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Here we see an amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Through Moses, G-d leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and they take with them Joseph’s bones just as Joseph requests in Genesis 50:25. The interesting part is the language used. We know that Joseph’s body was not simply laid in a cave and left to naturally decay. His body was embalmed and placed in a coffin. (Gen. 50:26) So why would Joseph use the word bones instead of body? Bones, of course, is simply another word to describe a dead person but it is also a reminder that a body without the spirit is a heap of bones.

“Thus says the L-rd G-D to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”  Ezekiel 37:5

Despite the process of embalming, mummifying, or any other postmortem preservation the body is nothing but bones without the breath of life. You may ask, “Then what was the point of taking the bones? They were useless.” Indeed, they were useless but Joseph was taught that we are commanded to bury the dead (Deut. 21:23) and that the burial site is significant. (Gen. 23:4, 49:31, 50:13) Joseph desired to be taken out of Egypt and to receive a permanent and biblical burial. By the grace of HaShem Joseph’s request was fulfilled.

“As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.” Joshua 24:32

“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

I believe an addition lesson encapsulated in the text is the significance of a reputation. Our bodies do not last, but our reputation endures. Joseph had a reputation for being a man of G-d and a son of Israel. Being buried in a pagan land amongst a pagan people, whom G-d judged, would have diminished this reputation. Have we wisely prepared for the future? Have we evaluated our associations? We too, should conduct ourselves accordingly and ensure that our reputation glorifies G-d even after our death. Our lives are not our own.

This week we see a most brutal (yet deserving) exacting of punishment. HaShem not only preserves Israel but utterly destroys the Egyptian army. All of them.

“The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” Exodus 14:9

Examples of Pharaoh’s selfishness and arrogance are littered throughout the book of Exodus. In this portion, Pharaoh launches his whole army against Israel, but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned when they pursue into the sea.

“The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:23

I do not believe that Pharaoh drown with the rest of the Egyptians. I believe Pharaoh’s cowardice spared him but he was forced to watch as his entire army, his protection, was decimated. He was the only one left standing which meant he was the only one to blame. HaShem punished Pharaoh according to his filthy sin of pride. By giving Pharaoh his desire (his life) He took from him what he needed. (security, safety) For those of us who read the Proverbs this should come as no surprise.

 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

In conclusion, this year I was struck by a wonderful verse in this week’s portion that paints a picture of a beautiful place and also symbolized Israel.

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” Exodus 15:27

Elim must have been a beautiful oasis in the midst of the wilderness! Plenty of fresh water, shade, and the sweet smell of palm trees surrounded the entire encampment. In addition, this verse symbolizes the ideal Israel. The twelve springs of water feed one large body of water just as twelve tribes of Israel encompasses G-d’s chosen people.  One nation, following one G-d. (Ez. 37:22) Also, the seventy palm trees are a canopy that cover those beneath just like seventy righteous men (Num.11:16) who protect and represent the people. G-d’s design is to have a united nation, serving Him, within the structure described in the Bible. May it be so soon and in our days.

Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!


“Shemot” or names is an intriguing name for this portion, wouldn’t you say? One may expect the genealogy of a patriarch or another long list of names. This portion does begin with the names of the sons of Israel but then it proceeds with the beginning of an amazing story of salvation. The first use of the word shem (name) is in Genesis 2:11 where it mentions the names of the four rivers that flow from the Garden of Eden. The verse says:

“The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.”

The interesting part about this verse is the similarities to this week’s portion. The name Pishon means “increase” which is exactly what the children of Israel did!

“But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” Exodus 1:7

Also, “there is gold” in the land that the Pishon river encircles which is exactly what the children of Israel will possess when they are saved from Egypt!

“And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” Exodus 3:21-22

As the portion progresses, we quickly discover that this portion and the whole book of Exodus is about salvation. Of course, the entire Bible is about salvation as well but Exodus records the miraculous details of G-d saving His people from Egypt. This event was so incredible that we are literally commanded to “remember” when HaShem brought us out of the land of Egypt in Deuteronomy 5:15. I find it interesting that G-d uses Moses to lead the exodus because G-d also used a river to spare his life or “save” him. This goes right back to the verse in Genesis that describes the river of increase flowing from the Garden of Eden. We await the day when everything will come full circle and we will dwell, once again, with HaShem in the Garden of Eden, but the only way that is possible is if He saves us through the blood of Messiah Yeshua.

To strongly emphasize the fact that Israel needed a savior, the phrase “ruthlessly made them work as slaves.” is repeated twice in Exodus 1:13-14. Life must have been absolutely miserable and it clearly reached the point where salvation by any human effort was impossible. Though G-d does not forsake His children (Dt. 31:6) and, as it says in Exodus 3:7, G-d heard the cry of the people and saw their affliction. Just as Pharaoh’s daughter took pity on Moses because he was crying G-d also took pity on the children of Israel and rescued them.

In the Bible names can describe a function, reveal character, string together many verse to form an idea, and they can identify something/someone. It is amazing to see that even in the midst of a death sentence on Hebrew male boys Moses was still able to survive and maintain his identity.

“One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people (mayechav).” Exodus 2:11

The word mayechav contains the root word ach which means “brother.” It is clear from this verse that Moses knew who he was and who his brothers were. You may say, “Well what about this verse?:

“They said, ‘An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.’” Exodus 2:19

The daughters of Reuel thought Moses was Egyptian!” Personally I think he was disguised as an Egyptian or perhaps he always dressed like one. Otherwise he would not have been able to escape Egypt so easily. No one would question an Egyptian leaving Egypt but if he looked Hebrew the soldiers would have caught him. Besides Moses never refers to himself as an Egyptian, but he does call the Hebrews his brothers.

“Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, ‘Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.’ And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go in peace.’” Exodus 4:18

In conclusion, I recently had the privilege to hear an excellent response to the Sacred Name movement from Mr. Tim Hegg of Torah Resource.  The information about the class is on the home page of his website here. I bring this up because several verses in this week’s parasha contribute significantly to the biblical understanding of G-d’s name.

I leave you with a few questions to ponder this week.

Why was G-d about to kill Moses? (4:24)

What was the significance of Zipporah’s statements when she circumcised her son? (4:25-26)

What was significant about the 3 signs HaShem commanded Moses to perform? Why those signs? (4:3-9)

Why aren’t the names of Moses’ parents revealed until chapter 6?

Did Jochebed actually raise Moses and then give him to Pharaoh’s daughter? (2:8-10)

Even as early as the book of Genesis we see the concept of a remnant. There are at least 3 different words in the Tanach for “remnant” but most of them are derived from the same root word which is שְׁאָר. In this week’s parasha we are going to explore the word for remnant used in Genesis 45:7. The word is  שְׁאֵרִית:

“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant (שְׁאֵרִית) on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” Genesis 45:7

It is easy to see that the word for remnant in Genesis 45:7 contains the root word. When words in Hebrew share a common root, they share a common idea. The whole Tanach is intricately woven together through the Hebrew language. Let’s continue to explore. Another use of the word שְׁאֵרִית is found in Jeremiah:

“Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.” Jeremiah 23:3

Now let’s look at the Apostolic Scriptures for the same root.

“And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant (ὑπόλειμμα hypoleimma) of them will be saved,’” Romans 9:27

The Greek word ὑπόλειμμα hypoleimma is only used once in all of Scripture. Here, is Paul is quoting from Isaiah 10:22:

“For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant (שְׁאָר)of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness.”

All of these verses are knit together by the root word for remnant. Genesis 45:7 not only describes the miraculous salvation of the tribes through Joseph but also foreshadows a future deliverance. Unfortunately, the truth is not and will not be popular. More people will have the fear of men and not the fear of G-d. In the end, only a remnant will be saved. Just as Joseph delivered the remnant of his family from the crippling famine so too will Yeshua deliver the remnant of His flock from destruction.

“He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:10

Throughout these last few portions Benjamin has played a significant role. This week’s portion is no exception. In chapter 46 verse there a list of each tribe and their sons with a head count totaling seventy.  Benjamin, the youngest, had ten sons, which was the most out of all of his brothers. It is also a minion, or an assembly of ten men! If he pleased, Benjamin could have established his own community with just his family. They would not have had to deal with all those cousins and they would have been able to travel faster having fewer people. Despite the benefits, Benjamin stays with his family, travels with them, and settles with them in the land of Goshen. Without remaining joined to what would later be the nation of Israel Benjamin and his family would have perished due to the famine. Once again we see salvation is inextricably linked to Israel. Even though we have little communities and families we must remain united with Israel as a whole both in the physical sense and the spiritual sense.

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” Romans 11:17-18

Due, in part, to Benjamin’s faithfulness the total number of Jacob’s household that went to Egypt was seventy. In Exodus we learn of the seventy elders of Israel and also in Numbers it says:

“Then the L-RD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.” Numbers 11:16

It was no accident that the exact number of Jacob’s family that came into Egypt was also the same number designated for the amount of elders to lead Israel. Jacob’s family was the representative of Israel. Though they lived in Egypt they dwelled together and remained chaste to G-d’s instructions. The same was true for the elders. They were faithful, they dwelled together, and they represented the nation. One little discrepancy I have not been able to explain is this verse in Acts:

“And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all.” Acts 7:14

From where did the number seventy-five come? Was this a misquote or a deliberate clue? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts in the comment section.

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

The narrative continues and we read about the generations of Abraham. Isn’t it interesting how the portion begins with,

“And these are the offspring of Isaac son of Abraham – Abraham begot Isaac.” Genesis 25:19

But then 2 verses later it says,

“Isaac entreated HaShem opposite his wife, because she was barren.” Genesis 25:21

This should come as no surprise to us who believe the promise to Abraham just as he believed. We should not even have to continue reading to know that Isaac and Rebecca bear children.  Though we would miss out on beautiful demonstrations of G-d’s faithfulness and power if we did not continue. I believe that is why it was important to state that Rebecca was barren. It is another wonderful proof that nothing is impossible for G-d!

In looking at the Hebrew we find a word in Genesis 25:22 that has not been used thus far.

“The children struggled [ וַיִּתְרֹֽצֲצוּ ] together within her…”

Not only is this the first usage of the word but it is the only time this word is used as “struggle.” The most common translation of the word is “oppress.” The literal meaning of the word [ וַיִּתְרֹֽצֲצוּ ] fits perfectly with G-d’s answer to Rebecca’s question.

“And HaShem said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.’” Genesis 25:23

Anytime you have a stronger and older person being ruled by a younger person there will be a struggle. It is easy to be swayed by physical traits. The world would acknowledge the bigger, stronger, and older as the ruler, but G-d establishes the younger as the ruler. (King David is another great example) Regardless of the oppression Esau and his descendents place on Jacob and his descendents G-d will not break His promise. We reflect on this biblical truth today as we witness Israel being preserved and protected amidst the Arab oppression. The descendents of Esau will continue to make war against Israel, but there will be a day (may it be soon and in our days) when Messiah Yeshua comes and physically manifests His kingship.  On that day all the earth will see that Messiah Yeshua, a descendent of Jacob, rules over the nations. Hallelujah!

Also contained in this portion is a perplexing question. When Esau returned from hunting and served delicacies to his father Isaac after Jacob had just received the blessing scripture says,

“Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, ‘Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.’” Genesis 27:33

This verse contains the first use of two words for “tremble” [ וַיֶּחֱרַד ] and [ חֲרָדָה ], which is understood throughout scripture as afraid or fearful. The perplexing question is, of what or of who was Isaac afraid? Was he afraid that Esau was going to harm Jacob? Was he afraid because he thought he somehow disobeyed G-d? In this passage it seems like Isaac did not need any assistance in knowing that Jacob had taken the blessing. Who else could it have been? I believe Isaac was afraid because he knew he had blessed the wrong person. He may have been worried about the effect his blessing would have upon the promise of descendents. Nevertheless, G-d used this whole situation to fulfill the promise given to Rebecca about which son would rule the other. Another explanation is offered in the book, Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu: an English translation of Genesis and Exodus from the printed version of Tanhuma-Yelammedenu with an introduction, notes, and indexes by Samuel A. Berman:

“Scripture states elsewhere in allusion to this verse: The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the L-rd shall be set up on high (Prov. 29:25). Because of the fear that Jacob brought upon Isaac, it would have been fitting for him to have cursed him. Who compelled him to bless Jacob? Whoso putteth his trust in the L-rd shall be set up on high. R. Levi said in the name of R. Hama the son of Hanina: Isaac was terrified twice, once when he was bound upon the altar, and again when Esau entered. There is no way of knowing which event frightened him more, but since the word exceedingly is mentioned in this verse, you may presume that this was the more terrifying experience. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: Because of the evil inclination, you do not pursue My ways in this world, but in the future I will place within you a new heart;  And I will put a new spirit within you; you I will remove the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh (Ezek. 11:19).”

Further reading on the topic reveals,

“The trembling, the anxiety of Yitzchak, has troubled commentators since Chazal. The midrash, feeling the dread implied in the word ‘charada gedola,’ says this refers to a feeling of gehinom; he felt the opening of hell, of death, before him.”1

In this case, it is not about the answer, it is about the search. The cause of Isaac’s trembling is debated, even among the commentators, yet it is still helpful to inquire and discuss.  The Torah is our guidebook for living and it is our responsibility to read, study, and obey.


PARASHAT TOLDOT by Rav Ezra Bick; (c) Yeshivat Har Etzion1997

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

***Wow – great stuff from Segulah’s post!  I need to reveal that my replies are not solely my own work – good brothers came beside me to lend assistance***

Hey Brother,

I find the same word meanings that you have in Hebrews 8:13.  I have some thoughts listed below that I would like you to consider in order for your understanding of how someone reading this verse, with the correct meanings, could remain convinced that our Fathers love language – the demonstration of our love for Him – remains with the keeping of His commandments. (Proverbs 3:1, 4:4, 7:2; John 14:15, 15:10 and Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Peter said in so many words (2 Peter 3:15-16) that Paul is hard to understand…and this is coming from a guy who was living at the same time, lived within the culture, used the language and was familiar with the issues that the assemblies were experiencing. How much harder would it be for me to comprehend? The following passages (below) help me understand Paul’s letters as I keep what I read, within the boundaries of foundational scripture.  When I read something that appears to be contradictory – then I have to look further and be careful to remember that G-d does not change according to: 1 Samuel 15:29 (He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.) NIV and Malachi 3:6 (For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.) ESV:

1)  Paul (or anyone else) cannot add nor take away from G-d’s word.  Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.) ESV

2)  Paul (or anyone else) cannot turn the people away from G-d’s commandments.  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your G-d and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your G-d commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.) ESV

4)  Paul kept the Torah.  Acts 24:14-15 (But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the G-d of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in G-d, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.) ESV and Acts 25:8 (Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.) ESV

Now, when I read Hebrews 8:13, there definitely appears to be a contradiction to the passages above and many others that describe Paul’s actions (assuming that Paul wrote Hebrews) during his ministry if he is indeed proposing the idea that the Sinai covenant is obsolete.  In my studies in the past, I have looked at the letter to the Hebrews and remember that this letter is regarding the “The world to come”.  He states this in Hebrews 2:5 (Now it was not to angels that G-d subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.)   The new covenant is not at this time in its fullness.  We know this by reviewing closely what is described in Ezekiel 36:24-38 below regarding the new covenant and what is the current situation in the world and how they do not mirror each other:

(“I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your G-d. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord G-D; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
Thus says the Lord G-D: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it. Thus says the Lord G-D: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.  Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people.  Then they will know that I am the LORD.”) ESV

Here are some thoughts regarding covenants that I would like you to consider:

1)       Is the Torah a covenant?  The Torah was not the first covenant (Sinai Covenant).  The first covenant was the agreement by the children of Israel to do what G-d said. (See Exodus 19:5-6)
2)       What was at fault with the first covenant?  The commandments or the people who broke the commandments?  (Since the Torah is G-d’s eternal word – it could not be changed).  G-d changes the people by writing the Torah on their hearts (Ezekiel :26-27 above and Jeremiah 31:33) The new covenant is not a cancellation of the Torah or even a cancellation of the Sinai covenant…the people are changed and made able to fulfill the covenant….keeping His commandments.
3)       There are three things we learn from the story of the Gibeonites 2 Samuel 21:1-9:  Covenants are binding; Covenants are intergenerational; breaking a covenant has dire consequences and a broken covenant requires atonement.  G-d’s covenants are eternal and He built on them and improves on them.
4)       The new covenant is not a covenant with Christians or even Gentiles. Jeremiah 31:31 (Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah) ESV
5)       We as Christians only relate by covenant with G-d through being grafted into Israel (not through conversion)  Ephesians 2:12-13 (remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.) ESV.

When I speak of keeping the commandments, it is not for the purpose of salvation…it is all about sanctification.  It is not a burden but rather a lighter yoke as a disciple of the Messiah through the help of the Holy Spirit.  Some will make statements such as “You are putting yourself back under the law”.  Paul uses the Greek word nomos to describe many different laws.  Let me please state for clarity that I am no longer under The Law of Sin and Death because of salvation through Messiah.

Thanks and talk soon, Your brother

Several months ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with a dear friend of mine who I have known for over 12 years. Although our relationship started out as a family friendship it eventually led to our family attending their church – he is a pastor.

We were called out of the church about 3 ½ years ago to start an incredibly exciting journey which will not end – and actually seems like it only just began. I had recently been trying to share with him the truths that G-d had revealed to us over this short time by extending an invitation to attend a study in our home but he declined.

He did, however, accept an invitation to lunch to celebrate his birthday – as is our custom. I had intended to discuss, at least to some degree, our recent experiences and encourage him to look further and find the truth that has been covered from “our” eyes for nearly two thousand years. “G-d is calling His people back to Torah”….this most excellent news was answered with grave concern spread across his face. My friend’s concern was primarily regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ and I assured him that this was not a salvation issue but a sanctification issue.

He agreed to continue a discussion over email exchange as best that our schedules would allow…and so begins what I would like to share with you: “Thoughts from lunch”. This will be a short series of exchanges (there is a total of 2 emails from him and 2 responses from me) between the two of us that I have found challenging. I will post his emails for your review and practice on how you may have responded. Every few days I will post the next exchange.

Below (the first email) is my friend responding to my explanation of how we are to live out our faith.

Email Subject: Thoughts from lunch (#1)

“Hey Brother, Thank you for the lunch. I am glad we had a chance to share our hearts with one another. We are family in Jesus Christ. I was concerned, however, about some of your statements about the new covenant and what it means to live under the new covenant. My concerns come from the Book of Hebrews, especially Hebrews 8:6-13, Hebrews 9:10, and Hebrews 10:9-10. Hebrews 8:13 uses the word obsolete in the NKJV. In Strong’s Concordance it is number 3822 in the dictionary in the back. The word means to make or become worn out, to declare obsolete. That is a strong statement about the old covenant. We can talk more after you study it out. Thanks again for the lunch.”

by Tzadikguy

The spies you sent returned with a devastating report that the Promise Land appears impregnable. The people began to doubt and lose faith in the One who promised the Land..

The once magnificent and Holy Temple where you could draw close to HaShem; where you could become ritually pure; the place that you would visit a few times year; the place that had become a part of your walk…was destroyed..

The horrid memory of the destruction of the first temple was partially being replaced with the presence of the incredible and monumental second Holy Temple. Things were great. You were just beginning to slightly forget about the demolition of first Temple when catastrophe struck..The second Holy Temple you came to love…was destroyed..

You had a little house. You had a family. You had an occupation. You were happy in England. The year was 1290 CE and things were going well. As you approached a particular day of the year you began feeling uneasy. Then your worst fear was proclaimed and enforced throughout England..Every Jew was expelled from the country..

At least this time you were given four months to completely evacuate..Just when you were settling in, feeling welcome, and making money you heard the devastating and dreadful news of the edict of expulsion from Spain in 1492 CE. Where were you to go? Where could you escape the horrific plague of persecution that was spreading like an airborne disease?

What could possibly be worse than having such saddening, disastrous events happen to your people? Having them all happen…on the exact same day. That day is today. Tisha B’ Av [The ninth of Av].Each event pushed further and further into a debilitating wound. No other people in history have ever experienced the persecution, the horror, and the destruction the Jewish people have endured. On such a solemn day as this we should mourn with Israel. We should remember the tragedies and pray. During the weekday shacharit and minchah prayers we find a few extra paragraphs for fast days in the Siddur. I encourage you to at the very least look at the words the Jewish people are praying and pray yourself. Here are some ideas for participating in the fast of Tisha B’ Av:

  • The fast begins at sundown July 19 and ends sundown July 20.
  • It is customary to read the book of Lamentations. Get a group together and alternate reading Lamentations out loud. Upon completion, discuss the book and the relation to Tisha B’ Av.
  • Read a few articles about Tisha B’ Av. Become familiar with the history, the customs, and the traditions of the Jewish people. Click here for a great blog post about Tisha B’ Av.
  • Prepare an easy and fun way to break the fast at sundown on July 20. A get-together with friends and food is always a great option.
  • If you are working take the opportunity to pray minchah and the extra paragraphs on your lunch break. You will not be eating anyway.
  • Write a thank you letter to an Israeli soldier.
  • Gift a tangible or financial gift to an individual or organization in Israel. I recommend EFRAT but there are many great charities in Israel.
  • Write a post or a journal entry about your experience on Tisha B’ Av or record ideas and suggestions of activities, articles, books, websites, etc.
  • Finally, at the end of the fast focus on the anticipation of future joy found in Zechariah 8:19 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.”

May you all have a Tzom Kal [Easy Fast] and be a light to the nations.


by tzadikguy

This past Shabbat we learned about Supercessionist Theology and the reasons why the theology is not Scriptural.

Before diving into any definitions or explanations there are some imperative truths that need to be reiterated. The first being that the Tanach {Torah, Prophets, and Writings} says G-d is the G-d of Israel. The phrase “the G-d of Israel” is found about 199 times in the Tanach alone. Another indisputable truth, according to the Bible, is that Jew’s are “the L-RD’s people”. They are the chosen people of G-d and He chose to bestow them with the task of bringing the Torah to the Nations. Even the Apostolic Scriptures refer to Israel as the people of G-d:

“24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Hebrews 11:25-26

G-d did not chose Israel because of their character, He chose them because of His character. Israel may have been disobedient, and rejected HaShem but they are still His people. HaShem has the ability to transform any situation and ensure the glorification of His name.

Now for the definition of supercessionism. As one may gather the word means to “supersede” or replace something. Hence the reason supercessionism is a synonym of “replacement theology”. What exactly do supercessionists believe is being replaced? Unfortunately the answer is Israel. This would be the same as saying that the President of the United States must now have Icelandic citizenship. Previously, a higher authority granted the honor of serving as President of the United States solely to American citizens but now a “new” high authority transferred the honor to Icelandic citizens. Everyone would have a discrepancy with such a ludicrous idea, but somehow it seems logical if such an occurrence involved Israel. Within this fictitious theology lie 3 reasons for why Israel has been replaced.

  1. Punitive – Basically, Israel has been punished for their disobedience and HaShem’s blessing has been given to the Church. Martin Luther was an advocate for this type of supercessionism.
  2. Economic – Israel is no longer needed. Their service and purpose is over and it is now the Church’s chance to shine. Justin Martyr perpetuated this idea.
  3. Structural – The Old Testament is relegated and the New Testament is elevated which downgrades the theological importance of Israel.1

The common theme in each case is somehow the Church replaced Israel. According to David Novak, #1 New York Times bestselling Author, the New Covenant is either:

  • An extension of the Old Covenant. (What we should believe)
  • An addition to the Old Covenant. (soft supercessionism)
  • A replacement of the Old Covenant. (hard supercessionism)

Which option makes more sense? Why would G-d change His mind about Israel being His chosen people? He is a G-d that changes not. Why would He bother spending all that time with the “Old Covenant” if He was just going to relegate it? There is no evidence in Scripture proving G-d demoted the Old Covenant {Tanach} and established a New Covenant {Apostolic Scriptures}. In fact Revelation 7:4-8 lists all twelve tribes of Israel. The Jews would not be worth mentioning in end times prophecy if they had been replaced. Even in the last book of the Scriptures Israel was still written about. In addition, the first time the phrase “New Covenant” is mentioned is Jeremiah 31:31. That is in the Tanach! Clearly the “New Covenant” is not the Apostolic Scriptures because it is mentioned before they were even written. All scripture is given by the inspiration of G-d. It all works together and does not contradict itself. His word is perfect.

We must be very careful to understand the root of certain theologies. Supercessionism or “replacement theology” seeks to usurp the promises given to Israel and place the blessing on the church. The root of the problem and the birth of such a theology is quite obviously antisemitism. It is not Biblical and it is a blatant degradation of the Jewish people and their birthright. Sooner or later people are going to have to come to grips with the fact that it is to the Jew first, then the Gentile. Our calling is to be grafted into Israel and be obedient to the words of HaShem.

1The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Fortress Press, 1996), R. Kendall Soulen. Quoted by Calvin Smith. <;

Notes, and references were recorded and collaborated in this post courtesy Joseph Squicciarini’s presentation of Supercessionism.

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