Shabbat Bible Study for December 10, 2016
©2016 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 1 Sabbath 35
Genesis 38:1-30 – Isaiah 37:31-37 – Psalm 31 – Romans 9:22-29
B’reishith 38.1-12 – The Schottenstein’s Chumash has a heading; Judah and Tamar: the Roots of the Messiah and the Israelite Monarchy. There are people within the Hebrew Roots ‘movement’ who are moving away from believing that Yeshua is Messiah because they don’t see the idea of a personal messiah in the pashat of Tanakh. I think that the fact that Jewish Orthodoxy sees Messiah throughout the remez and sod of Tanakh as pretty good evidence that the concept has been taught for millennia and that Yeshua did MOST of the things Messiah was understood to be prophesied (in the remez and sod levels of understanding) to do when he arrived. To absolutely reject what had been taught about Messiah for centuries BEFORE Yeshua was born is not wise in my opinion.
Chumash’s commentary on v.1 is salient. Tanakh translated cana’ani as ‘merchant’ here. From this I infer that Yehuda’s wife was an harlot in her father’s employ. In v.2 Judah saw a Canaanite woman, took her, went in unto her and she conceived. In 34.2, Shechem did exactly the same thing with Dinah and her brethren Simeon and Levi killed every adult male in the town for it. So, except that Shuah’s daughter conceived, how are Yehudah’s actions any different? If you say ‘because Yehudah had 3 sons by her’, I will say, ‘how do we know that Shechem would have acted any differently?’ Scripture DOES say that he was more honorable than any in Shechem. Perhaps he would have done exactly the same as Yehudah did. Perhaps not. We’ll never know this side of the resurrection, will we? The Chumash makes no reference to this in its notes.
It looks like Yehudah lived among the Canaanites for a few years, quite a few, actually. He wasn’t there just to see his sons born, but the 2 eldest married to Tamar, the 3rd son presumably married to another woman and Tamar’s subterfuge to conceive by Yehudah – probably 15-20 years at least and the rabbis say 22. 22 seems to be a common thread in Jewish exegesis/eisogesis of the Patriarchs, at least; Ya’acov was in exile from Yitzhak for 22 years, Yitzhak lives for 22 years after Ya’acov returned to Hevron, Yehudah was 22 years away from his family – the same 22 years that Yoseph was in Egypt as a servant to Potiphar and Paraoh. Yehudah was in Cheziv when his wife bore his last son, Shelah. Shelah’s root = sha’al means request or petition, and Cheziv’s root = chazav means lie. After the Er/Tamar/Onan deal, Shelah was promised to Tamar, if she would wait for him, because he was ‘too young’ to marry. This was a lying petition, a Sha’al Chazav.
V.7 says that Er was wicked before Y’hovah, and so Yah slew him. The Chumash indicates that v.9 sheds light on Er’s sin, but it specifically calls out Onan’s sin. To equate the two is definitely eisogesis, reading INto the text. At best, it’s speculation, but it is stated as fact in the commentary. The comments in both the Chumash and the Tanakh say that their sin was in not wanting to mar her beauty with pregnancy. Here’s what Schottenstein’s Interlinear Chumash says in the prefatory comments on vv.6-10 [pg.228]. I don’t see that at all. The translation of Schottenstein’s (and Stone’s as well) Interlinear’s Edition of B’reishith is colored by the midrashic traditions of the Orthodox. This translation is often spot on what’s in Moshe, but often it is definitely biased, as it is here, trying to show that no Yisraelite patriarch could be anything but righteous. But I see these men as just that – men, subject to all the foibles of men including an evil inclination or what the church calls man’s ‘sin nature’, the yetzer hara.
All 3 uses of ‘wicked’ in scripture to this point, meanwhile, relate to Sodom and the sin named for it. ‘Wicked’, as a predicate adjective is H7451, ער , ra. To refer to wicked men (‘the wicked’ as a noun in Gen.18), the word is from H7563, רשע , rasha. So do the words ‘wickedly’ and ‘wickedness’. I think it was not that Er spilled his seed on the ground, as Onan did, but that he was a sodomite, who eschewed women; that he WOULD not go in unto his wife. I can think of at least 3 reasons that Onan didn’t want to supply the seed to continue his brother’s name; 1) Onan may have sympathized/empathized with this brother’s sin, 2) Onan may not have wanted to mar his own children’s inheritance in acting as a kinsman redeemer, as Boaz’ near kin was concerned about (Ruth.4.6), or 3) Onan may have hated his brother or his perversion and not wanted to allow his name to carry on. Yehovah saw all those ideas as evil and slew Onan, too.
This was the first mention in scripture of a brother raising seed in his childless, dead brother’s name. That the idea of levirate marriage exists and was well known among average Israelites is seen in Deut.25.5-6, Ruth, Judges [where the tribe of BenYamin was nearly destroyed and had to be redeemed by the other tribes] and the prophets. The patriarchs KNEW Torah before it was written.
An interesting aside, when Ruth went into the tent and lay at Boaz’ feet and he noticed her, and she asked him to ‘spread thy skirt’ over her, she was asking that he become her husband and ‘cover her nakedness’. This is what Yehudah was telling Onan to do for his brother’s wife. Spilling seed DEFINITELY has to do with using the sister-in-law as a sex toy without doing the kinsman or redeemer (both translated from the root ga’al H1350) duty. All uses of ga’al in Torah are about redeeming a near kinsman or his land from indentured slavery before the Yovel. It has been extended to traditionally mean ‘self-pleasuring’, but that seems to be a stretch (circumlocution used to save the kiddies’ ears).
So Yehudah made the deal with Tamar that she go to her father’s home to live while Shelah grew to marriageable age and HE could act as go’el, kinsman redeemer (cf.Dt.25.5&6), when in fact, he had no intention of allowing his last son to marry Tamar – the lying request (sha’al chazav) we spoke of earlier. It wasn’t Tamar that was the problem, it was the wicked evil, the rasha ra of the sons of Yehudah, and there isn’t any indication that Shelah was any better than his older brothers. Tamar kept her end of the deal, but Yehuda reneged on his end. When Tamar recognized the subterfuge, she worked a little of her own – 2 could play that game. Q&C
Vv.13-23 – Have you noticed that Yehudah has not done 1 righteous thing in this whole chapter? In fact, I don’t see any righteousness in the man at all to this point. Yehudah is a man and nothing more. The rabbis seem to think that all the patriarchs were inherently righteous men, regardless the obvious wickedness in them all. Even Yoseph is not perfect, as we saw last week when he seemed to rub his brothers’ noses in his favored status [perhaps not a sin, but also not wise]. What I see in scripture is that these were just guys, like anyone else, and that Y’hovah is using these circumstances in their lives to form them into men after his heart. The incidents involving Tamar awakened Yehudah to the evil that was resident in his heart. In fact, the first mention of Yehudah, other than listing his name with the others, is in last weeks portion where he suggested selling Yoseph into bondage – monetary gain and a complete disregard for natural fealty to a sibling. Yehudah, like all natural men, was sold out to noone but himself – until he is shown his yetzer hara by his Canaanite daughter-in-law. Cf. Schottenstein’s Chumash prefatory notes on vv.14-19, The moral basis for the union of Yehudah and Tamar, p.229.
Tamar saw that Shelah was not given to her to raise children to her husband Er, so she devised a plan to raise children to him. She removed her widow’s clothing and put on the dress of an harlot. She did not display herself as such, or at least turned away any business, until she saw Yehudah coming. When he approached her, veiled so he would not recognize her, he thought she was an harlot. Tradition says she was a very beautiful woman, and I don’t doubt it.
It didn’t take a lot of enticement to get Yehudah to go in unto her. In v.12 we saw that Yehudah’s wife died and when he’d done mourning her his business partner Hirah talked him into going to the sheep-shearing in Timnath (where, presumably, a wild time was had by all) and maybe have a ‘wild time’ with the women there. I can imagine that there might have been a number of ‘camp followers’; i.e., loose women around – the ancient world’s equivalent to today’s ‘lot lizards’, who frequent truck stops in America to drum up business. When he saw this beautiful woman veiled like an harlot, he approached her and she started haggling the price. He offered at least the going rate, a kid of the goats, but not having a ‘kid of the goats’ sized pocket in his tunic, she asked for an earnest of his payment – his signet, bracelets and walking stick. Now, I would have thought the earnest worth more than the payment and haggled some about that, but she was especially gorgeous and he was especially ready for the consummation of the deal and acquiesced.
At this one encounter she conceived. Now, I think the patriarchs knew and kept Torah, and I also think she knew the reason for the toroth about niddah, that a woman is unclean while menstruating and also for 7 days after. What this means is that on the day she mikvah’s and is ritually clean again, the 14th day of her cycle, she is at the height of her fertility and most likely to conceive a child. It ‘happened’ that this was the end of her niddah and she was especially fruitful right then, and I think she knew it full well. She MEANT to conceive and had made her plan to teach him that he was NOT ‘all that and a bag of chips’. Afterwards, while he was asleep (a male trait 😉 ), she skedaddled, put BACK on her widows garments and resumed her normal routine. Meanwhile, Yehudah sent the kid by Hirah (who might have been in the market for some ‘wild time’, too), and he couldn’t find her, try as he might. Yehudah’s reaction when Hirah returned with the kid was to let her keep the earnest for fear of the shame if word got out. Q&C
Vv.24-30 -About 3 months or so later folks began to notice that she was pregnant and the word came to Yehudah that Tamar had ‘played the whore’. Now, she had married Er and Onan, so she was officially subject to Yehudah as head of the clan. When he heard of her supposed harlotry, he pronounced sentence – tisarayf – ‘let her be burnt’ outside the camp. But before the sentence could be carried out, she sent the earnest he’d left with her back to him, and used nearly the same words he’d used when he sent Yoseph’s coat to Yacov – “Tell me, if you please; Whose these are?”
I think Y’hovah used those words and the fact of his faithlessness to her to awaken Yehudah to his unrighteousness, because I see a major difference in him after this incident. He becomes more like Y’hovah, thinking more in line with Torah. He thinks of his father and his brother BenYamin ahead of his own comfort in ch.43&44, when he offers his own sons as earnest to Yacov (as he had his stuff to Tamar) and to stay in Egypt in BenYamin’s stead, so Yacov wouldn’t be grieved at the loss of Rachel’s other son. And that change is not lost on Yoseph, either, as it is the act that spurred his revelation of himself to his brothers in ch.45. We’ll see all that when we get there, Yah willing.
The change in Yehudah was nearly immediate. When he recognized HIS stuff and that the child in Tamar was his as well, his worries about being found out gave way to his yetzer tov, his righteous inclination. In other words, Ruach came on him and convicted him of his sin. He openly acknowledged that the stuff was his, opening himself up to ridicule and disrespect from his ‘friends’ in Adullam, and he also recognized that his Canaanite daughter-in-law was more righteous in her actions than he had been.
Yehudah actually started to become selfless. Sometime between this incident and going to Egypt for food, he’d reconciled with his family and again become a leader among them, not because he wanted the respect, but because his heart had changed and his family recognized it. HE was the guy who, all these years later, took the place of Yoseph as the Torah keeper. For example, he did not go in unto Tamar again to not reveal his daughter-in-law’s nakedness (Lev.18.15). And Yisrael saw it too, for he blessed Yehudah as Melech – “the scepter shall not depart from Yehudah … until Shiloh come.” (Aside – Isn’t it interesting that the town of Shiloh is in the inheritance of Ephraim; ben Yosef?)
Tamar bore twins to Yehudah, Peretz and Zerach. Peretz means breaking forth and Zerach means rising. See Chumash’ note on v.29, p. 233. The story of Zerach reaching out and having the scarlet thread wrapped around his hand is to illustrate the naming of his brother Peretz, who broke forth ahead of Zerach, like water breaking forth from a breeched dam. Is there a correlation here with the Yom Kippur tradition of tying a scarlet thread between the horns of the scapegoat? I don’t know, but maybe. In keeping with that idea, Zerach’s brother became the Messiah’s multiple great-grandfather. Perhaps this foreshadows Yeshua, the Son of Avinu (OUR Father), on the platform before the priests with Barabbas (son of his father), who was both a murderer and a thief, at his side. I think these names picture the Yom haKippurim goat for offering to Y’hovah breeching the dam of the enmity that held back Y’hovah’s forgiveness of our sins and also the scapegoat, which symbolized Yah carrying our sins ‘across a breech’ as far from us as the east is from the west. Q&C
YeshaYahu 37.31-37 – YeshaYahu prophesies around 722BCE that, when the time came for Yehudah to go into captivity/exile (which was NOT yet), those who feared Y’hovah should surrender to Nebuchadnezzar and go into captivity so the land could have her sabbaths (Lev.25.2-6; YirmeYahu 29.10-14), which land-sabbaths had never been kept from the time they entered the land as a nation under Y’hoshua. The nation sinned corporately, so she had to pay for it corporately:
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto Y’hovah. 3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; 4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for Y’hovah: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. 5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: it is a year of rest unto the land. 6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat [food] for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, 7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat. (Lev.25.2-7)
10 For thus saith Y’hovah, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Y’hovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith Y’hovah: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith Y’hovah; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (Jer.29.10-14)
20 And those that had escaped from the sword he carried away to Bavel; where they were avadim to him and his sons until the reign of the malchut of Persia: 21 To fulfill the word of Y’hovah by the mouth of Yirmeyahu [Lam.1.7], until the land had enjoyed her Shabbats: for as long as she lay desolate she kept Shabbat, to fulfill seventy years. [2Chron.36.20-21, Restoration Scriptures]
Nebuchadnezzar carried Judah off around 607-605 BCE and Darius sent the first Jews back in 536 BCE. Pretty darned close, eh? Daniel knew that the time was close in 9.2. YeshaYahu had prophesied in ChizkiYahu’s day, and I think Daniel was privy to that information as well. He knew that a small REMNANT would be returning, and he desperately wanted to be among them. YeshaYahu’s prophecy in our passage is one of the things the priests in YirmeYahu’s time should have been privy to. I’m sure that Y’hovah had shown this prophecy to YirmeYahu so he would not be afraid to say what he was being told to say, knowing full well that the returning remnant had already been set apart by Y’hovah.
In our Torah portion we saw Yehudah in exile and the events that spurred his return and reconciliation with this abba and his achim. In v.31 we see the future events that were being foreshadowed by Yehudah’s return to his family, as shown above, being foreshadowed once again. How could the folks in YirmeYahu’s days miss it? Q&C
While reading these passages of David’s psalm, think about what may have been going on in Yehudah’s mind and what he MAY have heard behind his back during those 20 years in Adullam and in partnership with Hirah. It could be that Yehudah had been kicking against the pricks for all that time, and it took Tamar to awaken his yetzer tov.
Ps.31.1-6 – Is it possible that when Yehudah went to Adullam he’d prayed a similar prayer to Y’hovah as David did here? It may be that he did. I am certain he did when Tamar was through with him because the change in him was so stark. I see no more selfishness in him from there on. He was truly after Y’hovah’s heart in my opinion.
He earnestly prayed for Y’hovah’s deliverance, which we all know he will not deny to those who diligently seek him. He asks that Y’hovah be his tsur, his bedrock on which to build his defenses, because he is already his cela, a smaller stone he can use as mobile or local cover. He asks to be taken from the secret fowler’s snare that his enemies laid for him. As we apply these words to Yehudah in Adullam, we can see that he was never at ease there. He never put his trust in false gods, but always trusted Y’hovah, even when he was walking far from his Torah.
Vv.7-13 – deal with his time away from Y’hovah, when he was surrounded by his enemies and troubles. He never forgot Y’hovah, but wasn’t walking in fellowship either, much like many of us. His Elohim gave him room to breathe, but kept the darkness close enough for him to know his need. The darkness of his walk never let him be at ease, it goaded him to repent, though repentance didn’t come until he came to the end of himself.
Vv.14-22 – The whole tenor of the psalm changes with the 1st word of the 14th verse: but.
When he came to the end of himself and fully trusted Y’hovah, his whole outlook changed. He’s no longer expecting good from Y’hovah because of who he is or whose house he is from, but because of what Y’hovah does and promises he will do. Yehudah no longer worries about what people think about him, because he knows what Y’hovah thinks of him and how he will protect him through the troubles that come his way. Even when he had a momentary lapse of faith, Y’hovah still kept him safe.
Vv.23-24 – So we are admonished to love Y’hovah because he preserves us through the trouble and plentifully gives the enemies who trouble us just reward for their tribulation. So take heart, trust Y’hovah. He will deliver you at exactly the right time. Q&C
Rom.9.22-29 – What follows is from my notes on Romans, prepared for a bi-weekly Bible Study group. Most are Sunday Xians who have been listening to my tripe for about 6-9 years, since my LAST group pretty much abandoned me over Torah. This group understood from the beginning that we would study Romans from an Hebraic perspective. Some had never thought about any different perspective, but have nonetheless come fully to understand that Torah is not done away by nor nailed to Yeshua’s cross, but still defines what sin is and its consequence[s].
Here’s where the hyper-Calvinists go awry. They use this numbered sound-bite (v.22) out of its immediate and general context. The general context is the 2 hearts we’ve been discussing. The immediate context runs at least through v.22, where he tells us that YHWH is longsuffering toward the vessels of wrath. If we look into Yisrael’s history, we see that Avraham was given a promise and a prophecy in Gen.15. The promise was that his seed would be as the stars and the sand of the sea. The prophecy was that his seed would be 400 years before they could obtain the promise because ‘the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full.’ He was enduring the ‘vessels of wrath’ until their cup was full (Rev.15&16).
YHWH’s will is that no flesh should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He shows his will in that he gave the Amorites 400 years to repent before he brought Yisrael to remove the Amorites from their land and to receive the promise Yah had made to Avraham. His will was to have the Amorites repent. He did not impose his will on them any more than he imposes his will on us. YHWH is sovereign, but he is not a bully. He gives us the choice to obey or not. He exercises his sovereignty in his mercy or hardening, and even his hardening is merciful.
The vessels of dishonour (v.21) are those whom YHWH, in his foreknowledge, knew would reject him, those who have the spirit of Esau and walk after the flesh. Notice that he endured their insolence and despite beyond any reasonable extent of patience, in the Amorite’s case (Gen.15) for 400 years. His way of mercifully bringing judgment is gradual; first a hint, then a more urgent hint, then a warning, etc., until he finally just forsakes the object of his mercy (as the Amorites) and drives them from his sight or allows them to be wiped out entirely. When he judges a people, he uses another people as his vehicle. Israel drove out the Amorites; the Philistines badgered Israel for 450 years. Then Israel under David and Solomon conquered the known world and held the rest as tributaries until the people went after other gods (following their leaders, of course). Then YHWH exiled the 10 Ephraimite tribes to Assyria, followed by Judah’s 3 tribes going into exile in Babylon. When Judah repented and called on the Name of YHWH, he delivered them back into their land. And the cycle repeated itself. BTW, as had occurred in the Egyptian exodus, only about 10% of the people returned from captivity. The rest were, presumably, after the flesh.
Do you see his mercy in his patient, longsuffering endurance of their pride and willful disregard for his Word? Do you see his mercy in the fact that he hints, then cajoles, then warns with ever increasing severity to bring about repentance, not only in his people, but even in the heathen? Do you see his mercy in his willingness to forgive at the merest sincerity in turning toward him? Even in his wrath he shows mercy because he brings it quickly and with minimal suffering. Behold the goodness and severity of Elohim (11.22).
And what of us, who have softened our hearts towards him by our positive decision to obey him? He further softens them so that his Word can take root in the good, soft earth of our hearts and bring forth fruit to his glory. He gives us what we want. As he gave Pharaoh the hard heart he’d decided upon, so he will give us the soft heart of flesh that he can circumcise and hallow to himself when once we choose to obey him. Q&C
Vv.24-26 – Do you see how he juxtaposes all gentile believers in v.24 with the ten tribes in v.25? It’s there; you just need to go a little deeper into the scripture than what’s in the immediate context. You need to go from the peshat (literal) to the remez (hint, reference to Tanakh).
“…not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
That quote from Hosea is in Ch.1, which begins by specifying that he is speaking mainly to the House of Israel and not Judah. YHWH instructs Hosea to take a whore to his wife, to signify to the house of Israel that they have played the harlot and gone after other gods. For that reason, he allows Gomer to conceive 3 children, whose names are also symbols of how YHWH is going to deal with Israel. V.4 (blood of Yezreel) speaks of 2Ki.9.30ff, where Yehu rode into town and had Jezebel thrown down from the tower, where dogs licked up her blood as prophesied by EliYahu. Yehu instituted the revival of YHWH worship, after a fashion; i.e., Yerovoam’s mixed system of worship. His revival didn’t go far enough towards true YHWH worship. So Yah had Hosea call his 1st born son Jezreel to remind Israel about her spiritual shortcomings. Hosea was then told to name his daughter Lo-Ruchamah – “No mercy” due to Israel’s idolatry. Then he was told to name his son Lo-Ammi – “Not my People” due to Israel’s idolatry.
The good news is in verses 10-11 of Hos.1, which is the hinted at reference.
10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass in the place where it was said unto them, Ye not my people, it shall be said unto them, the sons of the living Eloha. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great the day of Jezreel.
Even though Israel is called “No Mercy” and “Not My People”, YHWH promises to enlarge their borders and numbers and to eventually rename them “The Sons of the Living God”. I think this is a reiteration of the promise made in Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim in Gen.48, where he uses the Hebrew phrase ‘melo hagoyim’ – multitude of nations, which Paul alluded to in his passage in this same section of Romans in 11.25,
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
So, what Sha’ul has done in vv.24-26 is identified gentile believers (v.24) with the people of Israel, who WERE Lo-Ruchamah and Lo-Ammi, but have NOW obtained mercy and ARE his people. He makes the same reference in Eph.2.11ff, “aliens” (grk. apollotrioo – estranged – like a divorced spouse), “far off”, etc. IOW, whether literally or spiritually/metaphorically, gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua ARE the descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel, according to Sha’ul. And Yeshua HAS fulfilled his mission to bring Ephraim to repentance and brought the 2 houses together in him.
Vv.27-29 – Paul then quotes Isaiah (our haftarah passage today) to show that a remnant of Yisrael would be saved, while the majority would not. YHWH called his seed, not for the purpose of excluding any from his Kingdom, but to make it available to all, Jew and Gentile, Judah and Ephraim. If not for the remnant the entire earth would be as Sodom and Gomorrah lo-o-ng before its time. Ecc.3 tells us that there is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven, and the time of earth’s destruction by fire is not yet. 1004 years from now, perhaps. But not yet. Remember the goodness and severity of Elohim? There’s another example of it. If not for YHWH’s gracious provision of a remnant, earth would have been a burnt out cinder long since. Q&C
End of Shabbat Bible Study