Shabbat Bible Study for October 1, 2016
©2016 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 1 Sabbath 25
Genesis 27:1-29 – Isaiah 46:3-6 – Psalm 22 – Hebrews 11:20
B’reishit 27.1-13– Yitzhak has grown old enough in his own mind that he feels he needs to pass the birthright blessing on to his heir; he may have had an illness that left him thinking about his mortality. So the narrative tells us that he called Esav, his ‘manly-man’ son, to go out and hunt up some grub in the form of venison. Nowadays, the word ‘venison’ means a particular kind of meat, deer flesh. But in KJV days, venison was just whatever kind of flesh food you could come by while hunting. And that is what the Hebrew word means. In fact, my half joking reference to ‘hunt up some grub’ a second ago is actually what the root of the Hebrew word tzedah means – to chase game. The word ‘meat’ is not in the text. The word is mat’am, meaning savoury. Yitzy wanted a tasty morsel that would inspire the blessing. Yitzhak is about to follow custom and bless his firstborn (and his favorite), even though Esav was not a godly man and he despised his father’s beliefs and instructions. I truly think Yitzhak was human enough to prefer the ‘manly-man’ who hunted and fished and caroused with loose women to his ‘girly-man’ son, Ya’acov, who did NOT despise his father’s beliefs, but would rather hang around the tent and learn how to plant and sew and cook, raise cattle and study his father’s teaching and Torah. Do you see how the text differentiates between the factions here? Esav is Yitzy’s son (v.5); Jake is Rivkah’s son (v.6). I think Moshe is pointing out the fact of favoritism in the parents because he recognizes the evil therein. So here’s Lesson 1: judge your children’s character justly, not by ‘machismo’ and personality, but by their godliness. The rabbis at Artscroll seem in agreement that Ya’acov was studious in Torah, which is what they take that Ya’acov ‘dwelling in tents’ (25.27) means – he was in the tent studying Torah with his father. Could be true, but it is as much a stretch as the ‘girly-man’ reference a minute ago.
Now, that’s not to say that Ya’acov was an especially godly man – far from it; he was another ‘just a guy’, like all of us. He bought the birthright from his brother for a bowl of soup, he was seemingly about to steal the blessing from his brother by lies (6 of ‘em), deceit and chicanery, and he would show the same kind of favoritism he was suffering from his father with his wives and their children. He was ‘just a guy’ is the point. We seem to agree with the rabbis and make the mistake of thinking all these guys were more ‘holy’ than the rest of us, when in fact, they were exactly like us in every way. The difference between them and their contemporaries is that they had found grace in the eyes of Y’hovah, in whom they placed their trust, and that’s all. They trusted Y’hovah, and Y’hovah honored that.
Rivkah, having heard Yitzy’s intent, devised a plan to favor HER favorite son, ‘girly-man’ Jake and to implement it. I really think that she and Yitzy had devised this plan in advance and were implementing it. She told Ya’acov to “go kill a couple of kids (not CHILDREN, but goats) and I’ll prepare them as Yitzy likes them.” Ya’acov is not necessarily averse to the deceit, just to getting caught and being cursed rather than blessed. Rivkah pulls a Pharisees and their followers at Pilate’s judgment of Yeshua – “Let the curse be on me!” Now Jake has no problem getting the goats. It’s a no lose proposition for him. He’ll get the blessing or his mother will get the curse. No prob! What a guy, huh? If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll recognize our own selves in this passage. Lesson 2: No matter how ‘holy’ we think we are, we’re just a bunch of poor schlubs, with nothing to ultimately distinguish us from the rest of the poor schlubs out there but our trust in Y’hovah and the corresponding grace we receive due to it. Q&C
Vv.14-29 – Here is where the plot to get the blessing to Ya’acov as well as the birthright, while maintaining a plausible deniability, takes shape. The last words of ch.26 were:
34 And Esav was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35 Which were a grief of mind unto Yitzhak and to Rivkah.
I think that Rivkah and Yitzhak plotted to get the blessing to Ya’acov by pulling a little sleight of hand. In order to make the plan work, they needed to keep both of their sons in the dark; a secret is only as good as the one who is most likely to blink first. In this case, that would be Ya’acov, who might have acted differently in Esav’s presence, had he known. If I am correct in my speculative dot-connecting, Rivkah and Yitzhak planned the whole incident exactly as it played, except that Esav got a LOT angrier than they thought he might; to the point that Yitzhak got truly frightened by Esav’s reaction, which we will see next week.
The plot thickens (or sickens, as the case may be) as Rivkah places one of Esav’s garments on Jake and covers his neck, hands and arms with the skins of the kids she’d just butchered and cooked. Rivkah says that Yitzy will feel the goat hair, smell the scent of the ‘manly-man’ on the garments and taste the savoury flesh food. This will ‘convince’ him of the identity of his son, even though he recognized Jake’s voice. Was Yitzy actually deceived? Or did he allow himself to be deceived to protect Rivkah? Or was it collusion between Rivkah and Yitz? The Hebrew word for discerned in v.23 is H5234, nakar – literally, to scrutinize to either belief or disbelief. Yitzhak did not scrutinize, didn’t look intently to decide if Esav was actually Esav or if he was really Jake, when he noticed the discrepancy. I think he chose to not scrutinize; chose to deceive. He was blind, not a dotard. And Jake couldn’t wait to get out of there, I think he was sweating bullets, hoping his father wouldn’t see through his mother’s scheme AND that he would not be caught ‘red-handed’ by Esav.
Yitzhak used the sensory input he had as a jumping off place for the blessing; “I smell the fields on my son, therefore…”
The really interesting thing in the blessing is that he repeats the blessing Y’hovah gave to Avraham, “I will bless those who bless thee and curse those who curseth thee.” Here’s the reason for Esav’s curse – he hated his brother to the point of murder (v.41). Q&C
Yeshayahu 46.3-6 – To make a metaphorical application of vv.1-2, I think haftarah’s connection to the Torah portion today is that Yitzhak and Rivkah were ‘grieved in mind’ by Esav’s heathen wives. Bel/Ba’al is the principal male ‘god’ of the entire middle east, conceived in Babylon and worshipped all the way to Phoenicia. Nebo is a Chaldee god whom the Assyrians began to worship, as well, and for whom the mountain and town in Moav were named. I think Esav’s wives worshipped these gods and may have been a drag on the entire family of Yitzhak and Rivkah; a crushing weight and a burden too heavy for them to bear. Therefore, I think the Spirit of Y’hovah inspired Yitzhak/Rivkah in their deceit of Ya’acov and Esav.
When we are in that kind of wearying and crushing situation, whether physical or spiritual, Y’hovah promises to carry us, like children in the womb, to his Promised Land and Kingdom. The idea implies protection as well as conveyance. This protection extends to old age and the hoary head, like Yitzhak and Rivkah. He conceived, would bear and carry and deliver us complete with ‘hoary heads’, if that’s what it takes to get us to his Kingdom.
Can the idols of the nations say the same? To which god can we compare Y’hovah that the 2 will be alike? Not one! The prophets are full of warnings to the nations of Yehudah/Israel to make teshuvah [repent] and experience Y’hovah’s tikkun [restoration]. Y’hovah used the nations of Babylon and Assyria to rebuke and chastise Yehudah and Israel, and made it look to the nations like their gods were more powerful than Israel’s Y’hovah. But it was Yehudah/Israel’s contempt of Y’hovah that pushed him to allow their captivities, not his impotence to protect them. But all those pagan idols are just so much metal molded and shaped by the very hand that then bows down to it. Those idols can’t conceive anything. They can’t bear, carry or deliver anything, especially not the weight of the sins of Y’hovah’s people, as can also be seen in vv.1-2. There aren’t enough carts and slave’s backs to carry them.
So, indeed, who compares to Y’hovah? Noone! Q&C
Tehellim 22 – This shabbat is the one before Yom Teruah, the day of shouting and blowing trumpets. It is on this day I think, in a year not too far away, that we will see the Son of Man returning for his Bride. When we see him we will see the wounds of his crucifixion. Funny how that works out, isn’t it. On the Sabbath before the day of Yeshua’s return we read about his crucifixion, the marks of which we will witness on that day. Y’hovah gives us this psalm so that we will recognize the TRUE Moshiach when he returns. Don’t go after the FALSE Messiah. If he hasn’t the scars of the nails in his hands and feet, if he hasn’t the scars of the crown of thorns on his head, if he hasn’t the scar of the spear in his side, if he isn’t coming in the open where everyone can see him (even if he HAS all the scars, like those RC ‘saints’ who bear the ‘stigmata’), don’t pay any attention to him. This psalm doesn’t REALLY tie in with the Torah portion, but it does with the season of the year.
Eli, Eli, lama azavthani (despite the attempt of the greek translators to mimic Aramaic) are the very words Yeshua used from his place on the tree. The fact that he spoke these words from his torture stake designates this a Messianic Psalm. The near perfect description of a man on a Roman torture stake hundreds of years before the damned thing was invented should be proof to the objective observer that something out of the ordinary was going on with David as he wrote this psalm. David cries out for help, but Y’hovah doesn’t hear, as Yeshua had cried out the night before that his cup be removed, and as Y’hovah exiled Yeshua from his presence due to his having taken our sins upon him. Paul says he ‘was made sin who knew no sin’ [2Cor.5.21], and in that he became sin for us, Y’hovah could not be in fellowship with Yeshua at that time. Yeshua willingly suffered those moments on the tree out of fellowship with his Father for the first (and only) time in all eternity so that he could rise from the grave a ‘new man’ and marry his estranged bride.
Let’s look at the description of the crucified man in Ps.22;
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on Y’hovah that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him…
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture…
There is more that David described that was prophetic of the crucifixion.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me, their mouths a ravening and a roaring lion…
19 But be not thou far from me, O Y’hovah: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion’ mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. 22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee…
I think that David is here describing the spirits that were there for the crucifixion.
What were the bulls of Bashan, physically?
But in Ps. 22:21, where Christ’s prayer is for deliverance from “the horns” of these aurochs, we fail to fully appreciate the sense of this metaphor if all we picture is a chubby Holstein with six-inch stubs on his head. The ancient world knew a far more ferocious form of savage oxen, a breed of which legends were made.
The wild auroch bull was a terrifying beast, a brave hero’s nightmare. The Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh depicts Gilgamesh and Enkidu slaying the mighty “Bull of Heaven.” The legend of Hercules required him to perform twelve seemingly impossible feats; the seventh was to capture a wild bull from Crete and bring it to Argos. Later, this same bull wandered off to Marathon where it was killed by the hero Theseus.
Notwithstanding those mythic contexts, renowned primeval bulls were very real. According to Anglo-Saxon rune verses from the ninth century, aurochs were fearless and large horned. They were the subject of famous cave paintings at Lascaux alongside wooly mammoths. Yet living bulls of this species continued to exist as late as 1620 in Europe. Less recently, Assyrian kings and Pharaohs of Egypt proved their prowess by hunting these temperamentally rabid beasts. Rehmim were the urus or aurochs depicted on the ancient Babylonian seals, or portrayed in Assyrian temple reliefs. They were called rêmu in that sister Semitic tongue (Brown-Driver-Briggs). These animals were nearly seven feet high at the shoulder, with curved horns the length and thickness of a man’s leg (and more resembling an elephant’s tusk than the bony nubs on a bison). Several ancient sources give us glimpses of these awesome and highly aggressive creatures.
Herodotus mentioned that Greece imported the massive horns of Macedonian wild bulls (7.126). Julius Caesar gives more than a passing mention of this great beast toward the end of his well-known record of The Gallic Wars. “These uri are scarcely less than elephants in size, but in their nature, color and form are bulls. Great is their strength and great their speed; they spare neither man nor beast when once they have caught sight of them” (6.28). He goes on to inform us that “not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tame,” and that the killing of these animals often involved digging pits. The huge horns of the defeated enemy were then harvested, tipped with silver, and lifted up as trophy drinking horns at their most sumptuous feasts—a fitting boast to commemorate the brave victory won by the valiant champion who saved his people from marauding death (cf. Lk. 1: 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;).
I think that David used these animals to illustrate the spirits that were involved in Yeshua’s crucifixion. They may even have that appearance in their dimension of creation.
Ivrit 11.20 – The fact that Yitzy blessed his sons by faith means that he personally believed the blessings would be fulfilled. This does NOT mean that the sons, read Esav, believed that it would. All the faith spoken of in Ivrit 11 is the men’s faith that Y’hovah would perform his promises and would fulfill the blessings given. They expected it to come into being. Esav is not seen in Ivrit 11, other than this passing mention. Esav was not a man of faith. Q&C