וישׂא עיניו וירא והנה שׁלשׁה אנשׁים נצבים עליו וירא וירץ לקראתם מפתח האהל וישׁתחו ארצה׃
Adonai appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance to the tent during the heat of the day. He raised his eyes and looked, and there in front of him stood three men. On seeing them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, prostrated himself on the ground,
(Gen 18:1-2 CJB)
Our Rabbi, Teacher, Master, and Redeemer Yeshua taught His disciples in these words, "If you are children of Avraham, then do the things Avraham did!" Joh 8:39. In essence, 'The proof is in the pudding!' He said. Those of us who claim descendance from Abraham, be it biological or grafted in, need to honor that descendance by doing what Yeshua coined as 'the things Avraham did.', or in Hebrew, ' אברהם כמעשי עשיתם' do after the deeds/actions/works of Avraham.'
In this part 2, let us then take more time to study these things that Avraham did. How did he handle the intense trials that HaShem allowed him to go through?
Let us first go again through the enumeration of the ten trials of our Father Avraham, this time, in chronological order..
In part one we talked about the seven first trials of Abraham:
1. The call from his homeland
2. The famine in Cana'an
3. The abduction of Sarah in Egypt
4. The war with the four kings
5. The long wait for a son and his marriage to Hagar
6. The exile of Hagar after she gave birth
7. The commandment of circumcision
Now we will go over the last three ones.
8. The abduction of Sarah by Abimelech.
9. The exile of Ishmael
10. The sacrifice of Isaac
8. The abduction of Sarah by Abimelech
I want to reiterate what we talked about last week about the idea that Abraham seemed to have lied to protect himself and also mention about the idea of Sarah's Tent. Here is what the Midrash says about it,
"All the days in which Sarah lived, there was a cloud attached to the entrance of her tent. Since she died, the cloud ceased; and when Rebecca came, the cloud returned. All the days in which Sarah lived, the doors of the entrance [to her tent] were open to the wind (ruah).... And all the days in which Sarah lived, there was a blessing sent through the dough [with which she baked].... All the days in which Sarah lived, there was a light burning from one Shabbat evening to the next Shabbat evening...." (Genesis Rabbah 80:16 on Genesis 24:67).
These characteristics of Sarah's tent (and later Rebecca's), parallel the characteristics of the Tabernacle and of the Temple. Sarah's bread is like the shewbread, the light burning from Shabbat to Shabbat prefigures the Menorah, and the wind resembles the Holy Spirit, Ruach HaKodesh. In particular, the cloud mentioned in the midrash alludes to the cloud of the Shekhinah, the personified aspect of HaShem that is imminent.
Here is more about the idea of Mishkan/the Sanctuary/The Temple.
In Hebrew the word mishkan is: מ ש כ ן
The Aftara for this week is: 2 Kings 4:1-37 in which is embedded the story of the Shunamite woman who practiced hospitality towards Elisha the Prophet of God.
Verse 10 in English says,
Please, let's build him a little room on the roof. We'll put a bed and a tablein it for him, and a stool and a candlestick, then, whenever he comes to visit us, he can stay there."
Here it is in Hebrew ,
נעשׂה־נא עלית־קיר קטנה ונשׂים לו שׁם מטה ושׁלחן וכסא ומנורה והיה בבאו אלינו יסור שׁמה׃
(2Ki 4:10 CJB)
(The word candlestick in Hebrew is נר starting with a nun. The text in the verse uses מנורה which means lamp in general, but we know that in those days there was no electricity so, a lamp was actually a candlestick).
Thus, we find the word Mishkan in the things we provide when we practice hospitality,.
The sages therefore have concluded that, having guests is more important than speaking to God, a statement reminiscent of Yeshua's, "he who has done it to the least of these my brothers has done it unto me!'
IF THEN SARAH'S TENT REPRESENTS THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM, THEN HER TWICE ABDUCTIONS REPRESENT THE TWO EXILES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, FIRST BY BABYLON, THEN BY THE ROMANS, WHICH IS THE CURRENT EXILE.
The idea of sages that, having guests is more important than speaking to God, is also reflected in Gen 18. In that text Avraham, a rich desert Sheik endowed with servants, sees 3 people coming to him. The text of the Torah tells us that Avraham ran towards them and that, even though he had many servants, he himself took care of them in every way. Avraham's dedication to serve is even more accentuated when we realize that, as we are told in Gen 18:1, it was the heat of the day, meaning that he was at the height of the fever due to his recent circumcision.
The midrash also tells us that Abraham used to send send his servant Eliezer by the by the byways to 'compel' people to come to his table where after serving them in abundance, he would tell the people of the heavenly source of the food they ate.
IT IS AFTER THIS THAT WE ARE TOLD OF THE BIRTH OF ISAAC.
9. The exile of Ishmael
Avraham did not want to let go of Ishmael. It was after all his son. But he obeyed HaShem anyways. Maybe this was a preparatory test for what was to come through Isaac, the son of promise. Sending Ishmael away was again cutting off any hope that the promise would be fulfilled.
Basically what we see in Avraham is that he received a promise, but then all the instructions he received from HaShem seemed to go completely against the fulfillment of that promise. In spite of it all, Avraham obeyed. That is what faith, confidence in the fulfillment of Hashem's promises looks like!
When Sarah complained to Avraham about Hagar's attitude, he may have told her, "Hey, this was your idea to start with!" But checking with HaShem, he heard, "Listen to everything Sarah says to you, because it is your descendants through Yitz'chak who will be counted.
10. The sacrifice of Isaac
In Genesis 22 we read about the binding of Isaac on the altar or the Akeida. What was the background of it? The yet unfulfilled promise of,
"Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Gen 12:1-3 CJB)
Let's now read what HaShem requires of Abraham ou father in this final excrutiating test,
After these things, God tested Avraham. He said to him, "Avraham!" and he answered, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitz'chak; and go to the land of Moriyah. There you are to offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will point out to you." Avraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with Yitz'chak his son. He cut the wood for the burnt offering, departed and went toward the place God had told him about. On the third day, Avraham raised his eyes and saw the place in the distance. Avraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go there, worship and return to you." Avraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Yitz'chak his son. Then he took in his hand the fire and the knife, and they both went on together. Yitz'chak spoke to Avraham his father: "My father?" He answered, "Here I am, my son." He said, "I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Avraham replied, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son"; and they both went on together. They came to the place God had told him about; and Avraham built the altar there, set the wood in order, bound Yitz'chak his son and laid him on the altar, on the wood. (Gen 22:1-9 CJB)
The Brit tells us much about this.
By trusting, Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz'chak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, to whom it had been said, "What is called your 'seed' will be in Yitz'chak." For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him. (Heb 11:17-19 CJB)
In verse 19, the original Greek word for 'figuratively' is 'paraboley' or 'parable'. Thus verse can be read, For he had concluded that God could even raise him from the dead! And, he did as in the parable.
Here is the parable:
Rabbi Judah said: When the sword reached his neck, Isaac's soul fled and left his body. But, when the Lord caused His voice to be heard from between the two cherubs saying, "Do not stretch out your hand against the child and do not do anything at all to him," his soul returned to his body and Isaac stood up on his feet. Isaac knew that this is how the dead will be resurrected, and so he opened [his mouth] and said, "Blessed are You, 'Adonay, Who resurrects the dead." (Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 30 [in some translations, chapter 31]):
In essence, Heb 11:19 tells us that being faced with the impossible dilemma of HaShem asking him to kill the one though whom all the promises stood, Abraham took a very pragmatic decision saying, 'Well, if I am to kill Isaac, that simply means that HaShem will have to resurrect him in order to fulfill His promise. It's just that simple!" Just like ours today, Abraham's faith was in the Resurrected Son!
Isaac was not a child. He was a young man. Some say he was 37 years old. Whatever age he was, he knew exactly what he was doing and was willing to do it.
As Yeshua carrying wood on his back willingly climbed Mount Golgotha to what was a certain death, Isaac also carrying wood climbed Mount Moryah to what was a certain death.
They both had the option of to not do it but both said to their father, Not my will but yours be done.
The Aftara for this week is: 2 Kings 4:1-37 in which is embedded the story of the Shunamite woman. This is a story that is very similar to the story of Isaac's miraculous birth, 'figurative' death and resurrection. This why it has been chosen as the parasha.
MAY WE AS YESHUA CHALLENGES US TO, AS CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM, DO THE WORKS OF ABRAHAM.
SAY EACH AND EVERY DAY AS WE AWAKE, IN ALL WAYS AND IN ALL THINGS WITHOUT COUNTING, WHETHER WE SEE OR RECEIVE THE FULFILLMENT OF DIVINE PROMISES SAY TO HASHEM:
'NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE!'