Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Vayera
VaYerah "and he revealed himself" Genesis 18:1- 22:24 Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:1-37; 4:1-23; Mark 4:21 - 6:56
"And Yahweh appeared unto him by the terebinths (oaks) of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed down to the earth, and said: 'My lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.'"(18:1-3 JPS revised) - 'And Yahweh revealed Himself', is the theme of this parsha, and He manifested Himself to Avraham after his obedient performance of circumcision to initiate the fulfillment of the covenant which is to be realised through the promised son, Isaac. According to tradition, this happened three days after he had performed the circumcision, when the pain was at its worst.
Revelation of Yahweh - The Word of God According to the Talmud (Babah Metsiah 86b) there were two separate supernatural manifestations. First, the Shechinah of Yahweh, His immediate Presence, was revealed, and later came the visit of the three malachim, messengers. These are said to be Michael, who came to foretell the birth of Yitzchak, Gavriel, who came to destroy Sodom and the towns under its rule, and Rafael, who came to heal Avraham after the circumcision. Talmud tells us that thereafter Michael accompanied Gavriel when he went down to Sodom to destroy the city.
In chapter 19, verse 1 it says: "The two angels ("malachim" - messengers) arrived at Sodom in the evening."(NIV revised) The word "malach", in plural "malachim", simply means "messenger" or "ambassador". Therefore we do not know from the word itself if it is speaking of people from the earth or angels from heaven. The context determines the meaning.
After the two angelic messengers went on to Sodom, Yahweh returned to Avraham and revealed to him His purposes regarding Sodom. "And the men turned from thence, and went toward Sodom; but Avraham stood yet before Yahweh. And Avraham drew near, and said: 'Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" (Genesis 18:22-23 JPS revised)
Avraham addressed the physical manifestation of God who stood before him as "Yahweh" - the Word. (18: 1; 18:33; 19:27) "When He had finished talking to Avraham Yahweh went away, and Avraham returned home."(NJB)
Yahweh said to Avraham that he would go down to Sodom to see if it was really according to the outcry that had come before Him (18:21). The two angels then went down to Sodom with the authority of Yahweh to save Lot and carry out the heavenly judgment. (19:12-13)
Yahweh goes from speaking with Avraham to speak with Lot whom we may assume is the one who had been raising an outcry against the city seeing 2 Peter 2:7, 8 says that his righteous soul was tormented daily with their lawless behaviour. (19:19-22)
When Lot petitions Him to only go as far as Zoar before the judgement, Yahweh answers him, "But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it."(19:22a NIV) Note that Yahweh Himself is speaking here. "Then Yahweh rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Amorah, from Yahweh out of the heavens."(19:24 NIV revised)
The Targum of Johnathan reads "Then Yahweh's Word rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Amorah - from Yahweh out of the heavens." This makes it very specific that Yahweh the Word on earth authorised the judgement with His Father in heaven.
In the Targums (which are from the second Temple period) where there are more than one identification of Yahweh in the text, or where Yahweh is presented in human form, the texts have used "Yahweh's Word". The Aramaic word for "word" is "Memra" Other bible texts show similar revelations of a Yahweh who is in heaven, and of a Yahweh (Katan - little) who reveals himself on earth. See Zechariah 2:11; 12:11; 14:5; Isaiah 48:15-16.
Both Avraham and Lot had a face to face encounter with a manifestation of Yahweh in fleshly form.
According to Yerushalayim's Targum it was to the Memra (the Word) that Avraham prayed "And Avraham worshipped and prayed in Yahweh's Word's name, and said: 'You are Yahweh, who sees me, but You cannot be seen'" Note that Avraham prays prays in Yahweh's Word's name, but he prays to the Yahweh who cannot be seen. Here there are two 'Yahwehs' that he is identifying - the One in whose Name he prays to the One to Whom he is praying Whom he cannot see in heaven.
This whole parsha is revealing that there are two Yahweh's, one who called down fire and brimstone while on the earth, from the other who was in heaven sending it. Not only would this interpretation be consistent with the context of the Parsha and would also explain why Avraham was able to look upon the face of God and not die. The Yahweh who Avraham saw was the pre incarnate Yeshua, God in the flesh.
John the apostle identifies Yeshua the Messiah as the Word of Yahweh who took on flesh as a human tabernacle/dwelling place. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. .. .. .. And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-3 and 14 MRC revised) See also Acts 2:36.
The Promised Son "And He said: 'I will certainly return to you around this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.' "(18:10 CJB) - The word that is translated "this time next year" in v.14 is "moed" "appointed time" referring to the feasts which were outlined in Leviticus 23. Avraham had unleavened bread at the time (18:6), also Lot made a feast of unleavened bread for the 'angels' (19:3)
Strong 4150 mo?ed mo?ed mo?adah, mo-ade', mo-ade', mo-aw-daw', >From H3259; properly an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand): - appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed).
When they left Egypt, scripture says it was on the same day as the covenant was given 430 years previously. Jewish tradition puts Isaac's (Yitzchak) birth on the 15th of Nissan (Day of Unleavened Bread) 30 years after the covenant which would place this heraldic announcement of Isaac's (Yitzchak) birth, during the feast of unleavened bread, Yitzchak being born one year later.
"And the child grew, and was weaned. And Avraham made a great feast on the day that Yitzchak was weaned."(21:8 JPS revised)
"And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Mitzrit, whom she had borne unto Avraham, making sport."(21:9 JPS revised) - The root of the word that is translated "made sport" is "tzachak" which means laugh. It is the same root that is found in the name Yitzchak. The word is also used in with a sexual implication, as for instance in Genesis 26:8, where Yitzchak was 'sporting' ("tzachak") with Rivkah his wife."
It can therefore be possible that what Yishma'el did to Yitzchak was a mixture of violence, sex and idolatry, which are the three gravest sins. When Sarah saw this she was very offended. This type of influence was not good for her son. "Wherefore she said unto Avraham: 'Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Yitzchak.'"(21:10 JPS revised)
Yishmael had a jealous heart toward his little half brother, who had been born 14 years after himself, persecuting him, as it is written in Galatians 4:29: "But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, as it is also at present."(MRC) Later on Yahweh confirms her words and commands Avraham to do according to all that Sarah had said to him. Yahweh was saying that Avraham should listen to Sarah's "voice" (the Hebrew word is "kol" which means voice). And in this case it was not just her human voice, but the prophetic voice through her to which he was to listen.
Avraham was a good father but Hagar was a bad mother and the fruit of her upbringing of Yishmael had its outworking in his behaviour. "And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow-shot; for she said: 'Let me not look upon the death of the child.' And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept.'"(21:16 JPS) - What kind of mother abandons her child when he is about to die? Hagar did. She thought only of herself, not of the welfare of her son at the most critical moment of his life. Besides that, she had completely forgotten the words that the angel had given her concerning her son's future. "And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink."(21:19 JPS revised)
The well was there all along. When we are in a crisis situation or have problems, we do not need to go up to heaven or down to the depths in order to find the solution. What we do need, is to have a good relationship with Yahweh so that He can open our eyes in order that we may see the solution that is not far from us.
Lessons of Faith "God tested Abraham." (22:1) In Hebrew the common term for test is "bechina," but here the word used is "neis". In Hebrew this word means not only a test, but also a banner; as the Psalmist says, "You gave those who fear you a banner to raise themselves" (Psalms 60:6). A banner is something which is raised high as a symbol of victory, a rallying point for others to congregate. Similarly, when Yahweh tests an individual, the purpose is to lift him into a higher sphere. When the individual is victorious and passes the test, he is spiritually elevated and exalted. Through the trial, his hidden potential powers of faith were extracted and brought to fruition.
When someone has passed a test, he always receives a great reward. The greatest reward any man can get is to have a complete and fully mature character, as it is written in James 1:2-4: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the proof of your faith produces patient endurance. And let patient endurance have its perfect work, that you may have reached the goal and be complete, lacking in nothing." (MRC)
If a man does not pass the test that the Eternal brings him, he has two choices. One is to go through the test again and again until he passes it. The other is to be disqualified. What happened with the majority of the children of Israel who came out of Mitzrayim was that they failed the test 10 times, see Numbers 14:22, and therefore they could not come up to the higher level that the Eternal had prepared for them in the promised land.
His first son Ishmael, the premature product of his fleshly relations with the Egyptian handmaiden Hagar, had already been sent away from the family compound which had also tested his faith in Yahweh's provision for his son Ishmael, apart from it being the separation of his firstborn son from the family. Twice Yahweh takes Abraham through the same type of test of faith regarding losing Sarah as his wife because of her beauty. "And Abimelech sent and took Sarah" (Gen 20: 2) This was what Abraham had anticipated and Yahweh moved in the situation and preserved her and returned her to him. Peter commends her behaviour to all women as an example of her submission to Abraham. 1 Peter 3: 5-6
His final and greatest test came in offering up his son Yitzchak. Just as he had believed for Sarah to be returned to him so he also believed that God was able to raise him again from the dead to fulfil His promise (Hebrews 11:19) By the time of the binding or the Akedah, as it is known in Hebrew, Abraham had already been through the great trials of his life. This is the tenth test that was placed before our father Abraham and is the last and defining test for his faith to be complete.
In his obedient response to the call to offer Yitzchak (Isaac), Abraham's faith was resting in his knowledge of the Almighty. His response was, "God will provide". In the Hebrew this carries the idea that God will "make it clear". or "it will be seen" what the offering will be. His obedience was in implicit trust in the providence of the Almighty and in His power if necessary to even raise him from the dead.
The overcomers of the past are a cloud of witnesses to us who come afterward of their weaknesses and triumphs of faith in overcoming the fleshly nature and aspiring to that city which has spiritual foundations, for which they were willing to be strangers and pilgrims here in this life, in order to inherit that which is to come which is eternal.
When in the midst of a test, do not complain, but place your trust in the Eternal and his promises, so that you can come up to a higher level in the Kingdom and your character will become more like His Son's, which is the goal of your life, according to Romans 8:29, "For whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;" (MRC)
The Great Act of Faith Abraham's placement of Yitzchak on the altar is often seen as a great act of faith in the Almighty. We often misinterpret the nature of that act of faith. If we view the act of being willing to tie Yitzchak up and place him on the altar as a great act of faith, we do so from a western frame of mind, a frame of mind that is unfamiliar with the workings of blood covenants. The great act of faith on Abraham's part was his absolute conviction that the Almighty could and would live up to the commitment He was making.
When the fullness of time was satisfied, the Almighty One secured the agreement of a young Jewish girl named Miriam. Miriam was engaged to be married to a Jewish man named Yousef. El Shaddai poured the creative part of Himself, His Word, into her uterus to become flesh. Yahweh Yireh, God our provider, required of Yousef and Miriam that they name this child Yeshua, which means "Deliverer."
Yeshua, being the son of Miriam, was fully human. He, being the creative voice of the Almighty God, was also fully and completely born of God and His son.
The Akedah is a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice the heavenly Father would give on our behalf of actually offering His only Son upon mount Moriah (where Abraham offered Yitzchak) in order to make salvation available to all who believe. As Abraham said, Elohim yireh-lo haseh (“God Himself will provide a lamb”).
Both Yitzchak and Yeshua were born miraculously; both were “only begotten sons”; both were to be sacrificed by their fathers at Mount Moriah; both were to be resurrected on the third day (Genesis 22:5, Hebrews 11:17-19); both willingly took up the means of his execution; and both demonstrate that one life can be sacrificed for another – the ram for Yitzchak, and Yeshua for all of mankind. Indeed, Yitzchak is a clear picture of the Greater Seed of Abraham to come, the One who would remove the curse and save us from death.
On account of Abraham’s obedience and trust in Yahweh, the Angel of Yahweh then says, “By myself I have sworn, declares Yahweh, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your Seed (singular) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."
Yitzchak disappears from the scene of the Torah here, not to be seen again until his bride, Rivkah, is ready, see 24:62. In the same way, Yeshua, after his death and resurrection, was taken up from the scene of this world and He will not be revealed again until the bride is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, ready for the wedding of the Lamb.