Toldot

Toldot

History

Genesis 25:19-28:9
Malachi 1:1-2:7

“Generational Faith”


by Mark Huey

By the time Torah students arrive at the sixth parashah of Genesis, Toldot, it should be obvious the Holy One is determined to communicate the efficacy and blessing of knowing and following Him, and walking in His ways by faith, as modeled by Abraham. However, because the human tendency inherited in Adam (Romans 5:12) is to be independent of God, it has been the challenge of every generation to hopefully pass on, to each succeeding generation, a trust and belief in the One True God. With this goal in mind, one can understand why the Almighty chose Abraham to be ultimately regarded as the father of faith. In our prior reading it has already been noted that Abraham would exemplify faith in God, and then instruct his progeny to follow after Him as well:

“For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him” (Genesis 18:19).

As the Toldot portion commences, the emphasis has turned from describing the lives of Abraham and Sarah, to the succeeding generation which consists of Isaac and Rebekah, the couple chosen to continue the faith relationship with the Almighty Creator God:

“Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife” (Genesis 25:19-20).

Recall from Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18) last week, that after the death of Sarah, Abraham was very concerned about finding a suitable wife for the beloved Isaac. In order to assure that the faith he had in the Lord God was not jeopardized by allowing Isaac to marry one of the local, pagan Canaanite women, Abraham had commissioned Eliezar to journey to upper Mesopotamia to find a wife from his close relatives (Genesis 24). And so, Isaac was united in marriage to Rebekah, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, son of Nahor (Genesis 22:23). The critical marital and spiritual relationship between Isaac and Rebekah was established, so that the faith of Abraham would be transferred to the next generation. God’s promise to Abraham, regarding Isaac receiving His blessings, is confirmed in Toldot, when the Lord appeared to Isaac, who had to move to Gerar to contend with a regional famine:

“The LORD appeared to him [Isaac] and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws’” (Genesis 26:2-5).

We see here how God not only chose Abraham because He knew that Abraham would instruct the members of his household to obey and follow Him, (Genesis 18:19), but that Abraham himself followed the instruction given to him by God (Genesis 26:5). The example of a faith demonstrated by actions pleasing to the Holy One is why Abraham is known throughout Scripture as the father of faith (Romans 4:12). The key for any succeeding generation, since the time of Abraham, has been to pass on an example of faithful obedience to one’s children and grandchildren.

From the onset of our parashah this week, one is reminded of the critical principle for parents to help guide their children in the selection of spouses. Abraham had a great responsibility to pass on his faithful relationship with the Holy One to his son Isaac, who had already witnessed and participated in the act of worship at Mount Moriah, and had seen Abraham’s God provide a sacrificial ram (Genesis 22). Now that his mother Sarah was gone, Abraham wanted to be certain that Isaac would follow in his walk of faith with the Almighty One. By securing Rebekah as a wife from his relatives, who had some knowledge of the same God as he, Abraham was minimizing potential conflicts in beliefs that might arise as Isaac and Rebekah began to start their own family. This practice of choosing a wife with similar beliefs should be noted, because later on in this reading, one finds Isaac and Rebekah following the same pattern for Jacob.

Before addressing their similar decision, it is interesting to note that the ongoing influence of Abraham did not end when Isaac and Rebekah married. Abraham continued to live on, until he gave the bulk of his possessions to the beloved Isaac (Genesis 25:7). The larger family likely lived in close proximity, perhaps in the same encampment as was the custom in that era. For the start of Isaac and Rebekah’s marital union, Abraham was an influence on them, able to dispense the wisdom and knowledge he had received during his life pursuing God to his family.

Rebekah’s Pregnancy

For the first season of their marriage, Isaac and Rebekah did not have any children. The aging Abraham was likely aware of his lack of grandchildren, and could have wondered why Rebekah remained barren. Such a wait for children would have reminded Abraham of the excruciating delay for Sarah’s pregnancy with Isaac. But without going through, once again, all the trials that tested and honed Abraham’s faith—Isaac’s walk of faith was different, as is the case with every generation. Instead of having a miraculous birth at a time beyond normal child bearing ages like Abraham and Sarah had, we are simply told how Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, and she conceived. When it is recorded that Isaac prayed to the Lord and she conceived, such good news would have encouraged everyone around them:

“Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is so, why then am I this way?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.’ When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them” (Genesis 25:21-26).

In this part of Toldot, one finds that both Isaac and Rebekah had a maturing faith relationship with the Lord, as modeled by Abraham who preceded them. Both followed in the faithful footsteps of Abraham, as the Lord was sought for requests after twenty years of barrenness. First, Isaac prayed to the Lord regarding Rebekah, and she conceived—but the pregnancy was complicated. So, Rebekah inquired of the Lord about the struggle in her womb, and the Lord answered with much more than a reason for the discomfort. Specifically, Rebekah was told that she had twins who would eventually become two nations, and that in time, one nation would become stronger than the other. Most significantly, Rebekah was told how the older would serve the younger:

“Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

This must have been a somewhat confusing answer from the Lord to Rebekah, because ancient customs gave birthright privileges to the firstborn son. Rebekah had to be perplexed about the statement that the “older shall serve the younger,” because this was contrary to tradition. But, our Eternal God is not at all confined by any sort of human traditions, as demonstrated in the treatment of Ishmael and Isaac. Despite the fact that Ishmael was technically the firstborn son of Abraham with the handmaiden Hagar, the Lord had specifically told Abraham that Isaac was the son of promise and not Ishmael (Genesis 17:18-21). After Isaac was born, Abraham obeyed the Lord when he sent Ishmael away (Genesis 21:11-14).

Rebekah had certainly heard about the trials of Abraham and the blessings that were to be inherited by Isaac, from her different interactions with her husband, and likely also her father-in-law. To understand what the Lord had revealed to her about her twins, and most specifically the word that the “older shall serve the younger”, she must have thought that God was going to eventually bestow the blessings of Abraham upon the second born son, like He had done with Isaac. We discover that from her later actions, it appears that this specific word from the Lord about the struggling twins in her womb, profoundly influenced some of Rebekah’s future decisions. The text does not indicate whether Rebekah shared the response she received from the Lord with Isaac, or anyone else, although it could be reasonable to conclude that she did. After all, hearing a verbal response from the Lord was special and rare. The excitement of sharing such a word with others, would be tough to avoid.

The Birth of Esau and Jacob

Regardless of what was or was not shared by Rebekah with her relatives, a prophetic glimpse, of what was eventually to come between the two brothers, is found when the younger son Jacob exited the womb while holding the heel of his brother Esau. This caused his parents to name him Jacob or Ya’akov, meaning either “heel holder” or “supplanter”[1]:

“Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them” (Genesis 25:25-26).

This is an early peek at what was to take place later in the lives of Esau and Jacob, as the word to Rebekah was beginning to manifest itself through their birth delivery and naming process. In due time, it became evident over the formative years that these two youngsters were obviously different in their approaches to life. The older and stronger Esau was noted for his hunting skills, as he became a man of the field, regularly contributing to the bounty of game for the communal meals. On the other hand, the younger Jacob was considered a peaceful man, who spent most of his time in and around the tents rather than venturing out after game:

When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents” (Genesis 25:27).

After learning that Esau devoted his time to hunting and Jacob preferred spending time around the tents, there is a specific statement inserted in the text that indicates the affection preferences that Isaac and Rebekah had toward their two maturing sons:

“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28).

From this statement, coupled with what we see later when Isaac continued to have a voracious appetite for well-cooked game (Genesis 27:3-4), it is noted that Isaac loved Esau because “he had a taste for game.” Apparently, Isaac’s affinity to satisfy his palate was a lifelong part of his personality, but this does not diminish the faith that Isaac had in the Holy One. After all, Isaac had seen God provide a ram when Abraham was about to sacrifice him, and there is every indication that Isaac followed in the ways of the Lord as established by his father.

When Isaac’s love for Esau is contrasted with Rebekah’s love for Jacob, one wonders why this was the case, with such specific preferences given. Perhaps Isaac “loved” Esau because he was a strong and skillful hunter, able to provide game from the field. Was Isaac proud of Esau’s abilities? On the other hand, perhaps Rebekah was more inclined toward the seemingly weaker Jacob, because he tended to hang around the tents, engaging in conversations with others? In addition to watching her sons mature, Rebekah had to be influenced by the direct communication she had received during her pregnancy. There is little doubt that she was witnessing the fact that one would be stronger, but most critically the emphatic word that “the older shall serve the younger.” From the unique birth and naming of the twins, Rebekah was harboring in her heart what she had heard the Lord say about the destiny of these two sons. Eventually we will find that Rebekah was bound and determined to make sure that the younger son would receive the blessings of Abraham.

The Birthright

Did Esau and Jacob have an opportunity to get to know their grandfather Abraham, for at least part of their lives? Our Torah portion is silent on this matter, but it does seem possible that they interacted with their grandfather at least a few times. It is certainly not difficult to imagine that while Esau was out perfecting his hunting skills, his younger brother Jacob was sitting around the tents engaging in conversations with those in the household. Even if Abraham was deceased by this time, Jacob would have surely been able to interact with various servants and laborers who had been impressed by his grandfather. This would all have given Jacob the impression that his grandfather Abraham was a man blessed by the Creator, who was then able to bless his father Isaac (cf. Genesis 25:5-6).

One of the defining moments of this parashah is seen when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, for a bowl of lentil soup. A reader can conclude that while Esau devoted his time to mastering his hunting skills in order to please his father Isaac’s taste for game, Jacob spent his time in the tents with his mother Rebekah. As this transpired, to what extent was the word she received, “the older shall serve the younger,” steadily taking shape? Which of the two sons was more involved in the affairs of the family?

Having listened to the call and blessings that were bestowed upon Abraham, and then inherited by Isaac rather than going to the firstborn Ishmael, might have struck a chord with Rebekah. After all, she was a godly woman married to a faithful man, and she was definitely concerned about the generational blessings. Perhaps her noted love for Jacob (Genesis 25:28b) continued to blossom, because early on in his life, she was the first to recognize that the blessings of Abraham and Isaac would be bestowed upon the more spiritual leaning Jacob, and not the fleshly Esau. It is conceivable that because of all his time spent in tents, Jacob had some kind of inclination for the blessings of God that had been bestowed upon Abraham and then Isaac. This would naturally lead to a desire for the birthright blessing of the firstborn as he matured into a young man.

While the timing of the encounter for the trade for the birthright is not noted, Jacob had to have been primed by his understanding of the importance of the birthright, to take advantage of Esau when an opportunity presented itself—or this trade would never have even been contemplated by Jacob, and certainly never consummated:

“When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’ And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me’; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:29-34).

What is recorded here is a back and forth negotiation between Esau and Jacob, for the birthright privileges. Obviously, Esau was a man more inclined to the carnal nature, as the interchange ended with a resounding statement that Esau despised his birthright. Esau had not spent the time he should have in the tents, being better informed about the blessings that were bestowed upon his family by the Almighty One. But Jacob was certainly aware of the blessings, and it is obvious by his actions that he desired to be the birthright heir to the blessings. Hence, when Esau was famished from his hunting expedition, Jacob cleverly took advantage of his hungered state to offer a bowl of lentil soup for his birthright. Esau overreacted by stating that he was going to die, totally disregarding his birthright, by trading it in for some “red stuff.” Jacob was clever to get Esau to verbally swear his birthright over to him, as payment for the soup. Clearly, Jacob valued the birthright, and from God’s perspective, it appears that the transaction was considered valid, because years later, even Esau admitted the validity of the trade (Genesis 27:36).

While we are not specifically told at exactly what age the birthright was transferred to Jacob, it was before a famine that forced Isaac and Rebekah to move their family, entourage, and livestock to Gerar. What we are specifically told is that Esau despised his birthright, and did not regard the birthright of the firstborn as something of great value to him. Esau was confident that his father Isaac loved him because Isaac had an appetite for the tasty game that he hunted. This preview into the personality of Isaac, reveals that for his lifetime, he certainly had an inclination to satisfy his palate. When he thought that his final days had arrived, he called Esau to hunt one final meal for him:

“Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, ‘My son.’ And he said to him, ‘Here I am.’ Isaac said, ‘Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die’” (Genesis 27:1-4).

What would happen, as a result of Esau going out to hunt game for his aging father—would have significant reverberating effects throughout history. Jacob, at the insistence of his mother, would make his move to formally receive the family birthright.

The Blessing of Isaac

The disappointment of Esau’s marriages to two Hittite women (Genesis 27:34-35) must have impacted Isaac and Rebekah, because they had to be reminded of the great lengths that Abraham had taken to bring them together. Isaac did not know that he would continue to live after the encounter which is witnessed (Genesis 35:28), but as this transpired and he steadily became blind, Isaac did want to get his affairs in order by blessing his firstborn son Esau.

When reviewing the scene of Genesis 27, we can wonder whether or not Isaac was thinking clearly. Extending his blessings to Esau, would include passing along the blessings that Isaac had received from Abraham—yet Isaac and Rebekah were already concerned about the choices Esau had made with his two wives from the Hittites. This would have surely presented challenges, in terms of passing along the faith of Abraham to their descendants. Isaac certainly recognized that Esau was far more interested in hunting for game. How serious would Esau be in managing the affairs of the house, as his brother Jacob did associate himself in tents?

As Rebekah was listening to Isaac’s request, she realized that if there was ever a time to intervene, this was the time. Rebekah was aware of the great lengths that Abraham had taken after the death of Sarah to make sure that his beloved Isaac found a suitable wife, from some relatives with whom they shared something in common. She had to have remembered that she had sufficient faith in the Lord to leave the comfortable confines of her family, and venture forth to Canaan to become the wife of Isaac. Additionally, she had heard the voice of the Lord speak to her when she inquired about the difficulty of her pregnancy. By this time in her life, with Isaac having watched Esau and Jacob grow up, she knew that Esau was definitely the stronger of the two sons. But most assuredly, she recalled that ultimately, according to the word of the Lord, the “older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Without any apparent hesitation, she chose to boldly redirect the blessings of Isaac from Esau to Jacob, the son she believed whom the Lord God intended to bless with the extended blessings of Abraham:

“Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, “Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.” Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.’ Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, ‘Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.’ But his mother said to him, ‘Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.’ So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob. Then he came to his father and said, ‘My father.’ And he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me’” (Genesis 27:5-19).

While Rebekah might have known from the Divine word she received when the twins were in her womb, and known that the birthright had been secured by Jacob years later—there was still considerable deception involved in getting the aged and near blind Isaac, to bestow his blessings on whom Isaac thought was his oldest son Esau. But for whatever reasons, Rebekah justified her desire to have Isaac bless Jacob. Rebekah was so sure of her plan, that she was willing to receive any of Isaac’s curses if the scheme were discovered by her husband and turned into a rebuke. Was Rebekah’s faith in the Lord and what He had spoken to her years earlier being tested? Not only was she manipulating the interaction with Isaac and Jacob, but she was also placing Jacob in a position where he could be cursed rather than be blessed. Additionally, this scheme required Jacob to deceive his father Isaac multiple times, by first declaring that he was Esau, then by stating that God had accelerated the capture of the game for the meal and finally, when asked a second time whether he was indeed Esau, we see that Jacob lied again:

“Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?’ And he said, ‘Because the LORD your God caused it to happen to me.’ Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.’ So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, ‘The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. And he said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ And he said, ‘I am.’ So he said, ‘Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that I may bless you.’ And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Please come close and kiss me, my son.’ So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, ‘See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed; now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine; may peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you’” (Genesis 27:20-29).

The level of deception to receive the blessing of Isaac was risky, because Jacob could have been issued a curse rather than a blessing. Isaac did know that he was a recipient of the blessings of Abraham (Genesis 26:3-5), but it was his own responsibility to make sure that the blessings given to him were passed on to the appropriate son. It appears that Isaac desired to pass on the blessings to his firstborn Esau, something that the Lord did not want to happen. And we know how Rebekah had received a word from the Lord that the older would serve the younger, and based on her observations of her twin sons, she was bound and determined to make sure that Jacob received the blessing of Isaac and not Esau.

The episode of Isaac blessing Jacob is always a difficult episode for us to contemplate, because we always wonder why Rebekah and Jacob had to resort to deception to get Isaac to bless Jacob. One might logically ask, “Where is the faith in Rebekah and Jacob to trust God, rather than manipulate Isaac?” Obviously, the Lord could have had the blessings come to Jacob in a different way, such as Esau dying and Jacob having to be blessed as the only surviving son—but it is instead seen how Isaac blessing Jacob is treated as legitimate. And surely, if God did not want Jacob to receive the blessings, He certainly could have had Isaac discover the deception, or later have had Isaac annul the blessings he issued when finding out that he had blessed Jacob instead of Esau. But since neither of these occurred, one has to conclude that this is the way the Lord ordained the transfer of the blessings.

Isaac bestowed a blessing on Jacob, which in essence affirmed the prophecy that “the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23), when saying, “May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you” (Genesis 27:29). Following this, Jacob departed and Esau entered the tent with the meal he had prepared from the game he had hunted. Isaac quickly discovered that he had been deceived by Jacob, and the news that he had blessed Jacob and not Esau shook him to the core of his being. In addition to this, we also see how Esau was quite perturbed that the blessing of the firstborn was now upon Jacob, as he emoted with bitter weeping. Esau truly wanted the blessing of Isaac, but since Isaac had already spoken the blessing over Jacob, it became irrevocable, and Isaac was unwilling to alter the blessing. Esau begged for a blessing, and so Isaac did bless him, but with the acknowledgment that the older would serve the younger:

“Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, ‘Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.’ Isaac his father said to him, ‘Who are you?’ And he said, ‘I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.’ Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, ‘Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.’ When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, even me also, O my father!’ And he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.’ Then he said, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.’ And he said, ‘Have you not reserved a blessing for me?’ But Isaac replied to Esau, ‘Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?’ Esau said to his father, ‘Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.’ So Esau lifted his voice and wept. Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, ‘Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, and away from the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and your brother you shall serve; but it shall come about when you become restless, that you will break his yoke from your neck’” (Genesis 27:30-40).

After reading these passages, one might wonder why Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau had to go through what must have been a traumatic ordeal as these blessings were being relayed. For myself, all I can say is that we each must recall how God knows the beginning from the end. He is sovereign and knows the heart intentions of people. God knew from before the birth of Esau and Jacob, that Esau was going to be a man of the flesh, and that Jacob was going to be much more compliant regarding His ways. It was going to take a while, and some unseemly deceptions were required to orchestrate the blessings of Isaac upon Jacob, but this was all a part of God’s plan. Confirmation is seen when Esau uttered threats that upon the death of Isaac, he was going to kill his brother Jacob (Genesis 27:41). This prompted Rebekah to suggest that Jacob go east to her brother Laban’s, to her original home (Genesis 27:42-46).

The marriage of Esau to two Hittite women greatly displeased Rebekah (Genesis 27:46). From her own life experience, she knew how critical it was to be wed to someone of common background. So the general pattern established by Abraham when he sent Eliezar to find a wife for Isaac from his relatives, began to repeat itself. Jacob compliantly obeyed the request of his father Isaac and mother Rebekah, and traveled back eastward, so that he would not be tempted to marry a wife from the local pagans. Once again, maintaining the generational faith of Abraham was most important to Rebekah, and now Isaac—as he understood that God had ordained Jacob to receive the blessings of Abraham. By sending Jacob to where Rebekah’s brother Laban resided, Isaac and Rebekah were taking every measure they knew to insure that the faith of Abraham would be preserved for future generations:

“So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.’ Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau. Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take to himself a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he charged him, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,’ and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth” (Genesis 28:1-9).

As a final act of disrespect and defiance, Esau, knowing that it displeased his father Isaac and mother Rebekah, instead secured a wife from Ishmael.

Generational Faith

So what have we learned from Toldot? God is very concerned that faith in Him is transferred to future generations, even if the transference of such faith does not follow traditional norms and customs regarding birthrights. We have seen how a specific word from the Lord, given during a troubled pregnancy, can impact an entire family. Rebekah did demonstrate a faith in the Lord, and the belief that she heard from the Lord about her twin sons, prompted her to make decisions as she watched the children mature into older men. She was most concerned about the heritage of faith she had witnessed in Abraham, and in her husband Isaac, which was to be continued by the next generation. As a result, she took questionable actions to help Jacob secure the firstborn blessing from Isaac, regardless of the potential consequences. Then after the blessing of Isaac was transferred to Jacob, both Isaac and Rebekah agreed that Jacob was to find a suitable wife from their relatives. From all of this we can conclude that it is imperative that each generation take actions to assure that the faith of Abraham be instilled in their successors (Genesis 15:6; cf. Romans 4).

How do we intend to pass the promises of God onto our successors today, as Messianic Believers? We might look at some of the actions seen in Toldot with some skepticism, noting at them and wondering why God did not punish those who were fleshly-minded, or deceivers. This is where we have to remember that the Lord enacts His plan for His Creation using flawed, normal people. In many ways, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs had more flaws than some of us living in the Twenty-First Century. And at the same time, these same Biblical characters have fewer flaws than we do. The key with any generation that seeks after the Holy One is that we are to learn from those who have preceded us—so that we can each aim steadily closer to perfection and excellence. For those of us who recognize that the culmination of the Abrahamic promise has been manifested in the Messiah Yeshua, our ability to learn via the power of the Holy Spirit, should be greater than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Too frequently, though, those who have preceded us are shown to have more faith, in spite of some of their errors and misjudgments.


NOTES

[1] Cf. BDB, 784; J. Barton Payne, “ya‘ăqōb,” in R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 2:692.

Chayei Sarah

Chayei Sarah

Sarah’s Life

Genesis 23:1-25:18
1 Kings 1:1-31

“Abraham’s Distinctive Faith”


by Mark Huey

The recorded testimonies of the life of Abraham and Sarah come to a close in this week’s parashah, Chayei Sarah. Our reading begins with a description of the death and burial of the Matriarch Sarah, and closes later with the death and burial of the Patriarch Abraham. In the balance of our Torah portion, the actions of the faithful servant Eliezar are detailed, as he was commissioned by Abraham to find a suitable wife for his beloved son Isaac, from his relatives in Haran after Sarah passed away.

Isaac finding an appropriate wife is a major theme of our reading, yet it is given to us surrounded by descriptions of the life examples of Sarah and Abraham. So, before turning to the search for a wife for Isaac, it is important that we understand how Abraham and Sarah both had a unique faith in the Almighty God of Creation. They each knew that the Holy One had chosen them for a special mission in life. They were each bound and determined to perpetuate their relationship with God through their descendants. For modern-day followers of this same Almighty God, adhering to their examples of faith is crucial, for continuing the acknowledgment that this loving Heavenly Father is the only One any human being can turn to for direction, guidance, provision, and indeed salvation. The Prophet Isaiah declared how those seeking the Lord are to look to the example of Abraham and Sarah:

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him” (Isaiah 51:1-2).

We each must recall that the struggles, tests, and trials of Abraham and Sarah were designed by God to make them the preeminent examples of what it truly means for any person having lived since to walk by faith. God’s intimate personal interaction, with this revered couple, assured them that they were indeed called by Him for a very unique mission. Throughout their lives as they sojourned in hostile territories, they inevitably turned to the Lord God for direction and provision. And obviously, in the trials any of us face, so must we turn to the same Lord God.

One way to avoid a great deal of difficulty in life, which Margaret and I have taken from Chayei Sarah, and have tried to pass down to our own children, is the theme of avoiding becoming unequally yoked with others. The Lord desired this couple, Abraham and Sarah, to avoid entanglements with their contemporaries who worshipped other gods. They knew from the challenges they endured with Egypt’s Pharaoh, the king of Sodom, Abimelech, and the sons of Heth, that their belief in Him might be compromised if they succumbed to the ungodly religious influences and lifestyles they represented. Most importantly, they did not want their child Isaac to be susceptible to the pressures and wicked ways of a pagan Canaanite society, so it was essential that he marry someone with a wider degree of commonality, than from among the local population where they had relocated.

Purchasing a Proper Burial Site

Abraham and his entourage had settled in the Hebron area at the time of Sarah’s death. Our Torah portion goes into some detail regarding how Abraham did not want to be beholden to his neighbors. Rather than accepting, as a free gift, a proper burial site for his departed wife, Sarah, there was an elaborate back and forth negotiation between Abraham and Ephron. This culminated with Abraham purchasing the cave at Machpelah:

“Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, ‘I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.’ The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, ‘Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.’ So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. And he spoke with them, saying, ‘If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.’ Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying, ‘No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.’ And Abraham bowed before the people of the land. He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, ‘If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.’ Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, ‘My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.’ Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard. So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth” (Genesis 23:3-20).

Here recorded in Holy Scripture is a real estate contract, with the terms outlined and consummated, with a transfer of a fair payment of four hundred shekels of silver. This transaction perpetually validated Abraham’s purchase of the cave, and also exemplified the principle that people of faith should avoid the possibility of being beholden to those who might use what could be considered a kind of “generous gift” against them. This was a philosophy that Abraham had adhered to earlier, when confronted by the king of Sodom upon returning with Lot (Genesis 14:21-24), as well as the agreement made with Abimelech when they resolved the water problems for their livestock around Beersheba (Genesis 21:22-34).

Securing a Suitable Wife

With Sarah properly laid to rest at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven, the challenge of finding a suitable wife for the forty year old Isaac (Genesis 25:20) confronted Abraham. Living in the Hebron region among the Canaanites was difficult, because the Canaanites did not serve the Living God whom Abraham and Sarah revered and honored. However, Abraham had learned earlier when he lived in Beersheba, that his brother Nahor, who had remained in the upper Mesopotamian region, had some children with his wife Milcah:

“So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba. Now it came about after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, ‘Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor’” (Genesis 22:19-24).

The aged Abraham turned to his faithful servant, Eliezer of Damascus, who had most likely been with Abraham and Sarah since they had left Haran with some other servants, sixty-two years earlier (Genesis 12:5, 15:2). From the account that follows, it is apparent that Eliezer exhibited faith in the same God that Abraham worshipped. Abraham entrusted Eliezer with the charge to return to the upper Mesopotamia region, to find a wife for Isaac, from his relatives located there:

“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, ‘Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac’” (Genesis 24:1-4).

Despite having served Abraham and Sarah for a very long time, and having marveled over the blessings God had bestowed upon them, Eliezer was still concerned about this critical mission to find a wife for Isaac. While participating in the intimate Ancient Near Eastern ritual of making a covenant by placing a hand under the thigh, Eliezer received an admonition from Abraham, as Abraham reiterated the promises God had made to him regarding his son Isaac and their descendants. Abraham’s faith never waivered, because he inherently knew that God was with him and that Eliezer would succeed in his mission. Encouraged by Abraham’s faith, Eliezer swore that he would venture forth to find a wife for Isaac:

“The servant said to him, ‘Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?’ Then Abraham said to him, ‘Beware that you do not take my son back there! The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, “To your descendants I will give this land,” He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.’ So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter. Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor” (Genesis 24:5-10).

From this point forward in the narrative, the description of Eliezer’s mission unfolds. But, it is interesting to note that during the early stages of Eliezer’s search, he often deferentially referred to the Lord as Abraham’s God, despite the fact that it is apparent that Eliezer obviously had a belief in the same God as his master Abraham:

“He said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; now may it be that the girl to whom I say, “Please let down your jar so that I may drink,” and who answers, “Drink, and I will water your camels also”—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master” (Genesis 24:12-14).

Throughout the excursion, Eliezer displayed total dependence and faith upon the Lord to help him fulfill his mission. When he arrived at the spring used by the residents around Nahor, he implored the Lord to grant him success for the sake of his master Abraham. As a number of young girls arrived at the spring, Eliezer asked the Lord to have the girl destined to be Isaac’s wife respond favorably to his request for water. Providentially, the girl who responded was Nahor’s granddaughter Rebekah, who was closely related to his master Abraham:

“Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your jar.’ She said, ‘Drink, my lord’; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.’ So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the LORD had made his journey successful or not. When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?’ She said to him, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.’ Again she said to him, ‘We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.’ Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD. He said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers’” (Genesis 24:15-27).

Note that during this encounter around the spring, Eliezer silently observed the actions of Rebekah, and subsequently bestowed upon her some gold jewelry as he waited to find out some details about her family. Upon learning that she was the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor, he was elated because from the many years he had served Abraham and Sarah, he obviously knew that these were their relatives (Genesis 22:20-24). With such knowledge, Eliezer bowed low and worshipped the Lord. His mission to find a wife suitable for Isaac was off to a good start. However, he did not want to kidnap the young maiden, but instead, desired for her to willingly return with him to become the wife of Isaac.

Rebekah’s Relatives

When Abraham’s servant encountered Rebekah’s family, her cunning brother Laban is introduced. Laban had taken note of the gold jewelry given to his sister (Genesis 24:30), and so he went to the spring to ask Eliezer to come to their communal household to stay, and have his fellow travelers and camels watered and fed (Genesis 24:31). Despite the hospitality rendered by Rebekah’s relatives, Eliezer was on a mission for his master Abraham. Before he ate, Eliezer relayed the commission of Abraham, along with the progress that had been made at the spring with Rebekah to Laban and their father Bethuel (Genesis 24:34-48). After repeating the testimony, both Laban and Bethuel acknowledged that the matter was from the Lord, and that He had spoken, having indicated that this family worshipped the same God as Abraham and Eliezer. When Eliezer received this affirmation, coupled with the statement that Rebekah was to be the wife of Abraham’s son, he bestowed gifts upon both Laban and her mother:

“‘So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.’ Then Laban and Bethuel replied, ‘The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.’ When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the LORD. The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother” (Genesis 24:49-53).

At this point, Eliezer relaxed and spent the night, but his mission was not yet complete. He had the permission of Rebekah’s family, but there was an attempt to delay their return to Canaan. In the morning, Eliezer requested to leave with Rebekah, but her brother and mother asked that she stay for ten days before departing. Faithful Eliezer was relentless. He wanted to return immediately with the prospective wife for Isaac, so to comply with his wishes, her relatives asked if she wanted to go. The response was a resounding yes, so she was released with her nurse and a wonderful blessing for her and her future descendants:

“Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, ‘Send me away to my master.’ But her brother and her mother said, ‘Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.’ He said to them, ‘Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.’ And they said, ‘We will call the girl and consult her wishes.’ Then they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ And she said, ‘I will go.’ Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. They blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.’ Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed” (Genesis 24:54-61).

Rebekah Marries Isaac

Upon returning to the region where Abraham and Isaac were encamped, the mission to find a wife for Isaac came to a beautiful conclusion. Abraham’s desire to find a wife who knew and worshipped the same God he served, was completed. Our Torah portion conveys the union of Isaac and Rebekah, in terms that indicate their suitable match:

“Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev.  Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. She said to the servant, ‘Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?’ And the servant said, ‘He is my master.’ Then she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Genesis 24:62-67).

At one hundred and thirty-seven years of age, Abraham established a principle for his descendants, regarding how followers of the Creator God should approach entanglements with those who do not know or worship Him. Abraham was unwilling to be beholden to the residents of Heth, when it came to finding a gravesite for his beloved Sarah. But even more critical, he was making sure that any life partner for his beloved Isaac was from a family who knew the same God. Abraham, and even Sarah, knew the unique call that was upon Isaac, and that through him, all of the blessings promised to Abraham would be manifested. In order to assure a continuance of those blessings, Abraham was compelled to find a wife who was suitable for Isaac. By choosing faithful Eliezer as his trusted agent to accomplish his intention, Abraham confidently knew that God would honor His promises to Isaac.

Abraham’s Final Days

According to the balance of Chayei Sarah, Abraham lived for thirty eight more years after Isaac was married to Rebekah. It is during this period of his life that he fathered six more sons with Keturah, so that the promise that he would be a father of a multitude of nations could continue to be fulfilled (Genesis 17:4-5). The principle to preserve those following the distinctive faith, which Abraham had in the Lord, was evident, even as his death approached. It must be remembered that Abraham knew that the son of promise was his beloved son Isaac, whom he had with Sarah. Abraham also understood that the blessings he had received were to be passed along to Isaac and his descendants. Prior to dying, he gave the great bulk of his possessions to Isaac, after he had bestowed some gifts upon his other six sons, and sent them to the land of the east to avoid even greater sibling rivalry that was already evident between Isaac and Ishmael, his son by Hagar:

“Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah. Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east. These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. 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. 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, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife. It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi” (Genesis 25:1-11).

Paradoxically, when Abraham died and was buried in the cave of Machpelah, the proceedings were attended by both Isaac and Ishmael, after their half-brothers had been sent away. The animosity between these two sons had not abated because of Ishmael’s unique birth, and the Lord’s promises to Abraham regarding Ishmael’s future descendants (Genesis 17:18-20). Distinctions were to exist between the descendants of Isaac and Rebekah, and Ishmael’s descendants, because Ishmael took a wife from Egypt with her beliefs in other gods (Genesis 21:20-21).

Despite the blessing of many children, Ishmael did not receive the blessing of marrying a wife who had belief in the God of Abraham and Sarah, whom Isaac received when Rebekah became his wife. There has been a millennia-old conflict that has ensued between followers of the God of Abraham and Isaac, and those who have claimed the line of Ishmael as being the line of blessing. Such people seem to have inherited the rebellious traits of Ishmael, which have been passed down for generations:

“The angel of the LORD said to her further, ‘Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers” (Genesis 16:11-12).

Abraham’s Distinctive Faith

When we consider the life example of Abraham and his wife Sarah, it is clear to me that the two of them had a rather distinct faith in the Holy One. Having left the pagan culture of Ur, and having ventured by faith into the Land of Canaan, they understood how critical it was to keep their focus on the Lord God who had chosen them for their special mission to be a blessing to humanity. Through the trials and tests of life, they learned to trust in the Almighty, but also knew that the lures of the world and the temptation to be entangled with others serving different, false gods, were to be avoided. The principle of being equally yoked to others of like mind—especially as it concerns life partners—is discernable in the decisions they made, and is most noted in the search for Isaac’s wife. Years later in the Book of Deuteronomy, the principle, to not be unequally yoked, is graphically defined by using the example of not yoking an ox with a donkey when it comes to plowing soil:

“You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together” (Deuteronomy 22:10).

This theme of avoiding entanglements, with those who do not know the Lord, is more specifically addressed by the Apostle Paul, who warned the Corinthians about the perils of being bound together with unbelievers:

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Messiah with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE [Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27]. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,’ says the Lord. ‘AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN [Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34, 41]; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

While reflecting upon some of the decisions made by Abraham as he was approaching the end of his life, as noted in this week’s Torah reading, perhaps it would be beneficial for you to contemplate where you are in your own walk of faith. Are you mindful of the distinct faith that you have in the Creator God, through the redeeming blood of the Messiah Yeshua? Are you diligently striving to avoid being bound with unbelievers in your daily affairs? Are you praying for godly spouses for your children and grandchildren? Are you working to pass on your faith to your children and sharing it with others, who, like Eliezer, might be a part of your immediate surroundings in the family, neighborhood, or at work?

There is much to be thankful for as we all consider just where we are in our walk of faith. Perhaps now the words of Isaiah 51:1-2 mean so much more as we consider the lives of Abraham and Sarah? May we, by faith, pursue righteousness as we seek the Lord—and avoid being bound with those who do not believe—just like the distinctive faith of Abraham.

V’yeira

V’yeira

He appeared

Genesis 18:1-22:24
2 Kings 4:1-37 (A); 4:1-23 (S)

“Testing Abraham’s Faith”


by Mark Huey

By the time our Torah examination turns to V’yeira, readers find that the life of Abraham, and his personal trials, are mounting. Having left the comfortable confines of Ur and ventured forth into the land of Canaan, and having gone into Egypt and returned—Abraham’s nomadic journey has finally seen him settled in the region around Hebron. Abraham’s close association with his nephew has been altered, as Lot chose to move his expanding herds to the plentifully watered valleys near the wicked city of Sodom. It is from this vantage point of overlooking the distant city that Abraham had an incredible encounter with the Living God, which affirmed his close and special relationship with Him. Perhaps the most challenging test of Abraham’s faithfulness to follow the Lord is seen in V’yeira, when he is asked to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise. It is noted very early in our Torah portion that Abraham had a very exclusive call on his life, and that God had chosen Him. Would Abraham be able to live up to such a calling?

“The LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him’” (Genesis 18:17-19).

God chose Abraham, for a unique role to play for all who would follow after, because He foreknew that Abraham would set a standard for his descendants to emulate. As more details about Abraham’s direct contact with the Holy One are recorded, the incredible intimacy of his relationship with Him unfolds. What might we learn, as contemporary Messianic Believers, from Abraham’s life example? How much do we need our faith in God to be intensified from what we encounter?

Abraham Pleads

As V’yeira begins, Abraham experienced a supernatural encounter with the Lord. While Abraham wandered around his tent encampment, all of a sudden out of nowhere, three men appeared, who obviously had something special about them. We are not told whether there was some kind of holy aura seen or not, but without hesitation, hospitable Abraham humbly greeted them and honored them with a specially prepared meal to enjoy:

“Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, ‘My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by’” (Genesis 18:1-3).

In the course of the ensuing conversation as the meal was eaten (Genesis 18:4-8), the three inquired of Sarah’s whereabouts. It became evident to Abraham in the course of this encounter, that he had truly been communicating with God Himself. Earlier, when he had discussed the fate of Ishmael, Abraham had received a promise that Sarah would bear a child whose name would be Isaac (Genesis 17:19-22). When this promise was repeated, Abraham had to recognize that he was speaking to the Lord:

“Then they said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ He said, ‘I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?” Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’ Sarah denied it however, saying, ‘I did not laugh’; for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh’” (Genesis 18:9-15).

Abraham knew that he was speaking to the Almighty God, who had given him the promises of descendants and land. As He prepared to depart, the Lord rhetorically asked whether or not He should inform Abraham about what was about to happen to the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah:

“Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?’” (Genesis 18:16-18).

After recognizing the fidelity of Abraham to Him and His ways of righteousness (Genesis 18:19), the Lord informed Abraham about the judgment that He was to unleash upon Sodom and Gomorrah:

“And the LORD said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.’ Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD” (Genesis 18:20-22).

Having been informed that “their sin is exceedingly heavy” (LITV), Abraham was left standing in the presence of the Lord—surely with enough faith—to begin some kind of “negotiations” on behalf of any righteous people who might have resided in Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). It was at this juncture that a glimpse into the expanding faith of Abraham is revealed to Torah readers. For, what ensued was that Abraham had enough faith in God and His mercy, to implore Him to suspend the intended judgment. Abraham most likely had his nephew Lot in mind, as we are informed later by the Apostle Peter that Lot’s righteousness warranted sufficient mercy for at least himself (2 Peter 2:6-8).[1]

At this point, let us pause for a moment and consider the faith of Abraham, and most specially his boldness to get into a negotiating session with the Lord God. Can you imagine the audacity—or at least the great courage—to actually suggest to the Creator God that He would judge the righteous along with the wicked? Abraham did say, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23)?

The thought of questioning the Lord seems somewhat daring to most of us, but have you ever gotten into a debate, or even just a “vigorous discussion,” with the Lord, in prayer, on a major issue? If you truly have faith in the Lord and look to Him for salvation, direction, and provision—is it not part of your thought process to spend time asking Him for not only your personal needs, but for the needs of others as well? If you are not seeking Him in your thoughts and prayer life, who or what are you communing with as your thoughts rotate throughout the day? Believers have been instructed by the Apostle Paul to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and also to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Being able to address the Lord with a degree of frankness, is something that those who know Yeshua are to surely be able to do. The author of Hebrews further elaborates,

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Faithful Abraham helped establish an important precedent, which true seekers of God, confident in their relationship with Him, should be able to follow. If we have established some level of intimate trust with the Lord in our relationship with Him, then we should indeed “approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence” (Phillips New Testament) when we need an answer for something important!

Lot and the Fall of Sodom

After Abraham pleaded with God for mercy to be shown on any righteous people who were living in Sodom, two angels arrived at the gates of Sodom to find Lot among the leaders of the city. Their supernatural nature was likely withheld from many, but Lot must have inherently sensed that there was something special about these two strangers. He immediately offered his home as a place for them to spend the night (Genesis 19:1-3).

When word got around in Sodom that Lot had two visitors, the men in town made their way to Lot’s house and demanded that they be given over to them, because “We want to have sex with them!” (Genesis 19:5, CJB). Lot pleaded with the mob to not act wickedly (Genesis 19:6-7), and even offered his two virgin daughters to them (Genesis 19:8), which does seem a bit out of place for someone regarded as “righteous” in 2 Peter 2:6-8. We are not given a great deal of information about Lot’s personal character, even though it was surely a contrast to those inhabitants of a city about to suffer catastrophe. Lot had some degree of “faith” in the One True God, even though it was not as strong or developed as that of Abraham.

The mob outside of Lot’s home prepared to break down the door (Genesis 19:8), totally given over to its fleshly debauchery. The angels manifested themselves at this point, blinding the sight of those in Sodom, and providing the means for Lot’s family to escape from the impending judgment of the city and its environs (Genesis 19:9-14). As Lot’s company departed Sodom, the angels specifically instructed them to not look back upon Sodom, or they would suffer the consequences. The scene is marked by Lot’s wife looking back and turning into a pillar of salt:

“When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.’ But Lot said to them, ‘Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.’ He said to him, ‘Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.’ Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:15-26).

Lot’s wife disobeyed the angels’ instruction and lacked belief—most probably having thought back on all of what was left behind at the home in Sodom—and she did not avoid looking back. For modern-day Believers in Yeshua, many of whom think that the End of the Age and His return are steadily approaching, He appealed to the example of Lot’s wife turning back on how many will surely turn away from the Lord when His judgment manifests:

“It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:28-33).

Yeshua is returning for a faithful group of people who have chosen to place their trust in Him, rather than in trying to preserve themselves and their possessions through their own mortal strength. The choice every seeker of God has to make is clear: one is either going to have faith (even if somewhat flawed like Lot), or have a lack of faith resulting in calamity and eternal punishment. These illustrations definitely give each of us something to seriously consider, while we meditate upon V’yeira.

Abraham and Abimelech The Birth of Isaac

At this point in V’yeira, an episode similar to the famine-driven sojourn of Abraham to Egypt is described. Abraham and his entourage relocated to the Negev desert area near Gerar, and while there they encountered another strong leader, who like the Pharaoh of Egypt, took Sarah into his harem:

“Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, ‘Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.’ Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, ‘Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? Did he not himself say to me, “She is my sister”? And she herself said, “He is my brother.” In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.’ Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours’” (Genesis 20:1-7).

Once again, Abraham employed the same tactic, to avoid problems, as he introduced Sarah as his sister (cf. Genesis 12). In this case, we see how God providentially interceded for the migrant couple, and revealed to Abimelech in a dream that Abraham and Sarah were married. Interestingly, it is shown how Abraham and Sarah were in agreement in their dealings to avoid any problems by saying that they were brother and sister. And, it was not totally untrue, either, for Abraham and Sarah were half-brother and half-sister to one another (Genesis 20:11-13). Even with some possible concern among readers today, that the presentation of themselves as brother and sister was deceptive, apparently Abraham and Sarah were allowed to use this strategy to remain alive. We see how in their encounters with Abimelech, they received additional wealth and freedom to settle in the area—and not only this, but we see how Abimelech himself was blessed by the Lord:

“Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored his wife Sarah to him. Abimelech said, ‘Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.’ To Sarah he said, ‘Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, it is your vindication before all who are with you, and before all men you are cleared.’ Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children. For the LORD had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife” Genesis 20:14-18).

After enduring this uncomfortable situation, the Lord’s promise that Sarah would conceive a child miraculously happened, and Abraham obediently named him Isaac or Yitzchak as instructed by the Lord earlier (Genesis 21:1-7; cf. 17:19). However, upon weaning Isaac, Sarah’s jealousy of Hagar’s son Ishmael erupted into a demand that Abraham cast him away. Sarah’s insistence greatly distressed Abraham, so the Lord intervened and comforted Abraham with the assurance that Ishmael would also become a nation, but that it would be through Isaac by whom his descendants would be named:

“The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.’ The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba” (Genesis 21:8-14).

The relationship between God and faithful Abraham was certainly maturing, as the experiences that He had with Him, as he followed His guidance, steadily built upon themselves. Nevertheless, at times it does appear that the Almighty had to speak directly to Abraham, to confirm the actions that he was to take. In this case, despite Abraham’s affection for Ishmael, he quickly followed God’s affirmation of Sarah’s demand. Hagar and Ishmael were sent toward the wilderness near Beersheba.

Apparently, Abraham and his entourage continued to graze their herds in the same area, as the text reveals that Abimelech was still in awe of Abraham’s blessings from the God he worshipped. In order to maintain peace among the various herders seeking water for their livestock, a covenant was made between Abraham and Abimelech by the wells of Beersheba:

“Now it came about at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, ‘God is with you in all that you do; now therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, but according to the kindness that I have shown to you, you shall show to me and to the land in which you have sojourned.’ Abraham said, ‘I swear it.’ But Abraham complained to Abimelech because of the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. And Abimelech said, ‘I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today.’ Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. Then Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What do these seven ewe lambs mean, which you have set by themselves?’ He said, ‘You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand so that it may be a witness to me, that I dug this well.’ Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba; and Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, arose and returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines for many days” (Genesis 21:22-34).

Our Torah portion affirms how Abraham was absolutely aware that it was ADONAI El Olam who had blessed Him. Abraham’s experiences of favor from his potentially hostile neighbors, and the significant grace and mercy displayed by the Holy One, were preparing him for the most significant test that he was given: the command of the Lord to offer up Isaac, the son of promise.

Abraham Offers Up Isaac

Turning to the final and perhaps most noteworthy test of Abraham that is often highlighted in this parashah, one finds the gut-wrenching command of the Lord for Abraham to offer up his beloved son Isaac as a sacrificial burnt offering. Abraham was obviously prepared for this ultimate test by all of the previous experiences and dealings he had, because without hesitation, Abraham obeyed the command, which to human or mortal reasoning does not make that much sense:

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’ [hineini]. He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance” (Genesis 22:1-4).

By this time in Abraham’s walk of faith with the Almighty, he certainly knew His voice—and so when he called, he immediately responded with a resounding “Here I am.” This direct reaction is reminiscent of a future response declared by the Prophet Isaiah, when he heard the voice of the Lord asking for someone to declare righteous judgment to wayward Israel:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me! [hineini shelacheini]’” (Isaiah 6:8).

Unlike the call of Isaiah to prophesy to the disobedient, Abraham was commanded to take his son of promise—Isaac, the one to whom all of the blessings spoken to Abraham would be placed—and sacrificially offer him as a burnt offering (olah) on a mountaintop that the Lord would designate.

Imagine what a perplexing request this must have been to Abraham. Had he heard God correctly? After all, if the promised son was to be killed, how would His blessings be passed down to future generations through his descendants? To the human mind, this makes absolutely no rational sense at all. Yet, by this time in Abraham’s walk with God, he was so dependent upon Him that he did not even question the command. Abraham simply set out early the next morning in obedience.

To better understand what Abraham must have been thinking, we often find ourselves turning to the Epistle to the Hebrews, to discover that Abraham had so much faith in God, that he believed that He could raise people from the dead in order to fulfill His promises:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED’ [Genesis 21:12]. He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Abraham was totally confident that his God would fulfill His promises that He had made regarding Isaac, because he trusted in Him. If God had promised that Isaac would be the child of promise, and upon killing him Isaac remained stone dead, then God would be a total, faithless liar. But this is not what occurred.

Needless to say as this took place, the young lad Isaac was perplexed. After traveling for three days with Abraham and the servants, they arrived at the mountain together with fire and wood, but without a lamb for the offering (Genesis 2:5-6). When inquiring of his father, Abraham’s response to Isaac was that God would provide a lamb for the sacrifice. Upon reaching the designated place, Abraham built an altar, arranged the wood, and then bound his compliant son Isaac by placing him on the altar. Abraham was absolutely willing to slay his son, and at that moment the angel of the Lord called out his name in a voice which Abraham clearly knew. The interruption must have startled Abraham, because the stretching of his knife-wielding hand indicated that he was fully willing to sacrifice his son at the instruction of God:

“Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ And he said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me’” Genesis 22:7-12).

The Lord recognized that Abraham was absolutely willing to offer his son Isaac to the Lord as a burnt offering. Surely in his mind, Abraham had already sacrificed Isaac, and only had to carry through with the physical action. As this event took place, and Abraham was told to not harm his boy, he saw a ram caught in the thicket. Abraham immediately realized that the Lord had providentially allowed a ram to get entangled near the altar, so that the provision of a substitute for Isaac was readily available. Without hesitation, Abraham aborted the sacrifice of Isaac, gathered the ram, and offered it up as the desired sacrifice:

“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.’ Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Genesis 22:13-18).

Abraham was doubtlessly relieved that he did not have to slay his son Isaac, but he knew instead that it was the Lord who ultimately provided the substitute. After giving Him total recognition for providing the sacrificial ram, Abraham once again heard a reiteration of the covenantal blessings that God had made with him: in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth [b’zar’akha kol goyei ha’eretz] be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (ESV). Genesis 22:18 is certainly one of the most important verses in the entire Bible, as it carries a theme that resonates into the Apostolic Scriptures, as the Abrahamic promise of blessing has reached its pinnacle via the arrival of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) onto the scene of human history, and how all the peoples and nations of Planet Earth are to benefit from His sacrifice (Galatians 3:8, 16).

Historically in Judaism, this test of Abraham is referred to as “the binding” or the aqedah,[2] and it has been revered as one of the greatest tests that the father of our faith had to endure. For the multitude of saints who believe in Yeshua the Messiah, we recognize the binding of Isaac as a main foreshadowing of His sacrifice for us.[3] Yeshua endured the capital punishment, on the tree, which we are all worthy of because of our universal condition as fallen human sinners (Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13). He absorbed this capital punishment onto Himself, so that in the post-resurrection era, those who acknowledge Him can receive forgiveness for their sins (cf. Colossians 2:14).[4]

By our faith, trust, and steadfast belief in Yeshua (Jesus), the “Seed” of Abraham who died, we are saved from the commensurate penalties of sin (cf. Galatians 3:16). As we each consider the diversity of events witnessed in V’yeira this week, may we believe and place our ever-present hope in all of the promises made to the Patriarch Abraham. In so doing, may we not only live like Abraham with extreme faith in our Eternal Creator, but know the True Seed of Abraham ever more intimately, our Savior the Messiah Yeshua!


NOTES

[1] “[A]nd if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)” (2 Peter 2:6-8).

[2] Cf. Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature (New York: Judaica Treasury, 2004), 1105.

[3] Consult the relevant sections of the article “Answering the ‘Frequently Avoided Questions’ About the Messiahship of Yeshua” by J.K. McKee.

[4] Consult the FAQ entries on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Colossians 2:14” and “Capital Punishment.”