in the near future, he will be 100 and she will be 90 by the time Isaac is born. At that moment also Ishmael is 13 years old, and will be 14 years old at that same time as well.

Then the events of Abraham’s 99 th year (again Sarah is 89, Ishmael is 13) are carried over through Genesis 18, 19 and 20. It is in the opening of Genesis 21 that Sarah becomes pregnant…so in order for Isaac to be born at the start of the following year according to Abba YHWH’s prediction, no more than 3 months could have passed for these events, to which we add of course 9 months for Sarah’s pregnancy.

But Genesis 21 has time move much more quickly than the previous three chapters. After Isaac is circumcised we get this key Hebrew phrase, “and the child grew” which always indicates a period of some years. In this case, it is referring to the 5 years from circumcision to weaning the child.

On the day of Isaac’s weaning, Abraham holds a great feast that never happens again in any part of the Scripture. Why is this weaning feast unique? I believe it is because Isaac’s weaning had to be tied to the 400/430 year prophecy Abraham got, and the 30 year difference is the difference between the 25 years from the vision to Isaac’s birth, plus the 5 more years to Isaac being weaned. This also dovetails with what we see later:

5 'If it be from five years even to twenty years old then your valuation for the male shall be twenty shekels and for the female ten shekels. 6 'But if they are from a month even up to five years old, then your valuation shall be five shekels of silver for the male, and for the female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver. (Leviticus 27:5-6 NAU)

These details of valuations are based on milestones in the child’s life. For a male, that first milestone is circumcision at 8 days old, but for both male and female children, the

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“official” milestone is after 30 days, and from there, after they turn 5 years old, the latter matching the time they were weaned.

Also note than in Genesis 21, Ishmael is only 14 when the chapter openstoo young to take a wife—but he is married by chapter’s end AFTER Isaac is weaned. 18-19 years old is about the right time for a young man to get married in this culture though women are married a bit younger than this on occasion. Proof of this assertion is in the fact that a recently married man is assumed to be of military age (20 years old) and that he is exempted for year due to his marriage from service that would otherwise be required of him at that time of his life (Deuteronomy 24:5). All these “small: details point to the only way the Scripture cannot be broken, harmonizing with weaning at age 5.

KIRYATH ARBA (23:2) = City of the Four. This was the original name for Hebron; see Joshua 14:15, Judges 1:10. Also see Joshua 15:54, 20:7. The name Kiryath Arba literally means 'City of the Four,' or 'City of Arba.' Some say that Arba was the father of a number of giants who lived there (Joshua 15:13, 21:11), and according to this, Arba was the greatest of the Anak-giants (Ibn Ezra here; Joshua 14:15, Rashi ad loc.). It also could have been called 'City of the Four' because four giants lived there, Sheshai, Achiman, Talmi, and their father (Rashi here; Numbers 13:22, Joshua 15:14, Judges 1:10. See Artscroll commentary).

Another very interesting tradition (Yerushalmi, Shabbath 16:1) states the “the greatest of the Anak” is in fact Abraham himself and links that identity through the reference in Joshua 14:15. This brings up two very interesting possibilities: 1) Either Abraham himself was a physical gianta fact that seems to never come up anywhere else in Scripture or tradition—or 2) “giant” is being used as a metaphor to talk about what a great guy Abraham is—i.e. “he had huge virtue/righteousness”.

If #2 is right, then perhaps it opens up the doors to other “giants” not being people of great size but rather people of great strength, either physically or morally. The same can be applied negatively to an evil person. Clearly though in other cases (Goliath) “giant” is meant literally and the actual measurements are given. Even then however, it remains possible that such true giants are so without being a different “giant-race” and without being true Nephilim because all by 8 people perished in the Flood.

BNEY CHET (23:3) = the sons of Heth. These are traditionally identified with the Hittite people. However, some secular historians think this is an anachronism in the text. This is because the Classic Hittite civilization, depending on which Biblical chronology one uses, often comes after Abraham’s time. In Rabbinic chronology, Abraham’s 100 th year of life would have coincided with 2,048 th year after Adam’s creation, or about 1713 BCE. (In my chronology this same moment happens 140 years earlier, in 1853 BCE.)

Depending on who you talk to the rabbinic chronology is either right at the beginning of or prior to the rise of the Classic Hittites.

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However, there was an earlier group of people who inhabited Hittite territory who were known as the HATTI, and their origins go back much earlier, to earlier than 2000 BCE. The man Abraham knows is called the “father of the Hittites” and may represent the time one group transitioned into the other group, or Heth could be from a long line of Hatti before the classic Hittite group arose. Either way the Scripture works with the wider historical record, even if some details from the latter are lacking.

MACPHELAH (23:8) = Double cave, because it has two chambers.

Commentary on 23:15 from Bible.ort.org:

A shekel was a unit of weight, equal to 22.8 grams or 0.8 ounces. A silver shekel was

therefore a little smaller than a silver dollar, and worth around $1.00. Abraham therefore

paid 20 pounds of silver, or about $400 for the cave. Considering land values at the time, this was highly excessive. Thus, for example, King Omri paid only 6000 shekels for the entire territory of Samaria (1 Kings 16:25), and Jeremiah paid only 17 shekels for a property that was at least as large as Makhpelah Field (Jeremiah 32:9). For comparison, according to the Hammurabi Code of that time, a year's wage for a working man was between six and eight shekels.

SHMAENU ADONI NESI ELOHIM ATAH BETOCHENU (23:6) = Listen, my Master, since you are a prince of Elohim in our midst. This may indicate that these Hittites also worship, or at least are aware of, the power of Abraham’s Elohim. Haran, where Abraham had settled after leaving Ur, was in upper Mesopotamia and was on the road in the direction of the Hittite areas of Turkey. It is possible that Abraham’s faith influenced these people earlier to perhaps abandon their paganism. It is also worth noting that this same areaArmenia—is where Noah’s ark landed after the flood. So these people could also be remembering monotheism by their ancestors who lived during the time of Noah.

SH’AR IRO (23:10) = the city gate. Abraham is publicly negotiating with Ephron in front

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many people at the main gate. Ephron, as a Hittite, is originally from the northern part

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Mesopotamia which, as we talked about before, is also where I believe Abraham was

from, northern Ur, which is also fairly near Haran and main Hittite territory.

Interestingly enough, there is archaeology to back up this account in Genesis. Not only do the Mari Tablets record the names of Abraham’s family group migrating out of Ur along with others from the city of Mari, but the Nuzi Tablets accurately record many particular customs to the people from this region. One of these customs is to never do a land deal in private: You must negotiate at the city gate in front of witnesses, just like Abraham and Ephron! 23:16 also confirms this custom as Abraham “weighed out the shekels for the price that had been mentioned in front of the sons of Heth”.

L’EPHRON (lacking a VAV) 23:16 = TO EPHRON. Commentary from Stone, p. 109:

ןֹרפְ עֶלְ (To Ephron): Throughout this chapter, Ephron’s name is spelled with a VAV, but

here, where money changed hands and the sale was consummated, the VAV is omitted. Thereby Torah implies that his stature was diminishedhe started out by making

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grandiose offers of a gift but then revealed himself as a greedy man who extorted far more than the land was worth. King Omri in 1 Kings 16:25, paid 6,000 shekels for the entire area of Samaria and Jeremiah paid only 17 shekels for an area larger than Machpelah many centuries later (Jeremiah 32:9). Considering that these land deals were many centuries later, 400 shekels is extremely overpriced for that cave.

My commentary: On the other hand, it is possible that Ephron himself is referenced with being named after a particular mountain just 6 miles away from Jerusalem. If so, it would seem then that Ephron was worthy of remembrance by his own people perhaps, but the Torah, even if doing it with great subtlety, is clearly not his biggest fan.

VE’CHOL HA-ETZ (23:17) = and all the trees. According to Josephus, even two thousand years later, one of those trees was still standing in his day in the 1 st century CE:

Thus did Simon unexpectedly march into Idumea, without bloodshed, and made a sudden attack upon the city of Hebron, and took it; wherein he got possession of a great deal of prey, and plundered it of a vast quantity of fruit.

Now, the people of the country say that it is a more ancient city, not only than any in that country, but more than Memphis in Egypt [Memphis was established around 3100 BCEAGR], and accordingly its age is reckoned at two thousand and three hundred years.

They also relate that it had been the habitation of Abram, the progenitor of the Jews, after he had left Mesopotamia; and they say that his posterity descended from there into Egypt, whose monuments are to this very time showed in that small city; the material of the monuments are of the most excellent marble, and wrought after the most elegant manner.

There is also there showed, at the distance of three-quarters of a mile from the city, a very large turpentine tree and the report goes, that this tree has continued ever since the creation of the world. (Josephus, Wars 4:529-533)

EL AVDO ZEKAN (24:2) = The elder servant. This is probably Eliezar who would have inherited Abraham’s estate were it not for Isaac being born. It is interesting how often this servant prays and asks El for help during this chapter alone and Eliezar’s name means “El is my help”.

TACHAT YERECHI (24:2) = under my thigh. This is emblematic of a sacred oath, such as Jacob getting his thigh touched by Abba YHWH. TACHAT is not just “under” but means “under this authority” indicating a binding covenant vouchsafed by the thigh. Genesis 46:26 and Exodus 1:5 employ the idiom “thigh of my father” which links to being begat by one’s father. The thigh is therefore a symbol of reproduction for a male.

ARAM NAHARAYIM (24:10) = Aram of the rivers, because it is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

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NACHOR (24:10) = As in the city of Nachor, perhaps named after Abraham’s brother who lived in this area (Genesis 11:27,31).

LE’ET EREV LE’ET TSET HASHO’AVOT (24:11) = It was evening when the women come to draw water. This is a very helpful clue in understanding the time clues in the Gospel of John (4:6). In that case, the evening was the “6 th hour”, on what I call Roman daylight time. The Roman system ran on 2 12 hour cycles, one from midnight to noon and the other from noon to midnight. When Y’shua arrives at the Samaritan well after being exhausted from a day of walking, that was 6 hour from noon time that day. The Samaritan woman is drawing water from the well at that same time, when the temperatures were cooler.

NEZEM (24:22) = golden ring. The word also can denote a nose ring or an earring (Genesis 35:4). Matara (my Tanakh project) footnote: [1]Took a golden ring. Aramaic word here in Onkelos and Jonathan is qadasha, and this has often been confused for the word for “holy”. In the Aramaic Renewed Covenant, Y’shua uses this word in Matthew 7:6 to say “do not hang earrings on dogs” as opposed to the more awkward “do not give holy things to dogs” as is understood in the Greek. In that case, as commented on in the AENT, the idea makes sense that animals (dogs and pigs) should not be given precious jewelry that they cannot appreciate, the jewelry itself being symbolic of the truth. The word can also mean “amulet” or “ornament”.

BEKA (24:22) = half a shekel, the same amount for the Atonement Temple tax and that Y’shua paid in Matthew 17:24-27.

24:33-36: And there was set (Jonathan Targum and Samaritan Pentateuch: poisoned) food before him to eat. But he said, I will not eat, until I have told you of my errand. And he said, Speak on. And he said, I am Abraham's servant. Therefore YHWH has blessed my master greatly, and he is become great and has been given flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and maid-servants, and camels and donkeys.

ALAH (24:41) = dread oath. ALAH actually means both “oath” and “curse”. In this case, it means BOTH because if the OATH is broken a CURSE will result, hence the term “dread oath”. This form of oath is to be contrasted with the SHEVUA oath mentioned in Genesis 21:28. The SHEVUA oath is considered just as binding but it does not directly release a curse as ALAH dies if one fails to keep it. Still, it is considered a great sin to break any oath of any kind and a person who does this can be called into account on a related basis (e.g. lying before Abba YHWH or men).

LO NUCHAL DABER ELEYCHA RA O TOV (24:50) = [1]With the phrase “bad or good” the Rabbis posit also that Laban recognizes Abba YHWH’s great power in selecting his sister for Isaac, so even though Laban doesn’t worship YHWH, he does fear Him enough to not stand in His way. [Stone Chumash, p. 117]

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TESHEV HA’NA’ARAH ITANU O ASOR (24:55) = let the girl remain [some] days [perhaps] ten. This is very archaic Hebrew here, as there is no descriptor for exactly how many days Rebecca’s mother is asking for. Some authorities even take the phrase to mean “let her stay a year and ten months”—which I feel totally is unwarranted given the context. Instead, I believe the archaic form of the Hebrew in simply implying “a few, several”—meaning less than ten daysand then the mother ups the proverbial ante by increasing the request to ten days. Hence it seems most probable that the first request is asking for a few days only.

VAYASHALECHU ET RIVKA ACHOTAM (24:59) = and sent away Rivka and her servant. This servant was probably her nurse Deborah (Genesis 35:8).

VEYITZKHAK BA MIBO BE’ER LAHAY ROI (24:62) = and Isaac was on his way coming to Beer Laharoi. Some rabbis think this was to visit Hagar. Footnote from Matara: [1]Jonathan Targum: “And Isaac came from the school of Rabba Shem, by the fountain where the Living and Eternal One had been revealed to him, who sees and is not seen, and he lived in the land of the South.” Jerusalem Targum is identical except for substituting with “where had been revealed to him the Shekinah of YHWH.”

KETURAH (25:1) = [1] Jonathan: “who is Hagar who has been bound.” Keturah is a name derived from keter (to be bound) which the Targumist is interpreting as a title rather than a name for Hagar. Since Hagar was a servant before, this makes perfect sense. Also KETER can mean “crown”. I however maintain that Hagar and Keturah are two different women. This is, in all likelihood, a rabbinic attempt to lessen the gravity of Abraham’s sin with Hagar by “marrying her” after Sarah died. However, the text at the time of the event makes it clear Abraham “took her to wife” the first time.

MEDAN (25:2) = Medan. Some identify this falsely as being linked to the Medean Persians, or modern day Iran. However, all the locations given in this part of the Torah are located in Saudi Arabia. In this case, MEDAN is most likely MEDINA today, the second most important city in Islam.

SHUACH (25:2) = Shuach. The place name SHUACH is also identified with Saudi Arabia and with Bildad, a friend of Job who was from that same place. There is an ancient western Arabian city called SACHIAH in Ptolemy’s Geography that many scholars believe is the biblical SHUACH.

On the other hand, it is by no means certain that Job himself is from Saudi Arabia, as he seems in other scriptures to be tied strongly to Edomite territory south of the Dead Sea.

EL ERETZ QEDEM (25:6) = country to the east. Probably Saudi Arabia, confirmed by Josephus (Antiquities 1.15.1). On the other hand “Arabia” according to almost all ancient geographers, can include the Sinai Peninsula and not just Saudi Arabia proper.

VAYEH’ASEF EL-AMAV (25:8) = and he was gathered to his people. Not just buried but an idiom that he will be immortalized as righteous among his people. The righteous

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get to be remembered as a group and this is reflected in several ancient prayers, especially memorial/mourning prayers where deceased men and women are linked with righteous men and women from the past.

BEER LACHAI ROI (25:11) = The same place Hagar had passed by earlier (Genesis 16:14) is also likely where she and Ishmael settled later, according to tradition. Therefore it seems Isaac had settled in this region perhaps to be near Hagar and his half-brother.

Torah Question of the Week:

How does Genesis 24:15-16 help prove the rabbis wrong and (to some extent) the Christians right about Yeshayahu 7:14?

END PART 1

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PART 2: THE HAFTORAH

Torah Question of the Week:

How does Genesis 24:15-16 help prove the rabbis wrong and (to some extent) the Christians right about Yeshayahu 7:14?

NAARA…BEYTULA (24:15-16) = maiden…virgin. This usage brings us squarely into the debate about a virgin birth in in Isaiah 7:14. The rabbis there use a word for “maiden” as if to suggest she was not a virgin being prophesied to give birth to a son who is Messiah. Christians counter that there is nothing miraculous about a young woman conceiving and giving birth to a son with a common Hebrew name, making the “maiden” meaning less likely in their eyes which a virgin birth is a miraculous sign. This verse shows that the cultural assumption is that a “maiden” is in fact a “virgin”—especially when unmarriedunless the text specifically says otherwise.

Bonus Teaching 1! The Sweet 16 “Golden Statements” of the Hebrew Roots Faith

Explanation: Some years ago I was talking with a friend about how he was on a radio show that asked him tough theological questions. He told me was “proud” of the fact that he could answer a question on Godhead or as we say “Yah-head”—they called it Trinity—“in under ten minutes”. I turned and looked at my friend and said, “Under ten minutes? Why not under ten seconds?” He looked at me like I was crazy and basically dared me to do just that. It was then that I uttered this phrase for the first time: “One tree, three branches of the same tree (Father, Son, Ruach ha Kodesh), not three separate trees. If you have more than one divine tree, you have an idola-tree!” I looked up and said, “How’s that?” My friend had timed me and said, “You still had 4 seconds to go—you should have done the radio show Andrew!”

So that quick phrase became what I called my first “Golden Statement”, or a quick but deep distillation of critical Scriptural principles. Over the years since then, I found many more such “Golden Statements” and wanted to arrange them here about what we try to do in this faith walk. Here they are:

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The Torah is not Jewish instruction or Jewish tradition. It is Father Yah’s

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instructions for all mankind, or all humanity would not have been judged in the flood and Jonah would never have gone to Nineveh. There were no Hebrews before Abraham, no Israelites before Jacob and no Jews

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before Judah. Therefore, 19 generations of humans were simply the elect of Elohim, following His Torah. Abraham was born a Gentile but became a Hebrew. To be “Hebrew” means to cross over from ignorance to obedience. Abraham crossed over both physicallyhe keeps moving placesand spiritually. He is the first born Gentile to literally “Come out of Babylon” and cross over into Torah observance. That is why he

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keeps coming up in the NT, and you can’t use the example of a man who got circumcised at 99 years of age as proof that circumcision is no longer required. We have always been under grace and never under the law. Ritual never saved

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anyone since the Torah is not a magic spell. But following His instructions brings obedience and obedience brings salvation and blessings. If it’s in the Bible, it cannot be discounted as Jewish tradition. If it’s not in the

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Bible it cannot be accepted as Christian tradition on par with Scripture. If Father Yah didn’t spare the natural branches, He won’t spare the ones grafted in either. I don’t follow a single “Jewish feast” in Tanakh. I follow the eternally mandated

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Feasts of YHWH. They are His feasts, not for the Jews alone, as a mixed multitude came out of Egypt and Abraham’s generations bless the world. The Church never replaced Israel but merely became part of the Israel of Elohim

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through following Father Yah’s Mashiyach Y’shua. Physical Israel also has the opportunity to become part of the Israel of Elohim by following Messiah’s model of Torah observance. But in both cases remember: Father Yah is no respecter of persons. Grace is all about what Father Yah can do for you. Righteousness is what you will

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do for Him in return. Holiness is what is imparted to you after you accept His generous offer. Y’shua never came to do away with Torah, but to (in part) remove the

impediments of man-made tradition (Oral Torah) so they could return to doing the Written Torah of Moshe that is perfect, converting the soul. 10) Matthew 5:17-19 was never about losing atonement but about gaining rank in the Kingdom of Elohim. But those who break the least of the Commandments get in the Kingdom but are least in the Kingdom. 11) The problem with Matthew 5:19 wasn’t that the standard of righteousness of the Pharisees was too high but that it was too low, for Y’shua said, “Moshe gave you the Torah but not one man among you keeps it” (John 7:19). That is why if we can’t even meet that low standard we will surely not get into the Kingdom. 12) I will never force anyone to do Torah, but I will proclaim from the rooftops the wonderful news that you get to do Torah. You are allowed the high honor and privilege of doing Father Yah’s will through the eternal written revelation He left us and His Son literally died to have us keep! 13) Y’shua never nailed the Torah to the cross, but only the certificate of our debts and sins (Ephesians 2:15-16). This is the second witness, written in heaven that could condemn us per Deuteronomy 19:15 but will not condemn us now because Y’shua took the penalty out of the way. 14) If you go 20 miles an hour over the speed limit and don’t get a ticket it doesn’t mean there wasn’t a law against speeding on the books. Law remains but sometimes punishment is lessened, deferred or totally forgiven. 15) Grace is when you are guilty of a crime but punishment is not meted out against you. License is when what was wrong then is somehow not wrong now. Since Father Yah never changes His mind, it is best not to confuse one for the other. Grace is amazing, but the Torah remains as long as heaven and earth are still here.

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16) If you have recently come out of the church or are in the church and what I say makes sense but you wonder how to do it all—wonderful! That’s what I am here for. Each of us gets teachers that fit with our needs.

Bonus Teaching 2!

Isaac and Ishmael: The Summit that Failed

Isaac is a patriarch that I personally find fascinating. As we will see next week, I call Isaac the “Quiet Patriarch” because relatively speaking, when compared with Abraham and Jacob, there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on. But I also think, again anticipating our discussion next week, that said quietness is by design and evidence of a righteous heart and deliberate planning from a brilliant mind that thinks things through in the long term. Isaac is, in his own way, an unheralded genius.

Right now though what I would like to focus on is Isaac the behind-the-scenes leader. He doesn’t need a lot, but he surely earns what he has. Take his wife Rebecca—his ONE wife Rebeccawho is more than enough for him. He loves her from the moment he lays eyes on her to the moment she dies. This is his soul mateperiod and end of story. How many of us can say that?

But Isaac also is clearly different than his father Abraham. Whereas Abraham regretfully sent Ishmael away and seems to have moved on from that point with little consideration for that part of the family afterwards, Isaac stands apart as a man and leader who wants to check in on his step-mom and half-brother. The text is also as seemingly “quiet” about the low key way it mentions these facts. Isaac “settles in Gerar” or he “lives in Beer ha Laroi” but never “Isaac was checking in on the abandoned part of his family in the regions of Gerar and Beer ha Laroi”. Maybe that’s because Isaac wanted it that way perhaps.

Isaac is in fact so subtle that we have determine his deeds not from the direct references of them, but the effect those deeds had on other events in Genesis. Again, the Torah doesn’t trumpet this, but maybe it should. Isaac could have settled anywhere…but chose this particular region because he had a long-term agendaone of reconcilement I believeand this was step 1 in carrying that agenda out.

One need only look at Ishmael to see the effects of Isaac’s planning. After all, the Torah is quite vocal about Ishmael being a “wild ass of a man” who “fights with his brothers” but for whatever reason, it never says he fought specifically with Isaac! Isn’t that interesting?

But then, Ishmael becomes an archer and marries a pagan Egyptian woman, which would further separate him from his Abrahamic ties and put him more in the direction of his mother’s ancestry. Isaac, for his part, could have written Ishmael off for that very reason…but he didn’t. Instead, he seems to have just set up his tents next door to Hagar and Ishmael and waited.

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It is, if I am reading between the lines correctly, a brilliant strategy. Isaac probably knows that Hagar and Ishmael have ongoing resentments against his parents, Abraham and Sarah. Rather than try to “go around” his parent’s wishes however, Isaac simply waits for them to die and then he conveniently makes himself available for his estranged relations to see if they will contact him.

When Abraham then at last dies at age 175and this is 33 years after his mother Sarah diednext thing we know this happens:

7 These are all the years of Abraham's life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. 9 Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, 10 the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife. 11 It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi. (Genesis 25:7-11 NAU)

So after Isaac gets his brother Ishmael to help him bury their father, Isaac is “blessed” by Abba YHWH and (coincidentally?) the first thing Isaac does is relocate to where Ishmael is. In this light, the intent seems clear: Isaac had just re-connected with his brother after many years and he wants to be accessible to him moving forward. Good move for Isaac!

But, as good as Isaac’s intentions were, we also know that he failed, but not for lack of trying on his part. Ishmael, for whatever reason, did not reciprocate the olive branch given to him by his brother.

Now some of you out there may say “Of course, for such was prophesied” but that sort of misses the point. It may have been predicted, but Isaac still acted as if there was a chance to change history for the better. He didn’t throw up his hands in disgust, nor does he appear to have expressed frustration when his efforts ultimately proved fruitless. For Isaac, I believe, it was enough that he made the effort and did his best. It’s a powerful lesson, but also a very quiet one.

1)

Haftorah portion: (English- 1 Kings 1:1-31) and discuss common themes with the Torah portion. Read entire portion first.

Vehamelech David zaken ba bayamim vayechasuhu babegadim velo yicham lo.

Vayomeru lo avadav yevakshu l'adoni hamelech na'arah vetulah ve'amdah lifney hamelech utehi-lo sochenet veshachvah vecheykecha vecham l'adoni hamelech.

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2)

Vayevakshu na'arah yafah bechol gevul Yisra'el vayimtse'u et- Avishag haShunamit vayavi'u otah lamelech.

Our linguistic commentary

NAARAH…BEYTULA (1:2) = maiden…virgin. The same linkage we discussed with respect to Rebecca as both almah and virgin applies here.

ABISHAG (1:3) = The woman who comforts David has a name that means “My father is a wanderer”. Perhaps this may refer to latter years of David’s life where he feels isolated because of the sin he committed against Uriah the Hittite. BTW “Uriah” means “My light is Yahweh”—not a good choice for David to kill!

VEHAMALECH LO YEDA’AH (1:4) = but the king did not know (have sexual relations) with her.

VADONYA VEN CHAGIT (1:5) = and Adonijah son of Chagit. The names come together to mean “My Master is Yah (who is) joyous”. Chagit is where we get “chag” (feast/festival).

YOAB…AVYATHAR (1:7) = Joab…Abiathar. The names mean together “Yah is Father (Joab) the Father is a Great One (Abiathar)”!

ZADOK…BENAIAH…YEHOIDA (1:8) = These names spell out: Righteousness (Zadok) Yahweh has built up (Benaiah) [and] Yahweh knows (Yehoida)”!

EVEN HA ZOCHELET (1:9) = The stone of Saturn! I was surprised too…here is

what Brown Driver Briggs said: 2594 תלֶחֹזֶֶ֫

[2595] (Hebrew) (page 267) (Strong 2120) †

תלֶחֹזֶֶ֫

n.f. mng. dub.; perh. crawling thing, serpent (We:Skizzen iii. 171 cites Ar. Zuhéal =

Saturn, in connex. with 1 K 1:9; cf. Lane & Wetzst in De:Hiob 2, 428 on view that Zuh éal = he

who withdraws, because of planet Saturn's remoteness)only c. art., in design. loc. ןבֶאֶ

3)

םעִ תלָחֹזֶ הַ 1 K 1:9 (cf. ןבֶאֶad fin.)

Renewed Covenant portion: (English). Matthew 8:19-22 and Luke 9:37-62 (all the way through with applicable footnotes.)

Matthew 8:22

100) George Lamsa suggested this could mean, "let the town bury their dead." In Jewish culture immediate family members observe a seven day bereavement called "shivah" (seven), right after the burial. This extends into a less intense duration called shloshim (thirty) where the mourner begins to return back into society. Additionally, there is a 12 month period (that includes shloshim) in which to return to one's regular routine. The 12 month period comes from an ancient Jewish custom

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where at the end of 12 months the bones are "gathered together" and placed into a stone vault along with those of ancestors (1Ki_13:31). Y'shua says, "leave the dead to bury their dead" because the importance of attendance is now diminished. This does not refer to burial or sitting shivah. Mashiyach is not asking his disciple to dishonor his father or mother by not allowing him to attend the burial. "Honor your "

father and mother

(Exo_20:12).

Luke 9:41

63) Or, "O tribe/family of mine!"

64) The root of this word, sebar, also means Hope/Good News. Y'shua's point, using this same word, is that until people know the Hope/Good News, he must "endure" seeing them suffer needlessly and in ignorance.

Luke 9:49

65) Khabouris has shaida whereas 1905 and other Peshitta manuscripts have dewa. This proves both words have interchangeable meanings in the same contextual place, that of "demon" or "unclean spirit." This reading in the ancient record affirms the literal rendering and denies the assertion by a few modern commentators like Lamsa that one of these terms could refer to insane humans not under demonic influence.

Luke 9:54

66) Y'shua's talmidim take their lead from Eliyahu who defied the priests of Baal by invoking and declaring the sovereign Name of YHWH; see 2Ki_1:9-16.

Luke 9:60

67) Some scholars postulate that "let the dead bury their dead" shouldn't be taken literally but is better understood as, "let me take care of my father until he dies." However, a key is in the next line where Y'shua responds: "but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of Elohim." Therefore Y'shua's statement "let the dead bury their dead", helps the man realize the supreme importance of the Kingdom. In the meantime the man would be proclaiming the Kingdom, and perhaps like some other "Sent Out ones" of Y'shua, even he may have been raising the dead! In the next chapter (Luk_10:2) Y'shua appointed 70 and sent them out "to all regions and cities that he was about to go." A second key is the urgency in which the man is making his request, with a promise to return and follow at a later date. Y'shua's disciples had just left a "village of the Samaritans" where they were getting ready to call down fire upon it. They just came from a major trial and were on the road to their next destination when they met the man and there was tension in the air. What might happen in the next village? In Luk_9:61 another said, "let me go and reassure my household and I will come." All these things happened in the context of returning "to Urishlim" (Luk_9:51), perhaps some were even pondering about trouble ahead with the

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religious establishment in Jerusalem? Perhaps some were simply thinking of creative ways to bypass what they imagined to be a looming disaster? The reality was that those who agreed and said "hineni" (here I am) and went out in Y'shua's name returned to him with "great joy" (Luk_10:17). (See also Mat_8:22 footnote.)

4)

Highlight common themes in Aramaic (terms in footnotes which I will read):

5)

Apply these themes/issues to modern issues in the Netzari faith. (The Gospel accounts of spiritual warfare may seem quaint to some moderns. Aramaicist George Lamsa, for example, typically translated Aramaic words that clearly meant “demons” or “devils” into “lunatics” because he didn’t literally believe in the existence of demons. That was one of the first reasons I was inspired to do the AENT. In any case, I am here to tell you that spiritual warfare is VERY REAL and it is not something that is simply folklore passed down from pre-scientific generations. It was something, for example, that was very evident in my trip to Israel, as the Enemy came against each and every one of our party to frustrate our goals. HaSatan nearly succeeded, but we fought back and got the victory anyway, Baruch Hashem YHWH!)

Bonus Teaching 3: It’s About Time

By “it’s about time” I mean of course about Biblical time. There are many possible levels of codes in Scripture. Some are linked to historical events, others to Hebrew linguistics, still others to math and even in some cases, to sounds and frequencies, colors and so on. But I believe another important area to investigate is the area of time.

When I completed my own Biblical chronology, I noticed something very intriguing that I believe is not accidental: From the year of Adam’s creation all the way to the death of Yochanan the last witness was exactly 4,000 years! That is to say, by my calculations Adam was created in 3901 BCE and Yochanan most likely died very close to 100 CE4,000 years exactly. And for me, 4,000 was an extremely important number, as it is the product of the two generational lengths given in Scripture: 40 (Numbers 32:13) x 100 (Genesis 15:13-16), both of which are expressed by the same exact Hebrew word of dor.

In my Scripture math studies, rather than taking a strict Hebrew letter/gematria approach, I look at the numbers themselves apart from Hebrew words, and see if these numbers adhere to a consistent pattern throughout the entirety of Scripture. If it does (7 for perfection/rest, 40 for restoration, etc.) then I think of these as exalted numbers, or numbers that are directly encoded/exalted by Abba YHWH to give us a pattern or message. It is also important to note I don’t attempt to use these patterns to foretell the future; their sole purpose is to confirm and deepen the messages in Scripture. (The Biblical seers like Daniel, Ezekiel and Yochanan bar Zawdee do have prophetic math that came from Abba YHWH, but that’s a different matter than for me to proclaim my own system.)

But since we already talked about counting from 1 to 10 in Scripture math last week or so, I am not revisiting that here. Instead, what I wanted to look at was how Scripture

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divides its historical-chronological time into ages, centuries and so on, because this to me yields other significant Scriptural messages, and again, that is all I use these patterns for.

For example, going with Adam’s creation year in 3901 BCE and counting time forward in Hebrew intervals, we find Joseph died in 1591 BCE, about 2,310 years later. If we then look at the times Scripture gives us for when Adam had Seth, we know that’s 130 years later, so Abel and Cain are born before this time simply by taking the text literally. 6As a result, counting a full century for Seth doesn’t throw things off much at all, as he is still 105 when he has Enosh. It’s also fair to point out that Noah doesn’t have any children until age 500, so this naming of centuries after the people is not literal in the sense that it is not meant to line up with births per se at all.

And so I think of the “23 centuries in Genesis” this way…

1)

Adam (3901-3801)

2)

Seth (3801-3701)

3)

Enosh (3701-3601)

4)

Kenan (3601-3501)

5)

Mahalalel (3501-3401)

6)

Jared (3401-3301)

7)

Enoch (3301-3201)

8)

Methusaleh (3201-3101)

9)

Lamech (3101-3001)

10) Noah (3001-2901) 11) Shem (2901-2801) 12) Arphacsad (2801-2701) 13) Shelah (2701-2601) 14) Eber (2601-2501) 15) Peleg (2501-2401) 16) Reu (2401-2301) 17) Serug (2301-2201) 18) Nahor (2201-2101) 19) Terah (2101-2001) 20) Abraham (2001-1901Abraham born 1952 BCE) 21) Isaac (1901-1801) 22) Jacob (1801-1701) 23) Joseph (1701-1601Joseph born exactly 1701 and dies 1591 BCE)

Notice how it “catches up” and gives us very good estimated times for Nahor on forwards. From here, we resume the count on the Levitical side, starting from Amram, Aaron and Moshe’s father. But because Moshe’s lie dies out within a few generations, we turn not to lineal descent, but those who took over the mantle of leadership of Israel from Moshe, starting with Joshua.

24) Amram/Bondage generation (1601-1501Moshe born 1527 BCE) 25) Moshe (1501-1401—Exodus 1447 BCE, Moshe’s death 1406 BCE)

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26) Joshua (1401-1301Joshua takes over 1406 and dies 1356 BCE) 27) Deborah (1301-1201Deborah is ruling 1308-1288 BCE) 28) Gideon (1201-1101Gideon actually ends his rule in 1201, began 1241 BCE) 29) Samuel (1101-1001Samuel is born very near 1100 BCE and is a priestly judge by 1076 BCE. He dies about 15 years into Saul’s reign, ca. 1036 BCE) 30) David/United Monarchy (1001-901David becomes king 1011 BCE, conquers Jerusalem 1003 BCE and dies 971 BCE. This generation includes 40 years of Solomon and 5 years of Rehoboam (926 BCE), before the kingdom splits, at which point the leadership falls to prophets.) 31) Eliyahu (901-801Eliyahu is persecuted by Ahab and Jezebel who ruled from 874 to 853 BCE and therefore he was alive in 901 BCE and is clearly the most important righteous person in this century.) 32) Amos (801-701the first prophet to write his own full book named after himself, Amos’ career is during the days of Uzziah, 792-739 BCE.) 33) Yeshayahu (701-601Isaiah is in the middle of his career in 701 BCE when he prays and gets restoration and victory for the ailing King Hezekiah, who sort of deserves a kind of “honorable mention” as co-righteous leader.) 34) Ezekiel (601-501—Ezekiel’s career begins 592 BCE, and it should also be noted that both Jeremiah and Daniel are also active around this same period.) 35) Ezra (501-401Ezra was in Babylon when the decree was issued to rebuild the Temple in 457 BCE, and this is also the start of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophetic clock, ending in 27 CE (69 x7 = 483 years) when Y’shua proclaims himself publicly as Messiah and dies a half week3 ½ years later.) 36) Malachi (401-301Malachi, the last Tanakh prophet, was most likely in active prophetic office around 430 BCE and is believed to have died shortly after 400 BCE.) 37) Shimon the Righteous I (301-201a great High Priest and Sanhedrin/Great Assembly leader, ca. 300-273 BCE. It may be under his rule, or shortly after his death, that the decision was made to ban the pronunciation of the Name of Yahweh. ) 38) Yehudah the Hammer/Maccabee (201-101Date of birth is uncertain, but certainly around 200 BCE. It was Judah Maccabee who successfully led a revolt against the Greek-Syrian army and freed the Temple from pagan pollution in around 165 BCE. He died in 160 BCE, but his family continued to rule as the last Jewish independent kings for about another century.) 39) King Alexander Yannai/Yonatan (101-01 BCEGreat Hasmonean king, whose original Hebrew name was probably Yonatan (Jonathan) but shortened to Yannai in Jewish tradition. King Alexander-Yonatan reigned from 103 to 76 BCE, the Talmud does not like him at all because of his famous support for the Sadducees at one Sukkot. The story goes that instead of doing the Pharisaic water libation on Shemini Etzeret (something Y’shua alludes to in Yochanan’s Gospel), he poured the water on the ground. This was taken to mean he distrusted the Pharisees, so when they gained ascendancy and defeated their rivals in 10 BCE, they painted Alexander as a bad guy, but the truth is King Alexander did more than any other Hasmonean to secure the borders of Israel by remaining in active combat his entire reign. It is also the case that while he may have leaned towards the Sadducees, his primary concerns as king were political and military, not religious.)

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40) Y’shua HaMashiyach (01 BCE-Infinity. Born Friday evening, Tishri 14/September

13 th , 5 BCE, our Savior represents both the last Biblical century which ends with his

disciple Yochanan Bar Zawdee dying in 100 CE as well as the eternality of the Kingdom of Yahweh, opening the path to our salvation and eternal life!)

So the entirety of Biblical history fits very neatly into these 40 centuries I have listed here, and remember, 40 is the number of restoration, so from Adam’s fall to Y’shua’s advent is the time when our restoration came for us!

However, there is a deeper message than that when we order this timing another way, this time based on milestones that are attached to important Biblical figures. Technically speaking, two great “ages” count outside of historical reckoning: Pre-Creation and Creation Week. Those eras I refer to as “Deep Time” and they are outside of the scope of this discussion.

Instead, historical time begins with Adam’s creation in 3901 BCE, and the Great Eras seem to naturally fall into place this way, at least in my mind:

1)

Early Adamic, from Adam’s creation to just before the Flood (3901-2245 BCE)

2)

Later Adamic, from the Flood to the birth of Abraham (2245-1952 BCE)

3)

Abrahamic, from Abraham’s birth of Moshe (1952-1527 BCE)

4)

Mosaic, from the birth of Moshe to the birth of David (1527-1041 BCE)

5) Davidic, from the birth of David to the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (1041-586 BCE) 6) Post Exilic, from the destruction of Solomon’s Temple to the birth of Y’shua HaMashiyach (586-5 BCE) 7) Messianic (5 BCE-Infinity, including Y’shua’s Second Coming and subsequent rule in the New Heavens and the New Earth!)

Please note this has nothing to do with the false teachings of Dispensationalismthere is no such thing as separating Ages of Law and GraceAbba YHWH has always had the obedient from Adam on forwards under grace while the Torah’s job was to establish the eternal boundaries of righteous and wicked behavior.

Having said that, I also believe the easy breakdown into 7 ages is no accident, since the Shabbat number is also the number for perfection and rest!

But what is of particular interest to me are these two overriding numbers of 40 and 7. Just as we saw that multiplying the two generational numbers of 40 and 100 yielded the exact number of years for the entire Biblical period, so too I believe multiplying 40 times 7 brings a significant mathematical message in three beautiful ways.

First, 40 (restoration) x 7 (perfection) speaks to the perfect restoration of the human race, or the turning back of the original sin of Adam to the redemption of Y’shua, the Second and Last Adam.

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And second, 40 x 7 = 280 days, which is the average time it takes for a woman to complete her pregnancy from conception to delivery. As a result, 40 weeks is the numerical symbol for new birth, and that new birth, as we just saw above, is also our perfect restoration!

Third and finally, 280 days is 28 x 10, with 10 being the number for witnessing (plagues, commandments, trials in the wilderness, and so on). But what is 10 witnessing to? I believe the answer is the 28 th Jubilee, with the Yovel cycle starting 92 years after Exodus, in 1356 BCE. Counting in 50 year increments from that moment means any BCE year ending in -56 or -06 is Abba YHWH’s intended Yovel, regardless as to whether man recognized it or not, and there is powerful evidence they did not. So let’s look at the list of the restored Jubilees!

1)

BCE Jubilees

1356, 2) 1306, 3) 1256, 4) 1206, 5) 1156, 6) 1106, 7) 1056, 8) 1006, 9) 956,

10) 906, 11) 856, 12) 806, 13) 756, 14) 706, 15) 656, 16) 606, 17) 556, 18) 506 19) 456, 20) 406, 21) 356, 22) 306, 23) 256, 24) 206, 25) 156, 26) 106, 27) 56 28) 6 BCEY’shua is born 1 year after the 28 th cycle completes, a new year 1, in 5 BCE!

If that isn’t the Torah and Gospel in the math, I don’t know what is! Think about it!

6)

Relate to all or part of an Appendix portion of AENT or footnotes from a portion (“Spiritual Armor”, p. 957-962).

STUDY QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED NEXT WEEK

1)

There is something very particular about Abraham’s personal life that he only shares with one other person (as far as I know) in Tanakh. What is that personal detail and who is the other person Abraham shares it with?

2)

If you know the answer to #1, how does this detail get developed in the teaching of the Apostle Paul?

3)

Why did Abraham insist on getting a wife for his son Isaac from his original country of Ur rather than the Promised Land of Canaan? Wouldn’t Abba YHWH want Abraham to put down roots in the land that was go to his descendants forever?

4)

Laban does something in this parsha that has very likely been condemned by his descendants for thousands of years since, right up until the present day. What is it?

5)

What does this Haftorah portion teach us about David and Bathsheba in their twilight years?

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Torah Thought for the Week:

What Today’s CEOs and Bankers Could Learn from Abraham

We usually think of Abraham as a great prophet, a man of Elohim and as a man of righteousnesssurely all these things are truebut Abraham the Entrepreneur? Abraham the CEO?

Yes actually. Abraham comes down to us as a very gifted leader. And, while the spiritual aspects of that leadership are critical to us, I think what often gets lost is how good a manager, employer and investor Abraham was. I want to do this in particular because this is the Torah portion Abraham dies and leaves the stage of history, so let’s TAKE STOCK (pun intended) of ALL the great attributes of this man, especially since I kind of “ragged” on him last week with his big mistake. So Abe (may I call you Abe?), here’s my way of making it up to you.

The first great attribute of a gifted financial leader is being proactive, or nipping small problems in the bud before they become massively costly. Abraham shows this gift over and over again. In Lech Lecha he corrects a dispute with Lot before it gets out of control. When word reaches him that Lot’s workers and his are clashing over land, Abraham humbles himself before his subordinate.

Specifically, Abraham in no way needs to give Lot an inch of land. Abraham is the absolute tribal authority and until Isaac is born not one scrap of Canaan has to pass from him.

Understanding all that, why does Abrahamnot only give land away to Lot for freebut even lets Lot choose the land he will take? Absolutely stunning! The answer is, of course, to avoid even greater (and more expensive) problems down the road. By giving Lot the choice, Lot takes ownership of his own territory and separates from Abraham, making it crystal clear to all parties who is in charge of what. So what could have turned into inter- tribal warfare is settled up front for a pretty small piece of real estate. Score 1 for Abraham!

Next great attribute: Knowing when to aggressively negotiate and when to stop. In Genesis 18, Abraham does the unthinkable: He bargains with YHWH. How Abraham does this is in itself a great case study in negotiation tactics, even if it is Yahweh Himself sitting at the other end of the proverbial table.

First Abraham does what we call in the sales trade (yes I was in sales) FAB or “Feature- Advantage-Benefit”. Here is what he says:

Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked,

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so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth 2 deal justly?" (Gen 18:23-25 NAU)

So the FEATURE is: There COULD be 50 righteous people in Sodom that can be spared by saving the whole city!

The ADVANTAGE is: You won’t slay the righteous with the wicked! Yay!

The BENEFIT is: All will know you deal justly and make a clear distinction between the righteous and the wicked.

RESULT: Abraham works YHWH down from sparing the city for 50 righteous all the way down to 10, INCLUDING Lot and his family.

Pretty effective pitch I’d say. In fact, it is so effective that Moshe will use a very similar argument to get YHWH not extinguish IsraelTWICE. But once Abraham gets YHWH down to 10, he knows he can’t go further than that. He knows that YHWH is determined already that Sodom is doomed and there is no point trying to remit the destruction of those who are deserving, so the negotiations end from a point of strength for both sides, and any business expert will tell you that’s the way to go. (I know because I have read just about every sales/negotiation book known to man. I had to, which is why I got out of sales!)

Okay, two down. Great attribute #3: Abraham looks ahead of the short term gain. Sometimes a windfall comes your way and you might be tempted to take it, but you shouldn’t, because the long term risk exceeds the short term gain. When Sarah dies and Abraham is of course grief stricken, he is still able to keep his head and make careful judgments on the gifts he receives.

Ephron the Hittite wants to give Abraham Macphelah for free. Perhaps this is because Ephron calls Abraham “a mighty prince among us” and it will be good PR to have Abraham’s family plot in his territory.

But what may be good for Ephron is not good for Abraham, because Abraham knows if he doesn’t PAY for the land AND sign a contract for it, Ephron’s descendants may dispute the claim. So they sign on the bottom line, as they SHOULD have.

Finally, even though many rabbis believe Abraham got gouged for the price of the cave, I still think in the end it was a small price for Abraham to pay out of his vast fortune to prevent costs from future litigation or even a land war. The sons of HethHeth-itesare actually the forbears of warrior people we call the Hittites. Considering what happens in later history, this is a good investment!

Another thing with respect to Ephron and Abimelech, great attribute #4: The first person who names the price LOSES. In particular with Abimelech, Abraham doesn’t set the

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price of praying for him. Rather, he lets Abimelech’s own fear dictate the price, and does very well as a result…more than making up for the cost of Machpelah.

And finally, Abraham practices humility when dealing with powerful people or those below him. As a result, he always impresses his negotiation counterparts with his wisdom and grace. Since they know they can trust Abraham they give him lots of cash when they need to. Translation: People by from whom they LIKE and people LIKE those they can TRUST.

Do today’s financial leaders, bankers and CEOs understand these things? I’m no economistmy Dad of blessed memory was the finance genius in the familybut I would say no. If the current stewards of our economy were really paying attention a few years back, none of these economic woes we are under would have happened. Abraham simply wouldn’t have stood for it.

I’m Andrew Gabriel Roth and that’s your Torah Thought for the Week!

Next week we will be exploring Toldot or Genesis 25:19-28:9. Our Haftorah portion will be Malachi 1:1-2:7 and our Renewed Covenant reading will be from Romans 9:6-16. Stay tuned!

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