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If G-d commanded through Moses, “take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 32:46) then one would assume the Gospel would be included in such an important song, right? Walk through just a few snippets of the inspired song and note the various cross references.

“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.” Deuteronomy 32:15

“Jeshurun” literally means “upright one” based on the root word yashar which is the verb for “to be right, be straight, be level, be upright, etc.” Therefore the name Jeshurun was an endearing term to describe the “ideal character”1 of Israel. The name in the above verse was juxtaposed with the uncharacteristic forsaking of G-d and the scoffing at the Rock as if to remind future generations not to lose hope but to pursue the higher calling of being the “Upright One.” Indeed, one of Israel’s greatest follies was that of forgetting G-d and scoffing at the Rock.

“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” Romans 9:30-32

It appears Paul blended Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16 to emphasize Yeshua as the Rock through whom no shame will be administered to those who believe. The Rock over whom Israel stumbled. Paul conclusively stated Yeshua is the Rock in the following verse:

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrownin the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

There is only one true Messiah therefore there have been and will be many false messiahs. (see 1 Jn. 2:18) HaSatan desires to pervert what is of G-d and replace good with evil. The song also warns us of the anti-messiah:

“For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.” Deuteronomy 32:31

To conclude, many verses from the song in this week’s portion were referenced throughout the Bible and it is easy to see the Good News proclaimed in the various passages! It is an important song to study, to memorize, and upon which to meditate “that this song may be a witness”. (Deut. 31:19) For those of us who are not native born Jews the following verse and Paul’s comments on the verse are interesting!

“Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” Deuteronomy 32:43

“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’ And again it is said, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’” Romans 15:8-10

According to www.biblegateway.com in Deuteronomy 32:43 there is a footnote that states: “Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint; Masoretic Text Rejoice his people, O nations.” However www.blueletterbible.org contains the “Masoretic Text” which is actually “a digital version of the Leningrad Codex developed by the Westminster Hebrew Institute at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” and the Hebrew clearly contains hashamayim or “the heavens” in Deuteronomy 32:43. Despite this technological irregularity, in his book The End of Deuteronomy in the Epistles of Paul Guy Prentiss Waters2 writes, “It is sufficient to say that Paul has cited LXX Deut 32:43c and that the peculiarities of the wording of this citation prove “crucial” to his argument at Rom 15:7-13.289” Either way Paul certainly encouraged Gentiles based on the passage from this week’s portion. Rejoice and glorify G-d that while we were yet sinners Yeshua died for us! (Rom. 5:8) If you have any further insight into the parallels of Deuteronomy 32:43 and Romans 15:10 please leave a comment below.


1 http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3484&t=ESV

2http://books.google.com/books?id=frU1U5ljRHoC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=deuteronomy+32:43+and+romans+15:10&source=bl&ots=m7TwCBcwbk&sig=2CVBPNvmLe2e36jTQlA2INT5W20&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vphkUPCFMuGQ2gWhhIGYCQ&ved=0CEkQ6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=deuteronomy%2032%3A43%20and%20romans%2015%3A10&f=false

289 Hays, Echoes, 72

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Lesson One: Dreams can be very significant.

Lesson Two: G-d can use whomever He pleases to reveal His plan. (ex. Balam, Pharaoh)

Lesson Three: We should always present ourselves modestly and with decency to our superiors. The Torah seemingly goes out of its way to mention that Joseph “shaved and changed his clothes” before going before Pharaoh. If Joseph prepared himself to stand in front of a pagan ruler, then how much more should we present ourselves well in the presence of a righteous authority? In short, G-d cares about our appearance.

The portion closes with a significant insight. If we acknowledge the similarities between Joseph and Messiah then something interesting emerges in verse 17 of Chapter 44:

“But he said, ‘Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.’”

This verse comes after the offer for all of the brothers to become Joseph’s slaves. Joseph’s answer is both prophetic and Messianic. He righteously and adamantly rejects the idea of all of the brothers becoming servants as it is written,

“You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.” Leviticus 25:46

Only the brother with whom the cup was found will be his servant. By specifically placing the cup in Benjamin’s sack Joseph chose him to be his servant. Is this not the biblical means by which we receive salvation? Messiah chooses us and bestows the precious gift of salvation. Similarly Benjamin did not ask for the cup nor was he pleased upon his discovery of it because it meant the beginning of laborious service. Isn’t that our attitude sometimes toward our position as His servants? We allow the intimidation of obedience to quell the praise that should be on our lips. I pray this portion serves as a vivid reminder to die to our flesh and praise the Might One of Israel for His wondrous gift of salvation. Though our walk may be difficult at times His salvation comes with a promise. Just as Benjamin, whom Joseph had called, previously underwent a name change so too do we receive a new identity in Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“to put off your old self,which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of G-d in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Shabbat Shalom

Have you heard the many parallels between the story of Joseph and Messiah? I particularly enjoy reading these portions about Joseph for that very reason! It is clear from the text that Joseph’s life was different. He was set apart. He was a remnant. His brother’s jealousy and hatred was fueled by their father’s exceeding love for Joseph. In addition, tension mounted after Joseph had two dreams revealing his eventual authority. Now, his brothers “hate him even more.” (Gn. 37:3) Jacob has an interesting response.

“Are we to come – I and your mother and your brothers – to bow down to you to the ground?” Genesis 37:10

By this time Rachael, Joseph’s mother, had passed away. Is Jacob referring to Leah? Bilhah? Or is he considering that Joseph’s dream will be fulfilled in Messianic Days when the dead will be raised? Was Jacob’s remark meant to be spiteful? One thing we do know is that Jacob guarded Joseph’s words. In the Hebrew of this passage it reads:

*וַיְקַנְאוּ־בֹו אֶחָיו וְאָבִיו *שָׁמַר אֶת־הַדָּבָֽר

shamar et-hadavar

Shamar – to guard

Davar – word

Jacob knew his son well. He knows that Joseph is highly favored and that he would not intentionally dishonor his parents.  Even though Jacob rebukes Joseph he “kept the matter in mind.” Well what happens later? Does the dream come to pass?

“And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.” Genesis 42:6

“And he said, ‘Swear to me’: and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.” Genesis 47:31

This still leaves out Rachael, but perhaps the dream’s interpretation was meant differently. One possibility was that Joseph’s dream was a foreshadowing of his entire family’s dependence on him in the future. Through G-d’s wisdom Joseph stored up enough food in preparation for the famine and Scripture records the following:

“And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.” Genesis 47:12

Also, the “11 stars” which represent his brothers remind me of the promise of Abraham’s descendants. The provision from G-d through Joseph sustained the lineage of Jacob! Joseph’s obedience to G-d literally saves the entire house of Israel. Hopefully this sheds more light on the interpretation of Joseph’s dream.

Why is it that when Judah hears about his daughter-in-law Tamar’s immorality that he tells them to burn her? The only two places in the Torah that I could find where we are commanded to burn someone are as follows:

“If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you.” Leviticus 20:14

“And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.” Leviticus 21:9

I rule the first one out because chapter 38 describes G-d’s destruction of the immoral brothers. If Judah’s wife was Tamar’s mother than I think Judah should have been killed as well, just like his sons. By the way, when the L-rd puts someone to death, there is no speculation. Everyone knows the cause of death. Here, I am leaning toward the parallels of the second verse about the “daughter of a priest.” Would it be amazing if Tamar was the daughter of a priest? We see clearly that Tamar’s son Perez is a part of Yeshua’s genealogy and that would mean priestly blood would have been in the lineage of Yeshua. Yes, you are right! Even if this was so it wouldn’t be of the line of Levi. What other priesthood is there? Melchizedek. In Hebrews 7 it is clear that Yeshua isn’t associated with the earthly priesthood through Aaron:

14For it is evident that our L-rd was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.”

I am not suggesting Tamar’s father was literally a descendant of Melchizedek. The Bible doesn’t mention anything about Melchizedek having children. So what does it all mean? Judah declared the same punishment for Tamar as merits the wayward daughter of a priest as later revealed in the Torah. Perhaps this was all a foreshadowing to Yeshua being “a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4) Mere speculation but very mysterious nonetheless.

On the subject of Tamar and her son Perez, there is a wonderful parallel to Yeshua! Perez’s name means breech and Zerah’s name means rising. Perez, not Zerah continues the line to David and the eventually to Yeshua.

 “..and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,..” Matthew 1:3

In the story, Zerah tries to come out of the womb first, striving fervently to achieve firstborn status, but Perez ultimately breeches and is born first, just as Yeshua is firstborn. (Lk. 2:7) This reminded me of the occurrences prophesied for the eventual war between Messiah and the anti-messiah.

24His power shall be great— but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.” Daniel 8:24-25

Though he “rises” up against G-d’s firstborn, he will be broken. And we will be able to recognize him because he will bear the scarlet thread of sin. Lawlessness is proof of his identity and his deceitful intentions. Be not deceived and hold fast to the Word of G-d. (Pr. 4:4) Repent (Mt. 3:2) and put your faith in Messiah Yeshua who alone is eternal life. (1 Jn. 5:11)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the L-RD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Jeremiah 33:14

It would seem that in the first few verses of this portion Esau’s intent was to attack Jacob. The angels sent from Jacob return and relay the message,

“We came to your brother, to Esau; moreover, he is heading toward you, and four hundred men are with him.” Genesis 32:7

This would be “very frightening” for several reasons in my opinion. The first reason is traveling with four hundred men without any mention of family demonstrates an intention to fight. The second reason is Jacob was dwelling with all of his children and wives. The last reason is that besides his sons he only had servants with which to defend himself and his family. In the midst of his distress Jacob does something we should all do in times of calamity; pray. It is G-d’s faithfulness and answer to prayer that saves Jacob from the hand of Esau.

“Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear lest he come and strike me down, mother and children.” Genesis 32:12

G-d’s answer to the prayer of Jacob is very similar to G-d’s answer to the prayer of David:

“He rescued me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.” Psalm 18:17

Jacob was facing a strong enemy (Gen. 25:27), and Esau did hate him (Gen. 27:41), and Esau far outnumbered Jacob. Yet G-d saved him, just as He saved David. Prayer is an essential element in our relationship with G-d and this week’s portion reveals a fundamental truth. Our prayer should always include G-d’s word.

“And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in Your rules.” Pslam 119:43

But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of G-d.’” Matthew 4:4

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7

In Genesis 32:9-12, Jacob specifically prays the promises made to him and his fathers. His prayer is personal, his prayer is humble, and his prayer is glorifying to G-d. In addition, our verbal prayer is a personal reminder of G-d’s faithfulness. When we continuously declare the Word of the L-rd then we are continually hearing the Word of the L-rd. We are at war will fleshly distractions and frequent prayer is our best defense. We should live by the Word. We should desire to have His desires. If we truly want “the L-rd’s will to be done” then we should be praying in accordance with His will revealed to us in the Bible.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

Jacob’s prayer request was to be delivered from his brother Esau, and G-d answered his prayer. G-d answered the prayer of the children of Israel in Egypt and saved them. In the same way, G-d will eternally save whom He has chosen. If we humbly pray, repent, and seek after G-d then by the blood of Yeshua we will be saved and our sins will be forgiven. Hallelujah!

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

This week we see a very important portion, especially in Judaism. In my opinion, Genesis 22:1-19 is one of the most difficult of all the trials Abraham faced. Here he is asked to offer his only son, whom he loves, as an offering. This whole passage contains messianic foreshadowing of Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.  Some of the parallels include; Isaac being the “only son, whom you love” and Yeshua being G-d’s only Son; both being offered as an offering upon G-d’s request; the wood, which was the source of death since it sustained the fire, was placed on Isaac and he carried it up the mountain just as Yeshua carried the wooden cross up the hill; both Isaac and Yeshua had the faith to walk out their father’s will; and so on.

In Parasha Vayera we see yet another fascinating parallel between Isaac and Yeshua. In the last portion G-d commands Abraham,

“You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. At the age of eight days every male among you shall be circumcised, throughout your generations..” Genesis 17:11-12

Sure enough Abraham’s “only son, whom you love”, Isaac, is miraculously born and circumcised on the eighth day. Not only was Isaac promised to Sarah and Abraham just as Yeshua was promised to Mary and Joseph, but both mothers gave birth despite the physical impossibility. It is just as impossible for a woman without a menstrual cycle to give birth as it is for a virgin to give birth. It appears that Isaac is the first male to be circumcised on the eighth day. Ishmael was thirteen and there isn’t any indication that the people in Abraham’s household had just been born. Why is this significant? Because Isaac is the first child to fulfill the entire commandment of circumcision. Yeshua also fulfilled this commandment in its entirety by being circumcised on the eighth day.

“And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” Luke 2:21

There are even similarities in the outcome of the sacrifices of Isaac and Yeshua. The writer of Hebrew’s mentions,

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that G-d was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Hebrews 11:17-19

Which sounds similar to,

“When Abraham bound his son Isaac on the altar, and slew him and burned him, (the lad) was reduced to ashes, and his ashes were scattered on Mount Moriah; then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought down life-giving dew and revived him […] See S. Spiegel in the Abraham Weiss Jubilee Volume (New York, 1964), pp. 553-566.]1 (emphasis mine)

Also, we know that Yeshua died and rose from the dead. However, the difference between Yeshua and Isaac is the most important part. Yeshua was, is and always will be G-d. His precious blood provided eternal atonement and it is through Him that we may be grafted in to Israel His bride. It is our responsibility to read the Apostolic Scriptures through the lens of the Tanach. In regards to Yeshua, those who believed recognized Him from Scripture. They saw the prophecies being lived out. They saw the messianic references in the Tanach come alive before their eyes. We may not have the incredible honor and privilege of walking physically with Yeshua, but as He said in John 20:29,

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

Shabbat Shalom!

 


1 Courtesy of Curious Jew blog. Cambridge University Library manuscript (Or. 1080, Box I: 48), of the Midrash on Shibbole ha-Leket
http://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2007/01/isaac-died-alternative-version-of.html

Each week there are endless lessons and individual studies that can be gleaned from the portion. For instance, was it right for Abram to instruct his wife to lie to Pharaoh? What was the “severe plague?” What was a “bitumen pit” and why was it significant to mention them?

This week, however, my focus is discussing a lesson about walking in faith and humility.

Abram noticed the strife between his herdsmen and his nephew’s herdsmen. The potential cause of this dissention may be found in proceeding verses where we learn Abram was “very laden with livestock, silver, and gold” [Gen. 13:2] and Lot only had “flocks, cattle, and tents.” Perhaps scripture mentions Abram’s wealth because he was able to pay his herdsmen and Lot was unable to do the same. However the strife could have simply been caused by the struggle to maintain separation between Abram’s livestock and Lot’s livestock. After all, “the land could not support them dwelling together..” [Gen. 13:5]

Regardless, in order to resolve the issue Abram humbly proclaims that Lot may decide where he would like to settle and Abram will dwell opposite his choice. What a guy! We just read about the severe famine in the land so it wasn’t as if all the land around them was inhabitable. It was possible that Abram may have ended up in a harsh, deserted part of the land. Nevertheless, Abram selflessly humbled himself and gave Lot the amazing opportunity to settle anywhere. Lot’s decision is significant.

“So Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire plain of the Jordan that it was well watered everywhere – before HaShem destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden (גַּן) of HaShem, like the land of Egypt, going toward Zoar.” Genesis 13:10

Here we see several reasons for Lot’s choice. The land:
• was flourishing and well watered.
• was in close proximity to the large, wealthy city of Sodom.
• resembled the Garden of Eden (בְגַן־עֵדֶן). (most likely because it was the most lush and fertile region they had seen thus far)
• resembled Egypt. (most likely because of the immense wealth of the city)

Lot’s choice was completely selfish, lazy and self-serving.  It is no mistake that scripture mentions the Garden of Eden. Lot would have certainly known the story of Creation and here he disgracefully compares a plain to the Garden of Eden AND Egypt.  I believe that was an insult. He draws a comparison between something holy and common. In addition, he chose a land that appeared to require little to no work since it was well watered and also a land close to cities in which he could easily acquire any earthly possession. He heeded the call of fleshly lusts and desires. In fact, Lot ends up dwelling in Sodom!  The very epitome of wickedness and sin! I am reminded here of the verses,

“The L-RD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.” Psalm 147:6

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

The L-RD indeed supported Abram and blessed him. The land in which Abram dwelled at that point, the land of Canaan, is the Promised Land! Here we read a demonstration of G-d’s ability to use any situation, even the wicked decisions of men, to accomplish His will. We also see the fulfillment of G-d’s just words in regards to humble and wicked people. Abram did humble himself and he received blessing and victory. However Lot exalted himself and received shameful incarceration.

Abram had faith that G-d would provide for and sustain him in any part of the land. He knew that G-d would never leave him nor forsake him. Abram walked out that faith in bestowing to Lot the ultimate choice of dwelling place. Also in this portion we see Abram’s humble decisions to put his life and the lives of his disciples at risk by rallying to rescue Lot and refusing wealth from the king of Sodom. May we be able to refuse wealth and self gratification for the sake of G-d’s glory. May we be willing to not “stand idly by the blood of our fellow” and rescue those who are in distress. Trust in the L-rd this day for His plan is perfect. Be encouraged and follow Abram’s example!

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